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Author Topic: When it isn't working...!  (Read 3814 times)

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When it isn't working...!
« on: May 25, 2011, 09:46:02 PM »
Hi all, I'm new here  :)

I'm having interesting issues with my 77 year old grandmother, who has slight dementia . Slight, as in, she has good days and bad days, lives alone with people going in and out to check on her, my parents live across the road. She passed a driving test not long ago and is basically functional, but scatty, forgetful, and, well... she no longer has a functioning brain-to-mouth filter.

Sadly, she has decided that among her 12 grandchildren, most of whom are adults (I'm 29 in a week), myself and a cousin are ones she does not like and will run down behind our backs. On one occasion, my younger sister (who Nan adores) made a disparaging remark about a photograph of Nan's long-deceased father. My sister is a bit of a loudmouth, so I calmly pointed out to her that her remark wasn't very nice. (I know Nan adored her father.)

Later, Nan made a series of phone calls and made it known to all in the family that I had been the one to insult her father, not my sister! Fortunately my mother set her (and everyone else) straight.

Anyhow, on to the issue I'm having.

I am on a disability support pension (I have Spina Bifida.) My grandmother is on an aged pension and she seems to think they're the same thing. She owns her home free and clear, gets my late grandfather's superannuation, etc. I rent and virtually live week to week, which is not a problem as I'm frugal. However, every time I see my grandmother (family occasions) she inevitably launches into "how much do you earn a fortnight? You earn so much MORE than me! What are you doing with it? You have plenty, poor me, I only get [x amount.]" And so on. It can go on for an hour or more.

"What an interesting assumption" goes right over her head. She continues her tirade as if she hasn't heard me. Bean dipping doesn't work either. She will always return to the subject no matter how I try to change it. Walking away- I tried it once. She told everyone how insulted she felt that I would walk away when she was talking to me. I love my Nan and realise she can't help it (much; she never had much tact when she was of sound mind) but it's got to the stage where I cannot have any conversation with her at all because she will always ask (again) how much I earn and go from there.

My aunt has told me to "just build a bridge and get over it, she has dementia" but I don't see why I should spend every family event being ripped to shreds for being (apparently) a secret millionaire. I feel "I don't think it's appropriate to discuss finances" or somethng would come across as rude given my grandmother's matriarch status, and she would no doubt see it as rude and my "thinking she's better than the rest of us" but it's all I can think of! Help?
« Last Edit: May 25, 2011, 09:48:34 PM by Edhla »


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Re: When it isn't working...!
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2011, 10:08:48 PM »
"Why do you ask?"
"How much do you make?"
"It's not what you think it is."
"Nan, I love you but I'm not talking about this."


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Re: When it isn't working...!
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2011, 01:26:14 PM »
First things first: Welcome!

I'm sorry about your grandmother. Dementia makes things difficult and it is extremely painful to hear someone you love and respect decide you're scum. Frankly, no matter what you say, it probably won't make too much of a difference. You could show her your bank statements or bring her your disability paperwork, with your stipend amount properly highlighted and she'd still firmly believe that you were rolling in cash. Logic simply will not work on her for this issue.

At this point, I would focus, not on "getting over it", but on minimizing stress. I like wyozozo's last suggestion. If nothing else, it reinforces to everyone (including your grandmother, maybe) that you are approaching the interaction with kindness and understanding. If she presses it, you may want to gently remind her that the conversation has already been had. Part of the reason she's so adamant about discussing this with you may be that she honestly doesn't remember. "Now, Nan, we already talked about this last week. How are your roses doing this year?" This probably won't stop her, but you'll have effectively told her you're not going to discuss it and maintained complete respect. It is also acceptable (and respectful) to excuse yourself from the conversation to help your aunt/get a glass of water/walk your goldfish. Certainly, the rest of your family recognizes that she is experiencing personality changes and no one will blame you for her rantings. It may be beneficial to enlist the help of your family on this as well. Maybe you could ask your aunt or one of your closer cousins to step in and distract her when she gets too vehement?


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Re: When it isn't working...!
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2011, 04:44:34 PM »
POD to Vorpal's post, but I would like to add that you should reiterate briefly the findings of the last conversation "We talked about it last week, Nan, and I get barely enough to pay my bills, remember?"  This might help to jog her memory/satisfy her, and that way you don't have to go into specific details about how much you make.  Then bean dip or have another person ready to distract her with another topic and one ready to engage YOU in a separate conversation - if you just get up and leave the room, it might actually produce MORE confusion for her...


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Re: When it isn't working...!
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2011, 09:51:31 PM »
First things first: Welcome!

 Logic simply will not work on her for this issue.

I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother. When our elder loved ones start developing aging related illnesses it can be very hard to deal with. Unfortunately this is a disease and not just a change in personality. You can't place logic on a failing structure, it won't stand. On good days you may have some progress with some of the suggested responses, on bad you could lay out a road map of your finances and your good deeds and it would do for naught. As the disease progresses it could make this behavior much worse and you should prepare yourself for it. I'd take some of these suggestions and if they work great, but if it continues you'll either have to ignore it as best you can or avoid having any interactions with her... :-\


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Re: When it isn't working...!
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2011, 01:04:40 PM »
It won't matter what you say to Nan, she isn't processing things like she used to.

I would not spend much "alone" time with her at these events.  Go in, say your hello, give a hug, etc, but then spend time with others. Never be alone with her unless there are at least 2-3 others around and have an ally that can divert Nan if she starts in on you.

Do not spend time alone with her unless your mother is with you as it seems your mom can stop any rumors/gossip.

The others in the family know how she is.  If they see you being polite to her at family gatherings, they will know what she says about you and your actions isn't true.


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Re: When it isn't working...!
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2011, 01:32:51 PM »
I agree with kudeebee...try to limit your time talking to her. She may have dementia, but I don't see how it does her or you any good to let her verbally rip you up. Devise exit strategies for when she starts up. Excuse yourself to use the restroom, freshen your drink, help out in the kitchen, etc.

Talk to any family members that might be sympathetic to what's going on. One this let's them know that it's her, not you, and that you are working on ways to make things easier for everyone. Ask them for suggestions or help in handling the situation. Ideally some will be willing to intervene when they see she's cornered you and things are going south.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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Re: When it isn't working...!
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2011, 04:11:05 PM »
I agree with PP who've said to give gentle reminders to Nan and try to spend as little alone time as possible with her.  As hurtful as her comments are, she may not remember making them.  Is there someone in your life to whom you can vent your frustrations?  Sometimes just being able to talk to someone about how it makes you feel helps.