The holiday season is a time of joy and togetherness. However, while spending time with older family members, you may notice changes that are concerning. If you notice a loved one struggling with communication, memory, or completing familiar tasks – such as a traditional family recipe – it may be a sign of dementia.

As a leading senior living community, Bayshire Carlsbad is committed to providing compassionate care to our residents living with dementia. If your loved one is ready to transition to a community that offers assisted living and memory care services, we are here to support and empower them as they embark on a new stage of life.

Aging Vs. Dementia

While changes in memory and cognitive abilities are normal as we age, the changes that occur as dementia progresses are more severe. Early recognition and prevention are key to maintaining independence as long as possible. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the 10 key dementia warning signs to be aware of while visiting with family this holiday season. Recognizing these signs early can make a significant difference in the lives of those living with dementia. It also allows more time to create a blueprint for care and discuss possibly transitioning to a senior living community with memory care services.

#1.) Memory loss.

Memory loss is one of the most common warning signs of dementia. Although occasionally forgetting small details or obligations can be a normal symptom of aging, frequently forgetting important dates, appointments, or the names of loved ones can be a sign of something more.

During the holidays, pay attention to whether your loved one repeatedly forgets where they placed gifts or decorations, or if they have trouble remembering the names of family and friends. Notice also if they miss important events simply due to forgetting the date, time, or place.

#2.) Trouble concentrating or planning.

Dementia can impact a person’s ability to focus and plan. If your loved one who usually creates the holiday grocery list or plans the holiday weekend itinerary is struggling this year, it may be an early sign of dementia.

Though they seem minor, challenges with planning can be cause for concern. For example, making a mistake while budgeting or managing household finances can be costly and inconvenient if not caught. At senior living communities like Bayshire Carlsbad, memory care services allow seniors to live a relaxed lifestyle without the stress of property maintenance, utilities, and housekeeping services.

#3.) Challenges completing familiar tasks.

Difficulty completing once-familiar tasks is another warning sign. Keep an eye out for seniors who suddenly have trouble remembering how to wrap gifts or follow a beloved family recipe.

By itself, trouble completing familiar tasks isn’t solely a sign of dementia. Some older adults may require assistance with daily tasks without necessarily having a dementia diagnosis. At Bayshire Carlsbad, we offer assisted living and memory care services together on one campus so our residents don’t have to worry about moving should care needs change over time.

Senior woman cooking holiday meal with daughter while using memory care services

#4.) Losing track of the time or place.

Seniors with dementia may become disoriented and lose track of time or their surroundings. If a loved one frequently forgets what day it is or where they are, it’s essential to seek professional help.

As we age, it’s normal to occasionally forget what day it is but remember it later. However, frequent disorientation and confusion about the time, place, or even how they arrived there can be a sign of something more severe.

#5.) Vision changes unrelated to cataracts.

While vision changes can occur with age, unusual visual disturbances, such as difficulty reading or identifying objects, may signal cognitive decline. Make sure to consult with a healthcare professional if you observe such changes.

While gathering to watch holiday movies and performances with loved ones, look out for any relatives straining to see or requesting a closer seat. Gently inquire about the trouble they are having and discuss with a provider if this is normal for their age or a sign of concern.

#6.) Problems with communicating.

Dementia can affect language skills and impact communication over time. Look for signs of difficulty in finding the right words, repeating themselves, or struggling to follow and engage in conversations during holiday gatherings. 

As communication grows increasingly difficult, those living with dementia may become discouraged or embarrassed and choose not to engage in conversation. It’s important to remain patient and empathetic, listen actively, and respond slowly. Letting them know they are still an involved and welcome part of the holiday gathering provides gentle reassurance.

At Bayshire Carlsbad, our memory care services are rooted in a person-centered approach that preserves identity and sense of self for seniors with a cognitive impairment such as dementia. Our secure communities provide a daily path of engagement that allows residents to flourish, even with advanced expressions of dementia.

#7.) Frequently misplacing things.

Everyone misplaces items occasionally, but seniors with dementia may do so consistently and often in unusual places. This can be especially frustrating during the holiday season when finding misplaced gifts or decorations is crucial.

If your loved one is having challenges retracing their steps to find lost items, consider discussing the possibility of dementia with them and other key family members. It’s important to address concerns early on as continually misplacing important items, such as medications or keys, can cause additional problems. 

#8.) Poor judgment.

Dementia can lead to poor judgment, which may manifest as reckless spending, inappropriate behavior, or difficulty making safe decisions. Seniors are already unfortunately targeted by increasingly clever scams. Close supervision may be necessary to protect them, especially if they mention discovering a too-good-to-be-true deal or spending an unreasonable amount of money on holiday gifts.

If you are concerned your loved one may have dementia, collaborating on a care plan early on is key to success. Knowing what changes to expect and creating a plan for how to tackle them can help avoid future concerns, such as making reckless or dangerous decisions.

#9.) Social isolation.

Seniors living with dementia may withdraw from social interactions. They might decline invitations to holiday gatherings or avoid spending time with loved ones. Be curious about any older family members who avoid annual gatherings or opt out of the activities they typically enjoy.

If you notice your loved one withdrawing, reach out – regardless of whether you suspect they may have dementia. The holiday season and beginning of a new year can be triggering for those who are growing older or who have experienced loss. Everyone needs extra care during this season.

#10.) Changes in mood or personality.

Dementia can cause shifts in mood and personality. Seniors may become irritable, anxious, or exhibit sudden changes in their emotional state during the holiday season.

The key to helping a loved one with dementia navigate mood shifts is patience, patience, patience. Refrain from calling out changes or mistakes in a way that may come off as frustrated or harsh. Let them lead conversations at their own pace, actively listen to and engage with them, mind your body language and tone, and reassure them that their company is wanted and appreciated.

Discover Exceptional Memory Care Services

As we celebrate the holidays with our loved ones, it’s crucial to be mindful of these dementia warning signs. Recognizing the difference between normal aging and dementia and intervening early on can significantly improve the quality of life for those in need of memory care services.

Bayshire Carlsbad is here to support seniors and their families in recognizing and addressing these warning signs while providing compassionate care throughout the holiday season and beyond. If you or a loved one need assistance or guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced team. Together, we can ensure a safe and meaningful holiday season for all.