I spent the Columbus Day weekend going to CO to my grandmother's 90th birthday. My grandmother lives in a 55+ condo community for independent living. There is no assisted-living facility associated with the complex.
While I was there, I stayed with my grandmother for 4 days. On the first day, I noticed that she was getting confused how to operate the telephone. She was pushing buttons at random, wondering why the phone was not dialing her daughter (my aunt - her primary caregiver). I thought, maybe, she was just having a "senior moment." I dialed the phone for her.
There was a note on the table from my aunt that she should call her friend to meet for dinner. My grandmother and her friend live in the same condo community. Every time she passed the table, she would see the note and try to call the number. She would pick up the phone to call her over and over. I had to tell her that they had already spoken just minutes prior.
At one point I was doing her dishes while her friend was visiting, and she commented that she was glad that she "hired that girl to clean her kitchen." I had to remind her that I was her granddaughter and not the housekeeper. She commented that she knew that and had just gotten confused.
When it came time for me to leave, I started packing my suitcase and she then said she needed her suitcase. I asked "why" and she said, "cause we are going home." I said, "no , you are home. You live here." She didn't believe me.
She also wears her pajamas under her clothes and often wears seasonally inappropriate attire.
My father and his sister are in complete denial about the fact that she probably shouldn't be living alone. Only my aunt lives nearby. The rest of us live on the other side of the country. My aunt has power of attorney and makes all of her medical decisions. She insists that my grandmother would deteriorate rapidly if removed from her home and placed in assisted living. I fear that she is in danger by living alone. I don't think she could tell someone where she lives or even her name if she were to accidentally wander off.
But as the granddaughter on the other side of the country, what can I do?? I've considered contacting the condo complex to recommend that they get her evaluated, if for no other reason than their facility liability... I just don't know what to do...but I feel terrible to do nothing and let the situation persist.
You are a good granddaughter and it is good that you found something wrong with your grandma. From what you are saying, it sounds like my FIL when he was in moderate stage from 2008-2009. He could dial the phone but forgot the numbers and didn't understand the phone numbers. He could dial but forgot it. (Too slow to make it work and it beeps after that...) He asked me once if my husband was his son. He once asked who I was when I went downstairs to see him...
But your grandma has to be diagnosed first. It could be vascular dementia which requires that she takes some med. for stroke. It could be Alzheimer's as she forgot and repeated it again and again. She would not know how to dress. Someone has to tell her how to do it. She needs a full-time caregiver with her at least.
She does not have to move now, but the aunt needs to hire a personal caregiver or CNA to help her out everyday. You need to make sure she does not get lost.
But if the POA is in denial, there is nothing you as a granddaughter can do. (they may think you are busybody...) Probably you can educate the aunt about dementia and let her know that her Mom does not remember right.
It would be nice if you can educate your elders about this matter before it is too late. She needs someone nearby. She does not have to move to an AL if she has the caregiver there with her. Gradually she will get sicker and will need to go to a memory unit if it is indeed dementia.
Don't wait until she gets lost and falls...
Melinda - Just wanted to welcome you to the board. As we always say here, sorry you needed to find us, but glad you did. We are a supportive and knowledgeable bunch
Unfortunately, you are in a difficult position as Nina mentioned. You obviously care alot for your grandmother and want to do the right thing for her. Can you talk to your mom or dad (not sure if it's your mom's or your dad's mom?) and ask them to talk to your aunt who has the POA?
I would definitely voice your concerns to your extended family. Your grandmother needs some assistance, and as Nina said, a caregiver could come to her at this point if the family is resistant to moving her. First, she really should be evaluated to determine what type of dementia / Alzheimer's she has.
I realize every family is different, and has different family dynamics going on. I know it all too well from my own family . At least you can let your concerns be known, and share what you witnessed about your grandmother's behavior the 4 days you stayed with her.
Let us know how you're doing. We're here to bounce ideas around or just for moral support! Take good care -
Melinda, bless you for caring and being realistic enough to notice that there is a problem. That is a beginning. Now the rest of the family need to jump on board. Please talk to your father. Make sure he knows what you know. Make sure he understands. Ask him to talk to his sister and address the problem. It is truly unsafe for your grandmother to remain by herself. If she can't dial the phone how can she call for help if she should need assistance? How would anybody know if she wandered out of her apartment and not be able to find her way back? Is she eating properly, is she bathing properly, and is she able to take care of her every day needs?
You aunt is hinging her belief on a well known fact. Any move is difficult for a dementia patient because they lose the familiarity afforded them through long term memories. In the new location they do not have that long term memory to fall back on. It is not that they get worse when they move, it is that you see the true state of their current condition when they are put in a new location. Mom was find in her home of 10 years but when we moved her she got worse. No, Mom was not find. She was functioning on past memories. She has known where the plates were for 10 years so no reason to remember today where they are. In a new place she has to remember today and that she can't do. She couldn't do it in her old home or her new home. At some point you have to move Mom or bring in help for Mom. This is for her safety and well being and trumps the fact that moves are difficult.
So try your best to educate your father and hopefully he can educate your Aunt who is POA. If not, the situation will deteriorate. At some point, something will happen, and Mom will have to be moved. Hopefully they will decide to act before a crisis occurs. The is all you can do for now. If the situation with your grandmother gets worse you can call the Senior Social Services in her area and ask them to investigate and evaluate her situation. They can force your Aunt to take action. But for family peace please try talking to your Dad first .... or even your Aunt!
Again...kudos to you for caring and reaching out to find help for your grandmother. Continue to be her advocate and pushing your family in the right direction