I am presently helping / taking care of my 94 year old (soon to be 95) grandmother. Gran is pretty much self sufficient (..but I have taken on responsibilities of the household - paying bills, any needed repairs..things of that nature) and knows her limitations (gait disorder/must use walker/no steps if I'm not there). Lately gran has decided to move furniture (pull out chairs/recliners) when home alone. No clue why, she has even admitted that she doesn't even know... I've tried repeatedly to explain it to her -- then have her explain it back to me. She does understand (no official dementia diagnosis - has been screened by family doctor as well as a neurologist) but I'm at a loss... just got home from work and noticed the furniture is out of place... I know she moved it. I didn't even have to ask - she volunteered the information. I'm upset. I'm frustrated. I don't know what else I can do? She says 'I wish we could just get along'. This has nothing to do with getting a long. Am trying my best to keep her safe (no falls). Last major fall (2012), ended up in the local hospital, but ended up being transferred to a level one hospital (original diagnosis was occipital fracture. Luckily the level one hospital said no skull fracture - but kept her for three days observation in the neuro ICU). I still have nightmares of my uncle's girlfriend blaming me (..I wasn't there when she fell, it is not my fault). When I tried to defend myself, she threatened to physically assault me (..grateful for hospital security, they stopped her before the fist hit my jaw). I know it wasn't my fault, but I still blame myself. Family knew about the threat of physical violence, but no one held her accountable (most have made excuses for her attempted violent actions) - ever. I'm petrified of her doing something stupid that would result in a fall. I don't want to be assaulted by family/uncle's girlfriend. I have been putting up signs on furniture - 'Do not touch/no moving'. Trying to avoid another head injury (..at her age, scared next injury would be fatal). Any thoughts/suggestions on what I can do so things 'stick' while I'm at work? She doesn't want to go into a nursing home, and I respect it. Family doctor/neurologist even said she isn't ready to be in a nursing home.
Misc detail....We do have a hospital bed in the dining room (since 2012) - I have a lamp in the kitchen (it illuminates a path from the bed to the powder room). Many times, I have caught her turning off the lamp in the middle of the night. What can I do so that she won't turn off the lamp while it is night time? Looking for suggestions...help??
@jeannegibbs - I know.. Old people fall, it's what they do (..first point neurologist bought up in 2012). I tried using a nightlight, but that was a catastrophe (almost caused a fall). I don't have many options for dining room outlets (..currently use an extension cord from the kitchen) for a nightlight. I have gotten rid of all clutter / throw rugs, and things of that nature. I purchased a life alert system for her too - it's a good idea in theory, but she has accidentally activated it in the past (..doesn't help that she has a hearing loss). She's got medicare and government insurance (..spent majority of her life working with lawyers). Not (really) eligible for medicaid (..but was told if I switch her to medicaid, she would lose the government insurance). In 2012, was told that she is only eligible for 2 hours a week (..does me no good - my job is about two hour drive just to get there). I have brought up the subject of adult day care...long story short she was pissed off. My employer (hospital) does have an adult day care center -- I would likely get an employee discount but the downside, would have to switch from evening shift to days. We would have to leave the house by 5:00am to get there by 7:00am. Not a good option..
@Eyerishlass and freqflyer - I even took her to a physical therapist for an evaluation. First thing they said -- must use walker (..had been using a cane up to that point - but wasn't really using it properly). Other points they made -- must have adequate lighting at night. Was also given exercises to do to help with strength. The cards aren't in her favor -- 94 years old, vision impaired (wears glasses), and hearing loss / equilibrium issues. Since age, etc can't be fixed - best that can be done is to work around everything (ex: lighted path to the powder room at night). She has made it clear - no outside help (heck, I'm sure that includes me at times - lol). When she visits her kids homes, she doesn't misbehave (uses walker without being prompted, etc). I have talked about her going to IL but still a no go (financially, too costly). She's made it quite clear that she is staying put in her home. All her doctors have said there is no reason for her to go into IL, if she wants to be home - let her.
Anyways...in regard to my employment - I work the minimum amount of time to stay on the payroll. This allows me to be home with her. We try to go out at least once a day, if not more often. Walk to the mailbox, store, sometimes sitting outside, car trips (casino, etc) - On the days there are no outings planed, gram has word search books, coloring books, drawing books, jigsaw puzzles, etc.
I have repeatedly tried talking to her --- (heck, I even have signs on the furniture 'do not move')...every which angle. I have even starting adding that her son's psycho girlfriend wants her in a nursing home (which is true - she tried to overstep gram's wishes - luckily the doctors didn't pay her the time of day back then) to get my point across. She also goes to visit her friends (as well as volunteer) at the local nursing home (which also has IL / AL / SNF) frequently. After the fall of 2012 I have started going with her to the home to visit her friends. Heck, we/she's over there often enough so that others think she lives there and I'm just visiting her. When ever she's asked about it --- the response is always 'nope, still got my own home'.
Sorry about the rambling in my posting. Just feeling frustrated. My parents decided at the last minute that they did not want a child (..was told by pop pop that when my parents dropped me off to them permanently - I had a black eye. What the #@$%$ ... I was only a baby, no way I did that myself) -- grandparents raised me. Pop pop passed on in 1991. Gran is all I got left. She's my everything (mother, father) ~ just want to keep her safe so she can enjoy her 'golden years'. She's done so much for me over the years, can never repay her... but I still want to try...
Does Grandma own the house she is in? Is it paid for? Since Grandma is still independent [except for mobility issues] she might be happier living at an Independent Living complex, if financially feasible, where she has her own 1 or 2 bedroom apartment with full size kitchen, living room, bath.... where housekeeping comes in once a week to vacuum, dust, do linen service... and where she gets one meal a day in the main dining room sitting with friends she had made. This is a far, very far, cry from being a nursing home. It's cute being there around 5pm for the first dinner sitting, gang way, all these people with canes and walkers heading to the dining room, you better not be in their way :P It's something to think about.
Your grandma probably turns off the light because she doesn't want to waste electricity. That's her generation. So try jeannegibbs suggestion and put some nightlights out. They have those sturdy kind that light up on their own when it's dark enough. There's no switch on them to turn them off, they have to be unplugged.
Can you sit down with your grandma and have an earnest discussion with her about how concerned you are about her trying to move furniture when your gone? That she does it when you're gone tells me she knows she shouldn't be doing that. Ask her not to do it for YOUR sake. As a special favor to YOU. Make it about you.
And then there's home health for when your grandma's alone. You can hire caregivers to be there. They can help her with her tasks or whatever she'd like to do, they can help her with her activities of daily living. They can just be there to ensure your grandma's safety.
Like jeannegibbs said, unless you push her it's not ever your fault if and when your grandma falls. You can have Life Alert, a caregiver in the home, a sincere promise that she won't move furniture and clutter-free, lighted walkways and your grandma can still fall walking 2 ft to the sink to get a drink of water. It's not your fault.
All you can do is put precautions in place and hope for the best.
Unless you have deliberately pushed her, Gran's falling is never your fault. If your family doesn't understand that, ignore your family. If a family member threatens violence, report that to the police. You have enough on your mind taking care of Gran without dealing with ignorant and irrational family.
We (and our caregivers) can minimize the risk of falling by removing obstacles, keeping paths clear, removing scatter rugs, not letting clutter accumulate on the floor or stairs, lighting dark places, doing balance exercises, and keeping reasonably strong.
It sounds like you are taking reasonable steps to avoid falls. I think you might work on the night light method. Gran is turning off the lamp out of habit (or because it bothers her sleeping?) How about using several night lights to guide the way. Just leave them on around the clock. Is there a light on your stove or exhaust fan you can leave on? The lamp was a good idea, except it just isn't working.
Could you arrange lighting that Gran can control from her bed? When you get up, Gran, turn this lamp on with this button (or by clapping or whatever you arrange) and don't turn it off until you are back in bed.
But whatever you do Gran may fall anyway. A medical alert system would at least let you know if she falls, so she isn't just lying there until you get home. If you can't totally eliminate the possibility of falling, at least you can somewhat minimize the consequences that way.
My mom fell in her apartment. The medical alert company called me. I went there. The apt caretaker opened the locked door. Mom had the chain on. He got equipment and cut it. Paramedics took her to the ER. Story had a happy ending -- she was OK. A few years later she fell in the nursing home. This time her hip was broken. Did she break it in the fall? No. It broke and that caused her to fall. Someone was there within minutes to help her. Sometimes the best we can do is provide help quickly.
Is it time for Gran to have someone with her during the day? Of course, she could fall with someone there, but a little supervision might help prevent the worst risks and she would have immediate help. It may not be time for this, but it is worth considering. Is Gran on Medicaid? Can she afford daytime help while you work? How about spending some days at an adult day health program?