Okay, so... I live with my boyfriend and our little boy who will be 4 in a few months. My boyfriend's mother has severe Alheimzer's and dementia. Over the past few months she's gotten worse then usual and I really don't know how to handle myself because of the fact it involves my son!
We live in a town home. It's 2 stories. So my boyfriend's mom has access to upstairs. We had to replace all the locks because she's a wandering risk. We also have a lock on the door to the basement cause that's where me, my boyfriend and our son live. It's 2 stories if you include the basement.
Anyway, since the stove and main fridge are upstairs (we have a mini fridge downstairs), we have to go upstairs to get food. Whenever my son is up there he likes to run laps around the house. He's not hurting anyone and me and my boyfriend prefer it if we're up there for a few hours cooking or whatever. I'm honestly tired of my boyfriend's mother yelling at my son for running through the upstairs of the house. I've even seen her put her foot out trying to trip him while he's running! I've seen her grab his arm once and I almost lost it. I'm very protective of my child.
Sometimes when my son runs his laps, his grandma thinks we have neighbors downstairs or something even after we tell her otherwise. But once she's told otherwise, she'll make up some other story as to why he's being bad and will continue yelling at him. I'm also tired of her cheap snarky comments toward me as a mother.... This entire situation has made me more depressed then I usually am cause she can't just chill and let my son be a damn kid.
I've told my son that grandma is sick in her head and that she doesn't understand, but I don't think he's old enough to comprehend that yet. Also, my boyfriend is the only one that can bring her back to reality. She doesn't remember me 99% of the time even though I moved here in Dec 2012 before she had fully lost it. Back then she could still drive, cook etc. Now she literally can't do anything. She basically sleeps and eats. That's it. We also administer her medicine 3 times a day. She's not the healthiest and she's 80 years old.
We pay for an adult care center but getting her up to actually go is a pain and many times she'll argue about it. In the end she ends up not going cause trying to get her out of the house is more stressful then letting her be. We have a caregiver that comes twice a week to watch her, clean and cook and sometimes watch our son but I always worry about leaving my son around his grandma these days. Our caregiver has told us sometimes how mean my boyfriend's mother is to my boy etc. And it's just.... I don't know what to do anymore.
I want to put her in a home but we can't afford it. I asked my boyfriend about a state home but he's against it cause he says they're worse then ones you pay for outright. We have no lives. We can only leave anywhere 2 times a week together when the caregiver is here otherwise my boyfriend goes alone to do errands because someone always has to be at home. Plus my boyfriend has Parkinsons so he can't watch our son by himself. My boyfriend is tied to his mom's bank account which is how we afford basic necessities and pay the bills. I have a bank account but no income.
I'm also chronically ill and my own Dr. doesn't know what's wrong with me. So with me and my boyfriend unable to work, we're basically living off of his mother's social security check. So you can imagine how difficult this is to deal with.
How do you all deal with this? I feel like I'm at my wits end, mostly because of how she treats my child. She's gotten so much worse lately. The anger is almost instant the second my son starts running. Literally, that's all he does. He just runs. He usually doesn't get into stuff or do anything out of the ordinary. He just has a lot of energy. And when he sits down to eat or gets pulled into a cartoon it's like an instant switch off for his grandma and all of sudden she will go on and on and on about what a good boy he is..... I'm very worried how this erratic behavior will affect my child.
Most of the time she doesn't even know where she is. Many times she doesn't recognize her own son anymore. Occasionally she thinks her husband is still alive even though she's been twice widowed. Or how she'll think she's babysitting when she's not.... Or when she thinks her parents are supposed to come pick her up even though they've been dead for years. She's so far deteriorated at this point. Only things she can still do herself is make toast, dress herself and go to the bathroom.
I guess I'm just looking for advice on how to deal with this with my highly energetic 3 year old son. Sorry for the long background story. Just thought it'd help paint the picture of what's going on.
1. Try to keep upstairs visits short, like half an hour. More than that at this stage is probably going to tax your boyfriend's mom. The motion, sound, etc. is probably overstimulating for her.
2. Pay attention to both your son's and his grandma's natural schedules. I would try to log both their sleep schedules, when they eat, how their moods fluctuate through the day for a couple of weeks. Try to be strategic with how you arrange your day (meal prep, caregiver visits, drs appointments, etc.)
-Try to prepare meals or ingredients ahead of time so you aren't spending a lot of time upstairs in the early evening when she might be more agitated.
-Maybe have your son visit grandma when they are both in relatively good moods, like after breakfast or lunch.
-A lot of people with dementia experience sundowners. Around dusk they start to get anxious, disoriented or clingy and that can continue into the night. That is probably the same time your son gets a little whiny (at least my kids would start to get a little pesky around 4:00pm at that age.) I would try to make it a priority to spend evening time with your son and have your boyfriend do dishes and visit with his mom.
3. It's great that you are getting your son outside. He might still want to run when he gets indoors, but at least he is getting some time to be wild where he isn't crabbed at for it.
4. Take care of yourself and make sure you are OK with the situation. Your son is probably much more in-tuned with you than he is with his grandma. If you feel good about how you are handling things he will pick up on that. If you are stressed, he will absorb that.
5. Avoid sugar before he will be spending time with his grandma. Not only doe sit rev little ones up, but it makes it harder for them to listen or to stop when you need them to take a break.
6. For safety, obviously, don't leave your son alone with grandma. And we used to shut off the breaker to the stove when we weren't with grandpa, just in case. (He generally wasn't interested in it, but he went through a phase where he was pressing a lot of buttons and we were afraid he'd start messing with the stove.)
It's good that you are trying to educate yourself about your boyfriend's mom's dementia. She really can't help how she's acting. And her needs will increase and it may not be in a predictable way. If your boyfriend isn't addressing things head on, do more research on your own. There are probably resources in your area for elderly people who could use some assistance but who aren't at poverty level. You can learn more about these through the Area Agency on Aging or Department of Aging. (There are different names depending on the region, but they are usually through the county.) Your boyfriend doesn't sound like he can do a lot of planning right now, so keep trying to take of yourself and your son -- if things change, you will both need to have your feet on solid ground.
One final tip: once your son gets into school, you can volunteer there. If part-time jobs become available at school, and you already have been volunteering, it gives you a toe in the door. It is a nice way to ease back into working while having a realistic schedule as a mom.
You’ll have to make that happen. You are never too old to learn.
You have to set the example for your son. Where he is living now is not a good environment.
You have to break this dependency on others & make a plan to better yourself.
You can do it, back problems or not. Consider classes in IT. Get your GED if you aren’t a high school grad and go to a community college.
Agree with Barbara as well. Seek therapy to work through your issues.
It sounds as though you would benefit from therapy/mental health services.
You are stuck in a co-dependent relationship and don't see any way to change that. If you are seeing an MD (I assume you are, since you say your doctors have no idea what is wrong with you) please ask for a referral to a mental health professional who can help you find your way out of this quamire.
Why I ask, and not to scare you, I am concerned about "radon". Have hubby or you go to Home Depot and purchase a radon tester, and set it up in the house. I would hate to have you both plus your son be sleeping in an area that has a higher than allowed radon reading. Chances are it is ok, but to be on a safe side, please have it tested.
As for the joint bank account, I had a joint account with my Dad so I could pay his bills out of that account, thus be able to sign the checks. None of that money was tied to me, as Dad was the primary holder of the account, and the interest gained on the account went to his social security number for IRS purposes, and not mine.
The private caregiver is cheaper then it would have been to hire a nurse. The nurses charge more. And this is the type of work our caregiver did before moving. She has prior experience with it. She also worked with children. She's been working for us since our son was born. So... 3 years.
I honestly wouldn't know how medicaid would view that. My BF isn't on medicaid either. Yeah since neither of us work for health reasons, we have no income between the two of us. Believe me, I'd rather be working right now.
My BF had to take over bill paying, finances, the house, the car ect. The house is in both my BF's and his mothers name. The car is in my BF's name.
Also, I don't quite understand how your boyfriend is tied to his Mom's money???
Your boyfriend's Mom could look into Medicaid nursing home/memory care. From what you have written, sounds like she is ready. But I wonder if she could qualify. And I wonder how Medicaid will view that your boyfriend is using Mom's money to help pay for things he needs.
Who is paying for the caregiver who comes in to take care of your boyfriend's Mom, do cleaning, cooking, plus watch over your son? Is Medicaid doing that? Or is Mom paying for the caregiver?
Selling the house, moving boyfriend's Mom to memory care, and you & boyfriend look for a Section 8 housing, but between the two of you, someone has to bring in some money. What type of work did boyfriend do before? Did he get hurt on the job?
Just trying to wrap my head around the whole picture.
I commend you for making a dietary change! That is great. I am thinking that maybe the only way out of this is for you to regain your health and get back into the job market so you can support yourself and your son on your own without having to depend on sick people. Not to make light of your chronic health situation at all, but can you throw everything you have at turning it around?
Mama Wulf, I love your screen name and I hope you can tap into your inner strength and like a mama wolf do everything you can for yourself and your little pup.
I'm also healing from a recent second back injury. When my son is downstairs with me and my boyfriend, everything is fine. When my kid is calm/quiet upstairs with grandma, everything is fine. It's only when he runs she acts out. I honestly would rather she go to a home. We looked into one that my BF's stepdad was in, but that's like $20,000 a year. We can't afford that. Apparently the others around here are about the same. A friend told us a couple years ago that up near him the nursing homes are cheaper but my BF wants easy access for visitations. He doesn't want to drive an hr or more just to visit for 30mins to an hr. Also, money resources are too limited right now. I'm almost of the opinion of canceling the adult daycare membership. She hardly goes anymore. She legit fights about going. The adult daycare runs from 8am-3pm. So the time we have is limited. That at least would save money. We do have a caregiver that comes twice a week though. So there's that.
Me and my son are currently on medicaid. All 4 of us live in the same house. We've already turned the house basically into a duplex minus not having a downstairs kitchen. Also no, my BF doesn't work, he's disabled but doesn't qualify for disability nor SSI because he's tied to his moms money which is slightly above the amount considered poor. And he doesn't have enough work credits. I have my own chronic health problems which don't allow me to work and also am currently healing from a second back injury.
My own family lives in another state, so no, they can't help. My boyfriends family all live too far away from us despite most of them being in the same state and have their own issues to deal with. Basically they don't want another "problem" to deal with. We're home 24/7. His mom can't ever be alone in the house.
Could you get a job? Find a place to live for you and BF and son? This is a terrible situation for your son. Do you agree? Does BF have a job? Maybe social services has some ideas for you.
Your son is your first responsibility and should be your highest priority.
Now, you are living off your BF’s mom’s income. Does she also own the townhome? Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you expect to ever have a life of your own, changes need to be made. Does BF have brothers or sisters who can help out or take over for you? Have you ever applied for financial aid, Social Security disability for both you and BF, food stamps or Section 8 housing?
This is not a healthy situation for your son. It may come to the point where you need to chose between this toxic situation and remaining with your boyfriend or taking the baby out of this situation and going off on your own. What about your family? Could they help you out until you get on your feet? Good luck.
This is not a healthy environment to raise a child.