Feel like I'm suffocating.

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My grandma passed away two years ago. She took care of my grandfather. Waited on his every whim. He did not have dementia at this point. When he was younger he went out and did things. Somewhere during aging he stopped. Needed to be in bed by 8pm which has decreased to 6pm. He would get angry when my grandma went out and did things. He acts childish and will not speak to you when you've made him angry. He doesn't do anything for himself. Meals? If no one is awake to cook for him he leaves and buys fast food. He still drives against our wishes. We are waiting to see what the Dr. says on his driving. He is capable of cooking or making cereal in the morning. He is capable of doing his laundry. He is capable of cleaning his room. He sits all day and asks a billion questions about things and wants everything done when he says. He's obsessed with his money. Always wants to know what's in his bank account. As he still drives he makes impulse purchases. He does not take care of his bills but is still in charge of his money. Often times we need to discuss in over abundance of why he can't spend money on something. My mother is the one who is with him the most since I work out of home. She feels like she's trapped in the house. She baby sits and has a room specifically for the kids. He will come in and ask her to make phone calls ask why a paper says something ask her to check his balance etc. Just bombards her all the time with questions and she needs her space. When she leaves he throws a fit because she wants to go alone and he guilt trips everyone. We don't want to get angry and stuff because we know sometimes he can't control it. He has always been short with females in general. The male kids and grandsons do no wrong though they have had issues with the law and other things. Daughter and granddaughters who haven't had any issues get the short end of the stick. He happens to be living with the daughter and three granddaughters. We can't speak without him getting defensive and saying we are gaming up on him or him swearing at us or telling us to shut up. We have to beg my uncle's to help out with his Dr. appointments and we feel like we shouldn't have to, it's their father. He recently started attending a senior daycare, only he leaves right after lunch and only goes three times a week. We don't know how to keep our sanity without being rude or mean or causing him to feel negatively.

4 Comments

I'm so sorry to hear what your family is going through. I know its very hard. Your mother is doing everything she can but its emotionally and physically exhausting caring for an elder.

I know its also an adjustment for your grandfather as well. But given his personality and his increasing care, maybe its time for your mom to talk to a social worker about assisted living or a nursing home. It sounds like things are reaching a breaking point with your grandfather's daily demands. It is hard to take.

With my own dad it was the grumpiness that wore me down. I tried and tried to do what I thought was right but it was making me crazy. For myself, I wish I had sought out counselling sooner or looked at a support group. And part of me wished maybe I should have put my dad into a nursing home sooner. Maybe he would have been happier and even still alive.

I hope you can find an option that ease the burden from your mom and yourself. You sound like a very dutiful and loving granddaughter.

He specifically asked not to be put in a nursing home. When my grandma passed she asked for us to take care of him because my one uncle doesn't care about anything and the other would rob him blind. Well when she passed he lived with both before my mom because there wasn't room. Initially she planned on him and I staying in our place by he called the day after and told the landlord we were moving. He hates being alone I think that's one of his problems.
Your grandfather is of the generation where men expected women to wait on them at home. They can cook and clean, but they expect women to do it. It's almost impossible to get them to change even after they retire. The only thing you can do there is to decide how much you will do for him. Since he lives with you, it will be a hard thing to do. You can't let the house get too dirty or see him go without meals. One thing you can do, though, is decide how much time you will spend with him. From what you wrote, he is still capable enough that you should be able to live life fairly normally. If he gets grumpy, well then it is his grumpiness to deal with. You don't have to try to placate him. Being older doesn't give anyone the right to mistreat people. And being male doesn't give anyone the right to be catered to.

The spending can be a big problem. My father didn't leave the house, but would sit and order from catalogs all day. Some months he would spend a couple of thousand dollars buying junk that was worthless or overpriced catalog food items. It was hard to get him to quit spending. It was a symptom of mixed dementia with him. He didn't really grasp how much he was spending. Your grandfather sounds like he does understand, so I don't suspect dementia. I do know it will be hard to get him to stop. Maybe the best way is mentioning to him that his money is disappearing. Maybe self interest will help him curb the impulse spending. Whatever works would be good. I think people tend to spend when they are bored. I wonder if there is a more interesting senior daycare or center around where he could meet people who share his interests.

I don't envy what you're going through. I hope you can pull yourself up out of the bad feelings he creates. It really sounds like he might thrive in a senior independent living community. I believe that many older men need other men to interact with, doing things like having coffee, talking, or playing cards. Women can't fill that void.
Granddad is who he is. It is not productive to expect significant changes at this point.

Would it help to extend his day program, perhaps to 3 in the afternoon, and 5 days a week? And then he goes to bed by 6 pm -- that should significantly reduce the time available for conflict. It would also reduce the amount of time he is alone, which he hates.

"He specifically asked not to be put in a nursing home." No surprise there. Nursing homes used to be dreadful, hopeless places. While such places still exist, most of them are far more pleasant and cheerful places today. Still, very few people actually look forward to needing that level of care. And it doesn't sound like your granddad does need it yet. But Assisted Living might be appropriate.

Think of it this way: If a relative had a lot of problems while wearing a cast and your granddad had said, "Promise me you'll never let me wear a cast." Then much later he breaks a leg in two places and the only chance he'll have of walking again includes treatment with a cast. Are you going to say, "But he specifically said he never wanted a cast," or are you going to do everything you can to make him see that his best interest lies in accepting treatment?

Sometimes the decisions that are best for the person needing care as well as all other persons in the household are very hard indeed.



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