I am just starting out caring for my grandmother and am considering moving in with her so she can stay at home while she ages. She has had some mobility problems and has memory problems, and falls often. I haven't cared for a relative before and am scared that I won't be able to help in the right way. I don't want to intrude on her privacy. Can you share any tips or techniques that make older people feel cared for and respected?

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Well, all of it was a surprise. I never imagined the level of personal care I would be taking on.
At first it was just mainly keeping my mother company, taking her to appointments and outings and simple meal prep and laundry, all things she had been managing on her own but not necessarily in the best way.
Then I started helping her trim her toenails.
Then her fingernails.
Once I moved in it became clear that she had been making due with sponge baths for a very long time, so I helped her get into the shower, then I actually washed her.
She began to fall, not often and she was able to help me get her onto her feet, but it was still a physical effort. She started using a walker but would forget when she went to the bathroom at night, so I started sleeping on the couch so I could hear when she got up.
Thankfully all of this happened gradually and I had time to fully adjust to each new task before the next one cropped up. But I never, never anticipated the level of care I would eventually provide - that she would need to be spoon fed, become dual incontinent, oh, and I mustn't forget the cognitive decline. When her mobility decreased so that she couldn't even bear weight long enough to transfer from bed to wheelchair I finally conceded defeat - totally burned out - and placed her in long term care.
Although I was reluctant to pull the trigger I did have a Plan B, I urge you to do the same and to identify which lines you aren't prepared to cross.
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cwillie, you are right on. Jabot347. Are you willing to change her messy diaper and clean her Vaginal area? That is just one of the things in your future. Do not give up your life, if it is your grandmother, you should be concentrating on starting your life, not becoming housebound taking care of a person who is helpless. Please don't do it. ((Hugs))
Jo, I know that this isn’t what you asked, but please think twice about moving in. Could you go and stay for a couple of weeks, just to check out how it’s likely to live in practice? You need to find out about the effects on you, as well as your grandmother's needs.
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How old are you? I’m gonna guess in your 20’s or early 30’s.

When I was that age, people my age - that I am now - were always telling me “Enjoy this time. You’ll look back at it and realize it was the best time of your life”.

I don’t know if it was the best time - having a baby, meeting my (current) husband and our courtship, being able to buy my dream home - all events a little later in life certainly rank high on the list.

But yeah, overall my 20’s were footloose and fancy free. And, I did it right. I was able to move around for my job - which meant promotions and pay raises. I went out dancing almost every weekend with a group of wonderful girlfriends (the last gasp of Disco, dont cha know) and I juggled dating three guys at once.

I had an absolute blast! And, my happy memories of that time in my life helped get me through more than a couple tough times that came later on down the road - as tough times always do.

I realize that this isn’t what you asked. Sorry - not sorry. But...

I strongly recommend you reconsider the choice you are about to make. Especially, the part about moving in with your granny.

I think it’s admirable of you to want to do this - being caregiver to your grandmother. But - it’s a hard thing to do. Much harder than I’m afraid you realize. And - it will only get harder. A little assistance here and there can very well turn into a 24/7 situation with you trapped and no way to get out.

Spend some time reading the posts here. This site is full of well intentioned folks - in over their heads, abandon by other family members who are unwilling to help, their job/ career prospects diminishing with each passing year - right along with their own financial security - chained to a mentally and physically failing elder - with no way out.

Yes. Spent some time here reading the posts. And then - if you still want to give it a shot - make sure you have an exit strategy in place. And, make sure all the other family members know - these same family members who are right now, pledging to pitch in, provide breaks - the same people who will begin to avoid you like the plague when break time comes - make sure they know - WITHOUT A DOUBT - that you are starting this endeavor on a trial basis.

As to my biggest surprise? That would be - just how depressingly awful it all can get.
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Don't do this. You have no idea what you're signing up for.
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You got that right! Says everything in just a few words. Love your post.
I notice a few recommendations for you here that include “discussing”.....”reasoning with”......”getting a POA”.......”long range plan”...... What these otherwise reasonable sounding considerations have neglected is that you already know that your grandmother is currently experiencing memory loss, and except when caused by a UTI, dementia causing memory loss doesn’t improve, but more typically gets worse and worse.

Then there’s the inevitable gap between “intrude on her privacy” while knowing that part of your responsibilities at some point sooner or later will become relieving her of all responsibility for decision making concerning her needs.

And ”help in the right way”? There is NO RIGHT WAY to choose how to help. As your grandmother’s ability to make good choices deteriorates, her frustration may increase, leaving you to need to learn to overlook her input while making the best of less than good choices for her care on your own.

Before you formally take charge in this situation, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Have you been given legally sanctioned access to ALL of your grandmother’s financial and health assets? Medical records? Legal status? Are you aware of local social service agencies and their potential availability for her? Have you identified and possibly visited residential sites that may serve as resources for her in the future?

Finally, do you understand that meeting requirements for safety, providing basic needs, and providing vigilance in observing changes in ALL aspects of her life is, or has potential to become, a 24/7/365 job that can last for years and years.

Your youthful altruism needs to be constantly subjected to your intelligence, intuition, observational skill, physical strength, and common sense. Is it?
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Jo, I agree with Margaret. Give yourself a couple of weeks trial. You need to consider your own needs - especially with your own privacy. You won’t have any privacy. Many seniors don’t consider the privacy of others. Many seniors are all about me, all the time. Know exactly what you are getting into. Your intentions may be good, but maybe not realistic.
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The most surprising thing is that it never occurred to me to run away before significantly damaging my life with no end in sight.
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cetude Jan 2020
I took care of mom for 15 years and it destroyed my life. I sacrificed everything for mom and she ended up dying age 90 but her Alzheimer's was so advanced she no longer responded to the environment and kept alive with a feeding tube. Still she lived a very comfortable life. I felt she abandoned me when she died. Now I have nobody.
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What surprised me was how quickly my good intentions "to help" turned into a nightmare for me. I went from helper to controller in her eyes and she became hostile and hateful and the relationship will never be the same again. You don't want to go through that with your grandmother.

One thing that you wrote alarms me and that is "falls often." This is a sign of serious trouble that needs to be addressed. When we age the we lose the fluid around our brains so the brain is less protected during a fall. So even a simple fall with no hit to the head can cause brain injury to the elderly.

Where are her children? Are they involved with mom?
Helpful Answer (15)

Your situation of moving in to look after an elder is different to my family, yet there is a trending pattern that can creep up on a person unexpectedly while everyone adjusts to the new paradym of caring or being cared for. The subtleties are best understood if I use my own story to illustrate.
My mother did not move in with me, but rather with my sister and BIL . She had been steadily declining for some years, it was the more or less forced sale of her property to developers that meant she lost her home of almost 40 years. We were not prepared for the unhappiness this would cause her, especially when she had always said she would be happy whilever her girls were around her, that was all she would want There are 3 of us by the way, she wanted us all to live side by side. She was very unreasonable when this expectation could not be realised, not because we refused to change our living arrangements, but because the properties did not exist in the rural area in which she wanted to us all to remain.
After a lifetime of scrimping and saving, making do with little, we thought she would enjoy her new financial security. She could buy anything she wanted, rather than needed. She was free of the responsibilities associated with running a property, something she had been doiing for almost 20 years after my fathers death. But instead she hated the loss of independence, the sudden big bank account daunted her, sometimes to the point of despair. Forgeting about it has been the only positive to come from dementia.
This was my sisters first home, brand new, modern, or as mother said, posh. Yet mother insisted they use all her (mothers) shabby, damaged furniture, patched linens, rubbish art, useless collections of bibs n bobs, kitchen items.....everything from her washing machine right down to her measuring cups and vegetable peelers. She was no longer cooking but wanted her own stuff around her. My sister has lovely household and decorator items more suited to the new home, but they had to remain packed in removalist boxes until mother went into permanent care 3 years later. She did not appreciate the disappointment this caused. Mother had even insisted on them buying a particular home that was not suited to her own growing physical needs, nor to my sister and BILs failing health.
Mother was disappointed, even hurt, that we did not value a lot of her belongings as she did. She also expected to eat her traditional type of meals, not their preference for more healthy food, to watch her programmes on tv, for them to all retire at night at her prefered time, to sit with her as soon as they came in from work, and on it went. My sister is a teacher and has a lot of prep work to do each night. This caused resentment because she (mother) was not the sole focus of tbeir attention.
Vision is cerainly 20/20 with hindsight. Although mother was diagnosed with only MCI soon after the big move, it is now obvious that dementia had really begun to take hold. We had absolutely no idea what it involved and how it impacts not only the victim but the entire family. This person who moved in with my sister and BIL was no longer the considerate, generous and easily pleased mother we grew up with. Her deteriorating physical state was nothing compared to the onset of dementia...she is now diagnosed with 3 types.
Jobot, the best advice I can give is to find out all you can about your grandmothers failing health from her doctor, but most especially how to cope with her memory issues. There will be no right or wrong way to approach them a lot of the time, but be ready for the unexpected. It is all a rocky ride. You are a good granddaughter to want to care for an elder, just dont let it take over your life longer than you can cope.
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Please reconsider doing this. My mom is 90 with very similar health issue. She has been declining for the past two years and has turned into someone that has no sense of reasoning. My dad (also 90) is her primary caretaker and is in reasonable health. I help as much as I can (I have my own family needs and a husband with heart failure), but they both should be in a IL facility....more manageable for dad to care for her and less stress for him. She will NOT move. So he gives in and continues to be exhausted caring for her and the "big" house. I know this will get much worse in time and I am bracing myself for it. Do not underestimate the amount of care she will require.....and will only get worse. They become demanding, selfish, self centered, and miserable. You will lose yourself in this journey. Although your intentions are honorable for sure, listen careful to the wisdom shared on this site. This is brutal work since you are dealing with a broken mind.....and this could go on for many, many years. The body will eventually succumb as they become incontinent, mobility declines as well as a host of other ailments. You will in essence become a robot with the day to day tasks that will need to be done. My advice: Don't do it.
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