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Hello. My name is Lauren and my grandmother has Alzheimer's
Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012 8:23 PM
Joined: 1/28/2012
Posts: 2

Hello.  I am a 28 year old woman whose grandmother has been diagnosed with this disease.  I believe it was a couple of years ago.  But, no one in my family really wants to talk about it.  It is like her diabetes and her alcoholism.  Something they won't talk about and just brush under the rug.  "Oh it's okay for her to have a couple of drinks."  That attitude doesn't really jive with Alzheimer's as you can imagine.  As of now, she lives alone.  My mother and my uncle do live nearby.  My mother is going to have her move in or move in there, whichever house sells first.

I have felt strongly for a long time that there was something off with her.  My father (divorced from my mother) and I discussed this and he agreed and encouraged me to talk to my mother.  As with everything, my mother just shuts down.  She is the oldest of 5 siblings and my grandmother is extremely domineering and critical, particularly of my mother.  She has always had so much saddled on her by her mother and her siblings.  I truly do not know how they would function without my mother, they all seem so dependent on her and she has always been going behind them and cleaning up their messes because that is what my grandmother told her to do.  My grandfather died four and a half years ago, but for the previous 13 years he had been living with the after effects of a heart attack and subsequent stroke.  He lost his ability to speak and most of the function on his right side.  This was obviously traumatic on our family as well.  

As I said above, she does currently live alone and is still drives.  But, this also concerns me as well.  I know of situations where she got confused at the grocery store and didn't know what town she was in, thankfully someone was with her.  Our family business is about 20 minutes away from her house.  My brother voiced concern that she was going to be driving a vehicle and trailer.  My aunt (visiting) said "Oh it's okay, it's only Dover."  This is the kind of comments that are given by everyone.  I know my mother knows it is serious but I don't know if she is fully ready to deal with this.  I want to be ready to support her when that time does come.  I know a diagnosis of a loved one is something that one may never fully be able to grasp and deal with this.  But, I know aside from my 2 brothers and myself, my mother won't get the support she needs from the rest of the family.  

I feel so much better starting to get this off of my chest.  I have somewhat talked about this situation with my father and my best friend who is a nurse and had a grandparent with Alzheimer's.  She has also directed me to the local hospital which has a support group.  I would like to go to something like that to help cope as well.  I have known that I should go and spend more time with my grandmother, she lives in the next town.  But, I feel like I haven't been able to bring myself to fully commit to this because I still need to deal with the fact that she is diagnosed.  Perhaps just dinner at her house once or twice a week, it wouldn't be too far out of the way coming home from work during the week or obviously on a weekend.  

I thank everyone in advance for just reading this.  Finally connecting with others is going to be a good thing, knowing that you understand and fully believe me in my concerns is a great start.



dj okay
Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012 10:27 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 1840

Welcome, Lauren!


Yes, it will be wonderful to get involved in a support group!  You may or may not find exactly what you need there.  In any support situation, you're going to find people at all different stages of this journey.   Sometimes it's scary to hear about what may be coming for you.  You have to take what you can get out of it.  Personally, I find these message boards the best support for me.


You have already taken some steps in the right direction.  You may want to contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and see what resources may be available to help your mother care for your grandmother.  You can start by calling the

1-800-272-3900 helpline number.  They have counselors that can listen to your concerns and advise you as to plans of action.


It may be a good idea to have a family meeting with any members that may be able to help or have a voice in what should be done.  The 36-Hour Day (a great reference book on Alzheimer's and dementia), has a good section on how to conduct a family conference. 


You need to begin educating yourself on dementia and caregiving for someone suffering from the disease.  And you need to encourage your mother to do the same.  Trying to 'wing it', without knowing what is going on is a dangerous course.


There is a lot of great information on the main web site.  It's a good place to get started.  There are also a lot of good book recommendations here on the message boards.


Do come back and let us know how you're doing.

Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012 11:58 PM
Joined: 1/28/2012
Posts: 2

Thank you for your reply.  I will be sure to order that book as soon as I can.  Finding out how to have a family meeting will be crucial in our situation.

I do believe they are being delusional about what Alzheimer's can really entail.  My friend's grandmother was bedridden and mute for years before she succumbed to the disease.  If, as I fear, my grandmother progresses rapidly, I am not sure they are all fully capable of the realization of her care that would be needed and I can't say I am fully versed either.

I do hope my mother has done some research, but I fear she hasn't and getting that book and perhaps reading it myself and then sitting down with her alone would be helpful.  My uncle, the only one of her siblings to live nearby, is much younger than my mother, closer in age to me.  He just recently remarried and is going to have a baby with his new wife next month.  His new wife is extremely domineering and has in my mind, made it clear she is to be his first and only priority.  So, I really don't know how much help he'd be after the baby, leaving it mostly to my mother.

I will also have to sit down and call that number and perhaps get some advice in the near future as well.  I am aware how rough this road may get and I want to be there for my mother.  She will be criticized the whole way by her siblings so I want to be fully educated in order to back her up on her decisions that she will inevitably have to make herself as they won't give their input.

Thanks again and I hope to find comfort here as well.


Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2012 4:08 AM
Joined: 1/23/2012
Posts: 155

Hi, Lauren.  First, let me say that your mother is so fortunate to have you.  You are bright and are approaching the situation with a level head; you also stand ready to support your mom.  What a shame she can't expect any of this from the rest of her family. 


It's commendable that your mother has volunteered to care for your grandmother, given the poor way your grandmother has treated your mom. I do wonder if your mother is truly ready for this.  Does she work?  Would she be willing to attend any support group meetings with you?  I hope she will join you in seeking out as much information as possible.  Wish she could get some counseling to help her deal with -- and motivate -- her siblings!


There are several members here who offer loads of helpful links and insights, and I hope they'll respond here in the next couple of days.  (JAB, for one, always has a great list of resources.)


Drinking and Alzheimer's certainly do not mix -- not to mention drinking and diabetes --, and the thought of your grandmother continuing to drive is downright scary.  Be ready for ways to address that.


Do come back often.  I'll be thinking of you and looking for your updates.

Cheryle Gardiner
Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2012 10:17 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 529

Lauren, welcome to the forum, although we're all sorry for what brings you here. You've found a place of comfort and information, and we are all ready to help in whatever way we can.

I commend you for wanting to support your mom and for your concern about her taking care of your grandmother. This isn't an easy job, and it's important to know that caring for someone with dementia takes a toll on the caregiver as well. It seems that the only support your mom can rely on will come from you and your brothers, so do work with them to help mom in whatever way you can.

Given the history between your mom and her mother, it's going to be very hard for your mom to take charge, which is what she will have to do. She cannot reason with your grandmother, because grandma's "reasoner" is broken. Please read all that you can on this site, particularly these boards.

Second, your grandma really shouldn't be living alone, even now. Could either mom or grandma move now, into whichever house is most comfortable for them, and concentrate on selling the other one? That would be less disturbing for grandma, since having people come into the house while it's for sale could be very distressing to her and cause her to act out. You might also start looking into memory care homes (they may go by another name in your state) that are set up to work closely with dementia patients, providing socialization, care, and people who know how to address her behaviors. She will also be cared for by people who aren't exhausted, as your mom soon will be.

Finally, yes, I am going to address her continuing to drive. Frankly, I find this more disturbing than her continuing to drink. Drinking puts only grandma at risk; driving puts other innocent people in danger, as well as grandma. Dementia impairs reflexes, vision, decision-making, and - as you've already mentioned - confusion about where the person is. An accident would not only be devastating to any innocent person involved, but could also result in grandma losing everything she has - including her home - in a liability lawsuit.

(As an aside, I had a good friend in Miami several years ago who got lost driving only five blocks to visit a friend. She was last seen alive some 20 miles away, asking a police officer for directions. She and her car were found in a canal the next Spring. It's a brutal disease, and sugar-coating it does no one any favors.)

Someone needs to take grandma's car keys or disable her car immediately. And then, family members will need to step up to be sure grandma has transportation to those places she needs to go - shopping, doctors, etc.

I know this is a lot to absorb all at once, and I'm sorry this is so long, but your grandma's safety has to be addressed first. If the rest of the family refuses to accept her diagnosis - or wants to sweep it under the rug - it really sounds as if the bulk of the care will fall to your mom, you, and your sibs. Please ask any or all of them to join us here on the forum and we will do our best to help you through this.

Blessings, my dear. You are an excellent daughter and granddaughter.


This post has been edited by the ALZConnected Moderator on February 9th, 2012. 


Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2012 3:34 PM
Joined: 1/21/2012
Posts: 24

So sorry you are facing this battle. Your mom and grandmother are both very fortunate to have you.

My father has dementia, stage 5. He has diabetes too and like your grandmother, likes to drink. It is all an uphill battle, but take one thing at a time.


First, we had to take away the vehicles. It was hard and heartbreaking, but it had to be done for everyone's safety. We took my Dad to the Dr. and he actually took away his license. We had the cars removed from the property while we were there. No cars, no way to drive... I know how hard the thought is, but that is the first thing I would do.

That actually stopped a lot of the drinking as well. He wasn't so likely to buy beer or wine when someeone else was with him at the store.


Next, we got his blood sugars regulated. That actually helped his memory a little bit.


I know how overwhelming this all is. Just take one task at a time. That's what we did. My dad has a 24 hour caregiver, but we are getting ready to move him to an assisted living near my house.


Utilize the Alzheimer Association 24 hour hotline. Their advice has been invaluable.