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View Full Version : Why "elderly" does not necessarily mean "mature"


mariamousie1
04-21-2009, 11:00 PM
My paternal grandmother is over 80 years old. A few years ago her health started to decline so my parents helped her move to our city so there would be someone nearby to help her at all times. My parents helped her find an apartment. They found her a doctor. They take her grocery shopping, to medical appointments, out to dinner, everything. In short, my parents have bent over backwards for her.

Today my grandma had a doctor's appointment. My mother was unable to take her because she had her own doctor's appointment with a different doctor. My grandmother got really mad and told my dad that my mom scheduled that appointment on the same day on purpose, and my mom has always hated her. She's now refusing to talk to my mother. My mom went over later to clean her apartment as she does once a week, and she went to my grandmother's bedroom to try and talk to her about it and apologize that the two appointments coincided. My grandma pulled the cover over her face. My mom left, cleaned the apartment, and then came back to the bedroom and told her that when she decided to grow up, she would be welcome at dinner. Then my mom left. She said Grandma was saying something down the hall while she was leaving but my mom was pissed and didn't go back. She said Grandma was probably telling her to go to hell.

I seriously can't get this out of my mind. How could someone be so immature? She has great grandchildren for crying out loud. And it's not like she's senile or anything. She's pretty sharp. However, my grandma has always had this thing where she becomes totally rude right to the person's face without even realizing it. She also tells jokes that are in completely bad taste, like when she saw my baby nephew for the first time, she said "throw him in the trash" and seriously thought she was funny. My sister in law was not happy about that.
Sorry about the length, I just wanted to let off some steam about something. I'm having a tough week, what with family issues and college exams and all that.
It's not very healthy when my main stress reliever is to eat KFC popcorn chicken with honey mustard. Although it is darn delicious. :p

Edit: I forgot to mention this and I wanted to because it was pretty priceless. When my parents had their 30th wedding anniversary my Grandma sent them a card that had a message saying "Congratulations" and then went on to say something like "It looks like you two are going to stay together!" My mother was kind of mad about that, that my grandma has apparently been waiting for them to break up for 30 years, but I kind of thought it was funny.

JoitheArtist
04-21-2009, 11:06 PM
I work for an org that caters to women 50 and over. And while some of the women I've encountered are incredible inspirations (such as the 94 year old who has PERSONALLY sent over 500 care packages to troops overseas), some of them are angry, bitter, old bitches.

My theory: whatever you are when you are in your 20s and 30s, you become more of as you get older, and the harder it is to change. Changing yourself is hard enough at 25, harder at 35, and so on.

I decided to let the bitchy ones inspire me to NEVER be like them. :)

So yeah, it's amazing how immature people can be at any age!!

mariamousie1
04-22-2009, 02:21 AM
Hmm, my grandma did have a pretty hard life. Her husband abused her emotionally, which is something she never shut up about but never tried to change, either. Although once she told me she wished she had told him to just go to hell. My mom says it's no excuse for treating other people like crap though. I love my grandma, but she can be so hard to like sometimes. I guess she's going through something and I doubt it has anything to do with my mom.

freeatlast
04-22-2009, 02:59 AM
My grandmother is 94 and becoming more difficult all the time. She sold her house, and after thinking that she had been convinced to move to an assisted living facility, she went behind her kid's backs and bought a condo that took almost all of the proceeds from her house. She is becoming afraid to drive (thank God) so my mom has to drive her about anyplace she goes. She gets confused and doesn't know if its day or night. Several months ago, she had an eye doctor appointment that was at the same time that my mom had an oncologist appointment so they asked me to take her. I talked to her and told her what time I would pick her up in the morning and I thought everything was fine. Until my phone rang at 3:30 am. She saw that it was dark out and thought that meant that it was storming. She decided that she didn't want me to have to drive in the storm (?) so she said she was going to call and cancel her appointment. I told her that I thought that since it was only 3:30 in the morning that there was plenty of time for the weather to improve. She then returned to clarity - she said "OK - go back to sleep and I'll see you at 9:45." Just like that, she realized that it was the middle of the night. And she never mentioned it while we were out. I think she was hoping I would forget so I wouldn't tell my mom.

blas
04-22-2009, 03:32 AM
I guess it depends on how the woman was raised.

My paternal grandmother is 90 years old, still sharp as a tack and stubborn as a bull. Despite growing up in the era she did and with some very old fashioned values, she has suffered the death of TWO husbands, and before she met my grandpa, she had to raise 3 sons all alone and work and be an independent woman. Then my grandpa died 19 years ago.....she's quite a pro at taking care of herself. I will bet you any amount of money she's not going anywhere anytime soon. She is a very kind and loving woman.

I never knew my maternal grandmother very well, so I can't really comment on her....she died about a year ago of heart failure and emphasyma. I only met her twice in my entire life. All I remember was she was very gentle and caring....but she had a very hard life full of hard times.

Now, my Nanna, my mom's paternal grandmother......oh that woman was a piece of work! Even with her Alzheimers, we were sure part of her brain was still working, the part where she absolutely refused to die and was going to outlive us all just to spite us. Nanna grew up with an absolute shrew of a mother, and became a real shrew herself. She had some redeeming qualities, such as her talents in the kitchen and at the sewing machine.....but other than that, she was demanding, bossy, loud, she berated and belittled people constantly, nothing and no one was ever good enough. She had a temper that would make Chef Gordon Ramsay look like Mother Theresa. All that hate and spite in her life is what I think made her go so crazy in her later years.

I've been worried for a long time about my own mother. She was raised by Nanna, and at times, Nanna peeks out in her. My mom will fly off the handle over the slightest thing....she has the same bad temper, she will scream at ear piercing levels over spilled coffee or garbage not taken out, she'll demand her house spotless but won't even load the dishwasher, calls my father and brother useless a lot and berates them for not tending to her house (and when I used to live there, I got the majority of it). Sometimes she really scares me, and I worry she'll grow up and suffer the same fate.

And then there's some of the older women that I work with. Some of them are just bitter, cold hearted bitches with nothing better to do than bitch, whine and complain about anything and everything.

Reyneth
04-22-2009, 03:43 AM
My theory: whatever you are when you are in your 20s and 30s, you become more of as you get older, and the harder it is to change. Changing yourself is hard enough at 25, harder at 35, and so on.

ITA with this.

And for the elderly, these seemingly little things (to us) in their lives are all-consuming. That's all they have so they obsess and it can become Extremely Important in their life. My grandma once passed out over Memorial Day Weekend one year and scraped up her face and glasses. Why? Because she was outside on her hands and knees on the patio/balcony, scrubbing the concrete floor. Because it had to be done. We had to force her to promise not to do it again. And that took some convincing, even after a 2-3 day hospital stay.

Whereas I'm thrilled that I somewhat swept off my patio for the first time in months last weekend.

Buglady
04-22-2009, 06:03 AM
First, I sympathis with the "exam stress plus everything else" situation - that's a tough one. Go easy on yourself, and do go talk to a counsellor if your school has them. They are there to help students through stressful times like this :) Talk to your instructors as well; you can ask for a deferral on exams if things are really going badly, but also most instructors like to know if there is something going on for a student that they can help with. They don't like to think that you're looking all stressed out and freaked out and about to cry because you are scared of them - most of them, anyway. Especially if you are nearing the end of your program and you may ask these teachers for reference letters, it's important to keep them included.

My grandmother passed away in November, and my instructors were *wonderful* about letting me make up assignments and have extra time for the exams.


Now- I hate to say this, but becoming fearful, hostile and slightly paranoid could possibly be a warning sign of dementia :( It's true that people tend to become intensified versions of whatever they were like as younger people, but there's a difference between social awkwardness (inappropriate jokes etc) and the behaviour you describe.

At over 80, too, your grandmother is facing a lot of genuinely scary things; she doesn't have the control in her life that she used to, and she knows she is coming closer to the end of her life. It would not be at all surprising if she has become depressed, and that would also explain the fear and hostility she is showing. Those are natural ways for people to react when they are trying to avoid thinking about other, even more anxiety-producing ideas. They take it out on whoever is nearest. If they fear being abandoned by family members for being a burden, they may become hostile and try to push the family members away first, essentially protecting themselves from being rejected by doing the rejecting themselves. Sounds irrational, I know, but it's a way of preserving some sense of power.

Something to keep in mind is that when very elderly people become depressed, they do not show the same symptoms of sad mood as younger adults. They are more likely to become irritable, to have somatic symptoms (headaches, loss of appetite), and to have delusions (false beliefs). Unfortunately doctors often miss these signs or mistake them for symptoms of (untreatable) dementia, which is not always the case. Sometimes antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication and/or counselling can make a big difference.

Counselling or support groups for caregivers are very important as well.

Best wishes to you and your family - and good luck on exams :)

ArcticChicken
04-22-2009, 06:49 AM
My mother was kind of mad about that, that my grandma has apparently been waiting for them to break up for 30 years, but I kind of thought it was funny.

It sounds to me like your mom and your grandma have more issues than the one doctors appt. Cards like that are intended to be funny, and I, personally, don't know anyone who wouldn't interpret it that way. While I do realize that people have different senses of humor, most people need a reason to interpret that kind of thing as negative.

Until my phone rang at 3:30 am. She saw that it was dark out and thought that meant that it was storming.

I did that the other day. To be fair, I wasn't sleeping that great because I was in a hotel room. I woke up at 4:30am convinced that my aunt's CPAP machine was the shower, and I could not figure out why it was so dark out. I eventually woke up enough to look at the clock. Then I felt really stupid.

That's all they have so they obsess and it can become Extremely Important in their life.

Which is why I intend to fill my golden years with volunteering for, um, stuff. And harassing my kids.

Also, what Buglady said.

Amethyst Hunter
04-22-2009, 07:29 AM
Now- I hate to say this, but becoming fearful, hostile and slightly paranoid could possibly be a warning sign of dementia :(

If that's the case I guess I've been demented all my life. :wave:

Those are natural ways for people to react when they are trying to avoid thinking about other, even more anxiety-producing ideas. They take it out on whoever is nearest.

I see you have met my dad. Shall we compare notes? :p

AdminAssistant
04-22-2009, 01:50 PM
Talk to your instructors as well; you can ask for a deferral on exams if things are really going badly, but also most instructors like to know if there is something going on for a student that they can help with. They don't like to think that you're looking all stressed out and freaked out and about to cry because you are scared of them - most of them, anyway. Especially if you are nearing the end of your program and you may ask these teachers for reference letters, it's important to keep them included.

I agree, talk to your instructor, but understand if they aren't able to give any deferrals. I wouldn't be able to give one to any of my students - the best I could do would be to offer an Incomplete (which is kind of like a deferral). Sometimes we're too bound by the rules of the class/program to do anything. :(

mariamousie1
04-23-2009, 01:19 AM
Thank you so much for the exam support guys, and ArcticChicken, just to clarify, this wasn't a card that had that printed, my grandma actually wrote that. :rolleyes: She and my mom have never really gotten along though. My dad is her only child.
Anyway, just an update: my grandma came over for dinner tonight, which she has done about four times a week since she moved here about 2 years ago. My mom always cooks, but tonight my brother made dinner. My grandma said to him "thank you so much for making dinner, I can't remember the last time I had a decent meal." My mom said to me later "I'm going to be paying for this for the rest of my life."
Thank you so much Buglady, that makes so much sense about my grandmother. I'm going to talk to my mom about it, and I only have two exams to go so I think I'll be okay. :D