My 91-year-old grandmother is slowly destroying our house.

Started by

Right now my family is in the terrible situation of not being able to find someone to mortgage our house. Its pretty stressful since we might have to move out soon and don't have the necessary budget to land on our feet decently if we can't find someplace soon.

Besides that comes my 91 year old grandmother who is just getting worse and worse. We take care of her because we absolutely cannot afford to put her into a decent home.

The following happened in less than one week.

Knowing we might sell the house I decided to take care of some big home improvement jobs to just make the house look better. So I decided to sand away the rust and paint the porch railings and steel gates last week. 9 hours of hard work in one day and just when I am about to call it a day my sister comes storming outside yelling at me to come in because our living room is getting flooded. My grandmother clogged the toilet and just stayed in the bathroom without telling anyone. She only came out when my mother was screaming and pleading with her to leave.

The end result was a pool of toilet water floating around on one floor and getting soaked up in the carpet. A lot of toilet water was also dripping through to the basement and slightly flooding a very large area where we keep the washer and dryer, christmas lights, winter clothes and other things we need.

My grandmother's reacted like it wasn't her fault. She just kept yelling how we just use her for her money and how nobody likes her. Its far from the truth. My mother, sister and I do whatever possibly we can for her to live the most comfortable life someone her age can live. But its never good enough. No matter how good the food or coffee and snacks. The trips outside once in a while and just sitting down and spending time it is never good enough.

After I decided to shut the water off from the toilet and start flushing the toilet for her whenever she was done. I also shut off the sink and placed a plastic red bowl full of hot water with some soap in it and refill it every time I possibly can.

A day later she is going to the bathroom and not really saying anything about it which is good, but I notice that literally every time she went to the bathroom there was no toilet paper in the toilet. The toilet paper was being used, but it was nowhere to be found. The smell of urine was the strongest it has ever been in her room, but we have a commode for her there and I just thought maybe it needed to be cleaned. Everytime I checked it, it was dry. The smell was still there.

It was enough doing what my whole family had to do before for her. Now being on bathroom watch 24/7 and for me to be the one to flush the toilet, clean the wash bowl and refill the toilet paper was real tough to accept, but I accepted it. It was the only way.

I must state now that before all of this we used to leave her cups of water to drink and when that was happening I noticed there were two leaks occuring once in a while that would drip to the basement. It turns out she was just dumping the water in one side of her room and it completely ate away at some of the hardwood flooring. There now a city of silverfish living there that have invaded our house for the past year. They are all over the bathrooms and couches and ..well... they are everywhere because of the nice moisture spot for them to grow in my grandmother's place.

Another thing before this all happened is that my grandmother had a small carpet mat by her bed. When we were all sleeping she would get up and just urinate on it and that too damaged the hardwood floor. I would not be surprised if one of us or her fall through one day.

I was angry when it happened I'll admit even though I know she her dementia is quite significant. Still, her bathroom is literally less than 10 steps away. If she got up and walked 10 steps she would be a the toilet.

So now comes the worst part that happened tonight. Remember the commode in her room? Well my mother wanted to give her a shower and she was just checking out around her bed and screamed. My grandmother for the past two months was dumping the urine on the mattress and it leaked through and stained the entire floor. The missing toilet paper? Yeah it's all around the mattress and the wood is all soaked in urine. For the second day in a row (running out of characters to explain yesterday's misfortune) my mother, sister and myself had to do a big clean up job late at night.

This is all becoming such a torment for my entire family. We are all exhausted. My mother is a hardworking RN who is close to 60 years old and I can tell she doesn't have the energy to do this everyday. Me and my sister try and try, but we get beat down to the point were we almost get sick.

I'm looking for any advice and I really just needed a place to post this. I'm slowly losing it. Its too much.

Any insights/opinions is greatly appreciated. I really don't know what to do anymore. I'm 29 yet I feel so empty and lethargic and I can't think.

18 Comments

Does she have Medicaid or Medicare? If so, she should be able to get into a nursing home. Check with your local Social Services as to what help you can get. So sorry for your circumstances and good luck.
It sounds as if all of you have done all that you can with love and very much patience but it is now time for your grandmother to be placed in a facility that can care for her around the clock. Even if she does not have the funds to pay for such care, her social security and medicare will. Good luck.
My heart goes out to you, JoeSam. You have done a fantastic job but as the posts before me have stated, it's time for her to go where she can be monitored 24/7. It will take some work to visit nursing homes but it CAN be done. Chin up, move forward, and never regret your decision to move her to a facility because it's the best one for all concerned.
I agree with sandradawn. Your grandmother should be in a nursing home where they can deal with the very ugly turn that her dementia has taken. Call today to start the process. That's where you should be focusing your energies. The situation at home will only get worse. If your grandmother has limited assets and income, Medicaid will cover the expense. Also, check into your county's nursing home. Where I live, it's one of the better nursing homes in the area.
Everyone here is going to tell you the same thing, she needs to be in a nursing home. I know your family is worried about the cost, but what about the cost of a new mattress, repairing floors and your sanity. You need a social worker to help you. Dementia is difficult, you've done what you can. I guarantee she'll be happier in a home once she gets used to it.
Absolutely, your grandmother needs to be placed, as soon as possible. I had an aunt who took a similar ugly turn with Alzheimers. She was placed in a nursing home to receive the round-the-clock care she needed, lo and behold she became calmer and more relaxed.
Please go for a consultation with an Elderlaw attorney ASAP. I would suggest a couple of different consultations. The consultation varies from free in some cases to maybe $100 or so in others. The information they give will be worth it, trust me. Yes, she needs to be in a nursing home that much is obvious. Does she have savings or assets? Whos name is the house in? A good elderlaw attorney will advise if she is eligible for medicaid and what the requirements are. Even if the house is in her name it may be excluded from countable assets because her caregiver childen are living with her. Start researching Medicaid elibility for nursing homes and please consult with an Elder law attorney now before the whole family comes apart.
I completely understand your frustration, exhaustion, and love; it is all part of the ugly disease of dementia. To see once vital and wonderful people digress to such a sad state is almost unbearable to watch and even more difficult to be the primary care-giver. My husband and I have done it for the past 15 years with first one parent, then the next and we are currently dealing with our last parent. Breaks your heart, your spirit and your budget.

You are going to get the same response from me; your grandmother needs to go to a nursing home!! You can no longer deal with her in your home. She can go on for who knows how many more years, while the rest of you lose your health and home. No matter how much you love her, it isn't worth the emotional, physical and financial expense. Everyone, including your grandmother, has to be cared for in the best possible environment and your health, future and well-being have to count too!! Grandma has lived her life, for the most part, and you still have yours ahead. YOU should be allowed to live it and not lose it caring for someone who has a sever illness that will only take you down further and further, while she doesn’t recognize the agony she is causing in your family. It isn’t that she is intentionally creating these problems, her mind is doing terrible things to her and she can’t help it. But, either can you, and most of all you can’t stop it or make it better. I guarantee you will lose so much if you continue the path you are currently on. Been there done that. There come a time, when no matter how much you love them, want to care for the, and feel guilty for making the most difficult decisions you will ever make, you HAVE to save yourself and your family. You deserve a life too, like I said Grandma has had hers and she will adjust and probably do very well in an assisted facility.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take what Elfgarden recommended and IMMEDIATELY talk with an elder-law attorney. Yes, it will cost a little money; use your grandmothers as it is about her care and estate. I have the feeling you are trying to preserve her finances and that is why you do not want to place her in a facility. An elder-law attorney will be able to advise you how to protect as much money as you can. HOWEVER, SEE HIM BEFORE YOU PLACE HER OR TALK TO A SOCIAL WORKER!!!!! You can spend some of her money on home improvements, a new car and other items that are allowed, but once the government is in the picture, you may not have that option. They will take every penny until she only has roughly, $2000.00 left and then Medicaid will pick up the rest. So, if that is part of the issue, and even if it isn't. DON'T WAIT MAKE THAT APPOINTMENT TODAY!!!! You might be able to get the floors replaced and other items damaged by the toilet water.

Do you have homeowners insurance? The flood should be handled under your policy. And if there is sewer or toilet water on ANYTHING they will replace it all!! We had a similar issue and we were told it is illegal not to replace it! We had new carpet throughout the basement, new drywall, wallpaper, paint and ceilings, all covered by insurance because of the sewer water touching it. They had to do all the carpet because there was no place like a room to make a line of demarcation.

So, PLEASE, start the process before you lose everything, especially your health, you are already becoming drained. Sadly, she won't get any better and it will only get worse.

FIRST AND FOREMOST CALL THAT ATTORNEY, he is cheaper than replacing everying in your home!

Best of luck, you have done all you can and there comes a point you just can't do any more. Realize this is not the woman you once knew due to the dementia. You are not a terrible person for finding the best solution for everyone. You sound like a wonderful son and grandson. Your family needs to become a family again. And, as one social worker told me when I was at the end of my rope, the time you spend with your loved one who is in a care facility will be quality time, not exhausted, frustrated and angry time. Take her out for ice cream, take her for a ride, take her to do things you don’t have the time or energy now to do because the time you could be spending doing loving, fun things are spent cleaning up and just trying to keep a head. Enjoy the time you have left, let someone else do the cooking, laundry and cleaning. As hard as it is to make that decision, you will all be better for it in the long run, including grandma. Have happy last memories, not sad ones. Our hearts and prayers are with you and your family.

Hugs and prayers.
My first thought was the same as everyone else's: it's time to place her in a facility where there are trained attendants around the clock. It can be a long, tedious process to get the financial aid that you need, and the facility will not continue to care for her without payment. They'll assist you, but there is a lot that you have to do on your own. Instead, my advice is to get your grandmother to a gerontoligist, a doctor who specializes in elder care. I've mentioned this several times on this site, because it made a world of difference for both my Mom and for me. He got her medications levelled out so that they were effective, he spoke directly to her and in addition, he addressed my concerns and needs. Medicare will cover the cost of his care. Next, I'll tell you that addressing the bathroom habits is a delicate and embarassing topic for both you and for your grandmother. It was one of the first things we had to deal with when my Mom came to live with us 6 years ago. She was very embarassed, but I told her that it wasn't her fault that she was having "accidents", and that we just needed to deal with it. It's possible that your grandmother is also very embarassed & is trying to hide the problem. Once you get it out in the open, it's so much easier to deal with. My Mom has a portable toilet in her room also. I make sure that she has all the supplies that she needs within arms reach, including a waste basket that I empty every day. The toilet needs to be emptied as often as possible, but at least once a day. I make sure that Mom has Depends, baby wipes, toilet paper, and a towel. If she has an "accident", I assure her that "it's ok, Mom, let's just deal with it". I try to take a very matter-of-fact approach so that she doesn't feel like a child. Once we brought the subject out in the open, she stopped feeling that she had to hide everything and it made a world of difference. There's no question that your grandmother's behavior is unacceptable, but I don't think you'll be able to get her to return to "normal" habits at tihs point. The alternative is to try to find a way to handle this change is her life with a minimum of embarassment and to address it so that your grandmother's dignity remains intact. Yes, it means a more diligent approach to her daily care, which is more work. In the long run, however, it will pay off because your home will be more sanitary. I suggest that you have a meeting with all family members who live in the home and agree to a schedule for her care. I can't stress enough the benefits of meeting with a gerontologist. My Mom's family doctor was providing care that kept my Mom alive and relatively healthy, but the gerontologist have her back some quality of life. It's that important. Good luck!
If you are only 29 it is time to start living your own life. Your Grandmother has lived hers. Hearing stories like yours are why I have told my daughter that she is not to give up her life for me!! I am living with my Mother now who is 89y/o, and I will not do this to my own daughter. She was not born to be my slave in later life. Send her to a nursing home. If she has money you will need to spend it down so she can qualify for assistance from the government. Probably a good time to get the house in order - with her money - if she has any so she can be in a facility that knows how to deal with dementia

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support