My dad, John, was always a very strong man with a positive, caring attitude. Most of his life, he worked two jobs; one full-time during the day and the other part-time, two to three evenings during the week. When he had spare time, dad spent time with family and friends. He kept very busy after mom passed away a couple of years ago.
One day family members noticed dad forgetting things he normally would remember. Was he losing his memory? Was this normal? At first, we thought his memory loss was due to his long working hours and not getting enough sleep. Then we noticed his memories would come and go. Dad’s forgetfulness continued for a couple of months. Gradually, performing daily activities were difficult for dad. Just tying his shoes began to be a struggle. One day, my wife gave dad a dress shirt for his birthday. The next day, he forgot my wife gave it to him. He said, “What shirt?” Family members were convinced dad was really losing his memory. It was not a big deal until he was forgetting more and more. My dad also knew something was not right, so he decided to retire from his full-time job and he also quit his part-time job.
Several months later, out of concern for my dad, my wife and I decided to ask if he would like to move in with us. We had plenty of room at our home with three very active kids. My wife and I did not want him living alone, especially with his failing memory. To our surprise, dad was excited that we asked him to move in. He was thrilled to be around family, especially his grandchildren. Oh yes, we took on the role as official caregivers.
When my brothers and sisters paid a visit, dad would sometimes call me Jimmy. Well, Jimmy, one of my brothers had been deceased for a couple of years. My brothers and sisters visited dad on the weekends. Many times they would take him on a ride around the city or to their home, just to give my wife and me a break. Once in a while, dad would get upset with them because he asked why they did not visit them the previous week. He forgot that they did.
Finally, we grew more and more concerned about my dad’s failing memory, so we decided to take him to our family doctor who was also trained as a geriatrician; a doctor who specializes in the care of older adults. Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia.
After a while, we could no longer care for dad the way we wanted to. It was a difficult choice, but we found a senior living community that included a community for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, this was the best place for dad. He was not getting any better. At first, dad did not like the idea of being there. However, after a while, he began liking his new surroundings because someone was around him all the time. That’s been important to him.
If you or someone you know is experiencing what my family experienced with my dad, maybe it’s time to have them see a geriatrician. Receiving the right diagnosis is important. My family learned that a senior living community that specializes in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease was the best place for dad.