How to get stubborn grandfather the care he needs?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 11, 2016
Unsurebutoptimistic asked...

My family lives in Texas. My father has been desperately trying to get my grandfather to see a doctor, and consolidate his existing rental properties that he can no longer care for. Every day is like a reset for my grandfather. If he was upset or angry towards something or someone, he will not remember that conversation upon waking the following day. He also has a strong sense of "˜independent personal opinion.' My grandfather is nice most of the time, but he can be quite mean. If you were to suggest something, even if it's in his best interest (seeing a doctor, or maybe letting someone else mow the lawn or fix the car), he might become [rudely] irritated with you.

When my grandfather gets an idea in his head, it sticks. For example: My grandfather has been having problems with his car overheating for a few years. My father suggested it might be the thermostat. My father changed it and it worked fine for a while, then began to have the same problem. Even though my dad has told him, multiple times, that it may be something else or to have a mechanic look at it, my grandfather still thinks it is the thermostat. He has replaced it about six times. I am no mechanic, but my grandfather's car runs rough. There is something seriously wrong with that car. Every time we go somewhere in his car (because the idea of someone else driving him is appalling) he is always surprised about the way it runs, saying, "Well, damn! It always ran perfect"¦" It seems like that is where his memory stopped paying attention to his car.

Yes, he can recall things that are more recent, but he will forget that other people were there, or who they are. I have heard that getting a power of attorney for people in this position is best, but how do I get him to sign something he doesn't think he needs? This man who has admitted to me that he feels bad, or that something is wrong, but won't get the most basic of care to find out what it could be. He absolutely refuses to go. Judging by the appointment cards on his fridge (and other places) he has not been to a doctor in quite a few years (if not several as I have no way of knowing which ones he went to). When asked about the subject he simply can not remember the last time he went to the doctor's office. He is afraid of bad news. I am more afraid he could be missing out on a simple thing that might save his life.

Ultimately, my parents want to move my grandfather to a cottage behind their house, equipped with a half bath, a/c and refrigerator. My only wish is that my grandfather has a place to live out his years, surrounded by people who will look out for him, while retaining the dignity of having his own space. Right now it seems like the only way we will be able to make this happen is to wait until he is so bad that an adult care facility would be the only logical next step. My father has spent weeks on end with him, and it is taking a toll. Not just psychically but mentally and emotionally. My husband and I spent some time there, to lighten the load, about a week at a time. Even after such a short time we felt the same. My parents are financially strained trying to help the way he wants us to, but when we see how he is caring for himself, we feel an obligation to do more. As a family, we are unsure how to proceed, but optimistic that someone can give us a nudge in the right direction. Please help.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

It sounds like his car should be disabled so he can not drive it. I would worry that he would forget how to get home or how to drive. You don't say anything his driving skills, are they still intact? If not, you can contact your state to see about getting his driver's license revoked. You wouldn't want it on your conscience that he hurt someone or himself driving. He does need to go to a neurologist for an examination. I would suggest making the appointment and tricking him into going. Lie to him if you have to. The situation may be a lot worse than you think. Have you checked his cupboards and refrigerator to make sure he has food and it looks like he is eating? Does he have 3 of the same thing that he wouldn't normally buy 3 of, like 3 large bags of flour, something out of the ordinary? Because he is forgetting he already bought it. Does he feel like he is losing weight when you hug him? Are his bills paid and on time? Is his checkbook register a mess?

Unsurebutoptimistic answered...

His car is now disabled (thank GOD). His driving skills have always been a bit unnerving and now they are downright scary. We kept purposefully disabling it but he kept figuring out what we did. Luckily he ruined it on his own and now has to be driven everywhere. He has been buying the same kinds of items for years based on what you described (because he forgot). He is still getting worse and meaner by the day. Can you make appointments for someone without a power of attorney for medical? I didn't think you could.....if so that helps a lot. My dad has been paying his bills for the last 6 months now, because he was receiving disconnection notices. He hides his wallet, checkbook, and cash, so we have no idea where it has been all going. My father and I suspect when we finally get him out of there we will find it all stuffed somewhere, and he simply forgot. He has lost a great deal of weight, but has plenty of food available to him. My dad and I usually make a habit of leaving plenty of leftovers ready made so all he has to do is use the microwave when we leave for a few days. I will definitely take your advice on tricking him into going to DR. What if we get there and he refuses to get out the car....can the docs or nurses help? Thank you so much for your help and time, I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner, as I have been spending a lot of time there and he doesn't have internet.