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Legal guardian has dementia

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  • Legal guardian has dementia

    My dad died when I was 4 and my birth mom had nothing to do with me. My great grandmother and great grandfather adopted me when I was 4. However, my great grandfather died when I was 7. I'm currently 17 and live alone with my great grandmother. She has been showing signs of dementia for several years but recently it has gotten really bad. Everyone around her knows she has it, but she wont get help. She constantly goes through old paperwork, neglecting to pay the bills because she looses them. I have a bank account and pay the bills when I can find them, but the money is almost out. She also wont trust me when I said I paid them and always asks questions about them. She wont pay the car insurance because she has to look over her "bank statements" all day and try to make sense of it. She wont get me a car, so I don't have a job. I'm fixing to graduate high school and cant sign up for college because I don't have someone helping me, and don't have a way to pay for it. She constantly babies me, wont let me out after dark because she is paranoid. She thinks the neighbors are the people that murdered her son, even though she has no reason to think they are. People avoid her because no one wants to deal with her. She is disgusting, she pees on herself and puts sheets over the seats and hangs her pants up to dry just to wear them again. She accuses me of stealing her money, which really hurts me because I would NEVER do that to anyone. She asked me who a little girl in a picture was the other day (it was her grandchild). I'm mentally exhausted and my mental health is trash. I don't know what to do, she does not even have a will, so if she were to pass away I would have to deal with all the legal stuff and I don't know how to do any of that. She refuses to think she has any problem and calls me disrespectful all the time for getting annoyed with her. I feel like there is so much responsibility left to me and I don't know what to do, some days I wish she would just pass away and all my problems would go with her, but there would actually just be more. I'm also terrified to loose her because she is my mother, so I try to keep her as far away from me emotionally as I can, so when she does pass away it won't hurt as much, because I'm just used to people leaving me and that is my defense mechanism.

  • #2
    Thank you for sharing your story,
    This sounds like such a difficult situation for anyone to navigate, much less at 17 when this is your only provider. It sounds like your great grandmother is suffering a lot right now because of her dementia, and your emotional/mental wellbeing as well without some form of outside support. Your great grandma sounds like she is at a point where a nurse or trained care-giver would be a big help, and as much as you may care for her and want to help her when she lets you that isn’t something you should have to shoulder alone. It is understandable that you would try to keep emotionally distant for protection from getting even more hurt.
    It is likely that in this situation you and your great grandmother are entitled to some amount of public government assistance. It might be painful as getting outside help seems to be against her wishes from what you say, but there is likely help from trained caregivers available (might even be only a few hours a day if necessary). This might end up with you being put into a foster home or having an opportunity to pursue emancipation if your great grandmother is determined to be unfit to be a guardian anymore. This may sound like a scary step, but it could take a lot of pressure off of you, and allow you to take steps for yourself without worrying about your great grandma’s wellbeing. A good place to start learning about elder care and government help might be which also has a hotline to call as well. You may find a service that is helpful to you there and lets you have a bit more freedom instead of being full-time caregiver.
    If you want to talk about other options, such as emancipation, shelters, or coping mechanisms you can always reach out to us by chat at or phone at 1-800-786-2929 where we are happy to explore what options you are comfortable with and make a plan of action that is best for your mental health and long-term happiness.
    Stay Safe,
    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)


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