Our family moved in with grandma (95). She is forgetful, increasingly agitated, building stress on everyone. How do we cope?

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She attempts to cook things and often burns them. She leaves food out for extended periods of time and I have to sneakily throw the food away because it is unsafe. She obsesses about things. She is talking more about death and how she won't be around much longer. She will repeat the same question 3 times in a 10 minute time period. She seems to pick fights with my husband who is biologically related to her. Complains of decreased appetite. Does not take her medications unless we give them or remind her to take them. She hides her pills at times. Sometimes she takes too much of certain medications (pain medications, sleeping med).

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Peacekeeper, it does sound like your husband's Grandmother has memory issues. Here is a link that has good articles on Alzheimer's/Dementia... scroll down the page and read those that interest you. Knowledge is your best defense.

https://www.agingcare.com/Alzheimers-Dementia
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Oh, you asked how to cope. It depends on the cause of her symptoms, but I would read on this site. If it is dementia that is causing her symptoms, then there are ways to cope, but it's difficult. The patient doesn't normally improve and their need for care increases and becomes more challenging over time. There are many sources to read about others cope as they live as caregivers for their loved ones.
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Hi Peacekeeper, my advice is "Brace yourself." Our grandpa acts the exact same except he doesn't prepare food for himself. We have had to institute a lot of "pre-emptive strikes" to keep him from doing things that cause trouble. (Hiding things, keeping close tabs on the fridge, etc.) He likes people to wait on him, so he's been happy to have less responsibility. If your husband's grandma likes to run things, it might take a while to get her on a new routine and to accept the change in rolls.

With pills, my mom got a "pill box" that is probably actually for crafts or tackle. There are spaces across for 8 days, and slots vertically for 4 daily doses (he just uses 3 of them, for morning, mid-day, and evening.) She puts mini baking cup liners in them to hold the pills. The pills get portioned out for the 8 days and we set out his pills for the day in marked cups, which has worked for the past 10 years but the past couple years he needs someone to hand him the cup and remind him to take them. (He is also in his 90s.)

I think one of the hardest things is that because what they can do and reason is constantly in flux, it can be really hard to get your bearings. Reading more about dementia will probably help you but it is still just an inherently frustrating job. I heard someone describe that in old age, people tend to exist more and more inside themselves. When you are in middle age, you have all these circles outside of you -- friends, community, children, parents, etc. and you are kind of balancing your interior world with the exterior world all the time. It seems like for a lot of elderly people -- both because they tend to lose people as they age and because they are preoccupied and changing cognitively -- they are just immersed in their interior world and their needs. On one hand it is totally understandable but on the other, it can be very frustrating and overwhelming, especially if you have other people you are also trying to tend to.

It is a learning curve and it takes a while to figure out how best to communicate with the person and reassure them. Your husband's grandma does not sound like she has Alzheimer's so that is good! Nonetheless, her needs will basically determine the rhythm of the household and it can be an adjustment. Unless her appetite and worries are sudden changes, it really does just sound like she's "slowing down." Fixating on things, repeating one's self, getting "worse" at doing what used to come naturally, forgetting meals and pills -- those things are part of dementia but at 95 it is pretty normal. It is nice that you are there to help her!


And Maggie, she most likely did move in to help her with things, but it's not her own grandma. She is probably just learning more about the situation. You know people that old can change rapidly and can also be very good at masking symptoms when they are out. It is one thing to see someone at family gatherings and another thing to live in their house with them. Behaviors can seem very different! She is trying to help and find out what's going.
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It seems like she needs care. Obviously, don't allow her around the stove unattended. Monitor her medications. Don't argue. She doesn't know she's repeating herself. She's probably glad you're there, as it must be terrifying to know on some level that she can't handle certain tasks anymore. She sounds rather miserable though. I agree, that I would have her evaluated to see what is causing these symptoms. Will she let you go to the doctor with her? Medications can often help with depression and anxiety, but if she has dementia, she will need constant supervision.

I'd make sure she has signed Durable POA, Healthcare POA and Living Will while she is competent to sign.
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You moved in with your husband's 95-year-old gram, and she cooks? Why not relieve her of that chore? Are you surprised she doesn't take her meds unless your remind her? Really?

Why did you move in with her f it wasn't to help her with these things?
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Neuropsychologist.
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How did you come to move in with Gma? Who has POA? Does her doctor say that this is "age related decline"?. Has she had a real dementia workup? ( several hours of paper and pencil testing with a neuropsycholigist)?

I think you cope by getting a good diagnosis, meds for her anxiety and depression . And by reading all you can about dementia . And you start looking at facilities that can manage her needs when and if you can't do so at home.
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Sounds just like my 89-year-old mother who has dementia. Dementia seems to be becoming more and more common among older folks. I wouldn't be surprised if that is what it is. What I hope for her at her age is that her mind lasts longer than her body.
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