DEAR ABBY: My mother is in her early 70s and was recently diagnosed with dementia. My family and I are in the process of looking at assisted-living facilities.
The problem we're facing is well-meaning neighbors and old family friends who say that Mom is "too young" to consider assisted living as an option. This is causing her (and me) much undue stress. She has lived in her home for more than 30 years and has been alone since Dad passed away 10 years ago.
Abby, none of these people understand that my mother forgets to take her medication, loses her checkbook, has gotten lost driving -- or forgets why she's in her car in the first place. They don't realize that performing simple household tasks like laundry and cooking meals has become a burden for Mom and exhausts her.
It has been a difficult decision for my mother to agree to leave her home and accept the assistance she needs -- and some people are making it harder. What can I say to these folks to change their attitude about our decision and encourage them to support my mother with love and acceptance as we move forward? She needs that now more than ever. Sign me ... WANT WHAT'S BEST FOR MOM IN NEW YORK
DEAR WANT WHAT'S BEST: Sit down with these well-meaning people and explain exactly what you have told me. It is important that they understand your mother is no longer the person she once was, as much as you all might wish it. Dementia is a disease that affects not only the sufferers, but everyone who loves them. I'm sure these people will be less resistant once they fully understand what is going on. Be sure to encourage them to visit her and remain a part of her life.