My dad has always been a massive introvert, but at 85 he is really withdrawing from everything. We three direct kids of his are kind of used to being ignored, but he adores his grand- and great-grandkids but is no longer responding to their attempts to contact him. He no longer answers his phone, responds to texts or emails, or anything like that. He does occasionally send out a birthday card. He has decided to give up his car (NEVER thought that would happen). Alarmingly, he has not filed his federal taxes this year (not sure if he has paid and just not filed, or what).

We lost Mom at 72 years of age twelve years ago, but he grieved normally (for him) and returned to his normal self pretty quickly. His only sibling has come down with dementia, so there's that. No other dementia in the family thus far. When we do see Dad in person, he seems quiet but normal. His memory seems fine and he is in relatively great physical shape. He lives alone in a single apartment in a wonderful independent living home and is taking care of himself. His appetite is normal.

Maybe this is normal for this stage in life, but we are worried and unsure of what to do (or if anything needs to be done). There's no way we could get him to go to the doctor to get checked out, let alone talk to a psychiatrist or a specialist in gerontology. Just isn't going to happen.

Not sure how to proceed here. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Try asking him what's wrong.
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97yroldmom Oct 2020
I love your answer MJ1929
it might work. Most I know would not give a direct answer. But he might.
I think you cannot imagine how exhausting it is to be 85 until you get there. My brother died at 85. He was so exhausted with life that honestly he began to give up everything. Did have a diagnosis after a car accident of probable early Lewy's dementia, but at that point did put himself in Assisted Living, did ask me to take over as Trustee and as POA and take on his bills and other things, and said that just keeping up was tiring. Had all he could do to get to breakfast lunch and supper. At 78 I am slowing down a LOT and there is so much less I am willing to put up with. Even loud kids are, well, loud kids. You become both hard of hearing AND intolerant of noise at the same time.
Talk to your Dad about this. A program on NPR made clear that one OTHER thing that happens is that families talk AROUND a senior and don't talk TO a senior any more.
As a Nurse I heard this story over and over again and cannot even begin to count the times I had to say to family "They get tired; until you are there you can't begin to imagine it.
My brother told me that he honestly was quite ready to go. For my Dad, in his early 90s, the same. Only my Mom, of all seniors I have known,wanted to go on no matter the problems. It is a long slow slide, with one loss after the other, and no real up side in all truth.
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It sounds like he might be a tad depressed. Does he take walks, shop for his food? Pay his bills?
How do you know what you do know about the things you mentioned? Is someone going by to see him? Do you know his neighbors? Is he ordering on line?
Check out the book, “Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande. It’s an interesting read on aging in America and has some excellent conversation points to help talk with your dad about what is important to him. If possible, spend the night in his home. You can learn a lot about how someone is doing by simple observation of their living space. Messages on the phone. Mail piling up. Spoiled food in the cupboards or Frig. Odors. Laundry piling up. Medicine not refilled. If he doesn’t want you to visit, push a bit. Let it go for awhile and then maybe just drop in.
Both my parents stopped driving on their own. They did it together. Said they didn’t think they had any business driving. They were in their 80s. Although my dad still had wheels with a tractor and golf cart he drove on his property.
You have on your bio that dad has dementia but in your question it doesn’t sound like it. He may be concerned for himself since his sisters diagnosis.
At 85 he should have his legal documents in order. Maybe he does. It is a very stressful time now in our country. There is plenty to be concerned about. I think I would try to have an intimate comfortable chat with him and see if he can make you feel better.
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