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Need advice on dealing with family caregiver

My aunt is verbally and emotional abusive to my grandmother and I don't know what to do about it. My Grandma takes turn living with her two sons and one daughter. She has mild dementia and moves very slowly. My aunt won't let her help with anything, when she tries to put dishes away she tells her to go sit down and stay out of the way. She also calls her worthless and a burden. I tried to tell my uncles about their sister's behavior but they don't believe it and of course she acts totally sweet when they are around.
Status: Open    Jun 02, 2015 - 09:07 PM


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Expert Answers

Jul 14, 2015 - 02:22 PM

Family caregiving can be a hard job for sure, especially if you are feeling stuck in the middle and wanting to help.

Have you tried to have a cup of coffee with your Aunt when she isn't being the immediate caregiver? Being a caregiver can be one of the toughest jobs out there and compound that for someone with memory loss and I always feel like it adds another element of surprise at every corner. Being the optomist I wonder if she is feeling stressed and has taken on this caregiver role out of obligation and isn't equipped both emotionally and other to be a caregiver. Does your Grandmother wake often at night? If you aren't sure ask your Aunt. Maybe she is caregiving sleep deprived. Often caring for someone with memory loss can equate for caring for a newborn, awake at odd hours, mobile so that adds a whole other component for fear of wandering, etc. I would suggest a heart to heart with your Aunt when your Grandma is with one of your Uncles and start the conversation with "How is it taking care of Grandma? What is her daily or nightly routine like?" Possibly offering to help at one of the high-stress times she points out will allow for more dialogue with your Uncles about what you see. Not to be discriminative, but males and females care for their loved ones differently in most cases.


Sep 30, 2015 - 11:12 AM

When a loved one needs additional care, their health concerns can get a lot of attention from supportive friends and family. But over time, the family caregiver runs into caregiver burnout.

We’ve seen a lot of cases where someone received loving in-home care from his or her family, but their caregivers were burned out. Caring for an ill or elderly loved one can add untold stress, and emotional distress, to one’s life. And research has showed, time and again, the toll that stress can have on one’s health. Cognitive impairment, digestive problems, weakened immune system, eating disorders, and moodiness are all symptoms of stress overload. And they are all health risks for the caregiver.

So how can a family provide care for the caregiver? If the situation is temporary, simply being supportive and listening to the caregiver can be a huge help. But if care is needed for a longer or more indefinite period of time, you might want to consider a change in the situation. A lot of times the caregiver doesn’t understand the emotional commitment it takes to care for a loved one. They want to be helpful however the stress causes them to create more harm than good. Your Aunt may need to talk with others about her stress and how it not only is effecting her emotions but the emotions and wellbeing of the one they are caring for. Even if the senior has Dementia or Alzheimer’s the mind could forget the conversation however hormones are still released by the body to protect the individual causing that person to feel sad or scared for much longer than they can remember why.

Taking your Aunt to some educational events or a support group could be a good resource. If you believe that would upset her then the family can gently bring up conversations about their experiences and what they have learned from taking care of her. What works for them could be a good education for your Aunt. Each family is different and must be handled in different ways. If your Aunt does truly care about your Grandmother she may just need more education on Dementia from the Alzheimer’s Association or other community resources in your area.

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