by Carolyn Lukert, MBA, CGCM,
PAC Certified Consultant
Dear PAC Consultant,
My dad was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia last year. So far, our family has managed to support him in his own home, but it is getting more difficult. We all take turns checking in on him several times a week. While he doesn’t seem to be a safety risk – he doesn’t get lost and he no longer drives – he does have periods of extreme confusion. Oftentimes, no one can get in touch with him by phone because he can’t find it, or it is off the hook. Also, we don’t know what he does all day. When asked, he simply replies “I have my projects” but he has nothing to show for it, except for piles of things that seem to be moved from place to place. He used to be very social, but that seems to have changed, as well. And, like many families, we promised him we would never make him move out of his home. What do we do?
- Needing Help in Houston
Dear Needing Help,
Determining how and where to best support a parent who is living with dementia are two of the most frequent questions (or variations of questions) I receive. So, you are not alone! And, as you have probably guessed, the answers are not easy ones. What’s best for your dad will depend on many different things – some of which you have considered, and some maybe not. Safety is usually the first topic people think about. But there are others, as well. How well is your dad able do things successfully – at his current and changing levels of ability? If the answer is not well, what supports might you put into place, and how willing is your dad to accept that support? Also, how able is he able to engage in a way that meets his social needs? You mentioned he used to be very social. Now that he is not driving, how are these needs being met, and what impact is that having on his overall well-being? Really, at the end of the day, are his needs outpacing what his current environment can support? This is the million-dollar question.
Now for the promise … The promise to keep a loved one in his/her own home is made by many, not realizing what that really means when needs change in a way that no one has anticipated. I wonder how a move to a more supportive environment might be considered as one of the options. While a move – or even the thought of a move – can be very scary, it may be worth putting it back on the table. Family members often interpret this as a failure, making this decision about them, not about their parent. In actuality, finding the just right setting with the just right care might be the best option for everyone, most importantly your loved one. I am not suggesting that a move is always the right solution for everyone, including it as one option to explore might be worth considering.
Navigating this part of the dementia experience can quickly become overwhelming. I encourage you to reach out for assistance, and we are here for you! Please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone consultation.
- Sincerely, PAC Consultant
Carolyn Lukert, MBA, CGCM joins the Positive Approach® to Care (PAC) team as a PAC Certified Independent Consultant, Coach, and Trainer. As a care partner in her own family, and as a care manager in private duty home care and in senior living communities, she brings a broad perspective to her roles with PAC. Carolyn balances her time between Rhode Island and Florida, where she provides support to families where dementia is present. She also is very involved in staff development and organizational culture change relative to the care of individuals living with dementia.