With the Alzheimer’s Association reporting that 1 in 8 older Americans have dementia, it’s likely that this disease will impact all of our lives in some way – be it as the caregiver, loved one or the afflicted.
I have two parents with short-term memory loss, one of which has been diagnosed with dementia. My siblings and I have done two united interventions to ask them to consider making changes to their lives to stay safe. My parents say they will consider our request, but forget that my three siblings were even in town to visit within a few days, much less remember our concern. Letters and calls have been made, but there is no memory of these ongoing discussions or issues.
When we have made small changes, my parents have quickly unraveled them. So when we faced the reality of them driving their cars and writing checks, we moved to considering taking car keys, dismantling the alternator, closing their checking account and physically moving them into their retirement home. However, we know they would be able to quickly remedy each of these challenges, cause rifts as well as financial issues…and possibly a police report or two.
We went to their doctors to ask for help. Two of them made recommendations to stop driving, move into the retirement community and give up the checkbook. It wasn’t until we tried a third doctor that we found one armed with information, compassion and resources to help move us past the roadblock of their will.
My father is retired military and the local base hospital has put together a team with a care manager, social worker and an M.D., and called their legal team to understand how to best care and serve my parents. We are very early in the process to see how the medical team can assist us in this most unusual situation.
Having a couple that both have memory issues is pretty rare. We hope that this extended community will be able to help my parents age with dignity and grace. Prayed.