My grandmother was recently diagnosed with vascular dementia and has become increasingly difficult to care for. She is on the younger side (only 71) and has lived independently her whole life. She is in denial about the health challenges she’s facing (dementia, COPD/2 packs a day smoker, and heart issues including a mild heart attack a few weeks ago) and thinks she is perfectly fine. Since she lives alone at home we were able to get her a home health aide 7 days a week, 4 hours a day. She also has limited mobility due to long-standing back issues and had a fall that hospitalized her for a month in January, so she needs to use a bench shower chair. As such, her HHA is to help with shopping, light cleaning, cooking, and bathing.
We are having several issues in caring for my grandmother. She has become viciously angry and agitated, yelling and being verbally abusive to us and to her HHA. These attitudes come out of nowhere and can’t be diffused once she gets started. She now says that her HHA doesn’t do anything all day, which is untrue because we’ve seen her work. She also doesn’t allow her HHA to do certain tasks, for example, if her HHA wants to vacuum, my grandmother will unplug the cord and then call me and complain that her aide won’t vacuum. I have caught her in this lie many times, I’ve heard the interactions where her HHA will say “OK, I am going to vacuum now” and my grandmother will say “no you won’t” and then call me 10 minutes later saying her HHA won’t vacuum.
She also has suddenly decided to remove the shower chair in her bathtub and refuses to put it back in. We reinstalled it and she removed it again saying that she doesn’t need it and will be fine. This is a huge health risk to her because she has fallen and been unable to get herself out of the tub. She won’t allow her HHA to assist with bathing and waits until she leaves, so we are concerned.
Then comes the money issues. She has serious hoarding tendencies and has spent $500+ on groceries in the past week alone. For a while we would shop for her given her high risk of contracting COVID-19 but she now complains that we don’t get her the right things and it became too difficult to argue with her on what she has. She forgets what she has in her pantry and fridge, and in some cases can’t recognize what items are. She made the HHA throw out the food she just bought in order to go buy more of the same thing two days later. She is on an extremely limited income and her recent shopping trips have taken more than half of her monthly budget. I did just order her a TrueLink prepaid debit card and will load that card with a fixed amount of money because we can’t risk her spending so much or falling victim to scams, etc.
The main challenge we are facing is there is no reasoning with my grandmother. She just screams and yells and says we are wrong even if what she is saying makes no logical sense. It is wearing on us all, myself, my mom, and her amazing HHA, to be yelled at constantly when we are just trying to protect her and keep her in her home independently as long as possible. How do we handle this combative behavior while continuing to care for her? Her neurologist recently increased her dosage of Aricept and we will follow up next month to see if it helps her horrible moods. We are just all at a loss on how to navigate this situation. I am trying my best to be empathetic but it’s really hard to maintain composure when you’re getting screamed at. Any words of advice are very much welcome!!