Caregiving my grandpa is killing my parents and I'm angry.

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Hello,

I live with my parents, who have been caregiving my elderly grandfather for 3 years. The difference in them reminds me of photos you see of the presidents before they enter and after they leave office; that is to say, they look drawn, tired, stressed, and grey.

My dad had a heart attack two years ago, and they both drink in the evenings to deal with the stress of caring for my grandfather full time, in addition to their jobs. My aunts and uncles don't even call, let alone help them shoulder this burden. My grandfather, though I love him, is so selfish and doesn't seem to care or comprehend that he is ruining their lives... And that's truly what's happening.

My grandfather has bedsores that bleed all over the carpet. He is incontinent, and can't do anything for himself. They have to dress, feed, shower, transport, and entertain them. My mom goes to a caregiver group, and my grandpa has many different doctors and specialists he sees for all his diagnoses. He takes 20 pills a day. And yet, he is in denial that a home would be the best option for everyone. It's like he doesn't care that he could kill my parents with this burden. It's so wrong!! I feel helpless because there's nothing I can do. I try to support my parents emotionally, but there is real anger building. My dad had his heart attack (and his doctor tells him this stress will kill him), and my mom is depressed, anxious, and I worry about the consequences on her health.

Sometimes I fantasize about calling elder services to have my grandpa forcibly removed. I feel guilty for wishing he would pass quickly, but just last month he was saying he wants to live to be 100: 12 more YEARS of this. My parents would surely die from the stress first. I'm so angry at my aunts and uncles for not helping my mom. I'm angry at my grandfather for being so selfish!!

My parents have done everything right, and they're not getting the support they need. A doctor needs to tell them and my grandpa that he needs to be in a home, now. He requires skilled nursing due to his bad condition. My mom says that she's trying to get everything in line to have him put in, but I don't know if it's just talk or if he will really be moved. I just want them to be happy and healthy, and I know that they're trying to do the right thing but it's going to kill them. It seems so wrong to have such a life foisted upon the best, most decent people in this world. And yes, I know it could be worse... It always could, you know? But that doesn't make me feel better on their behalf.

As for me, I have a full time job and I see a counselor every week. I'm mostly fine, but the stress on our home and family is very real. I'm not sure what I was hoping to accomplish with this post; maybe I just needed to rant, so thank you for that. It's really made me think about what will happen to my parents and even me when I get old. I will not put myself in the position my parents are. Moreover, I may not have kids, so what will happen to me?! I only pray that I will die quickly before my health degrades to the point of becoming dependent.

All of you caregivers out there are truly angels.

17 Comments

How old are you and can you get out of there? Gramps obviously needs to be in skilled nursing care. If your folks won't move him, get the h*ll out.
Granddaughter84, I'm assuming the 84 part = your being exactly the same age as my son. [As an aside, I wonder what he thinks about my caring for my mother? - I've never asked him directly.]

Well, now. Your grandfather is 88, and you say your parents are both working. So what, exactly, are your grandfather's care needs? What led to his moving in to live with the family? - was he widowed, or something like that?

At first glance, given the circumstances of your father's heart attack (I hope he has made a full recovery and continues to improve in health), it sounds as if your parents were led somehow to underestimate how much work, experience, expertise and - bluntly - cash would be required to care for an elderly man in poor health, and perhaps have never quite got the show running smoothly? It's always a steep learning curve, no matter how well-prepared one fondly imagines oneself to be, but if things get out of hand then the consequences can be disastrous - I think you're right to be very concerned about your parents' wellbeing.

You'll have to forgive me for another aside, but your vehement argument for your grandfather's needing to be in a home, and your indignation about his selfishness, would carry a little more weight if you weren't 31 years old, fully employed, and living under your parents' roof. I also agree with Windy that you might be much less stressed out, and therefore find it easier to support your parents effectively, if you were able to move out to your own place and approach the situation as an objective adult rather than a child of the household.

But that is a wry observation and does not take anything away from the serious point that, for your parents' wellbeing, something does indeed need to change. And as a first step, I'd suggest a complete break of a month to six weeks to combine recuperation for them and rehabilitation for your father. If you can find a good ALF, nursing home or rehab unit that offers respite care, it would give your parents an opportunity to revise their options when they're not so exhausted they can't think straight; and it would give the professionals a chance to work on your grandfather's skin integrity, continence care and other chronic problems and get him into better shape.

You can sell the package to all three of them as a pit stop, with no permanent commitments to anything on the part of any of them. Your grandfather will see the benefits of living in a protected environment with comprehensive facilities and activities programmes; your parents will be able to get a decent night's sleep; and whatever is decided in the end at least there will be a positive strategy to it, and they can all make a fresh start.

Best of luck, do come back and let us know how you're doing. And, by the way, I didn't at all mean to suggest that your parents wouldn't want you living with them! - I'm sure they are very glad of your company and support.

Tsk! Rehabilitation for your grandfather, I meant to say. Apologies.
Open bedsores? That isn't good. I think that Adult Social Services could be called, to come check on your grandpa.

As far as you go, I would get out, now. And then, always plan for your retirement. Work at a job a long time and earn the benefits. Plan where you want to go and then, move to assisted living and down size. But, it is all about the money. You have plenty of time.
Hi, thank you so much for your replies. I was really heated last night after a talk with my parents, and I think I just needed to vent.

I moved back with my parents after my dad's heart attack, to help them with my grandpa. It allowed me to finish my degree, so I'm extremely grateful for that. My job is relatively new, and I'm planning to move out by the end of the year, but it's tough because I feel like they need me, but you're right. It is keeping me in a child role.

The bedsores are under control, for now, but there are episodes every several weeks where they will weep and bleed. My grandpa has been to wound specialists regularly, and they've tried all kinds of treatments. They even sent a nurse to the house for awhile to help my mom, but the burden of cleaning them daily is hers. The problem is that he sits 98% of his day; he even sleeps sitting most nights. We just brought in a hospital bed, but he hasn't slept in a bed in 25 years so it's painful for him to lay down. It's a perpetual cycle :( because it's hard for him to stand/do anything but sit, and the sitting causes pressure sores. My mom talked to the VA and they won't admit anyone with bedsores. I feel so badly for her.

My grandpa moved in after my grandma passed away. My mom had been staying with him every month, and realized he couldn't live alone. In her recent words, she "had no idea it would be like this." They've done a great job, but there has to be a time to decide to live for yourself, which is kind of why this is all ironic... because I'm living there! haha! I've justified it because I really want to pay my student loans off before I move out again, and because I know my parents like having me there, but again... there comes a time to decide to live!

I love love love my job, and plan to be here for a long time. Forever, if the compensation will be enough. My 401k starts in November, so that's good. I see how important it is to maintain health. I worry about moving out on my current income, but hopefully I will get a raise by the end of the year and my plan will work out.

Anyway, thank you so much for your time and words. Every few months I get worked up like that after discussing the status quo with my parents, but it's not like it's all bad. It will all work out, it always does.

I hope that all of you will have strength and endurance and health!
PS: @countrymouse, you should ask your son! I'm sure he worries about you as well.
Does your grandfather have some condition that prevents him from lying full length? - arthritis, scoliosis, an injury of some sort? For me this is another good reason to get him into rehab where he could get daily attention from physical therapists to work on his flexibility. The poor old soul must be in constant pain, and sorting that out is more than even the most dedicated home caregiver can hope for. Unless he can be turned regularly it's going to be incredibly difficult to heal the pressure sores completely so it will be worth significant effort to help him with that.

No one on this forum will ever blame you for blowing your top from time to time. If it helps, do it often!

By the way, my DIL - son's wife - supported her mother through taking care of her grandmother, who had Alzheimer's Disease, to the very end at home. There is no substitute for having been there and done it, to help you understand the pressures. It's made the two of them extremely understanding, but I think you're probably right about the worry - my son had been calling home a good deal more than usual, lately.
Well, my grandpa had a quadruple bypass about 20-25 years ago, and while he healed, he began sleeping in a chair. He is a very large man. His butt is where the pressure sores are. He has arthritis, and is pretty stooped and very weak. He has worked with many therapists over his lifetime, but won't do any of the exercises. He gets angry with the therapists, and we have had a few refuse to work with him anymore because of this. The wound specialists told my mom that he needs to stand every hour to help the sores heal, but he won't do that either :(. It's such a mess, and reminds me of pushing a boulder uphill. It's easier for me to see, since I am more on the outside, physically and emotionally.

THANK YOU!

Yes, that is exactly what my mom says. I know she's grateful for me to see what's happening, because our family makes her feel insane with their lack of understanding. I mean, I get it; if I didn't witness it all firsthand, I wouldn't get it either. This pressure is intense though. Yes, do talk with your son. We can sense when our parents are going through something. Sometimes we will avoid talking about it because it's painful for us to see you struggling.
gdd84, after years of splitting our mom's care (my sister and I), my sister could no longer continue and keep working fulltime too. She's not one to overdramatize, but truly believed she would pass before our mom if she continued. But I was not able to assume fulltime care either. Problem was by this time, we were both "stuck" - she was newly widowed and I knew I was in for an enormous struggle with my mom. It was my niece who helped us get the ball rolling. She did all sorts of research on AL facilities in my city, got it down to a short list, researched Aid and Attendance. Then she presented us with all sorts of info. I then visited facilities, got the list to three, my sister flew in and we made the decision. Moving our mom was quite rough but we got her in a safe, really nice place.

Maybe you could help by doing some research and legwork for them. Your folks are just in reactive mode, immersed in the day to day. There's a saying "when you're up to your butt in alligators, it's hard to remember the objective is to drain the swamp."
Thank you Linda!! That's exactly what I'll do. My mom works on the weekends, and my dad during the week, so they're quite stuck as well. I'm so glad you were able to get your mom in a good place! And I can understand why your sister was worried she would pass first. What is an AL facility? Alternative living? Sorry, I'm not familiar with the forum language yet!

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