How do you explain to Grandma that she can no longer live on her own?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 30, 2016
Jbusch asked...

How do you explain to Grandma why she can no longer live in her own home alone or why she can no longer keep her own checking account balanced. When we try to explain, she says things like..Haven't you ever forgotten anything? Is your house always perfectly kept?... She doesn't know what she doesn't know. She chose a new room in an assisted living faciltiy last year. Now that it is finished and we moved her in two months ago...she doesn't understand. She is angry and resentful. She chose this and this is the best for her. She should not be living alone anymore. She believes we are punishing her. We are trying to be patient. Her numerous phone calls range from angry and venomous to very depressed.

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

The question is about your grandma's disease and the loss of independence; that is what she is really angry at. You have answered your own question without realizing it and have done so with compassion and good common sense. She can no longer live in her own home nor can she balance her checkbook therefore, she must have other living conditions and someone to take charge of her money. The fact that she chose the Assisted Living underscores her own wishes.

There may not be much you can do to reason with her or to try to get her to understand why these decisions were made. Lengthy explanations will most likely lead to exaggerated anger and resentment.

Keep your verbal interactions with her simple and consistent. The negative responses most likely will pass in time as dementia worsens and she becomes more adjusted to her surroundings. Try to remember this is not about being popular with grandmom - it is about keeping her safe and well cared for. It sounds like you are already doing a fine job at both of these. Don't be upset with yourself - pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I went through the same thing with my mom although she did not choose the nursing home she went to. After considerable thought and an extremely bad experience at the nursing home, I placed her in a senior living complex - with her approval of the apartment. She is in the early to mid stages of the dementia and is capable, right now, of living alone with assistance. It wasn't easy as I had to go through hurt feelings, lashing out at me, accusations, etc., etc. Mom is now in the stage (most of the time) of being compliant with her care. I provide her meds on a daily basis, take her to the doctor, make sure her home is safe, and spend time with her daily. I know one day she will need to go to a nursing facility, but I am trying to keep her out as long as possible, knowing that it means my life is tied up directly with hers and I am as responsible for her as I would be if she were my child.