Is it better to take a parent with early dementia into your home, or an assisted living facility where they can socialize?

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If he's a veteran, check into the VAs with dementia units. My Dad was in one in Dublin Ga (until they found he also had schizophrenia). Things have changed in many VA hospitals. The dementia unit in Dublin was absolutely beautiful, had therapy pets visit and one cat in residence, a pool table, beautiful dining room with wall sized windows overlooking a garden area, large patient rooms and the nursing staff was wonderful, taking lots of time to casually chat with the residents and it was immaculately clean. I was ready to book a room myself.... - Leslee
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Thank you Ed...you are all too kind! :)
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KRISTIN:

You're a highly intelligent woman with a big heart who can think rationally when the going gets rough. Trust your instincts.

-- ED
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P.S. You too Lilliput! :)
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THANK YOU ANNE and LILLIPUT : ) Your responses are both thoughtful ones. I guess I just had out-of-date ideas of what an 'old folks home' was filled with forgotten people staring into space so I just assumed when the time came we'd find a good care giver so he could stay in his home or we'd bring him home to live with us - but the dementia changes the game entirely. Fortunately I came across some pretty wonderful "senior living' places - with a hotel like environment and restaurant style dining and wonderful views in a very social setting...so my 'well intentioned but ultimately not what's best for dad" idea of having him move in with me and my RN husband went out the window especially since we both work full time and then some. So after many visits and much deliberation, we're gonna give the 'senior hotel by the sea' a month-long 'trial run' and see if he likes it and the area...and since it's only 15 minutes away from my house, I'll definitely be visiting often for a weekend bike ride on the beach or to the local bar...dad may be losing his memory, but he still enjoys a good dive bar. ; )

Of course, if he hates it or just wants to go home - his house and neighborhood will be waiting. :)

Thanks again Anne - it's people like you that keep me sane. : )
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Anne, I want to add to what you said above. I loved your comment, "I have seen how patient and non-judgmental the seniors are with each other, and it is inspiring." My Mom just came out of a 2 wk stay in rehab. I thought she would hate "one of those places." At first she was not happy there, but after a few days she got into the rythm of the place, got to work on her rehab, made friends, and got better. I was amazed. And what you said above is true. Mom commented that the people there "looked past" her age and infirmities and treated her like a person. Even her wicked sense of humor returned.
I promised myself to help keep my Mom living independently, in her own home, for as long as I can. But I am seriously re-evaluating facilities that offer such a high standard of care and social interaction.
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Kristin1, you mentioned that your father might feel "stuck" if he were living with you, because you live in a remote area. You are also wondering about how things will go if he were to go to a living facility of some kind. It's hard to predict; every case is unique; you have to listen to your inner gut and intuition......You know your father better than anybody, and you know his needs. I have seen and heard about elders who are thriving in senior living facilities because they are with others in their age group and they can make friends and socialize there. I have seen how patient and non-judgmental the seniors are with each other, and it is inspiring. My father lives in a senior community and he is doing well there. I call him and visit fairly often, so that he feels loved and cared about.
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I wanted and seriously considered bringing him home (and my RN husband was actually willing as well) and hire an LVN to stay with him (avout the same as one of these swanky assisted living places), but with the hours we both work, and the amount of stairs at our home and the hilly/remote nature of our neighborhood, I think I've finally admitted to myself what a loving but horrible idea it would be to bring him to live with us - he'd pretty much be "stuck" with no options to public transportation or independent activity. Fortunately, there are a couple facilities nearby with dementia/alzheimer floors nearby, but he clearly preferred this other hotel-style facility (same area)...in either event, we haven't made any decision yet (who knows, he may stay in the city he's lived in for 50 years where my brother still lives vs. moving away but closer to me). Hopefully when the time comes to move him, it won't be too stressful even if it's not within the same company. Don't want to place him somewhere he doesn't care for as much now simply to avoid or alleviate potential moving stress in the future, know what I mean? It's all so difficult and I don't know what I'm talking about or getting into...just want to do right by him - but sometimes the best intentions are not the best choices.

Fortunately thus far, the only mood swings we've experienced is that he's nicer than he used to be - not angry or mean at all (which was actually quite a common trait in his former years!). Should I anticipate him getting more and more agitated or does it differ from person to person? When I asked the Dr for what we could expect and how long the progression takes, he simply said a stroke or heart attack will 'take him out" (nice choice of words doc!) before Alzheimer's...not sure if I was supposed to be comforted by that, but it didn't really tell me what we're in for or how to handle...guess only time (and fab sites like this) will tell.
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If you decide to go the asst living route, look for a place that has an Alzheimer's care unit close by or attached to it. Then it will be less stressful for everyone to just move the person a little ways.
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Never planned on my dad going into 'assisted living'...always figured he'd get 'in home' care if he wanted to stay in his house or come live with me and my wonderful husband...but when the dementia diagnosis came in - rather bluntly I might add - the whole game changed. : ( Now just trying to understand our options - do we hire a care giver to check in and ultimately stay at his house or find a facility (either near me or my brother) where he doesn't feel "dumped". I actually found one near me (he lives in another city) that he really seems to like (ocean view!) but I don't believe they specialize in dementia residents - given he's in the early stages it's not all that obvious to those first meeting him...as for me, I'm hoping against all hope that the lovely environment and social setting of the other residents might keep his decline at bay? Of course there are ones that do specialize and have 'memory floors' but even the really nice ones are a little depressing and an environment like that might escalate the situation as he's still functioning relatively independently, rides his bike every day to his favorite coffee shop or church, etc. But he's losing weight and I fear more of his memory faculties. Only good thing out of all of this -- his 'personality change' has been for the better! He's actually nicer now than he ever was with us growing up. ; ) But he's a depression baby, a WWII vet (he can get benefits to cover some of the expense yes?) and a survivor - defying the odds of both bladder cancer and abdominal anneurysim surgery plus high blood pressure, high cholesterol, emphysema and all the rest - so trying to do right by him.

And what's the deal with the Exalon Patch? Dr. Blunt (ha!) prescribed it, but also said it may not work and even if it does, it's subtle. Doc thinks he's got a combination of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia as there are signs of stroke on his brain scans (though no immediate signs whenever it happened)...what other forms of dementia are there? how do you know what to do if you don't know the progression? Don't want to fast forward his decline, but don't want to leave him vulnerable with no plan in place either.

Honestly feel so blessed to have a site like this - and the fact that my dad currently isn't all that bad - particularly compared to what other people are facing - my heart goes out to all of you...
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