Look out for warning signs of Alzheimer's disease this holiday

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The more holiday seasons spent with elderly loved ones, the more likely they are to develop Alzheimer's disease as risk increases with age.

People between the ages of 65 and 75 have a 1 in 8 chance of developing Alzheimer's. Those between 75 and 85 have a 1 in 4 chance of getting the disease. Once a person reaches 85 years old and beyond, there is a 50% chance of becoming an Alzheimer's sufferer, said Laurie Frasier, director of Senior Daybreak at Hilltop.

"When adult kids and grandkids come home for the holidays, they start to notice some subtle changes perhaps in their parents and grandparents," Frasier said. "They notice that their memory isn’t what it used to be."

Short-term memory loss is the first symptom of early Alzheimer's disease, which is one of the leading causes of dementia.

"When I'd call her, we'd have about a 15, 20 minute conversation and she'd start asking the same questions over again," said Becky Jones, whose mother has had Alzheimer's disease for 13 years. "Then that got worse and worse progressively through the years. It was to the point where you couldn't carry on a conversation."

Repeating stories or questions frequently or getting lost going to familiar places are signs that someone should be checked out by a physician.

"Write down their observations, make a list of the weird things or the off things that their loved one is doing," Frasier recommended.

While studies are constantly being released citing vitamins or foods that stop Alzheimer's progression, Frasier said these are not proven and there is no cure as of right now.

"It's really confusing because people don't really know what to believe, but the hard cold fact is they have not identified any supplement any food that definitively stops or cures Alzheimer's disease," she said. "It would be great if they did and hopefully someday they will but we're not there yet."

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