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How to spot dementia in a loved one this Christmas

It’s a sobering statistic even at the jolliest time of the year: someone develops dementia every three minutes.

More: Why Alzheimer’s is actually a young person’s disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Society the period immediately after Christmas sees a huge rise in calls to their helpline, mainly because people spend time with relatives over the festive season that they may not see at other times during the year.

The charity says calls at this time increase by a whopping 60 percent and web traffic increases by almost 30 percent.

There has to be greater understanding about the warning signs of dementia, warns the charity. Research shows that many people are confused over what could indicate dementia, rather than simply general absent-mindedness.

An example of the confusion is that 39 percent of people surveyed thought walking into a room and forgetting why you are there is a sign of dementia, but this could happen to anybody. For a person with dementia the issue is that the room itself seems unfamiliar.

“We know dementia is the most feared illness for many, and there’s no question that it can have a devastating impact on people, their family and friends,” said Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society. “It’s important we tackle confusion around what are and aren’t signs of dementia, and help give people confidence in approaching loved ones about their concerns so people don’t delay getting help. Dementia can strip you of connections to the people you love, but we have many services that can help stop that and support you.”

More: Caring for my mother with Alzheimer’s gave me the courage to start writing

Here are some warning signs to look out for in your loved ones (at Christmas and at all other times of the year).

  • Difficulty remembering recent events, while recalling things that happened in the past is no problem
  • Finding it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
  • Forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects
  • Trouble recalling things that have been heard, seen or read
  • Losing the thread when conversing
  • Problems thinking and reasoning
  • Feelings of anxiety, depression or anger
  • Feelings of confusion, even when in a familiar environment
  • Getting lost on familiar journeys

Also other people may be starting to notice or comment on the memory loss or other symptoms.

If you are worried that you or someone you know may have dementia, visit Alzheimer’s UK or call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 (visit website for Christmas opening hours).

More: 5 Surprising things that can cause dementia

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