Question: I don't know if I am over-reacting most of the time. My 95 year old father (who was widowed last year) is behaving in ways that cause me concern. He gets 'stuck' in an activity like zipping up a jacket, and I have to remind him of the task at hand (often) to get him going again. He seems to behave like a child sometimes (the way he reacts to stimulus or how he notices things). How do I determine if changes in his behavior are pointing to something more dangerous?
Dr. Amy: The only way to find out what is causing the changes you describe is to have a qualified medical professional do a thorough assessment of your father. There could be a number of things causing these changes and you need to figure out which one it is. Beyond a diagnosis, you also want the doctor to help you with treatment options—not just medication but practical things you can do to help your father and help you to cope with his changes more effectively.
Depending on the diagnosis, there may be disease-related organizations that can give you practical ideas to make your life and your father's life easier and more enjoyable. Make sure you ask for options and recommendations, so that both you and your father receive the care and support you need.
Are you over-reacting most of the time? I think many older people would be thrilled to know that someone who loves them is watching out for them, like you are!
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