I'm helping my husband care for his Korean mother who has dementia/paranoid schizophrenia. I'm a stay-at-home mom in my mid-thirties and have a two and four year old. Grandma (my kids and I call her "Grandma") lives with us. She only speaks a handful of words in English and my husband doesn't speak Korean. (They speak Korean-glish). I want to give her the best care I can, but there is so little I know about her disease and communication with her is so limited. I don't even know where to start.
I'm wondering if anybody can recommend a book that will help me understand dementia and/or schizophrenia and give me tips for taking care of Grandma? We're not sure of her age. We think she's in her mid 70s. She's self sufficient in many ways--she does laundry for the family, cooks for herself and bathes herself. But I think her condition is deteriorating. She never leaves the house (unless it's to get cigarettes), stays in her room for much of the day staring at the ceiling or sleeping, rarely changes her clothes, doesn't play with the kids--I think because she doesn't feel comfortable speaking with them in either Korean or English-- Although, she smiles with them and takes pleasure in their company, especially my two year old daughter's.
I make dinner for her, but it has to be mushy because she doesn't like her dentures, and my soft Korean food repertoire is limited. She cooks breakfast and lunch for herself but it's just rice and maybe soft cabbage/onions. I used to make oatmeal or eggs for her but she wouldn't eat them. She also won't eat the Asian or American foods in the pantry or that I buy for her to cook with, and when I take her to the store to shop, she will only get one or two things. She's overwhelmed and doesn't like being around people. It seems like she doesn't eat things in the house because she's trying not to be a burden or intrude. But I might be wrong. Maybe it's because she doesn't like them. Or can't eat them. Who the heck knows. But I want to do better about getting more nutritious foods into her.
I used to get very frustrated with the fact that she would never ever talk or give an opinion, not even in Korean. Was this the language barrier? Her illness? Her medication? Her behavior? (My husband said she was never much of a talker...although apparently she had a temper back in the day!) Now I chalk it up to a combination of all of these things. But again, there is so little I know of her illness. I want and need to know more so that I can do better with her. I know I can do much better. I just don't know how. I've tried having her do crafts, or projects with the kids, or cooking and it just seems to fall flat. I feel bad pushing her to do things she doesn't want to do and don't know where the line is where I am intruding on her sense of self, or doing what is in her best interest.
The only routine that sticks that will get her out of her room is doing laundry and washing the dishes, drinking coffee and smoking (outside).
None of my contemporaries are in a situation in which they are caring for an elder yet, so I don't have anyone to discuss these things with. And I haven't heard of anyone caring for an elder whom they don't share a language or history with. Still, if you can point to any resources, tips, or advice that have helped you in your journey I would appreciate it so much.