Remembering in the Holiday Season

Started planning yet? Thanksgiving lists have begun, invitations are out and I’m knee deep in recipe testing. Now that it’s November and our jack-o-lanterns have turned to mush, the holidays are officially upon us. That typically means more gatherings with friends, family, and new or old acquaintances. It also means having to remember so much more.

This can be a good or a not so good thing. It’s good to exercise our minds and memories as we meet and gather with new and old friends and family. We use different parts of our brain as we engage with others and it’s a way to exercise our brains we cannot do alone. On the other hand, as memory issues slowly or dramatically make their appearance, social gatherings tend to highlight the problem. Often as family and friends, we tend to make excuses for those we love and chalk up memory lapses to many things, least of all an official problem.

Now this isn’t if Great Aunt Nellie can’t remember every great niece and nephew. All of us have some trouble with names, and when pressed, it can be difficult to remember everyone’s vital information. But if Aunt Nellie seems to have a hard time remembering even the simplest things, especially her favorite things and people, it may be time to seek some professional help.

So often, memory loss occurs for years before anyone seeks help. We explain it away as stress, grief, or old age. All of these can contribute to episodic memory loss. It’s also difficult to point out to our loved ones that their memory doesn’t seem to be what it once was. But the longer we put off the conversation, the more damage is done. The sooner it’s addressed, the sooner treatments and strategies can be implemented to improve memory and quality of life.

The holidays are busy and paying attention to our elder loved ones can seem like one more thing to do. But one way to truly honor them and their importance in our lives is to really pay attention to their memory and overall wellness. A fantastic resource to review before the holidays is the Know the Ten Signs resource by the Alzheimer’s Association. It can provide some vital background information to have on hand to help anyone with memory challenges.

Socializing with those we care about is one of the best parts of the holiday season. Engaging with others stimulates all of our memories and brains in a healthy way. But if any troubling signs are noticed in our loved ones, let’s not hesitate to begin a discussion. Early detection can save precious moments and make them more meaningful and memorable.

Sharing is Caring