My Grandmother is loosing her mind. Help please - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 02-03-2013, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I thought this was the most appropriate category to put this post in. I feel I am grieving already. My grandmother lives in a assisted care facility.....but she lives in the section where it is basically apartments for the elderly. She lives completely on her own with no one checking in on her.....in her own little apartment.

It has been months now of my mother telling me how my grandma is seeing things. She sees "heads looking in on her from the windows" ...that is how it started. It is progressively getting worse. Now she is seeing "spider men" spiders that turn to men, and little men that turn to spiders. She says they are crawling on the floors and ceilings. Crawling in the lights. She says a family of them now live in her TV.

The relationship with my mother and grandmother is horrible. She does not respect my mother at all. Mentally abused my mother her whole life. On the other hand she has the up most respect for my fiance and I. So I feel like the responsibility falls all on us. My mother has tried to get her to see a doctor....my grandmother has said to her "what is wrong with your eyes child!" when my mother says she does not see the things my grandmother is seeing. I have been too scared I guess to bring the subject up with her when talking......and she hasn't brought it up with me either.

My grandmother needs to be in an assisted living facility. I believe she most definitely has dementia. I am very worried about her living alone. I fear she will run away out of her apartment in fear of the "spider men" , and end up on the cold streets lost and end up hurt, or the worst dead.

 

How do I deal with this? How do I tell my grandmother that half way raised me, that she is loosing her mind? How do I get her to get the help that she so desperately needs?

 

PLEASE any one with prior experience with an elderly with these issues....help me? Any advice or guidance would be so so greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading my long post.

Nikki

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#2 of 11 Old 02-04-2013, 06:41 PM
 
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You don't tell her.  Usually when a person leaves us, their body goes with them in some way.  With dementia, or senility, or whatever you want to call it, the person begins to go, but their body lingers.  I'm so sorry this is happening to you family, and I wish strength and some peace for you.  hug2.gif
 


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#3 of 11 Old 02-05-2013, 11:18 PM
 
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My mother was living alone in a senior housing place, and she fell down one night.  She forgot that she had one of those call buttons, so she just lay there and yelled until someone called an ambulance.  The hospital said they wouldn't release her without someone agreeing to take care of her, or something, I don't know the details as I wasn't there.  But she ended up being diagnosed at that point with Lewy Body Dementia.  This demential has tremors and fainting as one of the issues involved, and she couldn't be alone anymore, so my sister took her to her house in another state where she had just moved.  My sister soon realized that taking care of her was going to be beyond her abilities, so she found a nursing home for her.

 

My mother ended up dying less than a year later, and the cause, honestly, was that she stopped eating.  First they were giving her a drug for her hallucinations which seemed to help, but it caused weight loss.  But when they took her off that drug 9 months later, she lost the desire to eat.  Apparently before she got put in the rehab place, it started with her talking about the hallucinations and she knew people didn't believe her, because she would start talking to herself, "Oh, you don't think they're real, but you don't know everything!" Stuff like that.

 

I don't know if your grandmother is having the same kind of dementia, but is there anyway you can take her to her own doctor or talk to her doctor about what is going on and her treatment options?  Is she able to take care of herself?  Is she eating?

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#4 of 11 Old 02-06-2013, 05:44 AM
 
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I would talk to the administrator of the assisted living facility. The ones I am somewhat familiar with have several areas, and residents are often evaluated for when it is time to move fro one to another. They may be able to do an evaluation, and/or recommend a move to the next level - or a visiting nurse/nurse's aide to check in on her a few times a week.
 

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#5 of 11 Old 02-09-2013, 04:04 PM
 
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OMG I thought that's not common.  My grandma is going through this right now.  Seeing and hearing things and mostly just delusional.  The problem is she's living with us right now and DH really isn't happy with this arrangement.  I'm sick of explaining that there aren't ghosts haunting the kitchen, and my brother doesn't die everyday.  She thinks he's dead every morning and sobs miserbly, until brother calls or visits, then she'd stop.  Then next morning she thinks he's dead again.


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#6 of 11 Old 02-09-2013, 07:59 PM
 
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I agree with mtiger. Does the assisted living facility have social workers for their residents? Many do and have weekly care plan meetings where the social workers, administrators and nurses and/or doctors if there are any on-site discuss and evaluate residents who need extra help and steer them toward the next step. I agree that talking to her social worker or the administrators may be the way to go if it's that kind of place.

 

Dementia is really hard to deal with and certainly worthy of grieving over. My mom, who has progressive dementia, was in tears the other day because she was so worried about the police trying to find me. I had only gone to pick up the kids from school, but she had a freaky dream or whatever that set her off. It's hard. My dad had mild dementia and was bed-ridden or in a wheelchair for 7 yrs before he passed away and I definitely had a harder time with grief during the last years of his life than after his death.

 

What you're describing in your grandmother also sounds similar to delirium. You might want to get her checked for a UTI. Delirium in the elderly, especially women, can be due to untreated UTIs and other infections. Often a UTI is otherwise asymptomatic in the elderly (no pain). It can take a while for it to clear up even after antibiotics have wiped out the infection, but it usually does clear up w/in a couple of weeks if that's the cause. Before my mom had significant dementia when she had a UTI and pneumonia, even after she was feeling fine and not feverish and was up and around, she thought she was back at work and those women (nurses & CNAs) weren't letting her in her office and she needed to get into her office. It was pretty freaky, but after being on the abx it cleared up after about 2 weeks. Definitely worth talking to her doctor about.

 

http://allnurses.com/geriatric-nurses-ltc/geriatric-uti-hallucinations-492105.html

http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/urinary-tract-infections-elderly-146026.htm

http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice/clinical-zones/older-people/delirium-among-older-people-in-hospital-often-untreated/5049603.article

http://caregivingcompanion.com/why-is-grandma-suddenly-confused/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/01/vigilance-about-the-dangers-of-delirium/


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#7 of 11 Old 02-13-2013, 01:13 AM
 
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I hope it's OK for me to vent a bit.  Grandma's driving us nuts.  A couple days ago she said my brother was dead and insisted that she saw me carrying his body out (as if, he's like 200 lbs).  Now she thinks my dad has died and we didn't tell her.  We called dad and make him talk to her on the phone and she kept crying, saying he's not real.  Eventually we managed to distract her with something.  Tonight she wanted to go sleep under our balcony, said she dreamed about it and it was fine.  I didn't even know where to start.  Um, it's still winter here, we're not letting old lady sleep outdoors amongst garden tools and junk.  Then she wants to go sleep in the park.  She's insisting to move to somewhere else so the ghosts won't accuse her of stealing socks or something.  Everyday she comes up with something that's completely crazy and it's very hard for us to convince her it's not real.  DH can't take it much longer.  He just quit his job to start a home business, now he has to tend to the mad old lady and not getting much work done.  It really looks like we have little option but to apply for nursing home.  Except she doesn't speak English so most nursing homes won't accept her.

 

I've been feeling sad about this for quite a while.  She's still quite healthy(no major health issue at all, only takes vitamins), and still looks good for her age of 94, full head of hair, rosy cheeks, not much wrinkles, why does her mind have to go? :(  It's just so hard to watch a loved one decline.  Sometimes I think heart attacks aren't so bad after all, compared to long term suffering.


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#8 of 11 Old 02-13-2013, 06:34 PM
 
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Heart attacks definitely aren't the worst way to go.

 

Get her checked for a UTI, though. It could be part of what's going on. When my mom had one she was loopy loopy loopy! She has a moderate level of dementia anyway, but basically knows all of us and knows more or less what portion of her life she's in — she might not know the year, but she knows she's old and has grown kids and grandkids—but when she had that UTI she had those really psychotic thoughts like it was 1976 and she was working and her son was her brother, etc.

 

There are medications she can get too that might not make her all better, but they can help some with memory and with managing her mood so that she might still be crazy, but not quite so crazy.

 

With my mom the worst is she gets really emotional and teary and cries. That's so hard to watch. She's really upset that she's losing her memory. She's on Aricept which really did help at first although it's not helping as much any more. She's also on Wellbutrin for her mood and anxiety which is through the roof and that is helping some, too, but unfortunately she is very sensitive to side effects and nothing is a magic bullet. I do think they both help, though, and might be worth looking into. My thought is that if you have to lose your memory if you can take a "happy pill" for it (to at least not be so upset) then sometimes that's the best outcome you can hope for.

 

ETA: edited for clarity


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#9 of 11 Old 02-13-2013, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you SO much every one for your comments and support. She was here this weekend. I got up the nerve to talk to her about it. The talk went very smoothly. She also told me she has seen a little women and man that dropped from the ceiling and grew into full size people. That they stood there and had a conversation looking at all of her family pictures, then shot back up and disappeared. Hearing that was very unsettling. I think I got through to her, and I think she acknowledged that she is seeing things and will go to a doctor. I think! She definitely is still a little resistant about going tho. At least she is not that far gone tho that she is able to realize she is seeing things...that's good right?

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Originally Posted by Viola View Post

 "Lewy Body Dementia.  This demential has tremors and fainting as one of the issues involved"

 

"First they were giving her a drug for her hallucinations which seemed to help, but it caused weight loss."

 

"I don't know if your grandmother is having the same kind of dementia, but is there anyway you can take her to her own doctor or talk to her doctor about what is going on and her treatment options?  Is she able to take care of herself?  Is she eating?"

 I have read a little on this type of dementia, this could be a real possibility for her. She is 100% physically healthy. 82 years old, only problem is she has to watch her cholesterol, which she has under control. The only other health concern was a few years back when she was having dizzy spells where she did faint a few times. They ended up saying it was a possible loose disc in her neck pressing on a nerve. They did put her on some type of drug, I think neurological, and she also lost about 20 lbs. The dizzy spells stopped and she also stopped taking the drug. She is very thin at the moment, I think she needs to gain weight.

She takes care of her self well, she eats, but only diet food "lean cuisnes" which I think is very unhealthy for her. I'm not sure if she even really has a primary care doctor, she hates doctors and is extremely opinionated but uneducated on her opinions and has been kicked out of Dr. offices before :(

 

Thank you beanma & mtiger. The next step will definitely be talking to the administration of the assisted living facility, if she does not willingly seek help. And thank you so much beanma for all of those links, I will be sending all of this information to my mother as well. "Delirium in the elderly, especially women, can be due to untreated UTIs and other infections." I know nothing of this,  we will definitely look into this as well.

 

Poddi vent all you want mama! The first time you responded to this post I actually had my grandma over that night. I read it that night on my smart phone....reading your response is comforting and supporting knowing other people are going through the same thing. She called me in the morning on saturday and immediately asked if she could come over, which she has never done before. Ive told her she is always welcome and ask her to call me, but i think she doesnt want to be a burden. I think she was scared. Shes seems to be getting very scared of her apartment and I feel so bad for her. Also talking with her this weekend I found out she no longer sleeps in her bed, but in the recliner in the living room the whole night because there is a group of shadows with legs that are in the corner of her bedroom that are out to get her. I felt so horrible when my parents came to take her home....I could tell she was dreading going back to her "evil haunted apartment." I should have asked her to stay another night :( She has always been a very difficult person, never been easy to be around very negative, critical, uneducated & stubborn, and kind of mean. She treats my parents like children. So as her dementia if that is what is going on, progresses, I can not even imagine how difficult she is going to be. I am glad that I have been able to have a decent relationship with her tho, and that I am the one able to get through to her a bit.

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Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

You don't tell her.  Usually when a person leaves us, their body goes with them in some way.  With dementia, or senility, or whatever you want to call it, the person begins to go, but their body lingers.  I'm so sorry this is happening to you family, and I wish strength and some peace for you.  hug2.gif
 

Like she said....its SO sad. Your grandmother like mine physically is healthy....looks younger then her age and loves her vitamins also :) . So I guess it has to be the mind that gos. Really Ive thought for years that this was eventually going to happen.

She sat there telling me she wishes she would just die. I say "dont say that grandma" she replies "why would I want to sit alone in a nursing home falling apart and eventually not knowing who the hell I am, or who any one is anymore." I then held back tears that I felt coming on because shes right. It makes me so horribly sad hearing her say that and to think of loosing my grandma eventually like this, and sad for her. I hope I die at 75 or so of a heart attack, vs. sitting alone in a nursing home falling apart loosing my mind. Thats a crappy way to go. She already sits completely alone in her apartment, completely isolated only with her thoughts 24/7....doesnt go any where. I could see how that would drive any one nuts. Maybe a nursing home would be better for her. She would be able to have social interaction with people all day.

I am sorry you guys are going through this as well, and I cant imagine how hard it will be to finally move her into a nursing home. At least she has had the time she has living with you guys.

Out of curiosity has she seen a doctor for any of this? Does she speak spanish? I would imagine any other language would make finding a home very difficult.

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#10 of 11 Old 02-13-2013, 07:17 PM
 
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Regarding the UTIs — it's quite well known in geriatric care circles that they can cause delerium in the elderly. A healthcare professional who doesn't work with the elderly might not suspect that right away, but most folks who work with the elderly know about it.

 

My mom is in a Continuing Care Retirement Community in my town. My brother also lives right outside town. She cared dutifully for my dad for 7 yrs when he was in a nursing home in their home town about 1.5 hrs away, spending almost all day every day with him. It was the nicest nursing home in the town, but not really that great. She could not care for him by herself at home — he couldn't walk, had a feeding tube, etc — and the only other option was live-in health care which is also very expensive. At any rate, by the time he died we could tell that she just wasn't doing as well anymore. She had a bout of pneumonia about 9 months before he died and had an episode where her electrolytes (sodium, etc) got out of whack and that made her loopy too. That is a serious condition which can lead to death rapidly, but it's also something to be aware of when you have a sudden onset of loopy behavior in the elderly. About a year after my dad died we convinced Mom to move into this CCRC that is in our town. It is _really_ nice and she had to sell the house to be able to afford it, but since none of us kids wanted the house and we wanted her to be well cared for it was well worth it. She was in Independent Living for a year, then Assisted Living for a year, and just at the beginning of this month was moved over to their nursing home positively relabeled "The Health Center" (they do have an onsite Healthcare Clinic for the Independent and Assisted Living residents there as well). It's really a great place and about 500 times nicer than the place where my dad was. I couldn't really care for Mom in my house w/o other care. I don't think she's safe to be on her own now and I wouldn't be able to take her everywhere I need to go w/ the kids and everything. Plus we have two dogs, one of whom is very rambunctious and we would have to rehome her if Mom lived with us. I also think the kids would drive her crazy. They get loud sometimes and Mom really likes it quiet and to nap twice a day and goes to bed about 7:30 or 8. The CCRC has been great. I go to see her every day except Sunday when my brother usually spends the afternoon with her.

 

It has been a long hard 10 years, though. My youngest (just turned 9) never knew my dad when he was healthy. I have told them to consider having kids earlier than I did. I didn't have my oldest until I was 36.5 and my mom had me when she was 38.5 so that made her 75 when my oldest was born and 78 when my youngest was born. My dad was 6 months younger. DHs mom is about 74 now and was in her early-mid 60s when the kids were born. She has been able to be so much more active and involved as a grandma than my mom. I have felt torn in two trying to care for my elderly un-well parents and care for babies at the same time. It has just sucked at times. I sometimes wish for the kids' sake that I had had them 10 yrs earlier, but it is what it is, but I do tell them and will continue to tell them that mid-late 20s would be a great time to have kids if they're going to.

 

Anyway, I have completely rambled, but after 10 yrs my perspective is make sure they're healthy (no UTIs or other physical causes of dementia) and give them a "happy pill" (i.e. antidepressant) if that's all you can do and make sure they're cared for and safe, either in their home,  your home, or an assisted living or nursing home.

 

best of luck to everyone and their loved ones!


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#11 of 11 Old 02-13-2013, 09:26 PM
 
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I am sorry you guys are going through this as well, and I cant imagine how hard it will be to finally move her into a nursing home. At least she has had the time she has living with you guys.

Out of curiosity has she seen a doctor for any of this? Does she speak spanish? I would imagine any other language would make finding a home very difficult.

Yes we take her to her family doctor regularly.  When my dad last visited he took her to all sorts of appointments and found a social worker for her.  She's already had her geriatric assessment (dementia).  We looked at a couple nursing homes and they all seem pretty decent.  The problem is she only speaks Chinese with a thick accent.  So there's only one Chinese nursing home far away that might be good for her.  It's all government programs here so the waitlist is gonna be looooong.  Meanwhile we're not sure what's the best.  It used to be my brother and I take her in turn.  But recently his marriage is falling apart and he's going through a rough patch.  We just started a home business and have little time.  We're all tired and can use some help, she has 4 children and 11 other grandchildren and 20 great-grand children all living abroad.  It would be ideal for her to go stay with them, but she has no medical care there.  My brother and I are the only ones in Canada where she has medical care and benefits.  We're kinda stuck now.   We'll definitely have her checked for UTI asap.

 

I am determined to work hard and get rich (or at least have more than enough retirement savings).  If money is no problem I don't see any problem about living to ripe old age.  Longevity is common in her family and quite a few of her rich cousins lived to their late 90s, in their own home, with hired help to do everything for them.  I still want to live to my 90s, maybe even 100.  A long life is a great achievement.  It means you must have done a lot of things right.  If my grandma died 20 years ago she would not have seen half of her grandchildren's weddings, the birth of most of her great-grand children or great-great grand children.  She would have missed out the best 17 years of her life (her declined only started at 91).  As for my grandpa (her husband) who died 50 years ago, well he's never seen any of the good stuff, his son graduating university, his children getting married and have babies, of any of the better days when they got more than enough to eat and have spare money left after necessities. :(  No I'd say overall long life is still mostly a good thing.  We just need to plan well for it.


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