Is my grandma abusing her family?

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Just a little background - I live with my 90 year old grandma and her daughter (my aunt). My mother, my brother, my cousins, my other aunt and my uncle refuse to have any kind of interaction with my grandma and have cut her from their lives completely which makes me pretty sad. My grandma, for the most part, is pretty independent. However, she hates going anywhere (refuses!) and sits in her chair, in front of the tv for 8+ hours. The only time she will leave the house is for a doctor's appointment. Other than that the only time she moves is to use the restroom or to get something to eat (sometimes - other times she demands my aunt fix her something). Her doctors tell her to go for walks or move around the house or her legs will just keep deteriorating but she doesn't listen and so she wonders why her pain continues to worsen. I know she's older but sometimes my aunt and I will ask her if she'd like to help clean up the house by just dusting some things in the living room or cleaning up things around her chair - just to get her to move around and she again refuses to move out of her chair. Instead, she will sit there and make rude, snide comments about myself and my aunt while she watches us work. She does it until she accomplishes her goal of either getting a rise or tears out of one of us - then when that happens she acts like we slapped her in the face and refuses to talk to either of us for days.

My aunt also has a wonderful, supportive boyfriend who truly has nothing wrong with him. However, my grandma HATES him. She will talk badly about him all day in front of me and my aunt and I'm getting pretty sick of hearing it to be honest. She will even interrupt conversations just to talk badly about him! She'll talk about how lazy (he has two jobs) and worthless he is and how he never does anything (he actually came over and checked up on her quite a bit when my aunt and I left the state to look at colleges). My grandma berates him constantly in front of my aunt, and if my aunt wants to spend time with him all h*ll breaks loose in the house. Both my aunt and her boyfriend invite her to do things with them and in response they get 'I would never go anywhere with that dumbass.' My aunt is in her 40s and my grandmother treats her like she's a teenager with a curfew.

Theres quite a bit more that my grandma does to hurt us, and brings up things from the past just to throw in our faces (my aunt's divorce, me totaling my car). My grandma threatens to move out CONSTANTLY and my Aunt has taken her to see apartments and senior living places and my grandma always, always backs out at the last moment because she was just making a threat.

I was just wondering if this was considered being abused by an elderly person? And if so, what we could do to help this situation? Talking to my grandma about any kind of depression or her mental well being is a giant NO - she won't hear any of it and won't even consider something like that.

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I don't think this is abuse, just rude inappropriate behavior. Don't expect her to change. I would either tell here you won't listen to the objectionable comments and go into another room or wear earphones with your choice of music. Ignore her threats to move out. It sounds like it will change for you when you leave for college. Then it will be up to your aunt to decide when it will be time for her to move on with her boyfriend. Sounds like grandma has already alienated the rest of the family, so she may end up in a group facility which would probably actually be good for her. She would have more things to complain about and more people to complain to.
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Ya, I'd say you are being emotionally abused. Whether Gramma is "in her right mind" and doing this deliberately is hard to say, but since she has apparently already alienated the rest of the family, I'd guess this is not a recent development.

I hope you will soon be removed from this environment by going off to college. Hooray! It is up to your aunt how she would like to proceed about this. I imagine that if she is going to set firm boundaries or to remove herself from this toxic environment that she may need support from a therapist. Growing up in a dysfunctional family can be in some ways disabling and it can require some help to overcome that.
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Etuqss, there is a thread here on AC.... The Dysfunctional Family, I highly recommend you go there and at least read some of the posts.... they will answer your questions, help you to understand your Grandmothers behaviors and help you to set boundaries.... there are many very experienced and loving people on that thread that will totally understand how you feel..... I appreciate that you reached out for help..... you will be amazed at what you will learn, how much love and support you will receive and no judgment.... they have all been where you are and are there right now..... sending you lots of hugs... check out the thread, I really believe it will help more than you know....
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Just think of it this way, your Grandma is probably afraid that she doesn't have that many years left to live.... and when you think about it, what does she really have to talk about other than your Aunt, your Aunt's boyfriend, and you. She's not into gardening, or fishing, or crafts, or politics... her interest are very limited.

Plus she is afraid that your Aunt and her boyfriend will move on leaving her alone, so trying to break them up would keep that from happening. But it sounds like your Aunt's boyfriend is quite understanding, your Aunt better keep him :)

If your Grandmother was in a senior home, she would make new friends and have other interest. But older people are scared of change, and moving means major change. If your Grandmother trusts her doctor, maybe the doctor could suggest that she move into a retirement village. Some elders will follow their doctor's orders :)
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I don't blame others for not visiting grandma at all. Wow. She is really taking advantage of the two of you. With the two of you, coddling her, she will only continue to deteriorate. My mother was hateful to family members that would spend any time with her. I would tell them over and over "She really doesn't want you there." I suggest you find another place to live.
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Dear E, I hope that you are able to go away to college--live someplace else other than grandma's--and learn what normal human and family interaction look like. Grandma is terrified of being abandoned and pushes loved ones away in an attempt to belittle and control the ones who aren't strong enough to escape. Save yourself and if you need to, caregive from afar.
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I agree with the consensus: there's a very good reason why your grandma has only you and your aunt (and her long-suffering BF) left in her life, and that reason is her personality. Alas.

But there is another way to look at this. Suppose you had a cat. Not a cute, amusing friendly cat, but a scratchy, hissy, ragged-eared fighty cat nobody in his right mind would even think about stroking. If it were your cat, and you'd known it all your life, you'd still love it. You just wouldn't expect it to be any different from how it actually is.

If you and your aunt, with her nice boyfriend's moral support, can look out for each other - reminding each other when your grandmother goes off on one of her rants that your grandma is the problem, not either of you - then this household can still work. But do I gather that you're off to college before long? In that case, it might be time for your aunt to get things moving for her mother to be looked after in some other way. This is, I would guess, not an arrangement you'd wish on your worst enemy if she were trying to do it alone.

And what can you do for your grandma? Let her be. She's got to 90, hasn't she, which kind of shows that the way she is works for her. Autonomy has its downsides, but it still has to be respected; and her health issues, her isolation, her attitude? Well, that's a very sad state for you to witness in someone you love. But it's her doing, her problem, and probably much too far gone for anyone to change.
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Short answer is yes. She is getting nothing good for her out of sitting in a chair all day every day and you are getting nothing good out of her either. If she has any interest in sharing old stories or old memories with you, just talking about anything but her present aches and pains and needs, then try to cultivate it, but this situation cries out for people with more empathy and judgement to make a firm decision and not permit the status quo to continue. She may, or may not, have more cognitive impairment than anyone realizes, but that's only relevant if you are truly ready to take over some decision making for her. Right now you are giving her the power to decide to be miserable and make everyone else miserable, while ruining what's left of her health and her life.
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Yep. Emotional abuse for sure. Many of us go thru this with elders and it never stops hurting. My 91 yr old mom was the same way, is the same way..alienated everyone and now has no one but me who maintains regular contact with her.

Elders lose their filters and say anything without thought how it might hurt others. They are also sad, lonely, scared and this is why they refuse to be active and lash out.

Here's what I did. Once I was calm and not emotional; I sat with mom and had a frank conversation with her how hurtful her comments were and that if that was how she was going to be, then we were no longer going to take it. I told her that I would no longer visit or call and when she said something hurtful I hung up or if I was at her house, I'd say "there you go, hurting my feelings. I'm leaving now." And that's what I did. If she was like this in a restaurant or in public, I put her in the car, even in the middle of dinner! And I paid the check, took her home and then I left the house.

This nipped it. When she slips up, I just say calmly "I'm leaving now". She IS SO much better.

You live with her, so harder to leave, but I would confront her then leave the house every time it happened. You don't have to go far, the yard, a neighbors, a walk around the block. Think of it as a "time out". Then return and give her the silent treatment for a day or so. Watch tv in another room or go to your room and shut the door.

If it continues; tell her you will not stand for it, and you won't stand by and watch her abuse your mom and boyfriend and if necessary, she will be moved to AL or NH. And bring it up every time. Even drive her by one and tell her this is where she will go when you no longer take care of her.

I know it sounds petty, but sometimes even an elder needs a reality check.

My mom is much better. If she's irritable, I don't poke the bear. I do change the venue, and make her get up and we go for a drive, get a treat like a milkshake or French fry, etc and drive around without getting out of the car. She never tires of driving in the neighborhood, seeing her old town favorites, parks, etc. Try it.

Sometimes I just bring out cheese, crackers and some ice tea and we go out on the porch. That's all it takes to get her in a new frame of mind and take the edge off.
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First, fix her depression, have the MD prescribe a mild antidepressant for her. And have the MD order PT to come to the house. She won't be so nasty to the professional. Offer her no choice, just get it done.
Second, once the meds have improved her outlook, which will take 6-8 weeks, move her to Assisted Living, using her SS and possibly the VA, if her husband was a wartime veteran.
The state of New Mexico considers an assisted living facility to be a group home ... Qualifying seniors may benefit from New Mexico's Medicaid waiver program. Look into that. It will be better for all of you.
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