Why does she say this?...

inapickleSeptember 21, 2006

I was wondering about something. My grandma is 90 years old. She has been diagnosed with dementia. I am now taking care of her, as she now lives with us.

Whenever things don't go 'her way,' she starts saying, "I don't know why I just can't die!"

God, that just really bothers me to hear her say that sort of thing!

Another thing she does, when someone, even a stranger, asks her 'how are you?,' she starts telling them how she's 'no good' and tells them all about her aches, pains, etc. People don't expect someone to TELL them how they're feeling, especially a stranger! It's just common courtesy to ask someone that question, and out of common courtesy, we are to answer that we are 'fine, thanks for asking.'

I can't get my grandma to understand that.

Any ideas for me, about how to handle these things when they come up?

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She evidently thinks she's discussing her life and ills with a "friend", somebody who really cares. You need to think up a shorter version of "But she's living with us and we're trying to solve some of these things, or work on these things",,,something to help change or minimize the issue and then change the subject. Speaking about death is sort of the biggest insult to me too, here I am trying to make things a bit better for my parents and they go and want to talk about just dying and getting it over with...

I have to work sometimes to dwell on the fact that they feed themselves, bathe themselves, etc. etc. It is hard sometime. Come here and vent and get ideas and support!

I use lots of humor...tomorrow or Sunday is a better day for dying...here we are at Applebee's, you'd frighten that 20 year old waitress to death!!!

Sometimes I use a serious ... it's not your decision when to die. God's not thru with you yet, he wants you to do a few more things, or see a few more things...

There's so little for my parents to really accomplish that I know that life seems rather silly for them sometimes. But there's always a pretty sky to enjoy or SOMEthing, and a lot of times it really does satisfy them to actually get outdoors and see the world. They get a huge kick out of watching people come and go at Wal-Mart or Target; everyone's so different and they are all butstling like there's no tomorrow.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 7:35AM
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Perhaps she really is curious as to why she is not already dead.

A lot of the elderly look forward to an end. Especially if they have been brought up to believe in a life after death that is free of pain with a reunion with the loved ones that have gone on before. You have to understand that they are tired of waiting and they want to get it overwith.

When someone asks how she's doing/feeling, she answers truthfully. She doesn't understand being rude. She probably doesn't understand why anyone would ask if they weren't interested.

Be blunt and warn people not to ask about her feelings and health. It only causes her to turn her thoughts inward upon her problems. A better thing would be to say something like, "Isn't today a wonderful day?" or, "Aren't the trees beautiful this fall?" Anything is better than, "How are you feeling?"

All you can do is to try to put yourself in her position and think about what could be said that would change her viewpoint. She really doesn't have much going on except what's happening to her body.

This is a good place to come and express your frustrations. We all understand, we really do. I tend to get wordy and go on about how to do things in a perfect world. I know it isn't going to work in a lot of cases. Sometimes the only thing that works is looking back on better times and overlooking the present and future.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 9:26AM
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I understand just what you are going thru. My Mother did that, too, altho she kept her aches and pains details for just me, and told everyone else, including the doctor, that she was fine (which meant that I had to relate her complaints to the doctor, which was a real PITA). But the comments about dying were driving me crazy. She was 95 and passed away in December, and did not have more than a little dementia, not Alzheimers. My dad had died 6 years before Mother died, and she missed him terribly every day. She could not understand why she was still around, when she was literally used up from living, I think.

One thing I did learn is that many many many older people are suffering from real depression, and you may want to talk to her doctor about trying an anti-depressant medication. (Note: not all meds work for all people, and none do much for at least two weeks, and you may need to modify the medication to find one that works.) Addressing a chemical depression might help; I know it helped my mother somewhat. But definately talk to her doctor about this.

And yes, it's really hard on you to hear this. It helped me a lot to find this forum, and also a local live support group for caregivers. If there is any such group near you, I encourage you to attend. Being a caregiver is terribly hard and wearing work. Learn that you need to take care of yourslef, too. And sometimes caregivers need to learn to say "No", to their patient sometimes, or to other family members or to completely unrelated demands on their time. But take care of yourself.

And welcome to our forum.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 10:15AM
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Thank you so much for your responses, Ginnier, Agnespuffin and Helene! You all gave me some wonderful insight on how to handle things. I will take all suggestions into consideration and do my best to carry them out! Great ideas you all have on how to handle these things!

Helene, my grandma is quite the opposite of your mother! She tells EVERYONE how 'bad off' she is (which she's really not, as the only thing REALLY wrong with her is her mind, according to her doctor!), and she tells her doctor that she's 'Just fine!' LOL LOL

Thank you for the welcome, too! This is a great place to come to learn how everyone else deals with these things.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 5:43PM
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My mother smoked all her life. Two years ago, the doctor gave her a puls-ox test , a machine strapped to your finger. He sent her immediately to the hospital, all they would tell us is she has emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmnonary disease). They sent her home in a day or two, with an oxygen machine and a supply of oxygen in bottles for when she goes out. Sorry this sounds so vague, I am her oldest daughter but I don't live with mom. She lives with my younger brother (he's single) in her own home. She doesn't "like" doctors and hospitals. When she does go to the doctor, she says "I'm fine." LOL We all know she's anything but fine.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 4:36PM
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Jannie, my mom's 83 and has had emphysema for years. She still smokes, she's just never been able to make herself quit for more than a few months. She is up and around, but she's very feeble and weak. Uses O2 only at night while she sleeps. The Dr. said O2 all the time, but she only uses it when she's scared or really weak or at night. Dr. wants her to use Albuterol 3 times a day with a nebulizer, but it makes her jittery so she won't use it at all. She's so stubborn. She's content to watch TV (tennis and golf matches) all day, she does a little reading, and plays a hand held game of Solitaire. I go pick her and Dad up and do a few errands, get lunch out, take a little drive. She's been like this for years, getting a little weaker each year. But when she gets a cold, it takes a couple months for her to shake it, even on Prednesone. She says that "fine" stuff too, as long as the sun shines, or the leaves are coming out on the trees, or things like that, she's fine and happy. It's such fun some days.... In the past two years my dad has had some little strokes and is mentally slower and quieter, and so Mom has had to start making the decisions, when to go down for supper at their retirement home, when to pay bills, just about everything. He just follows contentedly, but his lively personality is gone. So sad. So she also is dealing with the loneliness that has come into her life...I'm more critical of her decisions than I should be, but I try to let her unload some of her misery, but it doesn't work very well. I'm the daughter and she has a great deal of pride. I am thankful, so thankful, that they have moved from their condo where cooking and cleaning was not getting done. And they can pretty much take care of their own personal needs at this point. But I don't know for how much longer.... Gin

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 6:22PM
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People should never ask a question unless they want to hear the answer regardless of how long it may be. Asking how a person is opens up the doors for the person to answer truthfully and not lie. This is true for any age, not just for the elderly. So, it is not the older person being rude, it is the asker of the question lack of real interest.

If you do not want to hear the truth, never ask a child or an older person!!

It would be more appropriate for people to tell the person how great they look, or other positive statements. It would be uplifting to the reciever of the comments.

Many elderly are simply tired of living/hurting/pain, etc. and ready to go on to to be with their Lord. It is difficult for them to understand that God is not thru with them yet, they are still here for a reason.

My favorite response to the question, "how are you" is to reply, "fit as a fiddle with a broken bow". It takes them by surprise.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 6:50PM
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I had a cousin that always answered, "I feel more like I do now than when I came in."

While the Questioner was trying to figure out what she meant, she had changed the subject to something more interesting than her own health.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 8:24PM
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Most of the time my mother answers as your does: a long littany of aches and pains with WAY more detail than necessary. And she often talks about dying. It's hard to listen to and I get frustrated with her comments. And saddened by them too.
But she has a response to the "how are you doing" question she occassionally uses on a good day that cracks me up and it's the attitude I hope I can hold on to when I'm 89 years old. This lifelong baseball fan says "I'm sliding into home.", with a big grin on her face. Don't you love it?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 10:12PM
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