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  1. #1

    Unhappy Caring for my Grandmother

    Hmm, well, this might get quite long.. I just need to talk to someone about all this.

    So three years ago this October my grandad died.. and my grandmother, having been married for almost sixty years, and having come from a very large family before that, really couldn't cope on her own. She could manage all household and personal tasks and what not.. but she got really lonely and frightened.. so two years ago she moved in with me and my parents.

    It was all fine..ish for a while. But in the last year or so she's been getting very confused and forgetful. She can't remember that this is her home now, and she often doesn't know who my dad is, and very often she thinks I am her daughter and has no idea who her actual daughter is. But she has no problems with dressing/washing/eating etc, and she can make cups of tea, do crosswords and tell me how to cook, clean and bake things when I ask her for help. Some days she seems totally fine, and other days, she cries all day and asks me who I am and who my mum is over and over again. Is that normal for dementia? That she seems to get better sometimes?

    She's obsessed with houses and where she used to live, and asks me again and again where we are and what happened to her old houses and why she isn't there any more.

    She gets very very anxious. She will not be alone, not even for half an hour. If my mum is at work, I have to sit in the living room with her every waking hour till I can get her to go to bed at 11.30ish.

    My dad is not much help. She’s his mother in law, and he’s not a very caring person to start with. He doesn’t like her and doesn’t want her living here and he’s often mean to her. Trying to talk to him about this is entirely hopeless. He just shouts at me. So it’s almost entirely coming down to me to take care of her. She doesn’t need any help with dressing or washing or those things, but she’s very demanding emotionally. She needs me all the time. I can’t go out, or even just upstairs. My friends have stopped asking me to go out because they know the answer is always no.

    I don’t mind really, I can do it, it’s just that, I’m eighteen and I’m going to university in October, and I don’t know how my mum or grandma are going to manage when I’m not here.

    My grandma cries every day saying how much she’s going to miss me and how she won’t cope without me. She’s always saying she’s going to move back to Wigan (where she lived until she was about 60) and that all her friends and family would visit her all the time and she wouldn’t be lonely.. but all her friends and family are dead. She has me and my mum, and one niece, and one friend. We don’t have any family, or neighbours, and my parents have no friends because they’re both so busy… and there’s just no one to help.

    No one she used to know from her old village call or visit anymore, because she’s confused and repetitive, and I’m so angry with all of them. It wouldn’t kill them to phone once in a while or to invite her to the odd thing they used to. I’ve come close to phoning them myself and telling them what I think.

    She phones her niece sometimes, and I’ve heard her saying really confused things, or leaving very odd answerphone messages, meaning her niece now hardly ever phones because she doesn’t want to deal with it. It annoys me so much. It’s so selfish.

    My mum is extremely unhappy. It’s alright for me really, because when it comes to it, I’m moving out soon. But my mum is here every day, with no breaks, ever, and absolutely no one to help her. She has her own health problems, and a job, and her own interests which she can never pursue. She’s always in tears and snapping at me and I have no idea how she’s going to cope without me. She says when I’m not here she doesn’t want to come home.

    My grandma is not officially diagnosed with anything, and there’s no way we could get her to a doctor, because she doesn’t think she has any problems, she just blames everyone else, saying her daughter ‘hasn’t phoned her for years,’ or ‘has moved to Canada and never come to visit,’ and ‘all her relatives have abandoned her.’

    She accuses us of having taken the money from when she sold her house, when really it’s in an account belonging to her, and having sold her furniture, when it’s all in our house, and ‘never speaking to her,’ when I sit with her literally every minute we both have and talk to her for hours. She won’t go to any day cares or clubs and we’ve suggested a befriending service to her for when I leave, but she was horrified, saying ‘she doesn’t need a babysitter.’

    But if she’s alone for an hour she’s crying and panicking and very confused. The only way to keep her on an even keel is to constantly sit with her.

    I’ve read about these ‘care assessments’ that you have to get before you can get help, but there’s no way my grandma would agree to that. She thinks she’s fine. When people talk to her, she can come across perfectly normal, if you don’t know what she’s saying just isn’t true, or is all muddled. Without being around her for a while you wouldn’t necessarily notice anything wrong. And she doesn’t remember being forgetful, or that this morning she didn’t know who I was, so there’s no way to address her about it.

    It’s destroying my family. I never speak to my parents really, only functionally and to get instructions. My parents hardly talk, and when they do it’s just my dad complaining to my mum about my grandmother. And I’m starting to get angry with every single one of them.

    I don’t know if this is selfish… but I’m only eighteen, and I don’t feel like I should be taking care of everyone like this. All my friends are being young and jolly and going out, and I’m on a 24/7 loop of Antiques Roadshow and explaining ‘No, I’m your granddaughter.’ I’ve hardly done anything I intended to this summer, when it was my A Levels I could barely revise, and every time I go out even for a little while, I just come home to crying and guilt-tripping. My best friend, the only person I could really talk to about this, just moved to Brazil, if I ever try to talk to my mother it just becomes a competition over who has it worse – and I always lose, and I’m just feeling… really alone.

    I’ve asked my mother to try and get us some help, but she says we can’t afford it. She won’t look into anything. My grandmother won’t have any help, unless it’s me, and I just… ugh. I’m so fed up.

    I mean... We've had quite a good day today, she's been pretty much normal and knowing who and what everything is, and I've got her watching Ken Dodd now.. It's so great to hear her laughing, like she used to. I really miss when she used to take care of me. She's been more or less her old self today, and that's been great.. but days like this are often followed by really bad days

    I just... I don’t really know what to do to make things better.
    Last edited by GotStripes; 25-09-2012 at 12:33 PM.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2012
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    I really do feel for you. A condition like dementia magnifies any family problems and they get all out of proportion. Everyone is under a huge amount of stress. It really is essential that a Social Services assessment is done for your gran, and for your mum and dad, and you, as carers. It doesn't have to make your gran feel that there is anything wrong with her, more that it is being done to help your parents and you care for her. Help is out there. Sometimes it takes a while, and you may need a fair but of help and determination to get it but it DOES exist.

    Be kind to each other - you're all under enormous pressure. Would it help do you think for your mum and dad to actually read this post? They may not realise how bad you feel .....

    My mum was quite open about the Social Services assessment when my dad was first diagnosed with dementia, and she needed help in caring for him, but I have read a lot of posts on here from people who have very clever tactics in getting relatives into a situation where they can be assessed, while helping them to understand it is HELP they are getting, not interference. Sometimes an elderly person has someone they may listen to more than anyone else - their GP, or a family friend, and their help could be enlisted in helping gran to understand the need for an assessment.

    Its a big first step to take, but every journey starts with a single step.

    Keep coming back and letting us know how you get on.

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator
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    Mar 2007
    Wigan, Lancs
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    Hi Gotstripes and welcome to Talking Point.

    You sound like a lovely granddaughter, but you know what, I'm glad you're going away to University and having the chance to be a normal 18 year old. You are waaay too young to be coping with this single handed, and waay too young to be watching Antiques Roadshow .

    It sounds as though your family does needed help, and whilst I understand that your gran is reluctant to admit there is a problem, there clearly is. Many people find it helps to keep a diary of unusual or worrying behaviour and present it to the GP who may then be persuaded to find an excuse for your gran to be seen, such as a blood pressure check.

    A couple of factsheets that may help:

    How the GP can help

    Diagnosis and assessment

    Former carer and Volunteer Moderator

    About me

  4. #4
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    Apr 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Hiya Gotstripes

    Know what? I'm going to be really blunt. Your mum and dad have problems. They aren't yours. Your grandma has problems. They aren't yours.

    Get yourself off to University and by all means keep in touch, as I know you will, but let your mum and dad sort out their own issues, and let them sort out grandma. She is THEIR responsibility, and I reckon if she were 20 years younger she wouldn't want you putting yourself through such misery on her behalf. On the other hand, if she has always been a demanding woman (as was my mother in law), now is the time to stop pandering to her.

    I can see why you are worrying, and it is all credit to you that you care so much, but it is not productive. And this advice is coming from a woman who always wants to sort things out. Forget sorting things out. Don't get involved. Go off and enjoy your own life. You can come home from time to time and tell grandma all about it, she might get immense pleasure from listening to you. Stop the guilt complex. You are 18, you don't need all this pressure. Your parents shouldn't be allowing it.

    Hope you can see my point. I am on your side.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Margaret W View Post
    Hiya Gotstripes

    Know what? I'm going to be really blunt. Your mum and dad have problems. They aren't yours. Your grandma has problems. They aren't yours.

    Get yourself off to University and by all means keep in touch, as I know you will, but let your mum and dad sort out their own issues, and let them sort out grandma. She is THEIR responsibility, and I reckon if she were 20 years younger she wouldn't want you putting yourself through such misery on her behalf. On the other hand, if she has always been a demanding woman (as was my mother in law), now is the time to stop pandering to her.

    I can see why you are worrying, and it is all credit to you that you care so much, but it is not productive. And this advice is coming from a woman who always wants to sort things out. Forget sorting things out. Don't get involved. Go off and enjoy your own life. You can come home from time to time and tell grandma all about it, she might get immense pleasure from listening to you. Stop the guilt complex. You are 18, you don't need all this pressure. Your parents shouldn't be allowing it.

    Hope you can see my point. I am on your side.


    I had to walk away from the PC last night when I read your post, GotStripes, because I didn't trust myself to post a calm response.

    But Margaret has said all I wanted to say - this isn't your problem. Walk away. Today. Go and spend the day out of the house with your friends. If it precipitates a crisis then maybe that's a good thing and your parents will have to deal with it

    Don't be cross with your dad. If my husband had moved either of his parents in with us, and then refused to sort out the problem, I would have probably reacted the same way. And vice versa.

    It's my mum who has Alzheimers but there was NO WAY I was prepared to bring her into my family home as I'd had a grandparent living with me from when I was 7 until I was 15 and I know first hand the tensions and resentments that build up - and (in hindsight) my grandad was a sweetie.

    All too often, familes let the person with dementia overrule the lives of everyone else and I believe that's wrong. It's especially wrong when it affects children such as yourself, because I doubt if you had any say in the decision to move grandma in.

    Your mum is risking her marriage, her relationship with you, her relationship with her mum. If one good thing has come out of your post, GotStripes, it's that it might make other families in the same position realise the damage that not seeking help is doing to the rest of the family.

    Keep posting, won't you?

  6. #6


    Thank you for all the messages It's all good advice and I'm trying to take it all on board.

    Today was a pretty good day.. to start with. Me and my mum went out to get uni supplies for me.. and even though we'd been gone for a few hours my grandma was fine when we got back, so I thought, you know, today might be pretty good.


    My grandma got a bit confused, and thought she'd given my mum some of her money in an envelope so my mum could take it to the bank, which never happened, but me and my mum were dealing with it, distracting her and saying we'd look for it later and so on.. And then my dad started with exactly all the wrong things, ''What money?'' ''There never was any money.'' ''You're being stupid, what money..?'' etc etc, and my grandma was getting really wound up, and she obviously can't remember what money, because there never was any, so then he started with ''I'm not having this, I'm not having you accusing us of taking your money in my house,'' ''I'm sick of you living here, I want you out, go and pack your stuff I want you out now!''

    How can I not be angry with him? That is a hateful way to speak to anyone, even someone sound of mind!

    So once he'd done with that, he came in the living room, where I was, listening, and I just gave him my worst look, and he started with ''Don't you take her b****y side. I'm not having it in my house.''

    Me and my mum told him, in kind of, screamed whispers, ''She's got dementia, she's confused, this is a symptom!''
    This has never been said out loud before.
    And all he said was, ''Well I'm confused as to why I have to put up with this s**t in my house.' and walked out.

    There is no reason for him to ever be like this, he's out working all day, he never has to deal with her, he never even speaks to her. It's not like he's caring for her all day every day and he's just reached the end of his tether.

    I feel sick and I can't stop crying. I can't go downstairs now cos it's like a battleground. My grandma just came in and asked me to phone her niece and see if she can go and live there - and I can't do that! There's no way her niece will have her, and neither will her best friend. But she's going to phone them anyway and tell them all this stuff, and they'll all think we're bad to her.

    None of them know about the dementia because she's not properly diagnosed or anything, and they never bother to visit anyway, so they wouldn't realise what's happened.

    This kind of thing has happened a couple of times before, and it's the one thing she doesn't forget.

    She can't remember me or my mother, or any the stuff we've done together, or even her own mother, but she can remember my dad hates her.
    Last edited by GotStripes; 25-09-2012 at 12:36 PM.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2012
    Hello GotStripes
    I'm writing this as someone with a daughter exactly the same age as you, who will be leaving for University at the end of this month.
    You really can't fix this. The only people who can are your parents. Please go out with your friends, enjoy yourself and go to University with a clear concience. Your whole life is ahead of you and you need to make the most of the opportunities you have.
    In the end, your parents will have to sort this out. They will need to get help, and a proper assessment of your grandmother's needs. You could download some leaflets from here and give them to your parents. It sounds as if your grandmother needs more support than your parents can provide at the moment. That's nobody's fault, and certainly not yours. The relationship between your parents, and between them and your grandmother is something they'll have to work out between them.

  8. #8
    Sending you a big hug - this must be dreadful for you all - including possibly your dad who might be reacting like this because he lacks knowledge, is scared or whatever. Not saying that makes it right (and certainly not better) but maybe that is why.

    Could you suggest to your Mum that she contacts the local Alzheimer Society and asks if they could have a home visitor call round for a chat when your Dad is there?

    Only you know your family and know if that might work.

    I do agree with others that its not actually your problem and you should walk away and leave them to solve it. However, I can understand that, as a loving granddaughter, that's going to be very hard to do.

    I'm sorry we can't help any more or in more practical ways but do feel able to come on here and left off steam and that may help a little.

    Take care


  9. #9
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    Jul 2011
    Go to university, sooner or later your parents will have to cope, and the longer they rely on you the more difficult it will become for them, there is help available but they need to ask. I care for my mother by choice, but I am now retired, and it's not just me I have 2 carers doing roughly a total of 35 hours a week, (mum pays for this) which allows me some time to visit friends, cycle etc. Talk to your family, hopefully they will agree to a social services visit to assess needs. Depending on your gradmother's circumstances some help maybe free of charge.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2011
    I'm not trying to defend your dad but.....there were times when I looked at my mum in the early most difficult days and hated - yes, hated - the person she'd become - and I wasn't even living in the same house as her.

    This was my dear sweet mother who would have given me the shirt of her back. It was as though she had been taken over by an alien. I'm not proud to admit that, but I am trying to be honest.

    Yes, your dad probably does hate your grandma at the moment, but from his point of view, he has this difficult person living in his house and disrupting his life...and as far as he's concerned, there is no plan (I presume) for those circumstances to change in the forseeable future. I could well imagine me reacting in a similar way and I don't consider myself a bad or uncaring person. Some people cope less well with these things than others and she's not his own flesh and blood, remember. That does make a difference.

    Your parents probably need to consider moving your grandma into residential care. Your mum can then visit as often as she wants, your dad doesn't have to go at all if he doesn't want to and your grandma will have the 24/7 companionship she probably needs. Once my mother moved into her care home, it was as though a huge pressure had been released and I was able to rebuild my relationship with her; that may be what's needed in you situation.

    But your parents are grown-ups and need to work this out for themselves in their own way. Have you had a look at the factsheets? There may be some you can print off for them

    There is also this one on compassionate communication which (if you're brave enough ) you might like to leave around for your dad to see

  11. #11
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    Jul 2008

    I've read through all the posts and you have been given some good advice, but I really do feel for you. Going to university is a big step without the worry about what you're leaving at home.

    It sounds like your Dad has no knowledge of dementia and why should he. Until you're there living with it, you have no reason to learn. He's struggling to cope too and getting angry because of it. Some people can not cope with situations like this.

    You can not be expected to hold your family together. Your priority has to be you and getting to university.

    This illness is tough enough to deal with a united family, your family needs support and the first step is to recognise it and they take it one step at at a time to get the any help you can. This is something that your mum has to do, all you can do is support her.

    You can get a lot of sensible advice here and also learn from the experiences that others have been through.

    I hope you get more good days, with or without Ken Dodd !! (it was Paul O'Grady for me and my Nan)


  12. #12
    Thank you everyone for your comments, it does help

    Sadly I wish it was so simple with my dad that he just didn't understand the illness.

    Even if he did, I expect he would just want rid of her more because he dislikes the idea of caring for anyone.
    He left his own dad in a carehome years ago.. and he didn't even have dementia or any illness, he was just struggling a bit with housework and shopping and so on, and my dad refused to help him at all and just got rid of him. As far as I know he's thrown out all the details of the carehome, hasn't once visited or phoned, and to be honest, I have no idea if my granddad is dead or alive and no way of finding out

    I'm sorry, I must be coming across as a bit of a whiny brat. I do always try to see other peoples' point of view and I hate bad-mouthing my own family.. I'm just a bit... disappointed right now. I know some people just aren't cut out for caring for elderly mothers-in-law.. but that's not really an excuse for meanness.

    Oh well. I guess that is all another story really. My grandma seems ok She seems to have forgotten the details of what went on. It's just so difficult.. she's just too confused and forgetful to live independently, but she's too able and rational and proud to consider a residential home...

    Still. We just had a nice conversation about the tights she wants to buy tomorrow, so I guess all is well for now These things are sent to try us.
    Last edited by GotStripes; 25-09-2012 at 12:38 PM.

  13. #13
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    Feb 2010
    Hiya Gotstripes,

    I agree with the others in that your priority has to be university and your own future. Your grandmother would never expect you to have to deal with the current situation at the expense of your education. Dementia or not, that is just a given, she would want the absolute best for you.

    So I guess the question is how do we get your family the help that they obviously need. I wondered if your mum has access to a computer and will that computer be around after you head off too Uni? If so, then why not suggest that she joins Talking Point herself and everyone here would help her deal with what is happening at home and if that means that, say, social services need to get involved or your granmother's GP etc, folks here would help your mum through that process until things are resolved. Would also mean that you could maybe pop on here from time to time and see what is going on and leave some messages of support for your mum and your grandmother etc.

    I'm not going to try and defend your dad, only he can wrestle with his own conscience about justifying how he acts towards your grandmother. I do want to say though that dementia, even in a home where there are no conflicts and everyone gets along swimmingly well, can change things dramatically as people struggle to cope with all the new issues that arise. Even the most functional of families can become fragmented very quickly. In your case where the relationship between your dad and your grandmother wasn't that great to start with, dementia can make the situation intolerable.

    I know you don't think your grandmother should be in a home yet but it could be the thing that really helps her. The stress of where she is now would disappear. Homes have lots of things going on and more people around to share the caring too. I would also say that it could become the refuge that you and your mum can use in order to spend good quality time with your grandmother with out the stress of it irritating your dad etc. So, I wouldn't necessarily write it off as an option that could be explored if you see what i mean.

    Anyway, just a few things for you to ponder...


  14. #14
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    Nov 2011
    Your last post was interesting, gotstripes.

    If your mum knew that your dad had this attitude towards his own father, perhaps she needs to ask herself why on earth she suggested having her own mother to stay...indefinitely. Sorry if that sounds harsh but these are the sort of questions your parents need to thrash out between themselves. Your dad is not wrong for not wanting his MIL living in his home. What was perhaps wrong was that this wasn't spelled out at the start. And if your mum knows his feelings, it's now up to her to instigate some measures to resolve the problem - it's clearly not going to just go away. It's her mother, her responsibility. Dumping it on you is not the answer. When you go off to Uni, you might be doing them all a favour as it will probably bring things to a head and they'll have to sit down and work out what they're going to do in the longer term. If I was your grandmother, I'd rather be in peaceful CH than centre stage in a war zone.

    My line in the sand was that I wasn't prepared to have a parent or in-law, with or without dementia, living with me because of my experience of having my grandfather living with us when I was a kid. End of story. All too often families - with the best of intentions- drift into this decision and the consequences down the road are heartbreaking for all concerned. Relationships can be irrevocably damaged.

    Fiona's suggestion of your mum joining TP is a good one. Do you think she would do that?

  15. #15
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    May 2012
    I do feel for you. You are in a completely intolerable situation. But you have a long life ahead, and you do need to focus on your education so that you can build yourself a life. Your grandmother would have never ever in a million years looked at you when you were a baby, thinking that you would be the one to sit with her hour after hour, day after day when she was scared out of her mind because of this illness. She would have wanted you to become the best you can be, to live your life to the full and to be happy. You should not ever feel guilty for fulfilling her dreams for you. When I look at my children (and i'm sure it'll be more so when i have grandchildren), I never want for them to have to endure the pain of trying to care for me if I meet the same fate as my grand father and my mother. I'd willingly subject myself to whatever the nursing home system has to offer in order to save my children and my grand children having to care for me through dementia.

    When you go away to uni, your parents are likely to come to the realisation that they can't cope without some serious support. And perhaps it is time for your grandmother to go to a care facility where she has a team of people to look after her 24/7. Rather than the care that is happening now, that is driving you and your family apart. But they are not your decisions. If your dad can no longer cope with her at home, maybe they need to think about the alternatives. It's terribly sad to have to get to that point. But you all need to look after yourselves as well. You can't be expected to be everything to everyone and not suffer from it.

    Feel free to come and vent. Sometimes that's all we can do. Often there is no fixing these problems, there is just dealing with them and venting. You are not alone, we are all dealing with some pretty horrid stuff.
    Last edited by zeeeb; 12-09-2012 at 07:47 AM.
    __________________________________________________ ______________________

    Alzheimers is a marathon, not a sprint, better get myself in shape

    I'm an Australian daughter, mum with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's at 59. Grandmother inlaw nearing a century old also with Alzheimer's, deceased grandfather had Alzheimer's.




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