I'm caring for my grandmother. She's 86 years old and has dementia. She's usually a sweet lady but I've been struggling. She has this terrible cycle of not sleeping. She'll some days not sleep for up to three days then crash. Unfortunately sometimes she crashes during the day which is bad for me as I have things I do during the day.

On a side note, my mom has cancer so I became the primary caregiver with grandma's care. Mom was helping for a while, then grandma got shingles so she cannot be near her. So everyday I have to take my mom to get radiation and once a week to get chemo. It's an hour away (it was the best location for oral cancer). We have helpers for grandma that comes everyday so we can do these treatments. Between doctor appointments for both of them, these daily treatments and just daily housework, I'm not able to catch up on missed sleep.

So we spoke to the doctor about it and he said instead of giving her sleeping pills, he thought that would harm her, instead he said sleeping training. I have worked with many kids so I know all about sleep training. We found through trial and error that sometimes when she's up after 3, she will sleep at night. So we started doing this. The problem is she would like to sleep all day long and not at all at night. At night she gets real bored, starts talking, crying out, asking questions, going to the bathroom everytime her pee drops because she just wants to get out of the chair and be 'awake' for the day where as I cannot possibly do that. So I've been trying to wake her up at 3. It's going terribly. She gets so angry when she's woken up. She screams, threatens, calls me names, throws things and even says she'd rather be with anyone other than me. But if I don't keep her awake she doesn't sleep at all during the night and I'm a terrible caregiver. I'm at my wits end. Does anyone have any suggestions or is any else dealing with this? As soon as mom's treatments end, which is in two weeks, I have to think about going back to work. Mom said she will handle care while I work but the nights will still need to be mine as she needs her rest (totally understandable as she's going to be hopefully recovering from cancer and not being able to eat for 3 months). I'm really getting upset by the abuse and the word nursing home keeps being thrown around by everyone (including her although she doesn't want to go. Instead she compares me to the worst people in her mind which is those people.)

I understand dementia is hard on moods. We are lucky to have her so happy go lucky on the days we have her that way. I just wish there was something that to either make it easier on my grandma still allowing me to get some much needed sleep or something that I could convince myself that I'm doing the best for everyone. Help!

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It seems to me that you are trying to handle too much. I think it's time for Grandma to be cared for by other people so that your mom can concentrate on her recovery. You need a break from caregiving, as well. Whether that means going back to work and hiring care for your mom or you staying around as your mom's caregiver, only your can figure out. But you can't do it all.

Anyone would feel angry, frustrated and emotionally depleted with all that you are doing. Making changes is hard but it's often the only way.

I agree with the comment about the sleep therapy. It's been tried. It didn't work. Melatonin works for some people so that's definitely worth a try, but the doctor needs to take another look at Grandma's sleep issues. With assisted living (maybe a memory center if needed) your grandma would have around the clock people available and this sleep issue would be addressed. Also, you wouldn't be the "bad guy" when you are just trying to help.

I hope that you work on changing this situation before you, too, become ill.
Please keep us updated.
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Having cared for my Mother, Mother-in-Law, and wife over a 4 year period, I know the toll that it takes.

I have a saying, "anger and depression live in the same apartment"
When I was overwhelmed I tried to consider the care receivers emotional status. Imagine what your loved one is experiencing knowing that the disease is fatal.

I think sometimes you need to step back and view the process as a third party, in order to separate yourself for the turmoil and anger of caregiving. I must admit it takes a long time to shift gears and adjust.

During my wife's illness, she was lucid and alert through her 4-year battle. She confided in the visiting doctor, that she felt guilty and angry because I had to care for her. This is important to remember, the care receiver is experiencing the grief, anger, guilt, anxiety (I call it GAGA) as you are, but magnified many times over.

At one point, it occurred to me that my accumulated anger from past grief experiences were interfering with the present and my anger was misplaced I should be angry at the disease not my wife.

In addition, you are not going to be canonized and awarded for your 24/7/365 service and you need to learn when to let go and ask, accept and arrange (AAA) for outside help.

There is no higher honor than to be a caregiver for someone you love. However, you must learn self-compassion and learn to love yourself and take care of yourself during this challenging time.

I often found myself repeating the three Cs....I didn't Cause it, can't Control it, and can't Cure it .... Do the best you can and know when to let go.
Helpful Answer (21)

I just want to offer my support and huge hugs for you. How do I deal with anger? I vent to my friends, my counselor, I write about it in a notebook, I scream in my car when I'm alone and I come to this website. I should be exercising, walking, but so far, I'm not. You are not alone. It is very stressful to have your world turned upside down. I have someone I care for who is not always the kindest person either, and it hurts a lot. If you can try not to take your grandma's words personally it will help. I know that is hard. I'm working on that philosophy myself. I'm sure you are doing the best that you can. Some situations are just too difficult for one working person to handle. You are a good caregiver. Don't question yourself, your intent is to be there for everyone, but you do have to try and be there for yourself too. You can't beat yourself up with guilt, what you are doing is incredible and generous. I'm sure others will chime in too. Keep visiting this site, you'll find it gives you strength.
Helpful Answer (15)

I don't understand why the doctor will not hand out the sleeping pills. My father drank everyday of his life...but he was not a drunk...he just liked to drink. And he started early in the day...didn't wait for 5. I went to the doctor with him when he was 90 and the doctor said...don't you think you should stop your father from drinking? I said...why, you think it's going to kill him? He lived in his happy world to the age of 96. Your gramma needs something to help her sleep so you can sleep. My husband of 62 years is bedridden in my living room. He kept me up day and night. I went into the bedroom, into the attached bath and walk-in closet and made a bed. I slept there with a phone and clock until he got his body clock working. Some pills helped. You are to be commended for what you are taking on, but you must take care of YOU!!! He got around to knowing that I was NOT coming every time he called. Find your "hiding place" and use it. It could even be a place with a key....lucky you....none here. Know that this site is the place to let it ALL hang out. Everyone here is battling something or someone. You are special. You are loved. Lots of hugs.
Helpful Answer (7)

You are doing the right thing don't take comments personally she would be horrified if she realized how she is treating you
My wife Wendy I have to wake to take to toilet at 3 a.m.
Wendy never ever swore before she got her Dementia and was horrified to hear the F word C word and B word now at 3.00a.m she swears like a trooper
I know it is not my wife and just let her carry on.
Please give yourself a Big Hug and continue
Best Wishes Kevin Parken
Helpful Answer (6)

littlemisskitty, anger is the easiest way for the ego to deal with having to face the fact that it is flawed and sometimes unstable. we all want to appear as though we've got it together, but the truth is that few of us really "have it together!" . society puts us in the position of having to prove ourselves and requires that we be "normal." (whatever that means)! it's not easy and most of us never get to a place of inner peace where we realize that we don't have to prove anything to anyone...especially when we get to a certain age. i think that our elders are struggling and simply don't know how else to deal with, let alone express their frustration with the changes that are going on with their bodies and minds. I think they feel out of control with the emotional and physical changes they experience with aging and its even more extreme when they have dementia or any other type of progressive cognitive condition. it doesn't make it any easier, but finding balance when and where you can has to become your goal each day. recognizing that their behaviors aren't personal attacks on you, its an attack on the circumstances and situation they are facing. You just happen to be in the line of fire unfortunately because you are the caregiver. I am learning how to set the boundaries emotionally to help shield some of the negative energy my mother throws at me. I have been the bad daughter to and accused of hurting her because i have taken control of the situation. I have emotionally dependent parents and for the first time in my life, I realize it and the negative impact that it has had on my life. I am learning not to take the anger personally because I know that I am not purposely doing anything to contribute to the frustration. The changes our family is experiencing due to her illness has everyone frustrated...she is angry because she no longer has control of a lot of things. she can't be in control because she is emotionally unbalanced and is mentally imbalanced to. All that I can do is make sure that she is not suffering to the extent that I can. I can only care for her to an extent emotionally to and I have to know when to protect my own emotional state of mind. Your mother doesn't mean anything that she is saying so you shouldn't take it personally. I am learning to stop the negative emotion when it comes my way because its not mine! God bless you and keep you both!
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I elected,after tormenting over the decision but realizing that I had to be what was best for BOTH of us--to place my mom in assisted living. The place looked and smelled great. they advertised a "brain university" for residents with memory issues. it turned out that the facility was not equipped to handle her dementia or diabetes. The staff had no dementia training;and were't prepared to handle the 'potty mouth.--which mom couldn't help. The poor diet--eggs EVERY morning,high sugar canned fruit and processed foods, no fresh fruit or vegetables--all contributed to making her dementia and diabetes worse. I was
there 2x/day to monitor her meals. there wasnt sufficient activities for an 84 yr old so i arranged daily transport to a senior day care for 4hours a day. She was the only resident who left the building daily. it was good exercise and socialization for her at the day care. They had diabetic lunch options and a nurse. There were loads of activities and her favorite 'old school; music was soothing her the whole time. She loved it. It made her want to get up,eat and dress. She had a sense of purpose. After 3months of assisted living,i moved her to a nursing home with a dementia floor. I had visited this place several times;and other facilities. i chose this one because the staff really knew how to deal with the residents. I never saw any residents laying in bed or sitting in wheelchairs--looking miserable. they were generally smiling and upbeat.

I came the first morning after her first night and mom was beaming! She was in the dining hall enjoying the music and tapping her feet. i said;'you look happy.' she said: ' I am VERY happy'. I wished i had found this place first and never put her into assisted living.They didnt have a clue:nor did I,really--as to what to do for quality of life for dementia patients.

The head nurse explained that caregivers and family are frustrated and overwhelmed partly because we want our loved one to 'be in our world and do what We want.' she said that its best to live in their world and understand their wants and needs. The facility had 3 activity levels based on severity of the dementia. ALL residents were involved in something. My mom only live for 2months after--but she was happy. I asked her every day;and she told me every day
Helpful Answer (6)

I think that the doctor suggested sleep training to see if it would work, because if it had, it would have been a good, non-medication based solution. However, it didn't work. It's time to go back to the doctor and explain this to him/her.

Your mother needs her rest. You NEED to go back to work. I cannot see tasking your mom with cancer caring for her mother with dementia. It is the work of three shifts of young, rested caregivers at the stage that grandma is at. Talk to Grandma's doctor about this, and what the options are. Certainly her sleep needs to be regulated by medication if she's at home.
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Healthy to be honest about your situation, which is beyond what even a superwoman could do. I tell my Mom she MUST just lie there and rest at night instead of getting up going to the kitchen, watching TV, going to the bathroom, reading, etc. I tell her she MUST take care of herself and I MUST sleep. Like dealing with a 2 year old.

If I were you I would go back to work and let others fill in. If you leave, they will. Save yourself while you still can. When you get too old, no one wants to hire you. You are drowning and she has you in a neck hold pulling you under with her.
Helpful Answer (4)

Please please get night time help. We have it from 6pm-6am. Let the caregiver deal with gran., that is their job you go and get sleep. Some people going through this can be given an elephant tranqulizer and still remain awake its part of the diseased brain!! And remember....this is not your "loving" grandma this is a sick version. So do the right thing be kind but DON'T sacrifice yourself. Your mom needs you and you need to give yourself a respite from a situation that will not get any better.!
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