October 29, 2010 11:18 AM Subscribe
Grandmother in a nursing home. Elderly grandfather caring for her and denying help from others. Grandma not getting the care she needs. What can we do?
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Human Relations (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My grandmother has been in a nursing home/rehab facility for the past year, after a debilitating heart attack and stroke. She is bedridden and cannot care for herself. She can barely talk and cannot eat. My grandfather - who has a history of physically and verbally abusing her, and just being a controlling, miserable man in general - is her caretaker. Their children (my mom and uncle) are too far away to be actively involved in her daily care. My mom has made extensive arrangements to take them both under her care where she lives. My grandfather has backed out of all such plans, refuses to move, will not accept any help (not a paid-for home aid or even a cleaning lady - we're sure their house hasn't been cleaned in a year) and generally rejects the involvement of any other family members in the situation. My grandma had expressed a desire to live with or near my mom in case of illness. When she's able to express herself, she says she would like to be with my mom. My grandfather ignores this.
This has been hard enough to deal with, as you can imagine. I live close enough to see them on a fairly regular basis, but any and all help is rejected. (I will cook for you! I will clean for you! I will stay with her if you need to go to the doctor! I will drive you someplace if you're not feeling well! I will make some calls for you! I will sort out your bills! All denied.) When I spend time with them, it's clear he would rather I sat quietly and not touch her or fix anything or help out in any way. He spends much of that time talking about how much he does for her and how hard it is on him. The word "martyr" comes to mind.
Last month, my grandfather decided to move her to a different nursing home, because it is 20 minutes closer to his home. He consulted with no one but the nursing home social worker, whom he basically ordered to place my grandma elsewhere. We were not aware of his plans to move her until the day she moved.
The last nursing home was perfectly fine - they cared for her well, she got all the therapies she needed, and she was in a specialized unit with attentive nurses. Her new nursing home has no such unit and it's clear he didn't do his research before placing her there, that it was a decision based on his convenience alone. To say the care there is subpar is an understatement. I have witnessed somewhat harsh handling of the residents during visits with her. This morning, my grandfather arrived at the home at 9am and found her on the floor (she'd fallen off the bed), spitting up, crying, with a few disconnected tubes. It is horrifying. I am horrified. This is a woman who, despite her deteriorating health and terrible situation, still smiles and reaches out to hug me when I see her, still tries to make me laugh, still very much wants to live. My heart is completely broken.
Naturally, despite the fact that I'm a social worker who has worked in the medical field, I've been ordered not to get involved by my grandfather. He has been attempting to advocate for her by making huge dramatic scenes at the nursing home. My mother has spoken with the social worker, who seems oblivious. My mom and uncle's involvement in finding a new home for her, caring for her themselves, advocating for her in the slightest, is rejected by him outright. They feel completely helpless. As do I.
What can I do? What can we do? I am at a loss. I know it's a difficult situation, so any suggestions at all would be appreciated.