Alzheimer’s and Dementia: When Do You Need to Take Over?

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So many family caregivers say “But mom/dad/aunt/brother/spouse will not let me…”

When your loved one has dementia and can no longer make healthy decisions for him or herself, it is no longer up to them what happens. This is very challenging for family members to grasp.


This may sound harsh, but think of it this way: would you want your loved one with dementia driving down the highway alone? No, probably not. Would we allow a toddler to play in the street because they demanded it? Most definitely not!


If that’s the case, why are you letting the car stay in the driveway? Why are you keeping the stove plugged in? Why is your loved one at home by themselves most of the day? The answer is this: someone needs to take over their decision making. And that person is you.


This is a “don’t ask for permission, beg for forgiveness” situation.


If you’re waiting for permission to do something regarding your loved one’s care, you’re going to be waiting forever. It will NOT happen.


Your loved one is never going to say, “You know what, I woke up this morning and decided to let you take over the bills, plan my day and move me into a care community.” People living with dementia do not have the ability to plan ahead using logic and good judgment. Their reasoning skills are not intact, much like a toddler whose brain is not fully developed.


The hard truth is this: you need to be their decision maker. When he or she can no longer make safe choices, you need to make those safe choices on their behalf. (And this doesn’t involve asking first!)