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My 92 year old grandmother has a stubborn tendency to treat me like a child. I'm 36 with both a full time and a part time job, and up until recently was living on my own for so many years.


She tells me when I ought to go to bed at night, criticizes my food choices ("you're eating THAT?" "Is that all you're eating!?!"), tells me all the time how I shouldn't go to the gym and comes up with every hilarious, ridiculous excuse under the sun not to go. "You know what you should do?" is one of her favorite phrases. It's like I don't know how to do anything by myself, according to her! It drives me crazy!


Yes, it's all coming from a good place- she wants to help. And I understand that she's losing control over her own life, so she makes up for it by trying to control mine vicariously.


But how do I get her to stop treating me like a child? It's beyond frustrating.

We are all children in the eyes of our parents and grandparents as they grow so elderly - 80/90 years. They recall us in diapers, falling off the bike, the first date, and our first grade. Impressions, memories that never leave their minds.

I discovered when elders say things to certain people who don't really know the family dynamics and their long history they can't shut up when it comes to certain things! The sometimes need to re-confirm their standing with the family tree and have forgot how to do so.

Requests for certain things and/or unwanted advice can be intrusive, especially if it involves your own family. As my mom would say in her earlier years, when Grandmas became more liberal in their thinking out loud, "this too shall pass". I reminded myself of this a few times.

All elders of my family deceased, I'm now sometimes approached by elder men at my husband's facility! I don't know but maybe they just need a woman or maybe I remind them of their wives. I've become good at greeting, talking, and sometimes giving them a quick handshake as I keep moving down the hallway. They wheel themselves toward me, necessitating some reaction on my part. I don't step into the elevator with them. I prompt them to go ahead and I step back away from the door.

I would keep trying to do a work-around as best possible, given your time and energy, and the environment/location in which your paths cross!
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Reply to Houseplant102
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Get a candy jar and put a penny in it every time Grandma says "you should". Tell her when it is full you are going to cash it in and take her out to a lovely dinner. Smile at her and move on. Because to Grandma you likely will always be a little child. Yes, it is frustrating. But especially if she has any dementia, you are likely doomed! Learn to treat it with humor. When she tells you to eat better, tell her you eat only junk so that no bacteria can live off it and you will therefore be well forever. Just learn to let it all go. It's grandma being grandma.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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I loved my FIL dearly but got tired of hearing his negatives.

One day, in the middle of his diatribe, I asked him what time it is. When he answered, "4:30" I said, "Oh, that's too bad. The complaint department closed at 4:00."

That ended his complaining without making either of us the "bad guy."

I found that a sense of humor goes a long way to diffusing a trying situation. Easier said than done. TNtechie gave some great, humorous responses to a trying question. Personally, I like the first response the best!
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Kimmotion Sep 9, 2019
Okay, that's brilliant (and a bit funny!) I'm going to try that one next time she goes all negative nancy on me.
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You don’t “get her” to do anything.
You relax when you’re around her, realize that what she says makes absolutely no difference to your life, respond neutrally and politely and do what you want to do.

Your reaction to what she’s saying means nothing to her. Your defensiveness makes you sound much younger and less secure than you deserve.

So YOU do it. YOU train yourself to hear what she says, withhold reaction, and let her say what she WILL SAY.

I don’t hear anything in what she says that is meant to sound helpful at all. The control thing? How dependent is she, relative what she was in her past? I can’t imagine that she interprets any particular advantage to what she says, especially nothing as complex as has occurred to you.

My LO tells others both when I’m absent and when I’m present to hear the conversation, that she wants me around because she can “yell” at me.

And she can, and occasionally does yell at me. And I ignore it, because I know fundamentally that she loves me and I love her. No particular “do this to be respectful” technique. Just overlooking, letting go, keeping in mind that I’m a respected adult, no problem.
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Kimmotion Sep 9, 2019
You're right. The woman can't even remember what she ate for breakfast that morning and I'm expecting her to remember not to do certain things. Me, on the other hand, I don't have dementia and I can remember to try certain techniques to deal with the situation when it comes up. Like countering the inevitable dialogue with humor. I like the previous response below about the complaint dept. being closed. That was funny.

As for the yelling, my grandmother does that to me, too. My grandmother yells at me over the most trivial detail, like my nervous habits. But deep down they love us, and we, them. The yelling is not actually anything to do with us- it's their way of venting their frustration that they can't do the things they want to do independently. So they lash out at whoever is around, which is us. Though easier said than done, try not to take it personally.
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Thank you everyone for the responses. They are all good answers. Thank you for taking the time to post them, I appreciate it and feel better already!
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Reply to Kimmotion
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Honestly, I would probably buy a pair of earplugs or maybe a radio with earbuds. You would still hear her but it would be a little more subdued. If you go into your bedroom for peace and quiet, you might consider the super ear-muffs the guys take to the range when they engage in their weekend contests. It is not a a fashion statement to wear these items, but they may sooth your nerves when you've just had enough for the day.

When I visit the nursing home I talk to different family/residents along the way. A universal annoyance is family members being plagued by unreasonable questions/comments as if the elders are talking to children. This seems to happen before and after being admitted to the nursing home. Another is getting constant phone calls from loved ones who just want to talk about anything, give orders or beg to come home.

I would not skip any visits to the gym. If she needs this much attention I hope you are looking for an alternate living arrangement for her.
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Kimmotion Jun 28, 2019
Houseplant, I have to chuckle a bit at your suggestion about earplugs- I work in a law school library at the circulation desk and we hand out free earplugs to students to help them concentrate better when studying. Maybe I should take a pair home with me! Hahaha. Nah I'm just kidding. But you're right, I should just let it go in one ear and right out the other. I'm a grown adult and can do whatever I want to.
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Kimmotion, my parents [in their 90's] also thought I was still that same 25 year old who could do anything and drive anywhere. Ah not, I was a senior citizen myself. It is just the adult/child dynamics that happens in every family. Just have to grin and bear it, if you can, it won't be easy.
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One Sunday I was taking photos of everyone before, during and after Sunday dinner when my 34 year old niece, who was a couple of weeks into recovering from child birth, not wearing any makeup, and not feeling all that well asked me not to photograph her that day. I complied with her request but I also made the statement "I know you feel you are not looking your best today but trust me, 10 years from now you will consider almost every photo taken at this age to be a good one." She later (upon my request) did let me take two photos with the promise I would not share them with anyone, one of her and the baby and one of her with her husband and the baby. My niece saw those pictures recently of her with her soon to be 14 year old "baby"; she agreed she likes them now and would be happy for me to share them.

Your grandmother is 92. "Do you know what you should be doing?" is irritating now, but trust me on this. Someday soon you will walk through the door into her house and give almost everything you ever hope to have to hear her say it just one more time.

In the meantime, you could try turning it into a game of sorts.
Q: Do you know what you should be doing?
A: Giving my favorite grandma a hug and kiss?
A: Cooking some chocolate chip cookies?
A: Shaving my legs?
A: Searching facebook for a date?
A: Washing my car?

Almost any answer that carries some amusement can redirect the conversation and reduce your irritation.
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Kimmotion Jun 25, 2019
Thank you, TNtechie, that is a great idea. I will try and think up some clever answers. I think I already have one:

Q: Do you know what you should be doing?
A: Holding a drink in my hand on the beach!
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Practice non-committal responses like "Oh, that's interesting" and "Thanks, I'll think about that". Don't engage in any sort of debate or attempt to explain why what you are doing is correct -- just do it.

If there's something that she really objects to, try not to rub her nose in it. (Like if she thinks chewing gum is icky, then... don't do it in front of her. I'm not saying to follow all of her rules, just compromise a bit when it doesn't truly matter.)
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Reply to JenniferLeigh
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Kimmotion Jun 25, 2019
You're right, and I frequently have to remind myself not to pick a fight or argue with dementia. It just isn't worth it, you never win that battle.
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To her you are a child. You're twelve, max.

The only thing I can suggest is a comparison: my younger daughter is 31. She wears an engagement ring and is usually dressed for work as a teacher when she's out and about in public.

She has not yet been able to buy a bottle of wine or a movie ticket for an 18 film without getting her ID checked, often by people who are significantly younger than she is. For a while, aged 25-28 say, she found it quite annoying but now that she's over 30 she says she's decided just to enjoy it while it lasts!

The thing is, you still ARE an adult and you choose your own food and your own bedtime and generally suit yourself, yes? So when you say "treating" you as a child, she can't actually control a single thing. She's just looking on you as a child - with love!
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Kimmotion Jun 25, 2019
Countrymouse: oh yeah, I'm still an adult and do my own thing regardless of what she says. It just gets super annoying sometimes. But I get what you're saying, and will try to look at this scenario with more understanding next time around. You are right- I know it's all coming from a place of love. Thanks for your response, I appreciate it.
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