Identifying the signs of a loved one’s cognitive decline during holiday gatherings

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 8:43 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 8:52 AM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Many families are looking forward to getting together this week for Thanksgiving. For families that are unable to frequently get together, the holidays can be a time to spot when an older adult is no longer acting like themselves.

Dementia Specialists Carley Prochaska of ADRC of Portage County and Scott Seeger of ADRC of Central Wisconsin say there is a difference between normal aging and dementia.

“When it’s disrupting your daily life. So especially with the holidays, if there’s been a recipe that somebody has cooked for years, and now they’re struggling with it. Forgetfulness is normal for a lot of us, dementia is not,” said Prochaska.

Older adults can become frustrated when they are no longer able to do, or remember the things they once did.

“The big thing is not to make a big deal about it. We want to support them and help and get involved in that activity with them. Maybe offer an opportunity for them to sit down and relax. And then you can take over or avoid the activity altogether, if you notice that it’s causing them some frustration,” said Seeger.

For families suspecting cognitive decline, Seeger and Prochaska say it is important to connect with resources.

“So every county in Wisconsin has a dementia care specialist. If there are any concerns, connect with your doctor, connect with the dementia care specialists, and then we’ll be able to navigate through from there,” said Prochaska.

Click here for a list of more resources.