How can I resolve taking care of my boyfriend's grandmother?

8 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Katchrmr11 asked...

I am new here and this is my first question. Oh ya I love this web site. Well I take care of my boyfriend's mom; she is very difficult sometimes. Her Alzheimer's is getting worse. I have been taking care of her 24/7 for over two years. I have had ten days total as far as vacation goes. Irene has gotten to a point where I can't go out the door for the mail without her screaming her head off at the door and calling me all kinds of lovely names.

We had it all set up for her to go to respite and we dropped her off for three days. Well, long story short she is to never return! She got all the residents upset and was screaming at everyone and told everybody that she was going to blow the place up! We only have one place here where I live that does that. (respite I mean) I have had so-called caregivers here and they don't return. My boyfriend told me that if I wanted time off I needed to work it out. He goes when he needs to. He has had four vacations without me.

What do I do now? I have no life. Also if I do find someone it comes out of what I earn on a weekly basis. The last caregiver I had here, it cost me a lot more than just money. It was a nightmare! I am not sure what to do. I am tired and stressed. Please I just need some advice. Thank You!

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Dear Heart,  

If it is warm where you live, lie down in the grass, spread your arms wide, look at the sky and think to yourself,  I am a human being.  I deserve to walk on the planet.   If it is winter, bundle up and walk in the snow.  Feel the bite of the wind and cold. Let your mind rest and listen to your footsteps as you walk along.  

 So often, when caring for someone old and mentally fragile, we begin to take on the client's bad feelings.   Instead of care, fear begins to spread.   

You fear if you leave, you might lose your boyfriend and your job. You may fear that the elder might not receive the care that she needs.   Let yourself feel the fear, then switch your mind.  Feel yourself as a specially empowered  and caring human being with needs.  Trust yourself and try to follow a few suggestions.

  • Talk to Irene's doctor.  Explain very clearly about how frightened and ornery she is.   Try to get a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist. Make sure that Irene has the proper diagnosis with proper medical treatment.   Irene may need some medicine to quiet her for awhile. 
  • Try to work up your courage; then tell the family of this troubled elder, that you need time off each day and at least a full day or two every week  Either the family should cover for you, or pay  the respite worker in addition to your weekly salary. 
  • Go back to the respite center.  Explain that you need their help.  Ask for help.  Tell them what the doctor has said.  Explain about any new treatments that he may have provided. Ask them to try again.
  • Never drop off an elder who is suffering from dementia. (if you can help it) Try to take her there for lunch or a tour, before  hand.    Explain why you need respite(the best you can) When you take her, stay awhile and help her get settled and oriented.
  • Make sure that you walk 1 to 3 miles each day, starting slowly and working up to more.   Eat healthy food and dress well..  Pay extra attention to your appearance in every way.
  •  Try to meditate, pray, contemplate,or even go for counselling each week. Work on you.   As you learn to make friends with yourself, perhaps this family will realize how lucky they are.   Then they will  want to take care of you, so you can care for their elderly and ornery little mother.

Community Answers

Katchrmr11 answered...

Thank you for all your advice. Her son is her ONLY family. I have made her a appt. with her doctor. The doctor put her on Haldol. 2x a day. I am going to start a caregiver group at the senior center. I used to go for a walk everyday, but because her condition has gotten worse and the fact that she can't see anymore makes it hard for me to get away for a few minutes. She has stopped asking Is my son coming today. Also she does not sleep well and is constantly asking What am I doing You need to tell me what to do She follows me around the house all day long and wants constant reassurance and wakes me up 4 or 5 times a night sitting at the end of my bed and now she wants to sleep with me. I have not had a full nights sleep in over month. When I do get time away, It's just not long enough to regroup. Getting him to pay for more help..... Not going to happen. For now I will start the caregiver meetings and try getting out. Even if it may be a the crack of dawn will be a start. My doctor put me on 300 mg of effexor. I'm lonely for friends and family and I am sad a lot of the time. I hide a lot of emotion inside cause my boyfriend does not want to talk about his mom when it is are time. Sorry this is so long. Thank You I printed out your advice and put it on the fridge so I can get through the harder days.

Ann cason answered...

I'm so glad to hear about the caregiver meeting.   Perhaps they will help fill the void when you are longing for your friends and family.   Also, sometimes help comes from this kind of support group. 

People who cannot see, often grow very anxious.  Have you tried music or a radio program that she might like to listen to, especially at night when she can't sleep.

If you think the Haldol is not working, let the doctor know.  Perhpas he can find a medicine that works better.  

I and others who read this will be thinking of you.

Snow answered...


I was wondering why is she still at home?  Because that is what the son and you want?

Why are you on effexor and what is it for?  I am in a similiar situation but getting more sleep that that at least.  I don't think I could do your description.  They always talk about OTHER FAMILY members and for me that is a joke.  No one else is going to happen.  I am not from this state even and do not have even a boyfriend here for support.  Only friends on the phone.  That is suppose to make you feel better but I doubt it.  The fact that you do have a boyfriend and she cooperates with the doctors.  I have had a 2 day reprieve of Mom returning to 60% herself and is at this very moment slipping away again-----Do you think you will be able to do this long??  I do not think I will be able to without paying too large a price medically.  People have warned me I will get sick myself and it is coming true.

Katchrmr11 answered...

Sorry I have not been able to log in for a bit. Let see... I am on Effexor cause I have depression issues. I have been on the medication a while now the doc upped my dose so I am coping a bit easier. Things with Irene are getting harder and her son comes less and less. Which is fine. I have enough to do without him hanging around and asking why isn't the laundry done and what do you do all day, their are dishes in the sink BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. I have been doing this job (Irene) for almost 3 years now and to put her in a home now, I can't do it. Her son would love to put her away and not worry about it, but me, NO WAY! I can't. The doc appt. went good. they gave her Ambien and it is the wonder drug!!!!! She finally slept through the night. I got 5 awsome hours of sleep! That was the first night. I am now getting 7 hours of sleep and it is good sleep. My kitties are also happy cause they sleep with me, and I am not up and down all night. Thats the update for now. Sorry about the wait on getting back to you guys. Thank You I will log on later after Irene is in bed.

Vicki in wonderland answered...

Wow! Your boyfriend is very lucky to have you. I care for my elderly parents who have Alzheimers. I dont mean to be mean, and I certainly dont have your whole story. However, your boyfriend doesn't sound like he's a very good boyfriend or son.

Ok I get he probably can't come to terms with his mom's disease. It took me awhile to adjust that both my parents suffer from this. But why wont he help you get relief and PAY for it, so you two can go on a vacation together? Or help you clean the house or pay someone to do this for you instead of complaining that you haven't done it? He obviously isn't thinking of your well being only his. This should be his responsibility not yours. Afterall this is his mom! This will tax heavy on your relationship and you will come to resent him if not already.

You are such an angel and a beautiful person to care for someone in this type of situation. I praise you for your caring and loving soul and send lots of big hugs to you. I worry that you are emotionally breaking down. I too was taking an anti-depressant for a little while but am better so stopped taking it and so far I haven't needed it for a few weeks.

Just know that WHEN the time comes that you (hopefully before you crack) can no longer have the emotional or physical strength to care for her anymore, that it is OK to place her in a care home. Do not feel guilty in doing this. You have gone beyond the call of duty in all that you have done for this boyfriend's mom. She has surely been blessed to have you in her life. You can and should be very very proud of yourself. I give your the gold super star of caregiving!! And nominate you for caregiver of the year. lol

You must take the time for yourself and you are absolutely right that you need 2 whole days off (at least)from caregiving. I've been told that if we (the caregivers) do not care for ourselves first, we cannot give quality care to our loved ones.

I wish you the best! Keep us posted of how things are going.

Hugs, Vicki

Juno answered...

I have to agree with Vicki.

Nadereh answered...

There are certain things I don't understand.. 1. Did you make any arrangements with your "boyfriend" before moving in? 2. Were you employed by him? 3. If so; were you employed to be "the care giver" ? 4. Do you get paid?

What is your legal status in that place? Apparently you have no time to "take care of you". Being on anti-depressants for what? for having accepted a job? Or for having accepted an unhealthy relationship..

I would sugget you consult with a lawyer as well...