I'm in my twenties and taking care of my grandparents.

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I'm happy to take on the responsibility, but I get no respect or any time to myself. I'm going to start this off by saying that I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm just whining, and if that's the case then please just tell me so I can put my big boy britches on and get over it. I got a call a few months ago from my grandpa, practically begging me to come and take care of himself and my grandma who is going through chemotherapy.

As a little bit of backstory, I'm a twenty-four year old army veteran, I got back from Afghanistan for the third time about two years ago and exited the military a year ago. I was finally managing to get my life put back together and start school when he called, and apparently nobody else on this side of the family was taking it on. I knew before I came out that my Grandpa was difficult to deal with during the best of times, but I figured that if he was calling me then they needed me and that it was my responsibility.

As I got out here, I made my intentions to get a job clear and everybody agreed that it was the correct choice. Regardless I went to work helping them with their medications, making sure that they made it to their doctors appointments, and helping my grandpa with his never ending home improvement projects. It went well enough for the first few weeks, but slowly my grandpa started demanding more and more of my time in the yard, and complained whenever I wasn't out there, even if it was to take care of grandma.

It only got worse when I did get a job, one that I actually like even if it is only part time. He's never satisfied with the time I spend with him, he insists on controlling my sleep schedule, which is slightly different since I work evenings, I don't get any time on my own, either in the house or out in the town, and whenever I'm at work he acts like it's the most irresponsible and terrible thing ever. Whenever I -am- helping him he can't seem to hold back from telling me that I'm not good enough and apparently never will be because we have different life experiences.

It's recently come to a head, he showed up at work earlier this week and got somebody to call me out front so that he could scream at me about something my sister said, which I still haven't figured out what it was about, and he's insisting now that I basically give up my entire paycheck to him in order to pay the house payment, auto, and health insurance for them even though I, at best, make five hundred a month and need to work on paying student loans, seeing as how I 'never help him in the yard and sleep too much.'

I realize that I haven't said much about my grandmother, but it's mostly because she's been the opposite of him, aside from a few occasional problems. I've had to fight to get her to take her medicine a couple of times, but that was when she was having issues with her oxygen levels. Overall, I'm still dedicated to taking care of both of them, but I'm somewhat at the end of my rope as to how much more I can stand being my grandpa's verbal punching bag.

So, what I want to know is what I need to do in this situation? I've tried to just talk to him about it, but it doesn't seem to do any good. If I had anybody to vent to then this wouldn't be as much of an issue, probably, but seeing as how I've only been in the state for about two and a half months and haven't had any chance to meet new people outside of work that's not really an option.


One minor typo, it's five-hundred a check, not a month.
Is this a situation that in a bit of time your grandma will recover enough to be somewhat independent? If so, I'd say grin and bear it - but start looking for your own place and a full time job. Tell grandpa you'll help with groceries- that seems fair, but that you understood the arrangement to be no rent in exchange for help - then add that you need to save your money so you can move out when grandmas better. This should tell grandpa that you never intended for this situation to become your life's work. However - if grandma isn't able to regain self sufficiency you need to help your grandparents to find a permently living situation where grandma will receive round the clock care. In time both of your grandparents will begin to deteriorate even more both mentally and physically and you are much to young to get caught up in being full time caregivers to two elderly individuals. You must be a good hearted soul to have taken this on to begin with - but no one person will be able to do the caregiving job that will soon be headed your way.
It does seem like a long-term issue. Neither of them have any interest in having any other sort of assisted living, however, and it's been clear from the get-go that they expected me to stick around until they're both gone. I had some reservations about this when I came out here, but with nobody else stepping up it seemed like the only way. I genuinely appreciate your suggestions, but I just feel like backing out now would be abandoning my responsibilities and abandoning them to their fate, given their views towards assisted living.
Fletch, why do you think that your grandparents are your responsibility?

Do you realize that grandpa is either mentally ill, or has dementia, or both?

Do you realize that even with a great military record (thank you for your service!) stuff like grandpa showing up to scream at you could get you fired and prevent you from getting employment in the future? You are young yet, but you need to think about your own future and eventually your retirement.

Why do you think everyone else has refused to help your grandparents? I'll wager it's because Grandpa insists that it be on HIS terms and nothing is EVER good enough. This is called abuse. Don't put up with it.

"Their views on assisted living" are their views. They don't have to be your views. In point to fact, grandma would get better, more appropriate medical care, socialization and supervision at AL. She would be away from abusive grandpa if she wants to be during the day. If he is verbally abusing her in the facility, it would be reported and handled. Grandpa would be referred to a geriatric psychiatrist and his agitation, paranoia and anger would be handled, perhaps with medication.

To quote a wise person on this board, there is a big difference between "helping" and "enabling". Right now, you're enabling some really bad and destructive behavior. I vote that you stop doing that.
Fletch92, may I ask how old are your grandparents? I picture someone in their 80's but they could be as young as in their 60's.

Your grandfather is probably upset that he and his wife are aging, and he can't do everything that he use to do. Bet a few years ago Grandpa use to whip around that yard work in no time, and today he is lucky to do a half hour worth. As we age, that yard tends to double in size !!

I know you want to help, but this sounds more like a case where the family dynamics have changed.... you are once again the child, and grandpa is the adult. He doesn't see you as a grown adult who has common sense, but a young child who need direction.

Time to give everyone in the family notice that you will be leaving at the end of the month. Otherwise, if your grandparents are in their 60's or 70's, they could possibly live another 20 years. And you would still be under their roof.

P.S. I always thought the military paid for college education, has that stopped or are there now different regulations?
I don't want to sound like I'm doubting your story but I'm curious. Assuming you joined up at 18, and said you've been back two years and that you are now 24. How did you manage three tours in Afghanistan in four years?
I joined at seventeen, actually. I originally went into the guard and transferred into the regular Army after basic and AIT. I did what was basically a back to back deployment one at nineteen, and another at twenty[I practically had to beg them to let me go back for that one], then I did a final 6-month deployment before I got out. As for the military paying for college, they're supposed to, and they do to some extent, but only the tuition now, no longer any fees, and the books have always been something that you've had to buy yourself, to my knowledge.
I also greatly appreciate everybody's advice. It's basically what the very few people I've been able to talk to in person have said, and I realize now that it's probably the way I need to go, but I'll have to think hard on it. I feel like after taking on the responsibility I'd just be abandoning them by leaving, even if I gave them a few months notice to get affairs in order.
Fletch - like I said, you've got a good heart and the best of intentions- but take this advice from a bunch of worn out caregivers who have been at this for a while. At this point in your life - I'd say you've done enough for others - for quite some time - you deserve to be living your own life right now - enjoying the lifestyle that comes with being in your twenties and free of oppressive responsibility.
So, sorry to perform a bit of necromancy, but as an update to this. I tried to just grin and bear it, despite the excellent advice that everybody offered. But recently I've finally hit my tipping point. I'm currently making arrangements to get out of the house, largely due to the fact that no matter what I do it's never good enough. I can take them to their doctors appointments, make sure they take their medicine, ensure that they have medicine to take, get their groceries for them, take care of the house, and even do manual labor since my Grandpa insisted on tearing out both bathrooms at once, but all I get in return is belittlement and constant disapproval if I try to leave the house to do anything other than go to work...which is in itself something that I'm often given an evil eye for. Truth be told, I've been here for just about six months now, and I really don't think there's been a single day past the first week that I haven't been told how inadequate I am in some way shape or form. I like to think that I have thick skin, I knew that it would be like this before I came to help them, but I just can't handle it anymore. I feel somewhat guilty about that fact, but that's the way things are.

Despite this, as long as they're cooperative, I don't intend to walk away completely, just take a step back and stop living with them, I need some independence in a place of my own. I plan on putting a schedule together on when I will be there and what they want me to do, I still plan on taking them to all of their appointments, picking up their medicines, etc, I just can't stand being here 24/7. I'm fairly confident in my decision, but if anybody has any feedback or advice to offer, I'd definitely take it under advisement.

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