Experiencing decline...I think.


I assist with the care of my Fiance's grandmother (gma) who is 94. She has recently been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Rectal Cancer. After a stay in a rehab facility she is now home and is having trouble coping. She is sleeping ALOT and is not eating much at all. She is resistant to help..gets upset if we ask if she needs help. Over the last couple days we have caught her lying about eating and she has become increasingly confused. I am at a loss for how to help her.

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thanks! We are trying. He is very tentative and squimish sometimes. Nothing bothers me until she doesn't remember something or until she gets upset. I hate seeing her frustrated. I'm also the designated "gross stuff" person. He won't cross the "bathroom barrier". It's alot for both of us. but reading about other people going through the same things makes me feel better. Thanks!

Getting her talking about her childhood and doing puzzles are wonderful ways for her to pass her time and it will boost her mood. Photo albums are great too. I think you're fiancée's grandma is in good hands!

My fiance lives with her currently, I am moving in but around quite often. We have ensure in the house constantly...she has lost over 20 pounds since her diagnosis but radiation will do that to you. She actually said last night that she doesn't want to gain the weight back because getting around is easier now. (bear in mind, she wasn't overweight by any means, she was 141 in February and is now 116.)
You mention depression- she is actually on medication for that. She has a history of anxiety/depression. She doesn't stay in her bed all day..she sleeps most of the day in her chair in the family room. We are working on getting her re-interested in things- today our aid is starting a puzzle with her. She used to love doing puzzles. I told the aid to ask her questions about growing up etc to keep her talking. She seems to enjoy talking about her life. I guess only time will tell. I figure that she is facing her own decline and mortality while we are facing it from the other angle. I'd probably be frustrated and depressed too if I were in her shoes. We just want whatever time is left to be as happy and ful-filling as possible. One day at a time...

Does she live with you?

There are drinks like Ensure and Boost that are loaded with calories and other nutrients that grandma needs if she doesn't feel like eating. Don't force her to eat. If you know what kinds of foods she's enjoyed in the past try putting those out, maybe it'll tempt her.

It sounds like she may be experiencing depression as well which could be contributing to her increasing confusion.

She may just be tired. Tired of illness, tired of life. And now she's been diagnosed with CHF and rectal cancer. Maybe she just doesn't have much cope left in her. Instead of trying to get her to eat try sitting with her and chatting. If she's confused, climb into the confusion with her, don't expect her to climb out of it to be with you. It may make for a very fragmented conversation but you can get the hang of it.

It sounds like she gets irritated when you ask her what you can do for her so don't ask her. You can just be there if she needs anything.

The title to your post mentioned decline. At 94 years old and with her illnesses a decline is inevitable and you and your fiancée are so kind to take on her care together. Between the two of you you can bring a positive energy into the situation. Be friendly and positive, loving and supportive. Unless she endangers herself don't make her do anything she doesn't want to do with one exception: Don't let her lay in bed all day. That in and of itself is depressing and will hasten her decline. Being up and being a part of what's going on around her will help her feel better even if it's just for a little while.

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