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Grandmother set fire to footstool

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
I read here regularly but have posted rarely as my situation is just so complicated I'm not sure anyone would believe it.

My grandmother has some form of dementia - she has all the classic signs - but is in complete denial and refuses all help including medical help (she is not formally diagnosed) and help in the form of meals on wheels, daycare, carers etc. she will not hear of going into sheltered housing or a care home and has been obsessed with the idea of living with someone else - at first it was me, then various other relatives and acquaintances. She is estranged from both her children and all her other grandchildren so they are not interested and she has no real friends. She and I had a close and loving relationship for years and years but I have been through such hell over the past five years due to her dementia that I eventually broke contact until she agreed to get help - but she never has. My gran is paranoid and aggressive and accused me of stealing from her, called me terrible names, phoned people up and ranted about me so that they would then ring me and be nasty to me and accuse me of neglecting her, stealing from her or abusing her in various ways, not one bit of which was true. On top of all this I suffer from a chronic pain condition and a rare condition called Addison's disease which makes life hard enough as it is.

I have done everything I can from a distance to try and keep her safe (apart from have her to live with me which I just couldn't do). I alerted both her doctors and Social Services years ago as to her deteriorating condition and the fact she has little support but they are very cagey about discussing things with me even though my gran clearly lacks capacity now - they are no help at all.

A few weeks ago she turned up at my door for the first time in ages and when my husband took her home he was horrified to find that she had set light to a footstool in her sitting room by having it too close to the fire. There were also scorch marks on the carpet. We contacted SS straight away and they said they were already aware of the situation but they clearly have no intention of doing anything much, despite the fact that she is now obviously not safe to be living alone - she has also started wandering at night. There is no POA in place and I just have no idea what to do. Does anyone have any ideas how I can get SS to agree that she is a danger to herself and no longer has capacity?

Thank you for your help.
 
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min88cat

Registered User
Apr 6, 2010
581
0
Hi there, I would phone SS again and stress the urgency of the situation - that your gran is a vulnerable adult and a danger both to herself and others by her actions. Say that they have a duty of care towards her and that if they don't listen to you and step in, you will hold them responsible for any disastrous consequences. Get and email,address and confirm everything you have said to them. Them 'being aware' is just not good enough!!! Good luck!
 

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
Hi min88, thank you for your reply.

I did actually write to the safeguarding team a few months ago (before the footstool incident) and they said that my grandmother did not fall under their remit - ie she was not vulnerable enough and passed me on to 'normal' social services.

When we found out about the footstool we contacted the duty social worker and he said to contact my grandmother's doctors and ask for an urgent mental health care assessment. When we then contacted the doctors they said they were aware of the footstool incident and were dealing with it - but they wouldn't give us any further information and nothing seems to have happened. My gran is still living alone in her house and she spends all day wandering the streets of our local town looking very confused. I am absolutely at the end of my tether with the whole thing because I just cannot get the authorities to intervene, they seem to be waiting for something awful to happen before they do.
 
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leslee

Registered User
Oct 9, 2009
275
0
Tyne and Wear
You do have my sympathy, Dotherightthing. My Mam was exactly the same, phoning everyone to tell them I'd stolen from her, mugged her and all sorts of horrible things. She is now on medication to stop her paranoia. Does she have a psychiatric nurse that you could tell about the distress that this is causing?

Have you emailed or written to social services. This seems to have a greater impact than phoning them because there is proof of what you've actually said. I was advised to inform them that if they didn't act and anything happened to my Mam I'd make sure they were held responsible. I know what a nightmare it is trying to get them to act. Sometimes they seem to have little understanding of the realities of dementia
 

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
You do have my sympathy, Dotherightthing. My Mam was exactly the same, phoning everyone to tell them I'd stolen from her, mugged her and all sorts of horrible things. She is now on medication to stop her paranoia. Does she have a psychiatric nurse that you could tell about the distress that this is causing?

Have you emailed or written to social services. This seems to have a greater impact than phoning them because there is proof of what you've actually said. I was advised to inform them that if they didn't act and anything happened to my Mam I'd make sure they were held responsible. I know what a nightmare it is trying to get them to act. Sometimes they seem to have little understanding of the realities of dementia


Hi Leslee

Thank you so much for your kind and understanding reply - but so sorry to hear that you went through a similar thing.

My gran just won't engage much with her doctors. She was referred to a CPN during a doctor's appointment but when she then received a letter about it she went berserk, ripped the letter up and insisted the appointment was cancelled. Her doctors just refuse to give me much information (I have no idea why as they are also my doctors and I am her closest living relative) so I just have no idea as to what they are doing to help her. When I asked for her to have an emergency psychiatric assessment they just said that they were aware of the footstool incident and things were in hand but, in fact, they are still the same as before.

I have put everything in writing either by email or letter to both the doctors and Social Services. I made sure that I used the terms 'at risk' and 'vulnerable adult' about my gran but I haven't yet threatened them that I will hold them responsible should anything happen to her. I really did not want to resort to this unless it was absolutely necessary but it seems that maybe it now is.
 

jaybee51

Registered User
Jul 11, 2012
11
0
Essex
I think the time has come to say to your parents (as one of your grandmother's children) that they must step in and take responsibility for her. Why must you take all the flak? Perhaps this is why the doctors are not releasing much information to you? As a son or daughter of the patient, the doctors would be more willing to talk. Would this be possible?
 

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
I think the time has come to say to your parents (as one of your grandmother's children) that they must step in and take responsibility for her. Why must you take all the flak? Perhaps this is why the doctors are not releasing much information to you? As a son or daughter of the patient, the doctors would be more willing to talk. Would this be possible?

Unfortunately there is absolutely no chance of this jaybee. My father lives in New Zealand and has been estranged from his mother for the best part of thirty years, he has no intention of getting involved and, to some degree, I understand his reasons. He and I have had our own problems (though we get on well now) as he and my mother split up before I was born and I had little contact with him when I was younger. I have no mother sadly. My gran's other son died recently in a road traffic accident (they were also estranged for many years). So you see, I think I probably win in the game of most dysfunctional family of the year award - thank goodness for my lovely husband, in-laws and friends. :)
 

leslee

Registered User
Oct 9, 2009
275
0
Tyne and Wear
Hi Leslee

Thank you so much for your kind and understanding reply - but so sorry to hear that you went through a similar thing.

My gran just won't engage much with her doctors. She was referred to a CPN during a doctor's appointment but when she then received a letter about it she went berserk, ripped the letter up and insisted the appointment was cancelled. Her doctors just refuse to give me much information (I have no idea why as they are also my doctors and I am her closest living relative) so I just have no idea as to what they are doing to help her. When I asked for her to have an emergency psychiatric assessment they just said that they were aware of the footstool incident and things were in hand but, in fact, they are still the same as before.

I have put everything in writing either by email or letter to both the doctors and Social Services. I made sure that I used the terms 'at risk' and 'vulnerable adult' about my gran but I haven't yet threatened them that I will hold them responsible should anything happen to her. I really did not want to resort to this unless it was absolutely necessary but it seems that maybe it now is.


Your experience is so like mine. When (eventually) Mam's Gp took her declining mental state seriously he made arrangements for me to accompany her to the surgery to arrange tests. Initially Mam agreed. Then, out of the blue, she phoned me up and gave me loads of abuse. Then she changed her GP despite having been with the same surgery all of her life! Then we had to start over again with her new GP and, frankly, he couldn't have been more unhelpful.

Nothing to do with this illness is easy.
 

stillcaring

Registered User
Sep 4, 2011
215
0
just wanted to offer sympathy and say I totally believe your situation.... mine hasn't been that bad but has had enough points of contact that yours rings so true. hope your GP does something helpful. is there any hope of enlisting their help because of the stress and distress it's causing you?
 

AntheaC

Registered User
Jun 25, 2013
40
0
tyne and wear
crisis waiting to happen

so sorry to hear you have been battling on your own with this. It sounds to me that you are doing your best to prevent a crisi which is looming in the future. As the only relative around it is difficult for you I am sure. SS can be very unpredictable from my experience. Lack of information only adds to your worry. I was just thinking -would it help if you asked for a sort of intervention at your grans house? If she is wandering around outside at night I am sure the neighbours must be aware of this - could you get together some definite times and date of things that have worried you and get together with the Dr and SS and your grana nd maybe your husband too to talk over your worries?
 

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
Thank you so much to everyone for replying and for all your kindness and suggestions. I'm sorry I haven't been back on before now but my internet service has been down - which has been like having my right arm lopped off. :eek:

Leslee, I have so much sympathy. I can't believe that some doctors can just be so unco-operative when they can clearly see that families are in such distress.

Stillcaring, I am actually thinking of doing exactly what you suggest. Addison's is very serious and I am thinking of saying I am going to hold SS responsible if this situation continues and it causes an Addisonian crisis in me.

Anthea, that is a really good idea but, unfortunately, I find that most people just don't want to get involved and will steer clear of doing anything much. I have asked her bank to intervene and put a stop on her bank account (as she can't manage it and frequently loses her card/money) and inform SS but they just won't even though they are supposed to. As regards neighbours, my gran has been quite a difficult neighbour so her neighbours tend to just steer clear of her really and where she lives means that it's possible that they aren't even aware that she is wandering at night, we only realised because she turned up late at our house one night looking for my grandfather's parents (who she was convinced lived on my street) because my grandfather 'had not been home for two nights'. My grandfather has been dead for 14 years and his parents have been dead for decades and lived over 300 miles away even when they were alive!

I think SS are just playing chicken with me really. They think that if they hold off long enough I will buckle down and take over full responsibility for my gran, but I am just too ill to do that so she and I are just left in this awful limbo. It is very, very hard knowing that it is going to take a crisis for something to actually happen and to not know what that crisis is going to be and how bad it is going to be for my gran.
 

alannah

Registered User
Jul 7, 2013
16
0
Cornwall
keep a diary

It seems to me that with any mental illness, the authorities just won't act unless they're pushed. My step brother suffers with schizophrenia, and it was only when he caused serious harm to a stranger that they acted, when we had been alerting ss and doctors etc for months!
My only advice is for you to keep a diary of your grandmother's worrying behaviour, any proof of self-neglect, anything and everything. This can be shown to ss or doctors to lay it down in black and white that your gran needs help.
Next time she goes out wandering at night call the police for assistance. They are able to obtain a protection order if they feel she is at risk.

Also maybe it would be wise to ask your father to write to your grandmother's gp and social worker, explaining the distance he is from this situation, and therefore handing any future power of attorney roles to you.

Hope this helps, Alannah x
 

Wirralson

Account Closed
May 30, 2012
658
0
Alannah

On the unwillingness of psychiatric professionals to intervene in cases of demential, I think you're right. I've been told in several contexts (my mother's case, friends' relatives cases, and at one stage my employment) that the doctrine is one of least intervention - so they won't intervene unless there is an urgent necessity to do so. There are apparently legal and ethical considerations which underpin this.

Kind regards

Wirralson
 

zeeeb

Registered User
I would suggest writing a letter to the GP, outlining all of her difficulties that you have noticed. Write about how long it's been going on, and how resistant to medical and any other help that she is, that way the GP can have a clue as to what goes on when and if your grandmother goes to the GP. This way the GP doesn't have to breach privacy, because they aren't telling you anything, they are just listening to what you have to say about their patient.

Perhaps then if you can coerce your grandmother in for a checkup, the GP will be aware of what's going on, and more likely to be able to make a diagnosis without having to see her multiple times for a myriad of tests.

Also, have you got any chance at persuading her to look into signing a POA, put it into the future tense and suggest, that because nobody else is available to do it, she could put you down as the POA, and that way you can help make decisions for her "later on down the track" if she can't make them for herself rather than having some stranger from social services make decisions if she ever finds herself in hospital.
 

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
Alannah, I am horrified but not necessarily surprised, to hear what happened with your stepbrother. How awful for all of you and for the poor person he (unwittingly) hurt. There's something so wrong in leaving people to reach a crisis in this way. I do keep a diary and have done since I first realised that my gran's behaviour was edging from being eccentric to something more serious. The problem I have is that I love her and worry about her but I can't live with her - I am just too ill and even if I weren't she is aggressive and paranoid and hardly sleeps. Today I have been in bed ill myself and if it wasn't for my husband caring for me at these times I don't know what I'd do. I can't very well expect him to care for my grandmother 24 hours a day as well, he is a good man but he has enough on his plate! My gran is extremely angry with me because I have said we can't live together so she won't co-operate in any way with me or hear of any other form of help/care and this leaves her very vulnerable as she has no-one else. It is very sad.

Zeeeb, thank you for all your suggestions but I have already written letters detailing my grandmother's condition/deterioration to her GP, to no avail. I got her GP to come out and do a mini mental exam but I have no idea what happened as they just don't communicate with me, they're not unpleasant just non-committal. She was persuaded to go to the doctors for a check-up, was referred to the CPN and then refused to attend the appointment when the letter came through - she insisted the appointment was cancelled. This was all about a year ago and she has deteriorated a lot since then. I doubt very much whether she would be judged to have capacity for a POA and when she did have capacity she refused to agree to one.

I worry about her every day and know that the only outcome to this is that she will sectioned eventually, it is very hard to face.
 

Bumblegirl

Registered User
Nov 17, 2012
86
0
Hi,
Sorry to hear of your problems with your grandmother and your own health issues. We have certain similarities in being manipulated by elderly relatives and I think you are doing great in standing your ground.

Don't worry about your gran being sectioned - my mum was and before the event, I was terrified for her. It turned out to be a blessing and I have worried so much less about her than when she was at home.

Think about you and your family. Your gran will eventually get into the system.
All the best
BG
 

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
Hi,
Sorry to hear of your problems with your grandmother and your own health issues. We have certain similarities in being manipulated by elderly relatives and I think you are doing great in standing your ground.

Don't worry about your gran being sectioned - my mum was and before the event, I was terrified for her. It turned out to be a blessing and I have worried so much less about her than when she was at home.

Think about you and your family. Your gran will eventually get into the system.
All the best
BG

Thanks very much Bumblegirl. I particularly appreciate the information about sectioning and your experience of it with regard to your mum, that's helped to ease my mind quite a bit.

All the best.
DTRT
 

DoTheRightThing

Registered User
Feb 21, 2012
28
0
Well it seems that things have finally reached crisis point and my grandmother was taken 'to a place of safety' on Friday of last week. Thankfully, concerned members of the public rang the police about her behaviour and this meant SS had to act (they've spent months ignoring my warnings) but I'm not exactly sure what happened yet as SS have yet to inform me of anything despite having all my contact details. I spent two days frantic with worry when I realised Nan wasn't in her house and was nowhere to be found and I still haven't been told where she is. It's only because I live in a small town that I was able to find out as much as I have otherwise I would still be in the dark even though I am her closest relative since my dad, her only surviving son, lives thousands of miles away and is estranged from her anyway.

I am so relieved that she is finally in a safe place but so angry at the way she and I have been treated. :mad:
 

Onlyme

Registered User
Apr 5, 2010
4,992
0
UK
Your grandmother may have told the authorities not to tell you anything in the past. It may be they are still sticking to this even though it sounds as if she had been sectioned due to lack of capacity.
 

Bumblegirl

Registered User
Nov 17, 2012
86
0
Hi,
It is a shame you are not able to find out what is happening. Keep plugging away. At least your nan is safe.

Dreadful worries for you and hopefully you can get some information to put your mind at rest very soon.
All the best
BG