On the edge...

Started by

On the edge of..something...a nervous breakdown maybe..a temper tantrum, I don't know, but I'm going to crack up soon I think.
First off I want to say Hi! This is my first post tho I've been lurking for a short while. It's so nice to know I'm not alone in my feelings.
Ok. so here is the story, or maybe rant, could go either way. My grandma has been living with me for almost 2 years. Her 80th birthday is coming up this month. I "rescued" her from my aunt's house where she had been living for about 3 years. I'm not sure if the rescue was for my gram or my aunt. My aunt was on the verge of divorce because of her husband and grams issues. He called her "the unwashed whore of satan" and she did everything she could to antagonize him. My aunt was stuck in the middle, so I thought, "Gram can help me out, I can help her out, it will be better for everyone.".
The "gram can help me out" part was in my foolish thinking that she would be willing to chip in on food and rent and such.In October of 2011 I was diagnosed with stage iv breast cancer. I let my business fall apart and ended up on SSDI. As you may know, SSDI does not pay enough to cover rent, let alone utilities and food. I thought we would be helping each other make things better. I was wrong. She doesn't pay for anything. Unless I ask her, she will not chip in for food or bills. When I do ask, she considers it a loan that I will pay back at some point. She says she babysat me when I was little and I and my mom lived at her house so I owe her. So, rather than helping, I am now responsible for food, housing and utilities for 4 people rather than 3.

Grandma is also a hoarder. I knew this, but thought I could keep it under control since I would be right there all the time. Her last house had random crap floor to ceiling in EVERY room. Not even a path to walk, she crawled over it all and slept on the massive pile of clothes in the bedroom her bed was buried under. I have been able to keep it contained to her room, but the level of crap is higher than the bed and she is once again sleeping on time of the pile. I can't put anything in the trash or she will dig it out and stash it in her room. I won't let her bring in stuff she gets out of dumpsters while out walking so she hides it behind the garage and sneaks it in at 3am while I'm sleeping.

With all the crap in her room, her door only opens about 5 inches. It takes her a few minutes to squish in or out of her room. That is to long for her to make it to the bathroom in time, so she has a pee bucket, that's right, a gallon ice cream tub, in her room. If she misses the bucket, or doesn't get to it in time, she just sits on some papers till she dries out. She refuses to let me do her laundry. She will occasionally wash out a pair of pants in the bathtub at 4am, but other than that not a thing in that room has been laundered. The stench of urine in my house is just..ugh, I can't even come up with the words.

Did I mention she talks? I don't mean has a conversation, I mean babbles. Nonstop. All day. She has told me so many times that I can't even count that she was abducted by aliens, a champion swimmer, ballet dancer, and gymnast. She was in the USO and best friends with Bob Hope. She has been followed by the FBI since she was a child, because her cousins friend's son was an FBI agent. She used to work with the ruler of Egypt at some old greasy spoon 60 years ago. She's worried he might come looking for her because he wanted to marry her. The US has drones watching her. She can see them out the window at 3am. She's made me get up and look. She met John Gotti at this little cafe where she used to go to have coffee. Now the mob is after her. She follows me around the house and goes on and on with these outlandish stories all day everyday.
She also thinks people are coming in to our house and stealing her crap. Or that we are stealing her crap. She accused my 18 year old of stealing money out of her purse, while she was holding it. She swears that 15 year old spit in the pot while cooking dinner. She says my 12 year old is sneaking in her room and breaking stuff, or hiding it, or stealing it. It's something different everyday. My kids are horribly offended and upset that she says this kind of stuff about them.
She refuses to take a bath, sneaks stuff out of the kitchen and blames it on the kids. Ate a whole pan of brownies in the middle of the night and blamed them. She pees on everything and will not wear a pad. I've bought 20 different kids, she hates them all. She is so nosy, she says curious She thinks she has to know about everything everyone is doing all the time. There is no such thing as a private convo in my house anymore. Then she feels the need to tell the neighbors or anyone and everyone else who will listen all about my private life.

I thought I was making things better for her. I thought it would make things better for me. I was wrong. I don't know how much longer I can do this.


my gosh, you have a maniac on your hands. i dont think it helps much when you vent on here ( at the time ) but its comforting to keep reading day after day and see that many other people are fighting the same battle. " unwashed whore of satan" ? thats funny and i do love funny stuff.
First of all, I would call your aunts husband and tell him that you were sorry about all the names you were thinking about him when he called your grandmother 'the unwashed whore of satan' because apparently he was right! :) But seriously, your grandmother is in need of more help then what you can give her physically, mentally & emotionally. You gave it that old 'college try' but she needs to live out her life in an environment where there are people trained to deal with this stuff. If it were me, I'd be throwing my hands up too not knowing what to do with the old gal. The whole idea of her peeing and trying to live in all that hoarded stuff gags me a little. She is in need of mental help, so start making the calls. And leave the guilt at the door, because taking care of a little kid while the mom worked is NOT the same as the financial, mental, physical & emotional burden she's putting on you now. No way. ♥
Oh my goodness -and welcome, stormynyte. Just, wow-it sounds to me like Granny AKA The Unwashed Wo*re of Satan, is mentally ill. Maybe schizophrenia? She is at least having paranoid delusions. This is too much for you and for your children. And the pee- on boy, you poor thing. I would try and get her into an assisted living place. Or a mental hospital. You do not owe this woman your blood, sweat and tears. Finding her a place outside of your home is taking care of her enough, IMO. Good luck. (((((hugs)))))
On Monday call Social Services in your county. Explain that your grandmother has been living with you but that you did not realize how mentally ill she really is and you can no longer deal with it. You don't want to see her on the streets but she has to leave your house. Ask for a needs assessment and help in finding a place for her.

Poor Grandma. She did not deliberately set out to be this way. Nobody asks to be mentally ill. You are simply not equipped to handle the situation and did not know the nature of it when you volunteered. Plus you cannot afford to support her.

Your rescue mission was well intentioned but hopeless from the start. Now you need someone to rescue you and your children. Call Social Services.

Please let us know how this is going for you.
As MishkaM & NancyH said, she is mentally ill. She needs help that you can't give her. Save yourself and your family, call the local Adult Protective Services, the local Mental Health Dept. and tell them what is happening. NancyH is so right you gave it your best! Not only is she making your lives a misery, her very unsanitary hoarding and hygiene puts your family's health at risk. That is where the line gets drawn!
I so completely sympathize with you- especially about the lack of hygiene, hoarding, non-stop talking and the notion that she feels you owe her something, etc.
And I suppose she rarely asks you how you or is at all interested in your life and concerns, beyond those for her.
The way I see it you have 2 choices:
1. Like many others suggested, find a place outside of your home for her as you are way over your head and putting yourself at risk. APS will have good ideas for you.
2. Prepare to go down your own rabbit hole which may mean your own mental health. This may mean needing psycho-active drugs, i.e. anti-depressants and anxiety meds which while effective are not healthy. It is only a matter of time until you reach your boiling point. It will happen sooner or later.

No good deed goes unpunished and you have done what you can for a long time now. There is no need to be further punished for your big heart.

Good Luck !

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support