Q: My father lives alone and is becoming quite forgetful. He is always losing his car keys. When I went to help him, they were in the fridge. I am worried he might have dementia. Should I consider an assisted living for him?
A: Excellent question. This is a scenario that occurs frequently believe it or not! First, If I were you I would make sure he is exhibiting a recurring pattern of odd behaviors. Occasional forgetfulness and misplacing things are normal sign of aging. However, if you see a combination of consistent and repetitive behaviors followed by a neglect in personal hygiene, confusion, your first action should be to gently bring up the issue with him. Never attempt to dominate the conversation. That never ends well. Second, I would ask friends and neighbors, if they have noticed anything unusual. Third, if he agrees, ask if he would like to be evaluated by a doctor.
Consideration of assisted living should be one of your last resorts, not the first. The first thing, I’d recommend if his dementia deemed mild to moderate is having a close friend or relative, begin consistently checking on him, in person, to make sure he is doing well and to observe any changes in environment. If the dementia is moderate to severe, consider frequent homecare visits or caregiver/companion live-in options. Uprooting their lives based on suspect evidence is not wise. However, in my opinion, only after you have considered homecare options, you should consider relocation. First, consider moving him in with you. If that is not a good option, then consider an assisted living as an option. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and take actions that are too swift and permanent. Your first course of action is to discuss this matter with him! Remember, stay calm and make suggestions–not demands.
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