How do I help an incredibly proud and independent older woman?

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I live with my 75 year old grandmother in my parent's house. We don't have a particularly warm relationship, so for the last four months or so we've led rather separate lives under the same roof.

But recently, I've begun to worry about her. She never eats. No matter what i make, or ask the cook to prepare, she makes some excuse and won't touch it. She made me get rid of the cook. And we lived on potatoes and rice for three weeks because that's all she remembers how to make. Secondly, of late, I've found faeces on the floor, and on appliances in the bathroom. I'm pretty sure she doesn't realise this is happening.

How do i help an incredibly proud and independent older woman? What do i do???

Answers 1 to 10 of 11
It would seem to me that someone with a 75 year old grandmother would be old enough to know how to cook a meal and not rely on her grandmother to remember how to cook something other than potatoes and rice for three weeks. And what are you doing still living at home with your parents unless you are the caretaker of your grandmother ? And if that's the case, I'd teach myself how to cook. Shame on you !!!!
Top Answer
sierranevada....my 12 and 19 year old have an 89 year old grandmother. What does being 75 have to do with the age of your grandchildren? I would think a 75 year old would have younger grandchildren than my mother; so your comment doesn't make sense and isn't helpful in this case. Kalyso, you are probably youngish? Where are your parents? When you are young, lets say a teen ager or college age, it is common to lead a separate type life from your parents and grandparents...I know, I was that way. It sounds like your grandma is starting to loose some of her abilities in the bathroom and the kitchen. Has she been forgetful or has her personality changed? She could have some health issues that are causing changes in her. If you use the same bathroom, I would get some gloves and good disinfectant cleaner and clean the poop...maybe take her in there with you and show her and ask her if she realized that she made the mess. If she argues that someone else did it, that is a good sign that she is starting with some sort of dementia or old age related memory problems. If she was able to afford a cook (that she got rid of) then she probably has a cleaning person who could come in an clean the house...but in between, if you are the only other person there and there is a mess, you will have to clean it....if you want it to be sanitary for yourself. As far as food, if you want something different, you might have to go to the store and get some simple things that are healthy...fresh fruits and veggies to go with the rice and potatoes. There are a lot of good frozen dinners too. Most grocery stores have a prepared foods area where you can get a whole roasted chicken and other things. If your parents aren't around and you need help, is there a neighbor that you trust that you can talk to, or someone from church? Or another family member like an uncle or aunt who could be notified of your grandma's behaviors? Check back in with us here and hopefully we can lead to to some help with your grandma.
sierranevada..Im sure your post was very hurtful to kalypso. Did you ever think if her grandmother is so proud that she wants to stay independent and therefore may not want someone to do the cooking? We dont know enough about her situation. And we surely shouldn't pass judgement on her. Shes in a tough situation and needs kindness, compassion and advice, not ridicule. Hang in there sierranevada!!!!!
Sierranevada111, I agree with Mommag and Speak1104. That was uncalled for!

We do not have enough information at the moment, but Mommag covered pretty much most of what I would have advised.

Kalypso, can you tell us a bit more so we can give comments that apply to your situation?

You say you live in your parent's house with your grandmother, and she made you get rid of the cook.

Questions:

- Are your parents in the picture/living, any other relatives in the home or close by?

- Since you had the authority to dismiss the cook, are you the only other decision maker in the home?

As Mommag commented, your grandmother sounds like she is now incontinent, and she may have some decline in her mental capacity, so when you or a housekeeper are cleaning up after her, you need to be matter-of-fact, but temper yourself, as when Dementia or Alzheimer's (As previous to this you have not interacted much with her, you may not have had the opportunity to notice lapses in her judgment, memory, etc.) set in in the elderly, you really cannot argue with them, and they most likely do not believe anything you are telling them.

You will need to tread carefully, but it needs to be addressed. Who does her laundry? If underclothes are similarly soiled, which they probably are, and maybe if she has been cleansing these herself, she has not been doing a good job of it and transferring soiling onto surfaces as well. Time for disposable underwear like Depends, etc., which she may resist as well.

Let us know who else is in the household and other relatives you can call on to help, and if not too personal a question, your age range, so we can tailor our comments to account for how you may better get a grip on situation while overcoming reactions of your grandmother that she may be having if that is a factor from her perspective - though it may not matter, as role reversals are not easy on elders, or anyone else for that matter sometimes.

Hang in there!

Shaming has never been shown to be an effective "help" to anyone, so please, let's don't do shaming here. Kalypso, good for you for reaching out for answers. I encourage you to continue to do so, and be prepared to "pick and choose" from among the responses you get. Take what helps and forget the rest. Try not to take any negative feedback personally. This is a life lesson you would do well to practice and master early in your life. (I am much older than you and I still haven't master it but I'm still practicing!) If your grandmother won't eat, she needs to see her doctor ASAP. She needs to be assessed for physical, cognitive, and psychological issues (loss of appetite is sometimes a symptom of clinical depression). If she refuses to see her doctor, contact your local Area Agency on Aging for assistance. Hugs to you, Kalypso, and to your grandmother, and yes, a hug also to sierranevada1111. I'm sure you meant no harm, and I am guessing you must have been shamed quite a bit in your life for you to respond the way you did. You might think about getting some help yourself. Blessings to all -
Hello! I have great sympathy for you, as my mom, 88, is also proud and wishes to maintain her independence. I don't know how old you are or if you work or attend school. Do your parents live there as well? It doesn't sound like it. This is a huge responsibility for a young, single person. It's even hard for me at 64! If you gave more information that would help us help you. I think this support website it wonderfully helpful.
I absolutely agree that shaming and berating someone is never the answer and that sort of behavior has NO place on this site. I am sure that non of us are the perfect caregiver. And this site is supposed to be a "safe place" to look for help and answers and to vent about the many joys, frustrtion, heart breaks etc that go along with caregiving. I agree with all of the suggestions. If you could give us aa few more details, that would be great and I am sure with more details you will get an abundance of helpful information. It sound like yolu are in a tough spot. I think it is wonderful that you are reaching out for help. All of us here know what a tremendous job caregiving is. I also want to add that you did say that you cooked for your grandma so the comment about the fact that you should know how to cook is very uncalled for. As folks age and their mentation changes, it is not necessarily unusual for them to be wary of others cooking. Perhaps your parents could have your grandma evaluated medically. There are some wonderful medications to stabilize mentation. My dad has dementia and as ER mean prior to getting him on the correct medication patch. PEASE protect yourselve from exposure to feces. I am looking forward to hearing more details about your situation. PLEASE know that there are caring folks on this site that can help you. Just let the ignorant, hurtful comments roll of your back. Caregving can be very tough, but also can be very rewarding.
What a huge learning experience you have the opportunity to have and learn from. It will change your life, if you can be open to all that is coming your way. Since Grammie does remember to cook potaoes, encourage her to "teach" you to cook. While she may not be able to recall the recipes she has cooked so many times, she will probably do wonders as you ask her questions about cooking times for chicken, soups, etc. She will have wonderful days and be able to teach you lots, and other days when she doesn't remember how to tie her shoes. On those days, tie her shoes, and make up stories about how she taught you to do this. It opens the communications, and makes her still feel important!
Check her meds, once you find out what they are, you can research what they are for, and have a better understanding of this wonderful woman. Also ensure she gets her pills on time(do the best u can) and every day. Good nutrition, and regularly taking meds may help her in many ways!
We are just a computer screen away, and want to encourage you to do the best you can. Clean the messes, make sure she has clean clothes, and a safe enviroment to live in. God Bless you for trying!!
If I am rewading this correctly; you, the caregiver, were prepparing her meals. She was not impressed? You had outside help prepparing meals & were giving them ideas on what she may like/eat and your elder fired the outside help? She insisted on taking over the cooking reigns (and you let her in order to, I assume, appease her) and you existed on solely starches for weeks.
I think this seems like you have done your best, and recognize that man cannot exist on starch alone. Proteins and fruit/veg are needed as well.
I see nothing wrong with this.
I assume, you live with your grandmother b/c you feel a sense of obligation from a family and moreover a humanitarian point of view. No shame in that!
Even if you live there for free room and rice, it's seems you still pay you way in looking after your Grandmother. No shame in that either.
For every nay-sayer out there, there are a million people who have walked in your shoes...forget the nay-sayers.
As for the feces..I don't get it. My elder is hoarding her feces in her basement. She's not smearing it, nor flinging it...just keeping it. I cannot find any info on it. but to me it's def a red flag that something has gone awry in her thinking. You have said that you have seen it on fixtures in the bathroom. Perhaps she's having a hard time wiping, or cleaning up after an accident, or cannot see it's on her hand as she goes about washing up. My only advice would to be keep some sanitizing wipes in the bathroom and scrub all down after she goes (don't forget the flush handle or door knobs and faucet) and try to convince her to use sanitizing wipes / gel. I would also try to convince her into letting your do a nice hand soak, scrub of the nails (get a nail brush if you can, or old tooth brush) and a nice lotion massage. Does she like polish? Perhaps that can help. Best I can come up with.
Good luck, chin up, you are doing good work, here.
I feel there isalot left out for us to give a reliable answer. My prayers are with you and your Grandma. Im 65 yrs old and I know the time will come when I will need help and hopefully not be too much of a burden on my children. It is something that should always be talked about so when the time does come your know what to do.
God Bless you!

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