NHS England expert warns to look out for signs of dementia this Christmas - Alzheimer's Society comment

People should look out for signs of depression and dementia among older family members and friends over Christmas, a health chief has said.

Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England's national clinical director for dementia and older people's mental health, said problems that may have previously been hidden can come to the surface or be easier to spot as friends and families get together over the festive season.

Kathryn Smith, Chief Operating Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, says:

'The festive holidays are a great time for catching up with loved ones. But it can also be a time when you notice something is a little different with a family member. We often get a surge of calls to Alzheimer’s Society’s helpline after Christmas from people who have noticed a change in a loved one over the break. 

'While burning the turkey is by no means a symptom of dementia, you might notice a slight change in a friend’s personality – they might not want to join in with the festivities, or be a bit withdrawn, or seem lost and disorientated in a place they’re really familiar with. Or a loved one might seem more forgetful, lose the tread of what people are talking about, or struggle to find the right word.

'These changes may not be dementia, but we recommend talking to your family member or friend and encouraging them to contact their GP. If you’d like to talk to someone about your concerns, our National Dementia Helpline is available on 0300 222 11 22.'

National Dementia Helpline Christmas opening hours:

  • Christmas Eve 9:00am - 5:00pm
  • Christmas Day closed
  • Boxing Day closed
  • New Year's Eve 9:00am - 5:00pm
  • New Year's Day closed.

The Helpline will be open as usual at all other times.

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