Dad Is Starting to Decline
"I really thought my father was doing just fine, but then I got a call from his neighbor. His neighbor checks in on him once in awhile, and he said he notices that Dad moves around slower than usual. He gets up out of chairs slower too, using a lot more effort. He takes naps in the afternoon, which he never did before.
His neighbor friend also says that Dad seems less sharp. He apparently can’t remember things as well. He searches for words more frequently. He has trouble recalling what he had for breakfast that day. He didn’t even recognize the neighbor’s son.
Truth be told, I haven’t seen Dad for two years. He’s 79 now. These small changes could be nothing, but they do make me wonder. Should I be worried?"
Noticing chances in someone can be jarring. Sometimes it’s just weight gain or loss, hair color turning to gray, and the appearance of wrinkles. These changes remind us of our own changing.
But sometimes these changes are more concerning, like the ones your neighbor told you about. Your father’s new loss of independence and his memory issues may require extra assistance or supervision for your father. Hoping this is not the case is just ignoring or denying the situation.
If you haven’t seen your dad in two years, I assume you don’t live nearby. If you have siblings who live closer to him, it’s time to have a chat. Check in with them and find out what they’ve observed. If you don’t have siblings, you’ll need to spend more time with your father to figure out what’s going on.
Memory issues can lead to bills not getting paid, getting lost out in the community and poor health, just to mention a few challenges. Rarely are those issues temporary, unless the cause is a temporary illness like a urinary tract infection (UTI). Someone in the early stages of dementia will get worse. At this time, there are some medications that can have an impact, slowing the progression. There is no cure, though. Get close to this situation to observe, and then seek a solution and support.
You may need to go with your father to his next doctor’s appointment to raise your concerns about memory and its impact on his ability to live independently. If there is a diagnosis to be made at this time, it would be helpful to know. It’s easier for you to plan if you have information.
As I mentioned, this is the time to get involved. We all change continuously as time goes on. The lucky are those that have loved ones in their lives to help them navigate the process. I wish you success on this journey.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
Written by CEO, Mary Haynor, this newsletter is packed with useful tips, resources and practices that will make the lives of family caregivers easier.Learn More...
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