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This is my first post. I am mom to two amazing teenage kids (one Type1 diabetic) and caregiver to two aging grandfathers my FIL and my father (I also work a crazy demanding full time job). All that to say that exhaustion and overwhelm have become a central part of my life and certainly cloud my thinking.


My 92 year old father in law moved in with us a little over a year ago. He is mostly healthy, just not very active and has fallen a few times. He was feeling very lonely living alone.


This first year has not been easy, and if I had it to do over again I would have explored 100 different options before inviting him to live with us. Just adjusting to sharing space and cleaning up after/caring for an additional and needy person. The primary challenge for me, however, is the impact on my kids, especially in these last few years we have with them before they graduate and head off to college.


It started with my FIL making small, seemingly harmless, but disturbing "dirty old man" comments to my daughter who is 14 and just growing into womanhood. More alarming though, is that he has gradually developed a paranoid fixation around my son, believing that my son tampered with his car, steals from him, and is generally mentally disturbed. He believes that "if we went up to our son's room we would find all manner of his things: shoes, sweatshirts, etc." All of this is unequivocally, absolutely false. My husband has discussed this with my FIL, reminding him that we found his shoes in his closet see... but the the paranoia remains. I know rationally that this is a medical symptom, likely related to extreme hearing loss and dementia and it is being discussed with his caregivers as such.


My question is how do I deal with this and protect my dear children in process? I feel angry and protective. Sad that my son, who is honestly one of the kindest, most honorable boys I know, has to rise above, knowing that his grandpa believes he is somehow sinister. I feel worried that this psychosis will continue to progress and that my son will be confronted in ways that feel dangerous or hurtful. I feel empathy for my husband who is dealing with his own emotions around this. I feel sad and aware that my anger and momma-bear instincts and his unconditional love for his dad are not compatible. I don't think I'm looking for answers just really needed a place to say this out loud.

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All bets are off in this situation and any promises made to never put these men in a nursing home is null and void. Albeit verbally, your FIL is sexually abusing your daughter. And he is verbally abusing your son as well. You call them your “dear children”. So why are you tolerating this? This is not acceptable in their safe zone, their own home. It will affect them for the rest of their lives. They will lose respect for you and their father because you both tolerated it.

There is is no reason good enough for these men to be living with you. If it’s a financial issue,,enlist the aid of an Elder Law Attorney and apply for Medicaid. You cannot be at your best when you are exhausted and needing to run interference for your kids. You need to realize they are your first responsibility.
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Itx's time for a Nursing Home for FIL. His paranoia could become violent. Believe me, they may be frail but become very strong when violent. You should be enjoying your childrens years at home. With diabetes ur son does not need the stress that FIL is giving. Yes, you can tell them that its just the Dementia talking. Gpas brain is broke, its dying. FIL can be a teaching tool to learn empathy. But, teenagers egos are fragile and it may be hard to grasp it.
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Back in the early 70’s my grandfather (my dads father) moved in with us after my grandmother died. Why I don’t know. I was 10-11 years old, my brother three years younger than me. My grandfathers philosophy was children were meant to be seen and not heard. He was very mean and never had a nice word about anyone. My father died in 1983 I was 22 years old and my brother was in the Air Force. Grandfather still lived with us. I believe that the hatefulness from the old man contributed to my brother becoming an alcoholic later in life having low self-esteem and dying at a young age. I hate that my childhood was over shadowed by this person. He ended up in a nursing home in 1988 and I did not go to his funeral. Think about your kids...
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Unconditional love for his father.

What about the unconditional love a father has, or is supposed too have, for his children?

Sons a thief and daughter is a sexual target? Who let's anyone do this to kids without intervention and removing the threat?

When anyone becomes a detriment to others in the house it is time to look for new living arrangements.

Your husband needs to protect his children from this disease before irreparable damage is caused. The old nonsense of "kids adjust" is just a hateful way of saying what they feel doesn't matter. Emotional damage can been hidden but it will effect every aspect of that person's life.

I know you just wanted to vent with no answers, but letting a senior with dementia harm kids is just beyond, beyond. There is no justification for letting children become targets. Sorry if that offends you but your husbands lack of unconditional love for these 2 children that should be able to depend on him for security and a sense of wellbeing, well that offends me. Sheesh, what is wrong with people.
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Maybe the best way to protect your kids is to use these circumstances as a instance of one of the most important life lessons - life is often unfair.

Here's a variation on what I have told the kids in our family over two generations, not necessarily just about dementia but about something they faced during the teen years that was patently unfair.

It's not fair that his grandfather has this awful disease - dementia. It's very unfair that grandpa's broken brain is causing him to do and say completely inappropriate and hurtful things. Imagine how frightened Grandpa must feel with not only his aging body failing him but now he can no longer rely on his memories or thinking either. He doesn't understand why, but can pick up on feelings of disapproval from those around him. Maybe simple disagreement feels like disapproval too. His broken brain can't cope well with even simple feelings anymore so he lashes out in anger.

You cannot control the unfair things that life will throw at you anymore than Grandpa could control getting dementia. Sometimes you cannot control your immediate feelings of hurt or anger. You can control your response. You can control whether you feed those hurt and angry feelings. You can control whether you display those feelings for all the world to see. Are you going to be the person that can roll with life's unfair punches and be ready for future opportunities? Or are you going to be the person that embraces feeling mistreated so much that you cannot even see the chances life will bring your way. I can almost guarantee you that you will have a boss that is unfair to you in some way. Are you going to leave a good job and company that supports your spouse and children just because of one jerk? Or are you going to have the strength to keep doing your job well and wait until that bad boss moves on?

As long as your son has your support and knows you and his father don't believe the stuff his grandfather is accusing him of, he will be fine. Teach him to disengage politely when Grandpa gets on his case. My demented father picked on my nephews too - particularly the oldest boy named for him. It continues today any time he has a chance to see his grown grandsons. My SIL demanded her sons be polite and respectful to their grandfather regardless of what he said. They could leave, they could disagree, but they were not allowed to respond to my father's anger in kind.

Empathy and the ability to maintain composure in difficult circumstances are valuable skills that can be helpful in every aspect of adult life. They have been particularly helpful to one of my nephews (a general contractor) dealing with both difficult clients or supplies and the skilled tradesmen in his crews.

One of the biggest challenges of parenting is balancing stepping in to protect our children and stepping back to allow them to learn to protect themselves. The old line about that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger has a lot of truth to it. Protect too much and your children are less capable - less skilled, less confident and less able to cope with difficulties. You certainly need to closely monitoring the situation and make sure your son and daughter KNOW you believe and support them. If possible, you should probably create an area in the house where the kids can entertain their friends with a minimal risk of encountering their grandfather even if it's an area in the garage or basement. Teenagers don't need "nice" as much as comfortable and a little private from the adults. My nephews and their friends loved a unfinished basement space with a yard sale living room suite, TV/DVR, small fridge of cold water/soft drinks, ping-pong table, space heater and an exterior door. I truly believe your children may actually benefit from having their difficult grandfather around if they can accept his behavior is his illness and not really personally directed at them. It's also an chance for them to support their parents.
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