Older man walking with his daughter

Difficult Conversations, Part I: Dad’s Forgetfulness

This is the first in a series covering how you may handle difficult conversations. 

You go home to watch the game with Dad one Sunday and notice he seems to be forgetting things. Not the usual: where did I put my keys. More like: “Dad, I just told you the same thing a couple minutes ago.”

What should you do?

It is understandable to feel concerned about your father’s sudden forgetfulness. There are several steps you can take to ensure that he receives the appropriate care and support:

Talk to your father: Start by having an honest and open conversation with your father about your concerns. Ask him if he has noticed any changes in his memory or ability to care for himself. Encourage him to visit a doctor for a checkup. Be patient as he may become defensive or impatient.

Schedule a doctor’s appointment: As your father if you can schedule an appointment with his doctor and if it is ok for you to attend the visit. If he agrees, share your concerns with the doctor and ask for an evaluation of your father’s cognitive and physical health.

Get a professional assessment: Consider arranging for a professional assessment of your father’s ability to care for himself. A geriatric care manager or social worker can evaluate his needs and recommend appropriate resources, such as in-home care or assisted living.

Seek support: Look for support from family, friends, and community resources. Caregiving can be challenging, and it’s essential to take care of yourself too. 

Verify whether your father has a valid Minnesota Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive. These are crucial documents that will allow you to handle financial and medical/personal matters on his behalf. Without these documents, you will need to seek a guardianship to ask the court to allow you to assist him.

Remember, early detection and intervention can help your father receive the care and support he needs. By taking steps to address your concerns, you can help ensure that your father continues to live a safe and healthy life.