Is assisted living an option without a formal dementia diagnosis?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My seventy-six year old mother-in-law lives alone and has had significant memory problems/confusion for about 4years now. She also has experienced some unpleasant personality changes and a long history of chronic depression. She sends desperate emails asking for help with getting out of her single home because being a homeowner overwhelms her. However, whenever we find a condo, apartment, or townhouse for her she says it's too overwhelming to move now. Is an assisted living facility an appropriate option without a formal dementia diagnosis, since she refuses to be worked up medically for her memory dysfunction? Thanks for your help.

Expert Answer

Donna Quinn Robbins is the author of Moving Mom and Dad and On the Road of Life, Drive Yourself. She helps individuals, families, retirement communities, and corporations make successful transitions. Robbins is an active public speaker on the topic of senior transition services and has appeared on NBC's Today Show.

Your mother may not be eligible for an assisted living community. They can take people with very slight cognative issues but if they have unpleasant personality changes as you suggest she may not be accepted. My suggestion would be to visit an assisted living community that has a section for dementia patients. Many communities now have 2 levels of demen tia care. She may qualify for the first level. It doesn't sound, either way, that she should be living alone. Thank you, Donna Q. Robbins