DEAR ABBY: How do you know when a grandparent is no longer capable of babysitting? Recently, my mother-in-law came to visit and, as usual, she babysat our toddler while I ran errands, went to the gym, etc.
When I returned, it was immediately obvious that my son had soiled his diaper, so I changed him. I could tell it had been some time since he had relieved himself. His water bottle and milk were out of his reach because she "didn't want him to spill it," so it had been hours since he had a sip of anything. There were smaller issues as well. I spoke with my husband about it, but he downplayed the situation.
Am I overreacting, or is my husband in denial about his mom's diminishing capabilities? She's planning another visit with us again soon, and I'm sure she expects solo babysitting time. Is this safe? Should I say something? If so, what? Of course I appreciate free babysitting and a loving grandmother, but not to the detriment of my son. -- VERY WORRIED MOM IN COLORADO
DEAR MOM: Ideally, you should have asked your mother-in-law why the diaper hadn't been changed when you got home and realized it hadn't been. Your husband may have minimized what happened because he can't accept that his mother's mental capacities may be diminishing. Denial is common when a parent is in the beginning stages of dementia because the symptoms can be subtle.
Having concerns about leaving your son alone with her is not "going overboard." During her next visit, stay close to home and quietly monitor what she is -- and isn't -- doing. If she is indeed slipping, she needs to be evaluated by a geriatrician, and may need supervision for herself.