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.

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Im confused about you paying back student loans? You're an army veteran so that means the army gives you money to pay for school/expenses and cost of living. I know they don't give you money if you do your masters but they give you enough to complete your bachelors. So confused!
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It would probably be best not to make any promises to them about taking them to all of their medical appointments. You will find your workdays constantly interrupted by both routine and emergency visits to doctors. Are other sources of transportation available to your grandparents? Regular cabs, reduced-rate senior cabs, medical transport services?
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Fletch, thank you for the update. It is always good to hear from writers who had difficult problems to see how they are solving them. Your plan is well thought out. Set boundaries. I would suggest no more helping Grandpa with his remodeling projects as you will find you will have enough to do with running errands, groceries, doctor appointments, and other misc things.

As for your Grandpa's attitude.... is this your Dad's father or your Mother's father? I wonder if he had the same temperament with when they were growing up? And it makes me wonder if Grandpa's own father was the same way. Or if not, wonder if Grandpa is fearful that since his wife has cancer that her time could be short [hope not], and he just cannot handle that type of emotion, so he lashes out at others.
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I think it's pretty clear now why no one else on your side of the family would help. Your actions are admirable and laudable.

I think your military training carried over and you have that high sense of responsibility to others, a sense of service and commitment, and carrying out your orders.

But your GF isn't a superior officer. You don't owe allegiance to him. And you certainly don't owe him anything more than any of the other family members, who bowed out of assistance.

I think his outburst at your place of work demonstrates that there's more involved than control and manipulation, or perhaps the situation is that it has grown to a level of that is out of control. He needs anger management and counseling, although I'm not sure that would help.

Was he always this dominating and controlling?

I suspect that GF on learning of your plans will become furious. I also suspect he'll make life as difficult as possible, will not be prepared for doctor appointments, and be uncooperative as retaliation. I also suspect that his behavior will worsen in every way.

If he's like a strong wind now, expect a tornado when you tell him of your planned changes.

You might want to plan further and consider alternate plans, such as AL, even if he won't go. Just prepare proposed plans; if he doesn't accept them and is left to fend for himself, that's not your obligation or burden to carry. You can't change a situation that's intractable.

I would however make plans for your GM, to get her out of the situation. His behavior creates a situation that isn't conducive for anyone battling any illness, especially cancer.

And I would have chats with the other family members who wouldn't help - they may be able to offer insight into how they escaped, or avoided the caregiving tasks entirely.

Good luck, and thank you for your service.

You don't need to justify anything to yourself; you gave it your best shot, GF sabotaged your help with his behavior, and it's time to move on with your own life. I know it's easier said than done though. You still feel that sense of obligation. Do you know why? B/c it's like a military order to be followed w/o question? B/c your GM needs help?

I think there's another assessment that could correspond to military action. You asses the issues/problems, devise solutions, but develop alternate plans if the mission isn't realistic. And this mission isn't - it can't be accomplished. It's time to move on. I would plan for complete extrication as a fallback.

You mentioned student loans. Aren't you able to go to college on the GI bill?
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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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?
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