How can I help calm my grandmother who believes she is getting messages from God?

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My 86 year old grandmother is normally a religious person, but the recent news reports of tornadoes, earthquakes, and explosions at the Japanese nuclear plant have made her very anxious and emotional. In the past few days, she has been associating words and phrases in the newspaper or on tv to Bible scriptures or references. This behavior is very unusual for her. It is hard to talk to her or reason with her. She insists that she isn't crazy and won't let me take her to a doctor. A friend of hers has also noticed the changes. I have no local family to help, so any advice is appreciated, thanks!

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
Your Grandmother may be showing signs of dementia. Since you say she is religious normally, maybe she is seeing all of that 'end times' rhetoric in the events that are happening globally.
If she is christian, tell her jesus is not going to let anything happen to her and that she can feel safe and sound knowing that he is her savior and that she will be saved.
whatever flavor of religion is hers, there is a story that will apply and if you can use that to calm her it just may work.
She may be on the road to dementia so there won't be any reasoning with her. Even if you took her to a doctor, they may miss the obvious because they will only be with her for a matter of minutes while you notice the unusual with her over an arc of time.
Tell her that you know she's not crazy and that you think she is fine but that for her to experience such anxiety over a long period is bad for her health and you want her to be around for a long long time. Tell her doctor that she may need a little med for anxiety and early stage dementia and you will be surprised what that can do for her and her well being. If her doctor doesn't listen, get a new doctor.
ok, good luck and let us know how you are progressing.
Keep coming back to this website because it is a lifesaver.
There are many experienced caregivers here and my suggestion is only one voice of many. You take a little from here and there and before you know it you just may have an answer.
There are so many things about this issue that can be explained logically and some may be cleared up spiritually. Logically thinking on your end, this is abnormal behavior for Gram so the cause as bob says may be early dementia, in which causes unusual behavior and obsessions. Her mind in that case is altered in thought process. Take for example my Mom was with an Aide during the day and Mom loved the TV show CSI(so she watch it all day). Mom was with me at night and was frightened about all kinds of wierd things. I didn't know about her watching CSI until a while after. She'd say "People are getting hurt, doing drugs, shootings, stabbings, etc." She insisted like it was real. She was so scared. Then one day the Aide says I don't get the CSI channel anymore, your Mom was glued to TV all day, now how am I going to keep her busy? That's when her scary reality stopped. Remember the cartoon "IDEA BULB" mine turned on. If she watched or witnessed horrible or bad things, real or not she was effected by it, the drama stayed with her. Then I watched funny shows with her and she started reacting with more of a happy, joyful manner.
Spiritually the unknown power of her faith may actually be unexplainable and really happening, and unless you are in her mind and the spirits allow you to understand you may never really know or understand. Who knows for sure?
I'll tell you a story I've told before on here.... My Mom slept downstairs in my house. When she needed me she'd call me from bottom of steps. For several days in a row she'd call me and say someones knocking. She pointed to front of the house and say over there (front door) we never used that door. I looked out saw a snow covered lawn and steps but no footprints. So I said there's noone knocking. She says " I am not crazy" I never heard it, so I was thinking... OH NO now she's hearing things!!! Then one morning I was in bed and heard a knocking sound, but on the second floor. I looked out my window and saw a woodpecker. I giggled to myself and said to Mom "I found the knocker, showed her the woodpecker" She says "I told you I wasn't crazy!"
Sometimes I don't know what is real or not in her conversations. I now just look at peace and happiness as good thing and if bad things are mentioned I pay attention to what has changed. I hope this helps!
Thanks, I'm new to this site. My grandma forgets a few names or small things once in a while, but is still able to do most things normally. She seems ok, but a certain phrase, news story or article of text can trigger her to get emotional. She takes medicine for high blood pressure, and I'm worried that she is stressing herself out with these thoughts. She has asked me to do certain odd things like change the (plain) shirt I'm wearing, and if I hesitate or ask why, she starts crying. I live with her, and as far as I know, she has never been diagnosed with anything like dementia or Alzheimer's. This has only been happening for a few days so far. I have listened to her speak her mind several times, but she goes on and on, so I tried to get her to write her feelings down to get them out. Unfortunately, if she notices that she has written something twice or misspelled a word, she gets frustrated.
Sounds like she either needs to see her primary care doctor, a gerontologist or a neurologist for an evaluation. What you shared sounds very much like dementia. Her anxiety may be helps with some meds that are appropriate for her age and all around health. However, it does not sound to me like she needs an anti-psychotic. I hope that you already have medical and durable POA?
If you're new to all of this, consider having your grandmother tested for a UTI. The longer I'm in this, the more often I hear that this is the culprit when there has been a marked change of behavior in a brief span of time. UTI and mini-strokes have greatly affected my mom.

Way to go beautiful Lady! ... Great tips.
Update: My grandmother seems to have had some type of nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized for a week. She was tested for everything from stroke, to blood clots to UTI and other issues. (CT scan, MRI) Nothing serious was found, but she had cellulitis in her legs. The hospital doctor changed ALL her medications that she had been taking for high blood pressure, and also gave her an anti psychotic - Haloperidol. (I made sure it was the lowest dose) and anti depressant. (Celexa) She has been on these meds for a few weeks now an seems more herself and calmer, but still has some slight confusion and grogginess. I also noticed her hands and head trembling and she has more weakness. She is able to talk and answer questions (maybe slightly slower) and do most things she used to but wants some help writing checks for bills. The Bible talk and babbling has stopped, and she can watch tv and listen to radio comfortably now. She has seen a mental health counselor who doesn't think she has dementia. We just had a lawyer write up a durable POA just in case, and plan to update her health care POA soon. Thanks for all the replies.
Musiclover, thanks so much for the followup. Often people don't come back to tell us the outcome (and I can appreciate how busy and distressed they might be -- no criticism intended) and it is good be able to follow the story. I'm so glad Grandma's doing better.
My mother's mental illness manifested itself 30 years ago by psychotic episodes where she thought she could hear God speaking directly to her and telling her to say and do things way out of character for her ordinarily quiet demeanor. A combination of anti-psychotic and anti-depressants keep her stabilized. Any time she has taken herself off of them, she will have another psychotic episode that results in hospitalization to stabilze her again. She is tortured during these episodes, so we've all made peace with her needing the drugs, just like someone with a physical illness. She is ordinarily religious, but in a very peaceful way when she's well.

I hope that this combination will give your grandmother relief. You sound like a wonderful granddaughter to be so involved.
This is another update to my grandmother - it has been 7 months since my last post. I gradually took her off the haloperidol and celexa, and she seemed to be fine.
*There has been no diagnosis of Alzheimer's or Dementia, and she doesn't appear to have pain or infection.* (She has had many brain and blood tests last year, and nothing serious was found.)

However, in the last week, she has started being very agitated and anxious again. She is only on her high blood pressure medicine right now. She appears to be upset over the nuclear accident in Japan, and the spread of radiation in the environment, and also hearing of the deaths and sickness of close friends and family. She is 86 and can still do most things normally, but if she can't remember something, or can't do something, she can become upset, and anxious. Her face becomes red and I can tell her blood pressure is rising. (dangerous) I can usually calm her after a few minutes, but it takes a lot of talking calmly and trying to get her to change her thinking. This is very stressful for me, as I have my own anxiety issues and no close family to help me. I live with her, and feel like I need to be near her all the time (in case she gets upset by something). However, when I am sitting near to her, she feels watched or monitored. Then, she will say, "I'm fine, you don't need to worry about me".
She is religious, and she uses Bible words or phrases and confuses them with everyday items and situations.
Should I continue to let her read her Bible? I guess it offers her some form of comfort, but it may feed her obsessive and racing thoughts. She sometimes thinks God is asking her to do things or testing her, or even telling her it's her time (to die).

She saw a doctor today, and he gave her a prescription for Lorazepam (Ativan). .5 mg (the lowest dose) to relax her, but I have not given it to her yet. (I wanted to get some opinions on it first) Celexa made her have a choking cough.

Is there anything else I can try to get her to relax? (and myself)? I would love to try some natural things first before any more prescriptions.
Thanks for any advice.

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