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Dementia, Memory Problems and Making it a Christmas to Remember

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It is hard to believe that another year is almost over and Christmas is just around the corner. For most of us, it is a time for presents, sing-a-longs and a little too much festive cheer. However, for some families who may not have seen each other for some time, Christmas can also be the time when early signs of dementia first become apparent. Here at Alzheimer's Society, we often see a spike in the number of calls our Helpline receives just after Christmas, so we really do appreciate how difficult a time of year this can be.

That is why this week, we have launched Xmas2remember. We are working with the government to highlight the importance of talking about memory problems and getting a proper diagnosis. We hope that by raising awareness of the issue, people may just have 'that chat' while they have got the opportunity to be in each other's company.

Facing up to memory problems is very hard for anyone, but we want to make sure people feel confident to talk about this issue, and know where to turn for help if they are worried about the memory of a loved one.

Understandably, broaching the subject of memory problems with family can be difficult, but I would urge anyone to do just that. The most important thing for someone struggling with memory problems is that they seek help, through their GP. A diagnosis of dementia, while potentially daunting, can lead to support, information, vital services and in some cases, treatments to stave off symptoms in the short term.

More information about what people can do if they are worried about a loved ones memory is available at the new Xmas2remember tumblr blog (http://xmas-to-remember.tumblr.com).

People can also find some Alzheimer's Society tips on seeing relatives with dementia over Christmas. The festive season can be really difficult for people with dementia. Shops and high streets are bustling with panic-stricken Christmas shoppers and things like preparing dinner and buying gifts can be tricky. Spending the whole day at a relative's house which may now seem unfamiliar can also prove a challenge. A person struggling with their memory may have recognised a change in themselves, and may be worried about how relatives who haven't seen them for a while will react.

Finally, as part of our Christmas to Remember campaign, we are asking people to send in their favourite Christmas memories. We've already had memories sent in from people such as Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan, Lynda Bellingham and John Challis. Prime Minister David Cameron even shared a touching memory about the first day he brought his son Ivan home from hospital.

As for me, my favourite Christmas memory is waking up at the age of seven to find roller boots had arrived from Santa. They were all the rage at the time and I was very excited as I had seen other small people whizzing along pavements. I had to be stopped from rushing out in pyjamas to try them out. But when I did get outside what fun! Plenty of cuts and bruises initially, but that didn't seem to matter at the time.

So why not join me in sharing your Christmas memories by going on Twitter now. Don't forget to use #xmas2remember so we can all read them!