I am taking care of my grandparents and don’t know if it is safe for me to leave them unattended? - AgingCare.com

I am taking care of my grandparents and don’t know if it is safe for me to leave them unattended?

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I moved to Indiana from PA in March to help my Grandparents. My Grandfather is completely blind, for the most part, immobile, and on home manual dialysis 4 times a day. My Grandmother has diabetes, but it is under control. Her big problem is some kind of mental illness or dementia. She curses, she sings weird made up songs all day, mostly aimed at me, to make me feel guilty about something, she cries and throws tantrums constantly, but she has a routine and does the things she needs to do on a daily basis. I work, and since my Grandmother is able bodied and her Dr has not mentioned dementia when she went to see him (I asked him if he saw signs of it), I thought it must be okay for me to go to work, however, I am no longer so sure. I work close to home, and my Grandmother knows she can call me at any time, and my boss knows the situation and is very understanding, so that's a plus. How will I know when I need to bring someone in to help in my absence?

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When it comes to medications, I get my Grandfather's medications out for the day and while I am at work my Grandmother gives them to him with meals. My Grandfather won't let her forget either of their medications. He is still the same mentally as he was when I was a kid. I get home from work anywhere from 4-8pm, and usually take over things like meds and treatments from then on. My Grandmother refuses to let me help with anything that is directly related to her own healthcare so she prepares her own medications, however, like I said, my Grandfather won't let her forget meds.

When it comes to Gram, it's so hard because she thinks she's fine, and her Dr isn't telling her she's not. I have no legal backing regarding this either. I am really working on my reaction to her. It can be rather strong at times, but I do think I am doing much better handling her. Oh yeah, my aunt was living with them helping out, and she passed away from cancer in March, so she is also dealing with losing her daughter. That is actually why I came out here. So it can be pretty explosive here. I am starting online school here soon, and that on top of work, will take me away from the house a bit more because there is no way I can study here, so I am thinking I will have scheduled school hours scheduled around my work schedule and I will end up bringing someone in to help during those times. My Grandmother needs help early in the mornings and also around dinner time. If I am at work, Gram does Grampa's 4pm treatment and makes dinner, and she gets stressed out, so if someone else was here to divvy out meds and do treatments in my absence, Gram can handle cooking dinner at this stage.
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I think that you have done a marvelous job of setting things up appropriately. I congratulate you.

It is hard to know how safe they are on their own all day. (I have trouble even determining that about my husband, who has dementia.) Don't you wish there was some kind of litmus paper you could press to their foreheads and if it turned purple, nope, they weren't safe on their own? But alas, we have to rely on human judgment. I think it would be wise to bring in a professional who deals with this a lot to help you assess the situation. You can contact Social Services, division of Services for the Edlerly (or whatever it is called in your state), explain the situation, and ask for an in-home assessment. It would be worthwhile to take off work and be with them for that appointment. Potential clients are often in denial about the state of their health and it is good to have a more objective caregiver there for a reality check.

If it turns out that more services are needed, the social worker can help you through the process of arranging for them. Just as an example, it may that a weekly visit from a nurse to evaluate vital signs, set up meds, maybe cut toenails, etc., will be suggested.

I don't know what the financial situation is here. It is good to plan ahead rather than have to scurry around arranging things during a crisis. The social worker can help you understand the options for that, too.

My personal advice is KEEP ON WORKING! It sounds like you have an understanding work situation. Maybe you will need to take unpaid time off or a leave of absence from time to time. Even if your grandparents need more daytime supervision, please arrange for that with the social worker's help. You very much need to have your own life, to establish your own work history, to build up your social security account, to interact with healthy adults each day. It will make you a better caregiver over the long haul, and there is no predicting how long your grandparents will need your help. Establish routines that you can maintain and also protect your own sanity and health.

And a little advice about Grandma's digs at you: try not to let them get to you. I don't know if GM has always been a little mean-spirited or whether her current health situation is causing this. It is, alas, all too common for elders to take their frustrations out on the person who is helping them the most! This is GM's problem -- and it is not really about you. Try very hard not to take it personally.

Hang in there! Come back and tell us how things are progressing.
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I agree with wuvs, your grandmother has something going on, and if her present Dr. won't help you get some answers find a new one... There are cognitive tests that can be run to see if she is leaning toward Alz./dementia.. I am not a dr. so would not venture to guess what is wrong with her, but she definitely needs another opinion of what is happening to her... Does she give your grandfather his meds, ect??? Do you get to pop in during the day and check on them??
You are very young for this kind of responsibility and can't begin to imagine what you gave up to be there for your grandparents... I am sure you do not need me to tell you what an awesome young lady you are... please keep posting and letting us know how things are... we all need support and thank God for this sight and different threads where you can make friends, get support and have a place to put your feelings... welcome, hope you find solutions soon.
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It takes a special and selfless person to change your life to help your Grand's. With that said don't lose that attitude. Your awareness of your grams mental state is first step. Many times family members wait until a crisis situation to act on the issue. Next step is proper diagnosis of her condition. You need a nurologist(spelling?) brain scan. Then if there is a problem she will need medication. I am also concerned if she is already on meds is she taking them properly and who's giving grandfather his. If they are not taking meds right it can really screw them up.
Try not to lose your patients and if you do hide it from them...vent here if need .You came to right place on here and many others are very helpful and loving. Oh and I always say..... caregiver rule #1 take care of yourself!!!! If you fall apart then what? Keep Posting.
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