I'm looking for some advice by people who have faced similar challenges. My father who is in his mid-70s has cognitive impairment.
He recently had a serious accident resulting in a third degree burn. He was burning trash outside and accidentally lit his clothes on fire. For a brief period the fire was burning out of control. He was within 50 feet or so of a very large propane tank. Fortunately, he was able to control the fire before any huge disaster occurred. He had to have a skin graft and has been in recovery at a skilled nursing facility following a couple of weeks in the hospital.
Three years ago, he had a major stroke which left him with minor memory problems and some speech difficulties. After his surgery about 3 or so weeks ago, I noticed his memory and speech difficulties worsened significantly. He also had a few instances of paranoia, extreme anxiety, and recently, talking to himself.
The skilled nursing facility conducted some tests and based on the results, he has moderate cognitive impairment. Based on their assessment, he should not return to living on his own. He needs nearby 24-hour care, like the level of care available at an assisted living facility. I think some of his memory and problem solving issues may have been caused by pain medicines. I've seen some improvement, but his memory, speech and problem solving abilities are still quite impaired. He has multiple health issues, including diabetes for which he requires insulin.
He is expected to be released from the skilled nursing facility in about 2 weeks. He claims he can take care of himself at home and he is fine to drive. The skilled nursing facility says, and I agree, that he cannot. And, he lives about 2 hours away from me, his closest relative, and his home is filthy and he is living in the house without a certificate of occupancy. It is unfinished with no railings inside. The house is loaded with paper and garbage. There are numerous safety issues for a person with no cognitive impairment. His car isn't much better.
I know that I can take the path to have him declared legally incompetent, but am concerned that even if I do, I can't force him to go to an assisted living facility. I'm stuck and I have a family of my own with a very busy family and work schedule.
I don't have lots of time to run him around to various physicians who are going to confirm what the skilled nursing facility has already confirmed through testing and observation. And, I'm pretty sure he's just stonewalling. Other physicians in the past have said he shouldn't be living on his own. If the fire, which could have killed him or caused him to have to have his leg amputated, isn't enough of a warning, I don't know what is.
He can afford to live in an assisted living facility for about 10 years. Given his health conditions, it's unlikely he'll live that long and if he does, we can worry about it in 5 years or so.
Where do I go from here?