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Hi all, I am 18 and soon I will be moving in with my grandma to care for her in the evenings and at night. I’ll be attending college and I know I have to sleep, but my grandma is a wanderer and has dementia. She won’t go out of her condo or anything but she’ll walk up and down the halls, make herself coffee in the kitchen, forget about it, go back to sleep and repeat the whole cycle multiple times a night. My family has suggested we put child locks on the doors but she has also fallen before and I don’t want to risk an incident like that. Sometimes I sleep a little on the heavy side and I worry she will fall or burn herself or turn the gas stove on while I’m asleep. Basically, can I curb this habit somehow? What are ways that I can deal with this?

Ok, so, in what Universe do grown adults get together and decide it's a good idea for a college student with no elder care experience to move in, rent -free -wink- wink, with her demented wandering grandmother as a care giver???? The memory care community where I work as a receptionist charges $8300.00 per month to care for someone like your grandma, and to ensure her safety and that she's properly cared for. How much does your "free rent" add up to? Nothing's free, dear one, especially not THIS particular arrangement! In reality, it's going to cost you your sleep, which will impede your study time which will drag down your grades, your entire social life, any chance of dating, need I go on? Your entire college experience is going to be wrecked worrying about grandma and how to keep her safe. Unless you remove ALL the cooking/electrical gadgets in the kitchen, you run the risk of her burning the condo down. Unless you find a door lock system that requires a key to get OUT of, you run the risk of her wandering out the door and into the night.
I could go on and on about the possibilities for disaster in this situation. Please decline this invitation and go rent yourself a small space somewhere.....ANY rent you pay is cheap by comparison of the ultimate price you WILL pay for this job.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Just seen your comment re aunt fed up after 6 months and jumping at your interest in being closer to college and rent free. Believe me - a longer trip to get to college and some rent are far better options for you. Your aunt would know that. Tell her you’ve changed your mind.
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Reply to DareDiffer
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You’ve been given some excellent advice - I do hope, for everyone’s sake, that you heed it. At the very least, you would need to share that level of responsibility of covering EVERY evening, night and start of morning. Caring takes a heavy toll especially if moving in, as technically you are on call whenever there’s no one else with your grandma.

The only other way would be medication to induce sleep. NEVER a good idea, since if she wakes she will still feel the effects making her more liable for accidents and or falls. It could also make her dementia worse.

Tell your family that you have reconsidered whether it would be fair to you and your grandma to move in and act as her carer at this moment in time. You need time to be a young lady enjoying college, learning, handing in completed assignments on time and fun (with friends both old and the new ones you’ll make at college.) Not spending every evening and night checking on your grandmas safety. What if it’s a bad night with multiple trips for a coffee followed by college the next day and an assignment that’s due in? Let alone, the more likely, bad nights in a row.....

She needs professional assistance preferably, or at least someone who isn’t potentially putting their career options and own physical and mental health at risk. (I’m not joking re your mental health - see other advice you’ve been given). It’s going to get much harder to get a decent job / opportunities. Make the most of your college course.

i admire your devotion to your grandma, however you would both be better off by you giving her some quality time when you can.

Shall be thinking of you and hoping you make a decision that, ultimately, enables you to follow your chosen career path successfully, whilst giving your grandma loving support on occasion.

Regards,
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Dear Anonymous. I am sorry that you were a little pressured it sounds into taking on this role. You haven’t done so yet and IMO you should not. I also must say that your parents, aunts, adult cousins, all need to get better educated and fast. This is not a job for an 18 year old college student. Take it from us caregivers, this is not your responsibility. You need to enjoy your college years and meet friends. You can still love your grandma but it should be as a visit. I hope you speak to your family members quickly and put a stop to this. Let us know how it works out for you. You are a dear to even consider this. You will still be a wonderful granddaughter without being a live in caregiver.
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Reply to Sweetstuff
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Sorry, but this still does not sound like a good option for you at all.

If Grandma owns the condo it can be sold to pay for her care in a facility. If Grandma has any money, she can pay for home care.

Once you are living there, you may find the family is quite happy to let the situation continue. Where is the money going to come from in a year that is not there now, to pay for home care?

Grandma's lack of trust does not mean you give up your freedom to care for her. She does not have to like strangers caring for her, the family has to find another alternative than you providing over night care.

Does your family realize that in time she may refuse to bathe, become incontinent, perhaps because physically or verbally aggressive?
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Reply to Tothill
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I'm sorry but LOL.

Sounds like your family needs a 'scapegoat" no pun and you're it.
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Reply to shad250
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There has to be another place for you to stay and other options for grandma.

You are going to college, you need time to form new friendships, enjoy your classes and new found freedom of living away from home. You do not need the responsibility of caring for grandma.

Also you will not manage your classes and homework if you are not getting the sleep you need.

I went back to university a couple years ago and have one year to go. I am in my 50's and there is no way I could have done this while looking after a senior or not getting a good night's sleep.

Lastly, we had a student commit suicide this February on campus. It was later revealed that this incredible young man was a full time caregiver to his disabled mother. He saw no way out other than jumping off the library roof. It devastated the entire student body. Do not underestimate the toll care giving takes.

Now to Grandma, she should not be left alone and if you are sleeping she is left alone. It is a safety issue not only in her condo, but for the entire building if she is using gas appliances unsupervised. Yes, you can remove the knobs from the stove, unplug and cover the plugs for other appliances, but that is not a long term solution.

Who looks after her during the day?
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anonymous932600 Aug 19, 2019
my aunts and other adult cousins plan to take her out and get her moving and active during the day while i am at school. unfortunately we live in an expensive area and do not have the means to provide her with any sort of assisted living or in home care. she doesn’t really trust other people in her house if you know what i mean. we are attempting to slowly introduce someone after a year once we get the means to do so.
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Sunnygirl1: “For a college student to be the caregiver for a person with dementia.......that's really not very feasible, imo. Do you parents have any idea what it involves?“

and

freqflyer: “I hope this caregiving doesn't disrupt your college to a point where you will need to quit.”

joeym123, the above statements by posters are important. Have you ever spent the night with your grandmother to see exactly what you are agreeing to?

Did you volunteer to do this, or is this your family's idea? I am appalled when young people as yourself are used and abused by their family members, who expect young people like yourself to be the elder's caregiver. Where are your parents in all this? THEY should be the ones arranging for care for your grandmother.

Rather than get enmeshed in this situation and then find it difficult to extricate yourself, far better to never start the caregiving in the first place.
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anonymous932600 Aug 19, 2019
i have stayed with her for one week periods lately. it kind of has been interesting. all the siblings work and my aunt has been caring for her for 6 months, but was fed up with the situation and we don’t have money to pay for any assisted living or in home care, we live in an expensive area. the trade off was that i will live way closer to my school and essentially rent free so i did kind of volunteer for that in a way. it was presented to me as a hypothetical situation and then suddenly was like “okay you said yes so you’re gonna do it.”
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joeym, unfortunately there is no way to curb the habit that Grandmother is experiencing. With dementia, there are many things that a person will do that has no rhythm or reason, we must remind ourselves that Grandmother's brain is broken.

Now, you could experiment with placing a black throw rug in front of the area where Grandmother tends to make coffee. To a person who has dementia, that black rug looks like a hole in the floor. This may or may not work.

If you find the black throw rug works, then purchase others to place in front of the front doort. That may help when your Grandmother get to a point where she wants to go outside and wander.

I hope this caregiving doesn't disrupt your college to a point where you will need to quit. Grandmother will eventually need to have someone with her 24 hour a day, so you may not get much sleep.

Oh, as for falling, it's a given, that is what elders do. You could have a room filled with caregivers, nurses and doctors and that elder will fall within a split second. I just hope your family realizes that and doesn't blame you for not watching more carefully your Grandmother.
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Once a person who has dementia wanders, you cannot be certain where they may go. They can do unexpected things. They may leave the house, even if they were not prone to do things like that before they got dementia.

It's very risky for them to be handling hot food or beverage without supervision or operating stove or microwave. She would need direct supervision at all times. I'd explore hiring someone, since it can be a job that would have you up all night. I might explore an alarm that awakes you when she gets up. That might mean you are up all night. There are laws about locks as well, so, I'd be careful with those.

For a college student to be the caregiver for a person with dementia.......that's really not very feasible, imo. Do you parents have any idea what it involves? I'd suggest they consult with some experts and do some reading about the care that is required. This type of thing requires around the clock, 3 shifts of caregivers.
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