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My grandpa 'F' and my grandma 'J'. I had already typed this whole thing out but it was deleted when I made an account so I'll do the best I can to remember.


They both live in their home with no caretaker. They have 5 daughters.


F
1. Seems to be an extreme hypochondriac, even though I've read that generally comes with age and is not uncommon.
2. "Needs" to go to the doctor at least once a week.
3. He calls the Mayo (Rochester) almost every day for 5 years, to talk to J's doctor(s) and nurse(s).
4. Called my aunt today, sitting in his truck at the end of the driveway crying saying he couldn't do it anymore and he's too stressed out. Once she got there he had finally gotten through to one of the Mayo nurses. He no longer needed to go to the doctor because he felt better then.
5. He has basically locked J in the house. He won't let her leave because he's too afraid and stressed and now he won't leave either.
6. Everything is the most extreme case scenario and if something stresses him out in the slightest he can't even handle visitors. (This happens often)
7. Constantly hovers J. It is with great and loving intention but, for example, he will take her blood pressure about 4 times a day. He still continues to even though their doctor at the Mayo told him that it is unnecessary.


J
1. She seems to have rapidly declining dementia. She has always had a bout of illnesses where we expected her not to make it a few times. She has also had a couple of bad falls just leaning on the couch, and then breaking bones. She goes to the Mayo every 6 months though so they are handling that.
2. She is going stir-crazy and seems to be getting angry because F won't let her leave the house.


THE HOUSE
1. They have owned their house for 40+ years.
2. The house smells so bad that if you visit you can taste it when you leave.
3. Their hair, breath, and clothes always smell like their house.
4. My aunt's have tried to clean it but it is never going to be good or safe enough.
5. The mold in the basement is so bad J has to wear a gas mask when she goes down there.
6. We have tried multiple times to find them a house but once one is found according to F's exact qualifications he doesn't want to go through with it.
7. I'm not sure if it's even a sentimental attachment as much as it's a stress/fear/just not wanting to move situation.


I'm usually good at helping to solve problems but I just can't think of anything right now. They need help but the worse their issues have gotten the more sensitive and irritable they have become. We don't know what we need to do... or when we figure out what to do, how to do it.


Feel free to ask any questions for clarification!! I'm sure I left out an important point or two. Thanks in advance.

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You've gotten some really good advice so far. Mine is pretty much the same, but sometimes hearing the same thing in different ways can be helpful, so here goes:

Grandpa has a psychiatric illness. The healthcare providers that he should be calling daily (if he has to call anyone) would be mental health care providers. It is wonderful that his contacts at Mayo are willing and able to calm him and comfort him. Perhaps he is already dealing with a mental health clinic there. I suggest that one of your family (your mother?) get in touch with his doctor. You may run into some privacy road blocks but it would be very helpful to know his diagnosis and how the family can best support him.

Grandma apparently has dementia. Is this a diagnosis from Mayo? When she goes in every six months, is she being seen in one of Mayo's outstanding dementia programs? If so, they have some pretty awesome programs for caregivers and family members to help them support their loved on with dementia. They have informative literature. Your family could learn a lot of what to expect from Grandma and how best to help her have the best quality of life she can have under the circumstances.

Neither of your grandparents can have the best quality of life living as they are. They could not sell their house without fixing the mold problem. This is a health hazard that cannot be passed on to new owners. It really and truly needs to be taken care of whether they continue to live there or they need/want to sell it.

The house also needs (apparently) to be thoroughly cleaned, carpets steamed or removed, curtains washed or replaced, upholstered furniture steam cleaned, etc. etc. Perhaps one family could invite Grandpa and Grandma to spend a week with them while other family members do a thorough cleaning or hire someone to do it.

If your grandparents are to stay at home, the home needs to be a pleasant, clean, and SAFE place.

Grandma NEEDS some appropriate interaction with other people and some mild stimulation. (Mayo can explain this.) Even if her house is pleasant and safe, she cannot be held prisoner there. Ask the Mayo folks for the names of Adult Day Health Programs that your GM could attend one or more days a week. There are definitely some good ones in the Rochester area.

It is possible that their home situation could be improved sufficiently to be a suitable environment for them for at least a while longer. Dementia always gets worse, though, and I doubt this could last forever.

The other option is for GM or both GM and GP to go to a care center with appropriate levels of care. To me, this seems the approach most likely to be good for them both.

Improving their quality of life either where they are or with a move is going to take a lot of family help. It is wonderful that you are looking for ways to help.

Keep in touch here and let us know how things are going.
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There are many levels of Assisted Living depending on your location and where you live, some are structured like a small apartment with all the amenities of a 5 star hotel, some are much more basic. The advantage of seeking a facility that offers multiple levels of care is that they can still be together - at least within the same complex - even when their needs differ, and you won't have to seek out a different place as their needs inevitably increase. The big bonus is that your grandfather will have people there who can reassure him and assist with grandmother's care, and she will have the ability to go out and join in activities and socialize in a safe environment.
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Sorry, that was a bit Jane Austen of me - I meant, does he especially trust any one of "the girls" (as I expect he still thinks of them! :) ), discuss things with them or ask them for help?

If your mother has POA, that's a start. It doesn't sound as though your grandparents are legally incompetent, not yet, but their having given her that authority in the first place must mean something to them. Perhaps she could call a family conference and try to get everybody on the same page.
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I'm not positive of their exact ages, Churchmouse, but I believe they are hardly older than 80. Maybe gpa is 81/82 and my gma is 80.

I don't think any of the daughters are 'up' for an intervention, but I'm pretty sure 3 would for sure participate, the other 2 are iffy. My mother and I have been talking about their situation a lot and I've basically been telling her they need to sit down, have a meeting, and sort out what they are going to do because it's not going to get better. I just avoided the word intervention because I feel like they hold a very negative connotation with the word.
My mom is the baby of the sisters, but she is also the power of the attorney. And sorry, I didn't understand what you are asking with the second question.

I agree though, if everyone keeps putting it off I feel like it is going to just get SO much worse and even more sad than it has been already.

My grandma does seem to have dementia, but she also seems to be pretty functioning. Mostly she just rambles or says kind of weird things. But she doesn't wander off, or forget where she is. I have no experience with dementia at all, in your opinion would it be necessary for her to be in an assisted living even though it seems a little more mild?
I agree with him though, I definitely think he needs some help. I'm very worried about him and I feel like we've been watching him slowly fall apart.

Thank you so much both of you for your answers, I couldn't help but nod my head along with your responses.
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God bless you for reaching out, johfam.

It sounds as though your grandfather has cracked under the strain of caring for your grandmother and trying to hold on to their way of life. Which, when you consider how precious it must be to both of them, isn't an unreasonable attitude. Just an impractical one.

You don't, I think? say how old they are. Not to worry, it just helps to complete the picture.

Your grandfather must be very afraid. You only have to think what he has to lose, and inevitably is losing, to understand why.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean anyone can stop it happening. Your grandmother needs skilled care - the demands of that would be too much for one young, fit, able-bodied person who isn't emotionally invested. So imagine what they're doing to him.

Are the five daughters up to an intervention? What there is to gain is a supportive environment for the two of them, where your grandfather is relieved of the practical burdens of care and can just keep his wife company while he himself is also looked after. Start looking for a continuing care facility that offers the right range of specialist services to accommodate them both, so that he enjoys maximum independence while grandma's different needs are properly addressed. Facilities like this are not unicorns, they do exist - be fussy.

Once you've found it, you have the basis of a plan which then has to be developed. That's when the fun begins. Your grandfather may or may not have dementia, but considering the strain he's under he's not likely to be thinking any too straight. Does anyone have power of attorney? Does anyone enjoy his particular confidence?

It's a matter of getting him to accept a different solution without any hint of accepting defeat. Tricky. But you either pursue that, or wait for the disaster that will force the issue.
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To be blunt, your grandfather has some psychiatric problems or perhaps has early dementia himself. His level of hypochondria is NOT normal, neither is his extreme anxiety and paranoia. What he is doing to your grandmother is Abusive, he is denying her social interaction and physical freedom to leave the house because of his fears, not to mention allowing their home to deteriorate into an unhealthy environment.

It is time for the 5 daughters and any other interested family members to call a family meeting to discuss how you are going to force a change, and I imagine it's going to get ugly. Someone needs to check out what kind of care options are available in your area, and for your grandmother's sake I think Assisted Living with a Memory Care option would be the best choice. They need to also discuss how to give both their doctors a heads up about what is going on, both to protect her and to find medical ways to help him.
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