Hi all! My grandmother is in a NH and moved into long term last Wednesday. She refuses to get out of bed. She is a VERY stubborn old woman. She just turned 91. Her dementia is getting worse. She doesn’t remember eating her meals and is hungry shortly after eating. She needed to be changed but forgot 10 mins later. She needs to get out of bed even if it’s just into a wheel chair. She is blind, can see shadows so I think that may be part of the hesitation. But all of the patients are out in the hall talking or just wheeling themselves around the halls. I don’t want my grandmother to isolate herself. She gets MAD when we suggest getting up or even sitting up. She complains about hurting between her legs but they’ve don’t all the tests and there’s nothing. I wonder if she’s just focused on it and says it every time out of habit?!? I know I’m asking a lot in this post but I have NO family to bounce anything off. It’s very frustrating and I want to help her but I don’t know how. Also refuses showers.
Did she break anything in the fall? Has she been able to participate in physical therapy?
When my mom fell at her Assisted Living, she was sent to the Ear and they frayed EVERYTHING . No breaks. But mom, back in the residence, started refusing PT, which had eagerly partcipated in previously. The PT ordered new xrays and it turned out her hip was broken. I really wasn't broken when the original xrays were taken, but broke subsequently, probably due to osteoporosis and damage from the fall.
Make sure they are alert to the fact that if she says she has pain and won't bear weight, the issue could be a broken pelvis or hip.
Is your GM being treated for her pain?
I have a BIL who has neuropathy and he says it is very painful.
Was her move to the nursing home recent? Has she stayed in bed since the move there, or was there something else that made her reject getting up?
I know that the shift from a beloved home for a senior, especially blind seniors, is a Huge change. They would rather stay at home against all rational thought and giving that up feels like a huge sacrifice to them. I went through something similar with a very dear neighbour who was visually impaired and living alone, in the home her deceased husband and her shared. I understand that 'busting the door down' "oh my god you've been living like this?!" moment. It's rough on everyone involved. I also understand that leaving that house was one of the darkest days in that woman's life; it was like losing her husband again, all her memories of him.
It was probably very scary emotionally for your grandmother too. If that change was recent, it may just take more time and encouragement for her to accept her new home. It might also be good to check with her doctor, perhaps there are some depression treatments that might help motivate her to reconnect with life.
Despite her condition now, please know that your involvement in your grandmothers life and her relocation to a nursing home likely saved your grandmother from terrible suffering. The discovery of the woman next door by my family and I was not a happy one; I'm glad that you spared your grandmother that pain.
Hang in there Paul, and if you can keep us here up to date, as you feel you need to.
Thank you for your reply. It makes sense that staying in bed is most comfortable and makes her feel safe. And I understand that. I just feel like she’s giving up. She does get sponge baths. But as far as trying to massage her legs it causes her pain. She has diabetic neuropathy. Also she’s not used to being touched. She lived alone for many years. I only started taking care of her a year ago. I didn’t know her growing up. I met her a few times. But when I found out she was living in her own filth and eating delivery spaghetti and meatball takeout and then ate it cold out of the refrigerator I was more than happy to step in. She’s been in bed now for over a week. She doesn’t like moving her legs because it hurts but she does her best. I just hate to see her deteriorate. I don’t want it to be because she’s giving up if I can help that at all. Thank you for your help it means a lot to me that someone will take time to help a stranger. Heading out to Grammys now ....
First off I'm so sorry you and your grandma are in this situation; sounds very tough on both of you!
My advice would be to discuss this with her doctors; ask if at her age the very limited exercise of being transferred to a wheelchair and pushed around, is worth the distress and discomfort. It might be that in-bed massage to stimulate her muscles would be just as beneficial and less scary/uncomfortable for her. You don't say how long she's chosen to remain in bed, but if it's been more than a couple weeks it is very likely her muscles are atrophying. That degeneration can be painful and make moving difficult. After some courses of muscle treatments she might feel less physical discomfort and be more willing to try sitting up and eventually a wheelchair trip?
If she refuses a shower discuss with her attending nurses the option of giving your grandmother sponge baths instead. This can be done in bed and is often done when someone is bed-ridden and unable to transfer to a bath or shower.
I understand the powerful desire to see those we love doing healthy things but your grandmother is ninety-one and her definition of what is healthy and safe are very different than yours or mine. I know that I'd go crazy if I was trapped in bed day in and day out... but that is likely where your grandmother feels safest and most comfortable. Again, talk with her doctors and take time to think about what is more important at this stage in her life, her physical health or her comfort.