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My 94 year old grandmother recently moved in with my family because she was lonely and we thought it would be good for her to be with family. She has dementia, is barely mobile and needs help with all ADL's.
It seems like she is picking on my 13 year old daughter, but I am trying to be diplomatic. For the most part my daughter has been very helpful, giving grandma an arm to lean on, bringing her things (tissue, coffee, water, a pillow, the list goes on and on), helping her with her oxygen, taking off her socks, whatever Grandma asks of her. If she starts to get too needy (which is often) my daughter will just remove herself from the situation and complain to me privately. She is 13, and she is dramatic, but she hides it pretty well from Grandma.
Yesterday, my daughter was napping on the couch after a day of swimming and my Grandma woke her up and asked her to move because in her words "that's my seat". Our couch is a sectional and over 12 feet long, there was plenty of room elsewhere. The other day while she was sweeping the floor my Grandma sat in a chair and pointed out all of the areas she missed (my daughter didn't find it helpful and went to her room and pouted after). I know Grandma loves her, she tells me all the time what a sweet girl she is, but all she does is criticize and annoy her when they are together! I am tired of my kids (I have a 15 year old boy too) "escaping" to their rooms! I don't know how to handle this. It's all new to me and it seems like there is a new issue every day. If I set Grandma up in her room so we can have some space she cries and tells us we should just put her in a home. Or she calls my mom and tells on me. I feel like I am going to have a breakdown. How the heck do people deal with these issues!? Teenagers are hard enough on their own, now this!? My kids are straight A students, good kids, I want them around as much as possible before they grow up and move away. I love my Grandma but I love my kids more. How can I make this work? Help!

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Your children should come first, but...

For as long as the situation lasts, tell your children how much you appreciate what they are doing and acknowledge that they are not always treated fairly. In front of them, gently ask grandmother to be nicer to them. Going through this hardship, with your repeated and sincere support, can strengthen them both. Learning to ignore untrue criticism is a skill we all need to develop. Putting someone else's needs before your convenience builds character and good karma. Make sure they get escapes and rewards for their cooperation. It's not good parenting to protect our kids from every hardship.

If you need to, you have my permission to place her, but use her presence in your house to build stronger, more resourceful kids.
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I almost did this with my mom but she became ill and passed away before I could accomplish it. I wasn't sure if I could get a two way communication going that wasn't a walkie talkie where you have to push the button back and forth. I was going to research that. but I know that even if I couldn't find that, I couldn't install two baby monitors hooked up in reverse. what I mean is one set would have the transmitter in my mom's room and the receiver with me. Then I could hear her speaking. Then the other set would have the transmitter with me and receiver in her room so she could hear me and I could answer her. I'm not sure but I think each one would be about $40, so about $80 for the two and not only some peace of mind that last leg work. There must be some easy electronic way (Radio Shack maybe?). I think it would have worked if I had had time to pull it together. What do you all think?
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Thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions. I read every one and take all suggestions into consideration and apply them when I can.
This is BY FAR the hardest thing I have ever done. I'm not so certain it was the right thing anymore, but I refuse to give up. As long as my kids are on board (I know my husband is, he is an absolute saint), we are going to keep trying and see if we can make it run a little smoother. They really are being pretty great. My son pretty much avoids her (he is not comfortable with this arrangement at all, but he understands that there are not many options at this point). I say this with much hope but frustration (as I write this comment she has called me into her room 3 times, no reason, just to see if I will come). My coffee is stone cold and I have a knot in my stomach already. I think I am going to get down on my knees and pray for a good day together. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness. It's so nice to be able to share my feelings on here.
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lesa,

You've received some good suggestions here. You are a very good granddaughter for opening your home to your grandma. I'm sure you made the decision with much thought and input from your own family and had no idea it would be like this. Like Christina said, put your kids first. You don't want them to start looking for reasons to be away from home. Don't sacrifice them to care for your grandma. Listen to them. If they're unhappy with this situation and their reasons are valid and you've tried everything to get your grandma to peacefully coexist within your family someone's got to go and don't allow it to be your kids. They need their family.
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correction ... a long way in SETTLING their minds.
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continued ... (As Grandma's condition: progresses...) have family meetings that DO NOT include grandma, with a balanced approach encouraging your kids to be open about their feelings and how grandma stay at your house is affecting them emotionally, while at the same time talking about the disease itself and how hard it is on grandma as well. In the United States, it's been so common for families to be fragmented until this preponderance of dementia started up, the young people haven't known what it's like to be taking care of the older people in the family. In some cultures, its standard practice and not as much of a shock as to how difficult it can be. As time goes by, if it gets too hard on your children, you'll have to make other arrangements. Time will tell. Your kids are probably computer whizzes. Ask them if they have questions and post them on here too. They can read the answers and will discover that your situation is not unique. Knowing that grandma having these problems doesn't mean that everything is wrong with the world can go a long way and selling their minds.
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Help your children understand that this is just part of the disease. If it were me I wouldn't have my kids do any chores in front of her and if she's done something possessive like picked out a seat, just avoid sitting there. Dementia patients tend to be very self oriented. Left to their own thought processes, which are hard to get them out of, they tend to see everything with blinders on. I would encourage your daughter to continue helping as she has been but rather than just leaving the room, speak sincerely to Grandma, look directly in her eyes, be sure you have her attention, and say something like, Grandma I have to go study for a while, will you be OK without me? They won't remember that she's gone off to study but at some deeper level they appreciate being included in the decision and they do have an awareness that someone respects them. As Grandma's condition progresses
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Just because people get old does not give them the right to me mean. I still remember the nasty things my Grandmother said to me when I was 13, and Mother let her get away with it. So much for protecting and or defending your children. Your daughter sounds very caring and thoughtful; I would call her sensitive, not dramatic. However, it is a difficult age, puberty. Remember?
When my daughter was 8, Mother's husband was insulting to her. She came to me and told me. I told her I would speak to him when I was not so angry. When I did speak to him, he apologized sheepishly. Mother had a angry tantrum in response to my very reasonable request of her poor husband. I took my daughter and left for the 5 hour drive home. I would not let my daughter be treated the way I was treated as a child by that witch. No, you do better for your children. They come first. It's different if a Grandmother acts like we think Grandmother's should act. I never had a Mother or a grandmother who was loving and kind, I just imagined they were supposed to be a bit nicer than the Big Bad Wolf.
I would very respectfully tell your Grandmother to use the same respect toward others that she likes to receive. You daughter has equal rights to rest on the sofa. Maybe you should get Grandma an "Archie Bunker" chair of her own. Right?:) xo
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