Thanksgiving and Dementia: You’re Not Being Paranoid
The Thanksgiving holiday is a beautiful occasion to tell our closest friends and family what we’re gracious for. For many of us, we say we’re thankful for having a job that pays well, having a place to call home, and having our health. However, as our elders and parents get older, that last one becomes harder to come by.
Thanksgiving with Seniors
Many people live quite a ways away from their parents and that’s not entirely because we don’t want to see them. Truthfully, it’s a subconscious ideal in America, as we’re a culture that fosters self-sufficiency and independence.
In any event, the children move away from the parents and grandparents so they can start their own family with hybrid traditions. This is another reason why the holiday tends to be fun, we get to see the relatives we haven’t seen since last year – or maybe longer.
However, while those get-togethers may be fun (or rowdy) and filled with nostalgia and community, they grow progressively more somber.
I won’t lie to you readers, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of year for us and it’s not because we’re moving around, but because adult children are seeing that their parents need help.
You’re Not Paranoid
It wasn’t long ago – in fact, it was last year (2013) – that one of our team members visited their grandparents. Their grandparents were incredibly lucid, telling jokes, reciting old stories, and they even cooked dinner exceptionally well… However, they noticed the grandmother doing some peculiar things.
At first, she tried putting the ice cube trays in the closet before she caught herself and put them in the freezer. Then, she couldn’t find the word, “thermometer.”
But that was it! Two small details. Two. Yet our team member started wondering if their grandparent was suffering from dementia. They didn’t say anything to the rest of the family – and CERTAINLY not the grandparent – because they were convinced they were being paranoid. They thought, “You know, I’ve done the research, I know the tell-tale signs, I’ve seen progressive forms of dementia and this isn’t it.” But, when we reconvened after the holiday, we all agreed, they needed to confront the family and their elder about the crisis at hand.
It took some time (we don’t currently operate on the East Coast), but the team member finally approached their grandparent about dementia. She was resistant, but courteous enough to get checked out. She did have dementia.
FORTUNATELY, the dementia was caught early enough, so that the senior didn’t need to move. She was able to receive in-home memory care so that she could stay at home and ideally, she’ll be able to continue living at home for quite some time since it was caught so early.
And that’s the key takeaway. Even if you only notice one or two clues that indicate your elder is suffering from dementia, they’re worth exploring further. You may be instrumental in preventing your elder’s health from deteriorating.
Believe us, there is NOTHING worse than coming home to a grandparent and not being remembered at all. You’re not paranoid, get them checked out.
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