May 14 2012 in Elly's Granddaughter by EllysGdaughter
We seem to be in a difficult spot and need some expert real life solutions with how to approach this next transition.
Grandma Elly is having some difficulties with her memory. Her son has suggested that I take over managing her checkbook and prescriptions. I agreed to this plan and so does my Awesome Hubby. It’s good that we are on the same page. Our conversations have been going in the direction of, What needs to change in light of what we are observing about Grandma’s physical, emotional and social needs? What kind words to you use to lovingly let your caree know that now is the time to let go of the checkbook, credit card and managing pills (reordering)? There isn’t enough dementia to cloud her understanding that she is being watched and evaluated.
Grandma doesn’t want to communicate with us about her day-to-day physical needs or struggles. She is a private person. I am in some ways afraid to go through this step since Elly is a very strong minded, generous, loving, always-in-charge person. She denies that she “forgets” things but we can tell by her reactions that sometimes she just doesn’t remember or understand. I tend to start correcting her, wanting her to be right because that is how she has always been, but realizing that it ‘s not that important anymore rather more important to make her feel valued.
What do we see? There is a rigidity to her schedule – not always a bad thing – unless you are trying to finish some outside chore that will take you past the noon lunch time. We are told emphatically to “turn the light on”, “Put on a jacket/Take off your jacket”, “How much laundry do you have to do?” (for the fifth time), and “Make sure you lock the door.” I struggle with the food issues. She fixes lunch for me every day – large amounts of leftovers from the refrigerator get microwaved to death or veggies get a milky sauce, the same leftovers microwaved more than twice in the week (because I didn’t eat them) or the wrong leftovers. Well, the large amount that I wanted to serve for dinner get heated up for just the two of us.
Food sits in the refrigerator without being put into a closed container. My Grandma didn’t use to be like this. I have tried to talk to her ahead of time about what we could have for lunch, I’ve put notes on it in the refrigerator, and I’ve listed it on my daily/weekly schedule. She just wants it her way but does it with a SMILE. Lately, she gets frustrated with the computer because it’s too slow when she boots it up and then clicks her email icon too many times, too slowly, before it is ready.
I try to boot it and get it ready before I leave for work to remedy that problem. She’s usually a patient person.
Elly has been ordering books online. The problem is that she forgets that she has already ordered her favorite book and orders it again–from another vendor. Her emails from the vendors remind her of her orders but she can’t figure them out until I point them out to her. She has been writing checks to all the pleas for $$ that have come in the mail that slip by my watchful eye (my niece brings in the mail sometimes). Did you realize that the Breast Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Veterans and Red Cross send out their pleas for $$ Every Week??? At least that is what is happening in our mailbox.
Physically, Grandma takes care of her own personal hygiene. She’s given up crochet, knitting, and sewing because it hurts her hand/fingers. We work on jigsaw puzzles and she likes to help me cook/bake (but it drives me crazy). She insists on keeping moving, walking, mopping, sweeping and watering the potted plants inside and outside. We watch her do this as she struggles with a bad (arthritis?) knee that the doctor doesn’t have much to help her with and she doesn’t want anyone to deal with – understandable at 91.5 years old. This does affect her walking and balance but she insists on carrying stuff without her cane back and forth to the table.
She has a walker and will only use it to “carry” dishes and stuff from the refrigerator when she feels like it. Today, I rescued her from the garden hose – she went outside as I was leaving for errands and for some reason I came back to check on her.
Grandma has trouble remembering to take her pills, mainly the ones at lunch. We watch her slurp her food with her pills and then get a tummy ache in the afternoon. She doesn’t complain, just sits with the heating pad on her tummy (even when it’s 80 degrees in the house). She takes pills for blood pressure, thyroid and vitamins. They are divided up by AM and PM. She has been known to take an extra set of PM pills but there is no harm in that for her, physically.
We just need to watch her. Grandma does faint/pass out when she sits under the hair dryer or get too warm when sitting in her chair for a long time. She’s ended up in the hospital for that so we make sure the hairdresser can contact us if that happens to avoid the 911 call.
Grandma does have back pain/spasms but just sits with the heating pad on her back for those, doesn’t complain, keeps getting up and moving around. Her physical limitations should be telling her to give up some of these “chores” but she presses on believing that if she doesn’t press on she won’t be able to get up and go anymore.
Socially, she’s given up going to church – probably because she falls asleep easily and it’s hard to hear even with her hearing aids. She doesn’t call her friends or siblings anymore. We have a hard-of-hearing type phone. She enjoys visits from folks but when we have people over, she criticizes how we’ve handled seating arrangements or food passing etc. so, I won’t have folks over anymore.
I won’t tolerate the criticism (my mom was abusive that way) and she doesn’t understand how much that hurts. We have been given permission to use the living room as we like but can’t have a TV in there or eliminate any furniture to make it more comfy. She has allowed my son who just graduated from college to move into the living room for the foreseeable year. She still walks through to get her newspaper at 5:30 a.m. every morning so I am not sure how long he will want to stay. She really likes having him here since we haven’t seen much of him after five years living at college (4 years- just 2 miles away).
So, I’ve probably given too much info but sometimes I read other folks’ situations who are caregiving at a much higher level. It would be easy to assume at 91.5 yrs old that Grandma would be ready to be catered to and pampered. This one is still strong minded, in control and set in her ways. I do enjoy the fact that she can fix her own meal when we are out for the evening – I keep good quality frozen dinners for variety. I love being able to cook our evening meals and bake every so often – when I can do it by myself. My AH is beginning to be able to understand my venting and has done some of his own venting lately which gives us something to laugh, cry or moan about.
We are both fixers so we have started to rub each other wrong as we’ve dealt with Grandma–coming together works much better. There are so many more issues but will blog about those later. We just need a perspective and words that will help us address taking charge of the checkbook/credit card and prescriptions without saying words like “control” or “unable to manage”. Maybe there aren’t “better” words, we continue to pray over this next transition, that it would be a smooth one.
I feel like when we take away something, she needs to have some kind of “job” to replace it – something she Can Do. We are wracking our brains – she refuses to consider Adult Day Care even when I said she could have her own reading circle. Elly says she knows “those people don’t read books.” She always has a reason and a story about whatever I bring up.
So thanks for your thoughtful advice.