Dealing with a grandparent with Alheimzer's and dementia with a 3yr old

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Okay, so... I live with my boyfriend and our little boy who will be 4 in a few months. My boyfriend's mother has severe Alheimzer's and dementia. Over the past few months she's gotten worse then usual and I really don't know how to handle myself because of the fact it involves my son!


We live in a town home. It's 2 stories. So my boyfriend's mom has access to upstairs. We had to replace all the locks because she's a wandering risk. We also have a lock on the door to the basement cause that's where me, my boyfriend and our son live. It's 2 stories if you include the basement.


Anyway, since the stove and main fridge are upstairs (we have a mini fridge downstairs), we have to go upstairs to get food. Whenever my son is up there he likes to run laps around the house. He's not hurting anyone and me and my boyfriend prefer it if we're up there for a few hours cooking or whatever. I'm honestly tired of my boyfriend's mother yelling at my son for running through the upstairs of the house. I've even seen her put her foot out trying to trip him while he's running! I've seen her grab his arm once and I almost lost it. I'm very protective of my child.


Sometimes when my son runs his laps, his grandma thinks we have neighbors downstairs or something even after we tell her otherwise. But once she's told otherwise, she'll make up some other story as to why he's being bad and will continue yelling at him. I'm also tired of her cheap snarky comments toward me as a mother.... This entire situation has made me more depressed then I usually am cause she can't just chill and let my son be a damn kid.


I've told my son that grandma is sick in her head and that she doesn't understand, but I don't think he's old enough to comprehend that yet. Also, my boyfriend is the only one that can bring her back to reality. She doesn't remember me 99% of the time even though I moved here in Dec 2012 before she had fully lost it. Back then she could still drive, cook etc. Now she literally can't do anything. She basically sleeps and eats. That's it. We also administer her medicine 3 times a day. She's not the healthiest and she's 80 years old.


We pay for an adult care center but getting her up to actually go is a pain and many times she'll argue about it. In the end she ends up not going cause trying to get her out of the house is more stressful then letting her be. We have a caregiver that comes twice a week to watch her, clean and cook and sometimes watch our son but I always worry about leaving my son around his grandma these days. Our caregiver has told us sometimes how mean my boyfriend's mother is to my boy etc. And it's just.... I don't know what to do anymore.


I want to put her in a home but we can't afford it. I asked my boyfriend about a state home but he's against it cause he says they're worse then ones you pay for outright. We have no lives. We can only leave anywhere 2 times a week together when the caregiver is here otherwise my boyfriend goes alone to do errands because someone always has to be at home. Plus my boyfriend has Parkinsons so he can't watch our son by himself. My boyfriend is tied to his mom's bank account which is how we afford basic necessities and pay the bills. I have a bank account but no income.


I'm also chronically ill and my own Dr. doesn't know what's wrong with me. So with me and my boyfriend unable to work, we're basically living off of his mother's social security check. So you can imagine how difficult this is to deal with.


How do you all deal with this? I feel like I'm at my wits end, mostly because of how she treats my child. She's gotten so much worse lately. The anger is almost instant the second my son starts running. Literally, that's all he does. He just runs. He usually doesn't get into stuff or do anything out of the ordinary. He just has a lot of energy. And when he sits down to eat or gets pulled into a cartoon it's like an instant switch off for his grandma and all of sudden she will go on and on and on about what a good boy he is..... I'm very worried how this erratic behavior will affect my child.


Most of the time she doesn't even know where she is. Many times she doesn't recognize her own son anymore. Occasionally she thinks her husband is still alive even though she's been twice widowed. Or how she'll think she's babysitting when she's not.... Or when she thinks her parents are supposed to come pick her up even though they've been dead for years. She's so far deteriorated at this point. Only things she can still do herself is make toast, dress herself and go to the bathroom.


I guess I'm just looking for advice on how to deal with this with my highly energetic 3 year old son. Sorry for the long background story. Just thought it'd help paint the picture of what's going on.

24 Comments

Whose townhouse is this? If yours get her applied for other housing options or Medicaid and her moved out. If hers, GREAT, you have no ties to this home and you move out!

This is not a healthy environment to raise a child.
@gladimhere I can't move out. I have no money and I'm not going to leave my boyfriend. My boyfriend is wonderful and he helps a lot and we love each other unconditionally. Her and my boyfriends name are on the house. Plus if I move out by myself, that would mean going back to a very unhealthy diet which would make me physically sicker. Right now I'm physically doing better because of dietary change. So is my boyfriend. I can't raise this child by myself either.
@gladimhere also moving out is basically not an option. Even if we sold this place, we wouldn't have enough money for a decent house that has no issues. I've already looked into that. Even if we moved out to the country which is ideal, we wouldn't have enough. Especially if his mom goes into a home.... If we sold this place, we only get half of what this would sell for which isn't enough for a house and not enough left over to hire movers nor enough left over if the new place has problems we have to pay for. :(
Your son is a typical preschooler. He has lots of energy and if he doesn’t get out to the playground or go to preschool regularly, he has no outlet other than using grandma’s house for a running track. Even those of us who don’t have mental or health issues,when we become older, lose patience very quickly.

Now, you are living off your BF’s mom’s income. Does she also own the townhome? Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you expect to ever have a life of your own, changes need to be made. Does BF have brothers or sisters who can help out or take over for you? Have you ever applied for financial aid, Social Security disability for both you and BF, food stamps or Section 8 housing?

This is not a healthy situation for your son. It may come to the point where you need to chose between this toxic situation and remaining with your boyfriend or taking the baby out of this situation and going off on your own. What about your family? Could they help you out until you get on your feet? Good luck.
You could. If anyone notices the way your son is treated child protective services may be paying you a visit.

Could you get a job? Find a place to live for you and BF and son? This is a terrible situation for your son. Do you agree? Does BF have a job? Maybe social services has some ideas for you.

Your son is your first responsibility and should be your highest priority.
Do whatever you can to separate the house into two functional apartments by adding a small kitchen downstairs so that your son doesn't have to interact with her. And educate yourself about Alzheimer's and other dementias, grandma can't be reasoned with because her brain is broken, so ALL the compromise will have to come from you. From your description she is nowhere near the end of her life, this is a situation you may have to learn to live with for years, possibly even more than a decade.
@hugemom We take him to the playground, mainly when it's warm out. He has endless energy. Even after running all day, it never ends once he gets home.

Me and my son are currently on medicaid. All 4 of us live in the same house. We've already turned the house basically into a duplex minus not having a downstairs kitchen. Also no, my BF doesn't work, he's disabled but doesn't qualify for disability nor SSI because he's tied to his moms money which is slightly above the amount considered poor. And he doesn't have enough work credits. I have my own chronic health problems which don't allow me to work and also am currently healing from a second back injury.

My own family lives in another state, so no, they can't help. My boyfriends family all live too far away from us despite most of them being in the same state and have their own issues to deal with. Basically they don't want another "problem" to deal with. We're home 24/7. His mom can't ever be alone in the house.
@gladimhere I get what you're saying. But I'm not gonna up and leave in the middle of winter. And the only way the 3 of us could move is if we bring my BF's mother with us otherwise we would only receive half of what the townhouse is worth. That's around $100,000.... Most homes out here for sale are older with many issues that need attending to. And those homes run around $100,000 and up. We wouldn't be able to afford that. My BF can't work. He's disabled and doesn't qualify for disability due to not having enough work credits. He doesn't qualify for SSI due to the fact he's tied to his mom's money. I can't work due to my own health issues that my own dr doesn't know what is wrong with me.

I'm also healing from a recent second back injury. When my son is downstairs with me and my boyfriend, everything is fine. When my kid is calm/quiet upstairs with grandma, everything is fine. It's only when he runs she acts out. I honestly would rather she go to a home. We looked into one that my BF's stepdad was in, but that's like $20,000 a year. We can't afford that. Apparently the others around here are about the same. A friend told us a couple years ago that up near him the nursing homes are cheaper but my BF wants easy access for visitations. He doesn't want to drive an hr or more just to visit for 30mins to an hr. Also, money resources are too limited right now. I'm almost of the opinion of canceling the adult daycare membership. She hardly goes anymore. She legit fights about going. The adult daycare runs from 8am-3pm. So the time we have is limited. That at least would save money. We do have a caregiver that comes twice a week though. So there's that.
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@cwillie our house has already been turned into a duplex minus a downstairs kitchen. There's no space downstairs for a second kitchen, plus not to mention what that would cost. I have considered getting a portable induction cooker for downstairs though but that wouldn't be for big meals. When me or my BF cook upstairs, it's because we're cooking food for all 4 of us: me, BF, grandma and child. After cooking we have to wait till the red light on the electric stove shuts off (can't leave it unattended) then once that turns off we have to turn off the entire stove with the breaker switch. We have a lock on the basement door so grandma can't get downstairs. When she still had access to downstairs she hurt her knee a few times due to arthritis. That was the original reason for getting a new lock on the door. So the entire downstairs is our bedroom/living area with a mini fridge. And there's a bedroom down here that we gave to our boy and that's where he sleeps. There's also a full bathroom downstairs. And upstairs is the living room, full kitchen, one full bathroom and one bedroom. We also have a sliding door downstairs that leads outside, so unless we want to lock the house or are leaving for a day while our caregiver is here, we can open that up to go outside. We also have a walking path we walk when it's warmer out. I actually took my son walking with me the day before yesterday in the rain when it warmed up to around 60 degrees. We both enjoyed it. He loves the rain. :)

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