How long can you fool someone with dementia?

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My dad lives alone and we want him to move in with us so we can care for him but he doesn't. My dad is 80 years old and was diagnosed with diabetes about 15 years ago. I talk to him regularly on the phone but seldom visit as he lives about 5 states away.

Over the last year through some of the clues I'd get from our phone conversations I'd began to worry that he was losing his memory to an unhealthy level so I did a welfare check on him last month and found that pretty much everything he had was disconnected/discontinued including his Water (my first clue was when his phone was disconnected and I had to take over the payments of it and get it reconnected).

It was a pretty sad visit seeing the squaler that he was living in after not having running water for 8 months or garbage picked up or even a fridge that worked to a healthy level.

Me and my family spent our whole vacation cleaning his house, taking over his bills and getting things reconnected and renewed (like his driver's license and insurance). We inspected his medications and found that he'd been off of his insulin for probably about a year but seemed in great physical health (he walks 3-6 miles a day every day unless it rains).

OK enough background, here's the nitty-gritty of the quest. We want to move him to our place but he really doesn't want to move. He, for some reason, loves being at his own house and wants to die there. While I appreciate and respect his desires, he's just not taking care of himself.

Since he doesn't remember pretty much anything from day to day (ie he didn't remember my family's week long visit 2 days after we left). My evil plot was to get him to "visit" us on vacation and then just keep telling him that he's going home "next week" with "next week" never coming.

Can something like this hold up? Or, will his mind eventually discover that "next week" isn't on the agenda?

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Ok. Now that I've got over the coughing fit brought on by choking on my coffee, I'd like to concentrate on your primary good intention: to see that your father is taken good care of.

You live five states away from your father - to an English person, that equates to "another planet" basically - and it is clearly not possible for you to provide hands-on caregiving for him in his own home. Fair enough. And it is also completely understandable that you would like to move him into your area so that you can supervise him closely, and also just see more of the old guy. Not only fair, but nice - good for you.

The means of achieving this, though, are a problem. You know categorically that moving near to you, or in with you, are not what he wants. You can't say you respect his wishes and then just ignore them. Your plan, practical or not, is totally unethical.

So what are the alternatives? Does he have the means to buy support services at home? Would he consider moving to supported or assisted living in the area that he knows and loves? If you have exhausted all possible options for keeping him at home and there really is no alternative but to move him, in his own interests, then so be it; that will have to be faced up to by him, with your support; but fooling him into it a) is an ethicist's nightmare and b) will get this new phase of his life off to an extremely shaky start.

Set out from the point of view that he wants to stay at home. Call for help and advice from service providers in his area to find out what is possible. If it turns out, or becomes the case, that living at home is no longer an option, you then move on to working on his acceptance of that - again, with help and support from professionals in his area, such as his doctor, social workers and so on.

It won't be easy; but unless he has given you power of attorney to make these decisions for him, and unless he has been evaluated as no longer being legally competent, you have no right to uproot him against his consistent and clear wishes - and especially not through deceit.
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Welcome to caregiving! Now you either manage your dads care 5 states away (not going to work for him or you) or move to him (unlikely) or move him to you. You could try having him live with you and if it starts to destroy your family, place him in assisted living or a nursing home. Just know that you may not have a clear view of how damaging caregiving can be on your family. Trust them and listen to them if they complain about what dad is doing to the family unit (already started with a 'vacation' to clean). Be good to yourself, eat right, exercise. You're going to need every bit of healthfulness to take care of dad. Reality is many caregivers die before their charge does because of the stress. Do not tread lightly here - this is more difficult than anything you have ever done.
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My mom has had dementia for a few years, and at the stage she is at now, your plan would work. A couple of years ago when she had her first serious fall, my sister suggested moving her bedroom from the far end of the house to the small one across from the bathroom. My dad said she would never agree to that. By the time she was out of rehab, she didn't remember where her original bedroom was, and I did her new room in her favorite colors, with the walls hung with tons of photos of her family and friends. She loved it.
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Could you not perhaps get live-in help for him or someone to pop in twice a day? Definitely get rid of the car tho' - the danger is not only for himself but others.
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Suggestions: a really good evaluation of his capacity (or not) to take care of himself. He might be better in an appropriate facility near where he is now; familiar weather, scenery, environment. Remember that he almost undoubtedly cannot make new memories. which means he cannot learn anything new. Also, placement would probably be easier from a local hospital, and he would have access to doctors, etc., who know him and that he knows. Moving into an unfamiliar home with more people than he's used to is a stress in itself.
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I had a similar situation with my cousin, who was not able to care for herself of live alone anymore. Her doctor suggested she go to get assistance in a facility. I explained to my cousin that it was temporary so she could get her physical therapy, medications, meals, etc. and so she could regain her strength. It worked and she agreed to go, but she would question me repeatedly as to how long she would be there. I kept saying it depended on her progress and that it would be soon, since she was doing so well. In fact, she was not doing well at all.

Eventually, I had to place her in Memory Care and she forgot about it. She no longer even knows she has a house. So, I would recommend it if you have no other choice. It's not common that a dementia patient can understand the situation and agree on a sensible plan. You have to do what you have to do to keep them safe, IMO. Good luck.
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I do want to say in the OP's defense, renewing his driver's license probably isnt that big a deal. First, if Dad is as forgetful as it sounds, he isn't gonna give a crap whether he's got a current license or not...he's just gonna drive if he wants to, expired license or not. Secondly, I was told by a nursing facility I was checking out for my Mom that when her license expired we should get a new one because it's important ID for admission, proof of ID for Medicaid & Medicare, etc. so, yeah, that was probably a smart move.

The bigger thing is to take the keys like I did with my Mom! He might have a current license but it's not gonna do him much good without the keys to the car! He can still drive the car with an expired license!
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Ozark makes a very good point. If you were to take dad back without a plan for care in place you could be prosecuted for abandonment. You may want to start with contacting Adult Protective Services and ask them to check on him and complete an assessment.
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He's obviously unsafe if he's living in a home without running water, etc & can't remember a week-long visit beyond 2 days. Legally, I don't think it's as easy as "we'll just move him back" if he's unhappy in your home. If you move him back knowing that he's incapable of caring for himself, living without basic needs & with poor memory, you could very well be prosecuted for neglect if something tragic *does* happen! I see only two solutions to your problem & Dad isn't gonna like either one.....he either stays with you (or some other relative) or he's gonna have to go to an assisted living facility or nursing home.
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Sonofoldguy, you're going to have to just bite the bullet and be the 'bad guy' and move dad. Maybe he wouldn't have to live with you exactly, but he needs to be in asst. living or an adult foster home near you. If you're afraid of being the one he gets hopping mad at when you tell him, get the doctor to. They don't care. Sorry♥
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