My caregiving "horror" story with my 103 year old Grandma.
Found this site last night and spent hours reading the different horror stories. Wanted to add mine to the heap.
Let's see if I can trim it down somewhat.
Ok, 16 years ago my now 103 year old grandmother became a widow again. Could not live independently so my mother sold her town house and bought a nice house (S Florida) that had plenty of space to allow privacy for us all. We rebuilt 2 small bedrooms into one huge one so that my grandmother could have her own spacious sanctuary. There was a small building in back of the main house that the previous owner had built for his game room / computer study. No kitchen, shower or hot water, but still a quasi-guest house. That's where I lived.
My mother and I were co-caregivers in a sense, bur since my grandmother (MG after this) was fairly independent - at least at first - it was mostly companion and helper duties. I'm sure you all can imagine; ALMOST always eating together, going out to dinner on Sundays, playing cards a lot, fetching prescriptions and personal items, explaining various mail items, taking care of her pet dog, and so on. Realistically, giving up about 20 hours per week that in retrospect should have been spent doing something productive for me. I also was responsible for all the man stuff like yardwork and maintenance. Since we lived at the edge of a forest under a canopy of oaks, it was a LOT.
But also there was an unspoken but UNDERSTOOD arrangement that either my mother or I had to be there at almost all times. On call.
One more thing, unfortunately I never developed a great career. I worked intermittently as needed in hotel management but my passion was for developing software. This living arrangement was ok in that regard because I used my leftover time for my computer efforts. However - and this is important - at any time I could have left there and gone to work in a resort hotel that would supply a room and meals and salary in exchange for long hours and being on call most of the time. I've done it before.
Ok, MG gave my mother some money up front for the down payment and agreed that her monthly contribution would be $1200. Sounds like a lot but our house was wonderful, and assisted living would have cost her a whole lot more than that. Just about anyone in their 90's would love being there, especially with 2 servants to wait on her. Besides, MG had a monthly income of about $2000, so it was no hardship for her.
My mother was a great person, and was constantly spending her time and money on MG. Shopping, a cruise, dinner theater, you name it. Wanted things to be good.
Things went sour right away however, when MG got an "I'm paying too much!" attitude. Besides that, she wanted to be the boss on everything. So her mind was like a poisoned echo chamber with "I'm not getting enough for my money.", "You didn't NEED a pool!" (it's a very small one), and other grubby thoughts bouncing around in there all day long.
She would punish my mother for the slightest thing by shunning her and staying in her room for up to 3 months at a time. During these phases, somehow it was understood that I would deliver her meals on a tray and spend hours with her, either watching an evening tv show or listening to her complain about Mom. Her level of logic can be summarized by "I'm praying for Jesus to take me." followed by "Hurry up and go get my prescriptions." 5 minutes later.
To further illustrate the "punishing" mentality of MG, before moving in with us she lived 3 houses away from one of her sisters. They were shopping companions. Once when the sister was not ready to go to a planned Saturday morning flea market outing, MG responded by shunning her for the rest of her life.
MG has 4 grandchildren; me , my sister, and my female cousin (FC) and male cousin (MC). FC has always been her favorite, is an angel, and can do no wrong. My sister is married and is local but spent very little time with Mom and MG. The cousins live in our home state up north.
My mother, who had a heart of gold and always the best intentions, was the "bad guy". So MG relied on me for bank trips which was kind of in-your-face to my mother.
When MG first moved in the deal she made with my mother was "If you take care of me to the end, I promise to leave you what I have." Very clear, and believe me, my mother earned it.
However, my grandmother didn't really honor that arrangement because whenever her savings account got fat, she would go to the bank and buy another $5000 CD for one of the grandchildren. Although FC was the favorite, MG acknowledged that I was the one waiting on her by placing me first among the grandchildren. She would show me the CD's from time to time. Our unspoken agreement was "This is what you get for all that you do for me."
This life of waiting on Grandma and watching my mother being disrespected went on for 11 years. At one point MG just announced that she was moving out. She had tricked her sister back home into inviting her for a visit. When MG arrived with all her stuff, the sister was shocked. She tolerated MG for about 3 months, pushed her off to another sister, who in turn lasted about 3 months. Then MG called me - and NOT my mom, which would have been the honest way - and asked if her room was still available.
And so she returned and life resumed its former state. But to the horror of my sister and myself, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. For 10 months I alone took care of 2 helpless old ladies. My mom was in and out of the hospital 5 times, and had all the useless x-ray and chemo treatments. As she reached the end, she said to me, "Well, if I don't make it, at least you'll have a new start." Meaning the CD's in my name, which after 11 years were up to about $39,000.
During this period of sickness, MG hardly ever asked about my mother at all. As ugly as this sounds, she is a religious hypocrite and might even have felt that "God was punishing" my mother for something or other. She never went into my mother's room to talk to her or express any kind of love or sadness. She did not attend the funeral or pay even one cent of its expense.
When my mother died, there were legal fees and funeral expenses, but without her Social Security check, I could not pay the mortgage and other bills. Over the years, MG had punitively cut her contribution from the agreed $1200 per month, to $1000 or even $800 depending on her whim. Since our mortgage alone was $1800, and I had not been working at all the last 10 months, MG's $1000 was not gonna cut it.
So after consulting with my sister and her husband, I cashed in one of the $5000 CD's in my name to pay our bills. The idea was "Pay the bills now, explain it to nasty granny later." Please understand that my sister and I were in INCREDIBLE grief because we loved our mother so much. It was not possible to reason with MG since she probably thought our bills were $300 per month - like maybe in the 1920's - and that my mother had been getting rich all those years. So I just postponed it a couple of months.
Anyway, when I did explain things to MG, I was immediatedly condemned as a thief. I didn't explain this yet, but while watching my mother die, MG had promised that she would give all the CD's to the grandchildren in the coming year as they reached their rollover dates. So what was so criminal about me using some of what was supposed to be a reward for 11 years of service to pay our grubby bills?
MG arranged for my brother-in-law to take her to the bank the next morning and put the remaining CD's into her name exclusively. Wow! I watched in horror as my online banking dropped from $34,000 to zero right in front of my eyes. What an an incredible reward for the 10 months of hell I'd just gone thru.
Of course the other grandkids all got their CD's in the coming year.
Well, in hindsight I can see that besides punishing me, that was her sneaky way of entrapping me into taking care of her for the duration.
Those next 5 years were a horror story which I will continue if anyone is interested.