Gran is depressed and I don’t know how to help

My (34F) 87 year old Gran has been widowed for nearly 5 years.
For the 4 years prior to that my Grandad, her husband, was in a care home with dementia.

Gran keeps pretty well, she is in assisted living and has carers go in and help her twice a day. My Dad (her son) and I visit her once a week to get shopping for her, do some cleaning etc. (on separate days).
I work full time but I don’t have a car and she lives about 20 miles from me, otherwise I would visit more. Dad is retired.
I have 3 siblings that also live nearby but for some reason Gran isn’t interested in seeing them (strange). I lived with her and Grandad between age 11 and 18 so I think she sees me more as a daughter.

Lately Gran has been saying she’s waking up thinking my Grandad is there in the bed beside her. Or she has dreams that she needs to make food for him and she doesn’t know how she’ll manage.

She’s pretty depressed although she is on antidepressants, they don’t seem to do much.
I think she misses my Grandad a lot.

My Dad and I used to take Gran out but that stopped because of the pandemic and now she seems too anxious to leave the house. She’s always worried she might need the bathroom and won’t be able to get there in time. Or worried that she’ll fall.
She has very little confidence to do anything on her own. She seems to expect everyone else to make her happy.

This isn’t so much a question I guess as me thinking out loud. I’m sad that my Gran feels this way and it feels like there’s nothing I can do to help her.

I also get frustrated that she depends on everyone else to provide entertainment for her. She has a phone, a tablet, Netflix, Sky tv. She gets books on CD delivered by the library. Nothing seems like enough. Maybe it is bad depression. We are arranging for the GP to go and see her and possibly increase or change her medicine.

So sorry for the long message.
My Dad isn’t close to his mum and although he is very good at arranging care for her he is very detached emotionally so speaking to him is pointless. She seems to dominate my thoughts to the point that I feel like I’m not living my own life because I am worrying about her.

If anyone has any words of advice I’d love to hear from you. Thank you xx

I’m a widow, widowed suddenly 15 years ago when I was just 54.
I miss my husband every day, but was young enough to make, more or less, a new life for myself. Nan can’t do that.
Sadly, I don’t think you can “make her happy”, it’s part of being old I’m afraid.
Make sure she is comfortable, warm, etc. and spend more time thinking about living a happy life yourself.

Thank you for your reply, it was kind of you even just to read through my ramblings.

You’re right of course. Some problems in life don’t have solutions.

I’m sorry to hear of your loss. Sending all the best to you xx

If Nan has a tablet, she might enjoy looking at old pictures of the town she grew up in, or perhaps family tree research?

That is a good idea! She does have a tablet which is gathering dust at the moment. She’s a bit reluctant with technology but it is worth a try.

Thank you :slight_smile:

Some years ago I was disabled in a car accident. I’m fine now, with 2 knee replacements, but couldn’t walk more than a few steps for about 5 years. My dad had already started our family tree, I managed to fill in a few missing links, and some branches could go back 400 years! Great grandad was supposed to be responsible for putting the engines in Titanic, he was on the sea trials but fell ill so didn’t go on the maiden voyage. My dad couldn’t find his birth and christening records. Turns out he was born in Bonn, Germany! His father was a lecturer at the university there, but I don’t know what subject. Once you get started it can be really a really absorbing occupation. Does nan have lots of family photos. Make sure she labels them so future generations can identify them!

Hello Jennifer
A warm welcome to our forum, I’m glad you’ve found us - you’re certainly in the right place to talk to others who will know what a difficult situation you are dealing with. I know you work but it might also be worth you having a look at our support pages too. We’re currently running some online care for a cuppa sessions, where carers can take a break and join a zoom session with other carers who will understand. The sessions run every Monday afternoon at 3pm, there’s no pressure to share anything you’re not comfortable with Jennifer - please have a look at the attached link, which will also give you information on our Share and Learn sessions.
Also attached is our helpline information should you need to contact one of our advisors for any guidance.
take care