In the past 15 months there's been a BIG change in my Dad's behavior. He quit bowling (3 days a week - M,W,F), going to the gym (3 days a week - T, TH, S), and playing card games with the family; he no longer does his daily sudoku puzzles or reads (he was an avid reader of novels); and he quit as the church treasurer. He has basically disengaged himself from all activity and now sits or sleeps most of the day in his recliner. He is also suffering from memory loss and confusion and has difficulty engaging in conversation. Our family is so saddened by these changes and how quickly the decline has occurred. The doctor says he's showing signs of mental decline, but we also think there's depression. We love my Dad and are struggling with how to help him re-engage with us and life activities. Any ideas?

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Did the doctor start him on any meds to help with depression? Or do a complete mental evaluation? Those are first steps, having more information is always helpful, and treating depression can work wonders. My dad took Zoloft his last years and it was a big help for him. If it’s dementia, instead of him reengaging with former activities, you’ll have to adapt to his new normal and even that will change. His world becomes smaller and more confusing and formerly enjoyable activities don’t hold the same interest. Sorry you’re dealing with this, my dad didn’t go through dementia, but did have anxiety and depression, and stopped many enjoyed activities due to physical decline. It’s hard to watch
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Reply to Daughterof1930
msknight01 Mar 16, 2021
I'm definitely going to ask the doctor about depression. I also appreciate your comment about me and my family adapting to HIS new normal. I think that's wonderful advice. Thanks!
With all that has gone on in the past year it could be any number of things.
Depression could be at the top of the list
Prior to this change and looking back over the past 2, 3 or 4 years can you recall a number of events that you or a family member brushed off as oh, he is tired, he did not really do that, or has he been late for anything?, or has he started writing things down that he might not have before? or has he made banking errors? or if he talked on the phone did he curtail that? Any little thing that can come to your mind. If you put all those incidents together you might find that it has not been just this past year but for the past 2, 3 4 years there have been changes.
Often we "see" changes, signs of decline but we explain it away as a way of denial.
First thing would be a visit to a Neurologist or a Neuropsychologist for an exam.
I am not liking your dad's doctor saying he is showing signs of mental decline and leaving it at that. His doctor should be referring him to a Neuropsychologist or a Neurologist for testing.
If everything checks out then a therapist to evaluate for depression.

By the way when was the last time he had both hearing and eyes checked. Problems hearing and vision problems can result in someone pulling back from the very activities that you mention. AND can be mistaken for mental decline as well as depression.
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Reply to Grandma1954
msknight01 Mar 16, 2021
Thanks for all these suggestions. We just got a referral for a neurologist so I'm hoping we get some answers soon.
Well of course he has stopped all of his normal activities, this past year, as we all have, due to this stupid Coronavirus. It wasn't his choice to stop, but he was forced to stop. There's a BIG difference in choosing to stop, and being forced to stop his normal activities. That is one of many tragic things that Covid has brought about, especially in the elderly.
It sounds like he's suffering from depression, as he is probably more than aware that his memory is failing and he's coming to the realization that things are not the same, and won't ever be. Probably wouldn't hurt to get his Dr involved and see if they can't put him on some type of antidepressant. Hopefully that will help at least some.
His eye sight might have changed as well, thus the reason he can't see to do his puzzles or read. I would have that checked out, along with perhaps his hearing too. Bless you for being so concerned for your father. I wish you the best.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
msknight01 Mar 16, 2021
Thanks for your suggestions and kind words. I appreciate you taking the time to provide these thoughts.
Great suggestions here.
Yes, it sounds like it could be, if he's aware of the cognitive changes.
A lot of times it depends on where they are with their memory loss. I had my Mom labeling old photos and that let her share stories about our family. She can still use her ipad and likes to play solitaire on it. She really perks up with music from the big band era-it's always been her favorite. Since he sounds like he was active how about something more basic that has less structure to get him up and out, like walking, or are you concerned he might be at the point where he's not recognizing the neighborhood? Perhaps start walking together? Amazon does sell pocket GPS's that come with a subscription service if you think he's shaky on his sense of direction. It gave my Mom some autonomy, and I could work during the day and know where she was. A big factor for my mom, that we discovered when everyone was masking, was that her hearing was not very good, and it actually did seem to fluctuate and match how foggy she was day to day. Apparently she was lip-reading quite a lot.
As others have said, it's a different level of activity--As well, he may be thinking that he's still doing some of his activities if these are things he's always done.
Best of luck,
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to ElizabethY

Bless his heart. It does sound very much like depression. It is most important to have him checked out by his Dr. Prior to the visit have family members write down what they have observed over the past 15 months. Combine into one list and take it with you when you attend appointment. This will improve the quality of the appointment and help the Dr. in determining what the next steps will be.
Good luck!
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Twithdogs

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