Dad with early/mid dementia hates assisted living and doesn't think he needs it.

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My dear mom died a few weeks ago, and it was only because she was there that mom and dad could be in their own home as long as they were. She made us promise that dad would not be alone, and she was all for the assisted living solution. We sibs love our dad and tried to care for him at home to give him time to grieve, but we are exhausted (we also have jobs and families to care for) and don't feel he is safe alone. He is hard of hearing and has early/mid dementia. He forgets to eat and naps a lot, and tries to do things that were once second nature, but he can no longer do them. (writing a check/any banking, remembering to shower, remembering to change into different clothes, sometimes remembering to eat, etc). Yet in his more lucid moments he is able to make a sandwich, fix himself breakfast, shave, etc. and does pretty well at self-care. We cannot trust him with medications at all and he has a few different ones to take daily.

We tried many times to have discussions about moving to assisted living b/c we knew it would soon become necessary. Always the same response, "I think I'll just stay home." SO hard to try to help him see that staying home isn't one of the options; since mom died we have done everything for/with him - all meals, meds, cleaning, etc., because he is largely incapable and we wanted him to be safe and healthy. He doesn't have a clue how many hours of the day and night we have been there.. The disease is preventing him from seeing that he is no longer safe alone - he thinks he is actually very self-sufficient. In his mind we are ridiculous for even suggesting a different solution. We finally realized that the only way to move him would be against his will, since he would NEVER see the dangers of being alone.

Fast forward...we spent a ton of time weighing different assisted living options and finally picked one. We had a long conversation and talked him into just having a visit. Of course he decided he "didn't need that", then promptly forgot the whole conversation we'd had.

We knew we'd end up doing it without his blessing, but felt we had no choice. While one sib took dad out for a day, the rest moved his belongings into an assisted living place. We thought having all his own furnishings, pictures on the wall, etc. would feel comforting, and did the best we could.

He went absolutely crazy and asked the same ten questions over and over again. How could you do this to me; I can live home alone; I don't need this; why is my furniture here; who moved this here, etc. Seriously, he probably asked each question 50 times, never remembering the answers we gave.

It's been a few days now and he says that he is miserable. He looks terribly sad and we are a little disappointed that there are not as many activities available as what we thought. I think there a lot of lonely days ahead, despite many of us willing to visit. He is not a big reader anymore, though he used to be, and he is not very social either. As a family we are grieving because he just does not understand that there is any need for this at all. He thinks he is perfectly fine and capable, and that makes us look and feel like some horrible mongers. We are second-guessing all of this and yet - there does not seem to be any other options; we have looked at so many! Does it make any sense to even think of moving him back, only to have to do this all over again as the disease progresses? And what would we do in the meantime, anyway? He would not deal well with caregivers coming and going throughout the day that were essentially strangers to him. We are heartbroken and welcome any advice from those who have been there. We are worried he will never adapt.

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Thanks for the update. Please keep us posted as this progresses.
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update: We got an anti-anxiety med for dad from the doctor and he is doing better. He is starting to get used to the facility but still speaks of home. We see small steps forward, though. He participated in an activity yesterday, which was a first. Thanks for your help.
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You father lost his wife a few weeks ago and now he is in a new setting and he feels he is losing his own independence. Of course he hasn't adjusted well yet! Whew! That is a huge amount of change to incorporate into one's life. Add a touch of dementia and it is certainly not surprising that he asks the same questions 50 times.

It doesn't make sense to me to even think of moving him back. He is where he needs to be. Take comfort in knowing that is what your mother decided and she knew him better than anyone else in the world.

I'm sorry the ALF doesn't have more activities, but, really, many people do not participate in the activities that are available. If Dad did not participate in social events and activities before, that would be another huge change for him. That may happen, but not overnight.

If he used to like to read, would he enjoy audio books? Would he get a kick out of e-books? Would being able to adjust the type size be a help?

It is OK for you as a family to be grieving. You have lost one parent to death and are losing the other to declining health. This is sad. You are doing your best in spite of your grief, and that is all you can expect of yourselves.

Good luck!
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Hi dailychocolate. I like your user name. :) First my condolences on the loss of your mother. You and your family have certainly been through a lot in a short amount of time.

I don't have much time right now but I wanted to assure you a few days in assisted living is not much time at all for your father to adjust. Expect more like three months, give or take. You may even need to ask your father's doctor if he can be put on a mild anti-depressant to get through this transitional period. IMO, I would not consider moving him out of assisted living at this time (if ever). I am afraid it will only be harder the next go-around to move him back out of the family home.

My mother adjusted fairly well to assisted living considering other stories I have read. I consider myself VERY lucky. My cousin however, said my aunt's transition was pure hell. She said for the first three months every time she visited my aunt (they are in another state), she would cry, my aunt would cry, my cousin was wracked with guilt...you get the picture. Not pleasant. :((

However around the four month mark, my cousin said the clouds parted, the sun came out, and slowly my aunt considered the ALF "home". Your family and your father need more time.

PS: I am also under whelmed by the activity schedule at my mother's ALF. I wish they would offer double the activities they do now. However my mother has made friends there and that helps with the down time at the facility. Hopefully that will be the case with your father too.

Best of luck to you.
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