Posted March 5, 2006
Ask An Expert
Elderly Behavior: Acting Badly and Lying -- What to Do
Q. My grandparents have lived in our home for two years. We lost my grandmother this past August. My Grandpa has had changes in his behavior for the last two or three years but has been steadily getting worse. He gets something on his mind and he relives it over and over until he gets what he wants. He is making bad decisions and choices. He took off to the beach this past Wednesday – but he had his shoulder operated on just two weeks ago. And he knows he is not supposed to drive. He lied to me and told me he was going to town. Then he never came home; instead, he drove to my aunt’s beach house. I had told him he knew he was not supposed to drive and that I would take him to town. He got mad and said he was going, that he did not need help.
He is starting to lie and tell a different story to different members of the family. He lives on a fixed income, but he still thinks sometimes he can buy a house or get a new car. Since my Grandma died in August, he has had three different cars. Sometimes I think he has a compulsive obsessive disorder but I am not sure that is really what’s going on. He makes choices but doesn’t think or rationalize them out.
He makes me and my family very tired mentally. He is very independent, and he is always trying to prove that he can still do what he wants, even going to extreme measures to prove his point sometimes. We want to talk to his doctor about the behavior, but Grandpa thinks we are ganging up on him and that we want him to move out. Neither of these statements is true; we are just concerned and want him to slow his mind down. Please give me any suggestions. Thank you.
A. A number of things can cause the kinds of changes you are describing in your grandfather. I would encourage you to talk to his doctor about what you are observing. It is not necessary for your grandfather to be to be present at this information-gathering meeting. Areas to discuss include:
This answer is provided by Susan M. McCurry, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor at the University of Washington, School of Nursing, and a licensed clinical psychologist. She is a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America and an expert in the development of behavioral interventions for the treatment of mood and behavior disturbances in persons with dementia and family caregivers. Her publications include the recent book, “When A Family Member Has Dementia: Steps to Becoming a Resilient Caregiver” (Greenwood Press). She can be reached at email@example.com.
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