Made a mistake... what should I do about it?


Registered User
May 27, 2011

My gran (who lives in our house) has been behaving very badly recently, particularly on days that my Mum is home from work. She is really nasty to my Mum and has made her cry several times and is making life pretty hellish at home. She needs constant supervision and attention and is also up at night. The other day I let my Dad watch her for a second while I showered and she escaped in her slippers and was taken in by a neighbour.

We've been trying to contact social services for ages but have now been told we're unlikely to get any respite soon (we've been looking after gran and her vascular dementia for 7 years now but in the past year we've sought help) so when my Mum has her week off from work (she only has 1 in the summer and 1 at Christmas) we'll not be able to go to the beach for a day or get any break from Granny.

Just now in the kitchen Granny was being nasty to Mum and threatening to smear wet dog food on her arm and hit her. She had been stirring in wet dog food with her hands and when asked to wash them was furious and trying to hit. She said "Go get to hell, I'm not going to wash my hands" and folded her hands across her arms like a 2 year old. Unfortunately she always deliberately does dirty things (she knows I have severe OCD so likes to upset me with it!) and get very angry about washing her hands so although to begin I just said "Please just wash your hands Granny, then we won't have to clean everything", when she refused in an aggressive way I got annoyed and said "You can go to a care home if you like but if you want to stay in our house you need to wash your hands".

I feel really guilty because she'll feel rejected because of what I said and although she has what is probably moderate VaD (she can't remember family members very well, imagines babies upstairs, her parents in the house next door, fires in the garage, that she has slept in the shed and can't remember 1 word in the memory test for 2 minutes but is still able to talk and to understand some quite complex things) she always remembers negative things so I'm sure she'll be upset about this for a while. Sadly I think she's probably closest to me in the family so I don't want to make her feel rejected!

What should I do? If I apologize she's likely to be nasty and probably say she'll never wash her hands again. She might just forget if I leave it long enough but she may not.


Registered User
Apr 6, 2011
Personally I would just try and forget about it.

You are allowed the odd outburst of frustration and if you don't remind her she may well forget.


Registered User
Jun 8, 2012
I am the mother of a child with OCD, so I say this from the heart. You have to look after yourself, your mother needs to prioritise you. OCD can be totally debilitating, it can ruin your life, it is an anxiety disorder, and your gran causing your mum and you anxiety will only increase the severity of your condition.

Do not apologise, you did the right thing. You have nothing to feel bad about, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Your apology will be rejected as you said. Your gran is not in her right state of mind but you might well have done the right thing.

From seeing my Mum and reading the posts on this site I am not sure how much is dementia and how much is in the will of the person because they certainly know how to toy with our emotions.

If you haven't already tried it I would thoroughly recommend CBT, it is fantastic and get your family to learn about CBT too. I was lucky CAMHS taught me alongside my son, so I knew how to withhold reassurance when it was an irrational fear and how to explain this to my son when a parents instinct is to reassure their children.

You could just as easily have done the right thing as the wrong one, please don't beat yourself up over this.


Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
Oh Lisa I can totally understand - you're at the end of your tether. Has your gran had a community assessment? This includes a carer's assessment for your mum (or the person who is the main carer). If not you can read what this involves in this fact sheet:

I would be suggesting that your mum contact the Social Services department and say that this is an emergency - even suggesting that you will not be able to care for your gran at home any more. Mention carer breakdown as that is certainly what this seems to be leading to. You and your family need to have some time out and soon.

I know how hard it is and have lost my temper and said things that I regret many a time - just yesterday to be precise. Don't beat yourself up about it. It is likely your gran will not remember what was said.

Take care. x


Registered User
Aug 29, 2008
Yesterday morning at 3 30.a.m. changing my husband's bed completely, and washing him and trying to help him put clean pyjamas on, only for him to refuse and declare he was going to get dressed properly!!! I carried the bedding into the kitchen to put it in the washing machine saying ( only tomyself) I have two words for you NURSING HOME..

PArt of me wanted him to hear it, but part of me didn't.

Don't be so hard o yourself. as someone else said you may very well have said the right thing.



Account Closed
May 30, 2012

Don't be so hard on yourself or let the guilt get to you. It's easy to forget that just because someone has dementia, that doesn't mean they don't retain some element of ability to manipulate others' emotions, even if the illness distorts that. Also, although we all feel we need to be compassionate demanding compassion by conduct or verbally (as both my parents do) doesn't confer an entitlement to it. There is no moral duty on you to destroy yourself emotionally because of your mother's conduct, regardless of whether dementia is involved or not.

Kind regards



Registered User
May 27, 2011
Thank you for the replies everyone! :)

I couldn't shake the guilt so in the end I gave her a kiss on the forehead and said "Sorry I said something hurtful earlier" without reminding her what it was and she seemed to have forgotten about it!

Wirral, I definitely agree that there is an element of trying to manipulate our emotions- like a small child might I guess. I know that a lot of it is her illness but there are definitely elements of her old self in there too (both good and bad!).

Jeanette, I don't know how you cope with that and think you did amazingly to hold your tongue until you were a bit further away from him! I hope things are a bit better today and that you get a few seconds to care for yourself too :)

Thanks Izzy! I'm going to show my mum the link because I'm not sure what she's supposed to do next. She is seeing the dementia nurse at the CMHT this week so hopefully she might be able to help.

nitram, thanks I think she has forgotten but I'm a bit concerned she might remember later- I'm not apologizing again if she does!

Noorza, thank you for your kind reply! I probably shouldn't have apologized! Even though I was worried about what I'd said, it did work and she did end up washing her hands!
I hope your son is coping okay just now- OCD is such a nasty illness. I've had some success with CBT over the past few years and have just been referred to a specialist OCD centre in London for in-patient treatment this Autumn so hopefully social services will get their act together and provide some care for my gran so that I can leave otherwise Granny will be escaping in her slippers when my parents are at work!

Thanks again! x


Registered User
Jan 28, 2012
Morning Lisa,

Poor you, and your mum. You sound like a lovely,caring daughter and granddaughter.

Please don't feel guilty,we all want to punch someone or something at some stage, so we grind our teeth and say something inappropriate! I've done it often.

We're all only human trying to get through each day. I've already grinder my teeth today- Mum wanted to know where she'd go to do her wee. The commode is under her nose but she says she didn't know,all innocent like! So I had to walk away,I'm sure some of it is attention seeking on their part.

But you need your mum to badger ss; I did it and it did work eventually. Say you'll make a formal complaint. When they cancelled a weeks respite on me,with only a few days notice, I told them I would take her to their office and leave her there! Suddenly my respite was re-instated I know it's not a nice thing to say,but we're not legally obliged to look after them and I know it's very wearing but start badgering them, every day if needs be until you get an outcome. Get your mums doctor to intervene, it may help. My sw told me that if the carer suddenly goes pop,the person they're caring for is always looked after, so there are means.

Sorry to ramblehave a nice day.