Taking care of my bitter, nasty grandmother. Any advice?

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My 78 year old grandmother who has a bunch of health issues that have been problems for her almost all her life and as long as I can remember. Her main issues of concern are her diabetes.
She has been a piece of work most of my life. Playing favorites with me and my sister (favoring me) and mind games with my father (She is my paternal grandmother) and uncles for as long as I can remember. She is manipulative, controlling and a general pain in the butt. 2 years ago my uncle who was living with her died and she was by herself. My other Uncle (from now on I’ll refer to him as UK) who lived close was driving over and looking in on her every day and taking care of her as best he could. UK however, has severe mental health issues and a really bad temper (it runs in the family). So, when she kept ending up in the hospital for one issue or another, the doctor said she could no longer live by herself. My mother has been taking care of my father for the past 3 years after he suffered a cerebral aneurysm which has left him permanently disabled so she could not possibly take care of my grandmother and with my uncles mental health he was not an option. After looking into ALF facilities we quickly realized any place with decent care was out of her price range…so my husband and I decided to move her in with us.
We were able to move from our two bedroom apartment to a beautiful 3 bedroom house. My grandmother helped pay the down payment and we agreed on $1000 dollars a month to help with the bills. Anyways to make a long story short; things were good for a while…however, it’s been about 11 months now that she has been living with us and we are completely fed up. Her attitude has progressively gotten from bad to worse. She has become demanding, critical of everything I do, (like how I make her food, to how I raise my 4 year old daughter) and is constantly going against doctor’s order regarding medication and foods she can and can’t eat and such. She argues with me constantly about stupid things and gets frustrated when she tries to tell me something, but I can’t understand her because she has left out important details regarding the subject of the conversation.
She refuses to take care of herself in the little things that she is still capable of doing, like getting up and getting a glass of water and getting her own bowl of cereal. When I don’t watch her like a hawk, she sneaks in the kitchen and eats foods she knows is going to send her sugars up (like a soda…not her diet ones) and when I confront her on it, she just smirks and shrugs her shoulders and ignores me. Her doctors are always trying to get me to go to nutrition classes on what to feed her and how much proportions to give her…when we have changed the WHOLE families’ diet to fit her needs…yet she will still get in the kitchen and eats things she isn’t supposed too.
To add onto the frustration I am 7 months pregnant and having a difficult pregnancy. My grandmother is constantly saying manipulative and underhandedly hurtful things to me regarding my weight (even if I am pregnant) my disciplining of my 4 year old and other things. I feel like I am dealing with the most difficult child ever. To bombard the situation UK has decided that since he lives close to our cleaning lady (she comes once a week to help out around the house, since I can’t do IT ALL) that he will pick her up every Friday and bring her, meaning he is here all day long from 10am to 5pm. He comes in takes over either the PS3 (meaning my bedroom) or sits on my laptop all day looking info on one of his stupid video games. The only way I can describe my Uncle is that he is like a black cloud…everywhere he goes he brings negative energy and bitterness, which rubs off on me, my grandmother and my daughter. After he leaves, I feel like I have been through an emotional ringer and I am SICK of it!!! They both are constantly ganging up on my daughter and telling how “when I was a kid I would never have acted that way” and with my uncle “my daughter never did that” mind you his daughter hates him and is completely estranged from him other than calling to ask for money from time to time. I am just completely at the end of my rope. I want to just cancel the cleaning lady so I don’t have to have my uncle over anymore (I’d rather clean my whole house from top to bottom than deal with UK’s CRAP) and tell my grandmother to stay in her room (which is pretty cushy if you ask me, cable tv, large screen tv, has her recliner in there next to her bed…etc.)
I’m so tired of this and there is more I could say but I’ve probably ranted enough. I’m just a loss and needed someone to listen to me. I’m completely non-confrontational with regards to my elders so this has been one of the hardest things for me to do in my life.
I just need advice or help in anyway I can. THANKS!


If you just want to vent, hey, that is OK. Most of us can understand your frustration.

If you really want advice, mine would be to move Gramma OUT. Your children and your marriage need to be your top priority. The fact that GM is only 78 means she may need care another 10 or even 20 years. Are you prepared to have this unruly child in your house through your own children's schooling?

But to solve your problem will require some confrontation with elders.

Let us know if you want to vent -- that is OK -- or if you also want advice and support for changing your situation.
What Jeanne said.

The problem I see is that she helped you get that house, and that kind of obligates you to let her live in a house she helped you buy. You need to find a way to pay her back for the down payment if you want her out of there. I don't think it's fair to boot her out after she's spent her money on the house, but then again, you're not really obligated to take care of her for the next 10-20 years either, or house her, if she's making everyone miserable, and life is becoming intolerable around her. This is really sticky. . I'm not sure exactly what the right thing to do in that situation is, other than make other arrangements for her, but you MUST pay her back the money she spent if you ask her to leave. As for the uncle, tell him his 'services' are no longer needed, or simply refuse to let him in the front door. Cancel the cleaning lady, and find a new one. Like Jeanne said, confrontation is inevitable, so you're going to have to find your backbone and put your foot down. If you don't, nothing will change. Get your hubs to back you up if necessary, in fact, he should back you up already.
Well we have no plans of kicking her out and the money for the down payment is kind if a non-issue...she literally has NOWHERE to go other than with us. I guess the reason I posted was because I was hoping someone would have advice or encouragement for me to keep on keeping on...that's all. She is my grandmother and I love her...she gets under my skin and is completely self centered and irrational at times...I know this situation can be worse and having someone be annoying and irritating can be over come...I was hoping someone had maybe been in this position and have some kind of advice to help me through.

If I had it to do over again...I still would,iI just would have set ground rules and made sure she realized that this was not her personal bed-n-breakfast and that I am not her slave. We spent the 6mo of the year hiding in our bedroom because we didn't want to inconvenience her and her TV watching, but now we are taking our house back and she is getting snappy and making me pay for it. But I'm going to keep trying and hopefully some day she will say thank you. And PS, I would never lock her in her room...I'm not stupid...lol!

Thanks guys but we will just keep trying!
OK. You want to keep her in your home, but with less aggravation. Some things to consider:

1) You MUST have time to yourself, and time as a couple. This is not optional.
2) One kind of respite is to arrange for an adult day health program.
3) Regular visits to the local senior center by GM is also an option.
4) Having Uncle take GM out for the day once a week would help -- maybe they both would enjoy the senior center.
5) Could GM do volunteering? My aunt in her 80s was a school aid in the lower grades, which involved dispensing hugs and reading stories. She got paid a small amount and that tickled her, too.
6) It sounds like you are starting to set some boundaries. Good! That can be tough to enforce if you don't like confrontations, but it is essential if you are all going to live in harmony.
7) One absolute boundary is that YOU and your husband are the parents. You determine how to raise your children. You don't mind hearing her ideas and advice, but never in front of the children and never in a critical tone. Your kids, your rules. Stick to this no matter what other boundaries you may waiver on.
8) Hire a cleaning person who can provide her or his own transportation. If uncle wants to visit his mother, encourage them to go out ... to a movie, or a bingo place, or the senior center, a park, the zoo, botanical gardens, out to lunch, anywhere they might enjoy.

Just some thoughts. Now that we know what you are looking for, others will have suggestions, too.

I feel your pain, if not more so. I took my Grandmother in, who is now almost 94, over 6 years ago. She had quite a lot to do with the problems in my last relationship, which ended 3 years ago. Now that we rent a condo together, she seems to think that she can be even more unpleasant and selfish. My now fiancé, and father of our future child (due in 3 weeks), also lives with us now. She talks to him like he is an idiot. He is the most generous, thoughtful, sweetest man I have known, since my father (who passed in 2000). She knows that we are completely in love. At times, I think she resents that. Since I've been pregnant (over 8 months now), she reminds me of the endless list of "to do's", daily. As we get the list completed, she makes up a new one. It's like she can't stand the idea of my focus being on my fiancé and upcoming newborn. I am 35 years old, cared for my dying father, the entire year of 2000. I gave up my social life and moved back in with him, to be with and care for him till he was gone. * years later, my grandmother expected me to do the same for her. Which I did, but I moved her in with me. To be honest, I have a book full of complaints but it is just as exhausting to write about it as it is to live it. She is never happy. It seems like when she does get what she wants, it isn't what she wants......then there are 20 more things that I need to start working on for her. Recently, I told her that I needed to start focusing on the arrival of our baby boy. She turned it into a "pitty party" momentarily, but has not stopped with the "to do" lists. I don't have anyone else to help us, and if they did help, she would make their lives hell, and I could not live with myself knowing that someone else had to endure anything near what we go through.
Our privacy is completely gone. For example, she just came to my bedroom door with a phone number to a dentist and told me, not asked me, to call her "right now" and make an appointment. She has a tendency to peer into our room every time she goes to the restroom (sometimes she only acts like she is going to the restroom). She has a need to know what we are doing at every moment....when my fiancé and I are spending alone time together, with the door almost shut, when we are cooking, when we are walking out of the house, and coming into the house.....we don't have a quiet moment when she is around....she asks ridiculous, mindless questions, one after another.....makes comments about the other people who we care about (most always negative), and comments toward us and why we don't do or live the right way/her way. The age difference is a big factor, I know. But she has always been slightly rude, bitchy, snobby, controlling....etc...but with a beautiful smile on her face. She makes other people think that I need her, because she helped my dad take care of me. She also seems to make me feel like I owe her. I don't believe that children owe their elders. We did not ask to be born, abandoned, or neglected. But I have not ever said that to her.
Ugh, I could keep going, and back tracking, because I have left out sooooo much. But I'll leave it there and tell you, God Bless, and you are so not alone. I wish I could find a support group, and an affordable decent nursing facility.
If you'd like to email me, so we can gripe to each other, let me know and I'll give you my address.
Meanderings: thank you for the advice...I've tried to get her to go to church with us to get her out of the house, I've tried getting my uncle to take her out...all of it is always been met with the same thing...she doesn't want to get out of her chair and can't be bothered to do anything for anyone other than himself. We have a woman's bible study on Wednesdays at 10am at my church, that I would love to take her to...but the woman sleeps till noon and then does nothing all afternoon and evening but watch hgtv too 2-3 am.
I did finally did it though! She was in her room watching hgtv and u hasn't seen her in a few hours,(she normally sticks her head out and makes some nasty comment every hour or so and then goes back to get room) so I went to check on her...she did her normal shaking her empty cup at me and said "I'm going to need food some time sooner or later" ...this had become her normal treating me like a servant routine, but this time I had it, I said,"Please, you mean please!" When I got back with her food and drink I told her she needed to start treating me better and have a better attitude...I told her she was treating me like a servant and I wouldn't put up with it any more.
I had to swallow my heart back down afterwards but at least I did it. She had a beat puppy dog look on her face but she got the message I hope...what I don't get is she will go into our washroom and lift and move all kinds of stuff to get a bowl of dog food for the dog but then will go sit back down and wait an hour for me to make her a bowl of cereal...she is so lazy and has checked out on life and taking care of herself, but then when it comes down to it she still wants to be in control of everything and everyone.
Lisa Marie: thank you for sharing, I don't know how you have done it for so long...I know being pregnant ads so much stress onto the problems already there...you sound like me when it comes to saying no...we both need to figure out where our back bones are located and stand up for ourselves...I would love to keep in touch.

Thanks guys!
It is hard enough to care for a parent. I cannot imagine the difficulties of taking care of a grandparent especially one that should be helping. Maybe she thinks the money she gives you is compensation for treating you as she does. It sure isn't much!
Good for you, GettingBy! I'm sure that first confrontation was very difficult. It will get easier with practice, and I'm afraid that it will take more reminders to get GM to really accept your boundaries.

I'm reminded that when I was a child my dad would sometimes say, "The maid won't be in today. You'll have to clear the table (or whatever chore we were neglecting.)" Maybe you could work out a variation on that approach. When GM talks to you in a demanding or demeaning way, say something like, "I'm afraid you have mistaken me for a servant. The servants are all off today. Only your loving granddaughter is here."

I'm proud of your small victory! Stay strong.
"If you really want advice, mine would be to move Gramma OUT. Your children and your marriage need to be your top priority. The fact that GM is only 78 means she may need care another 10 or even 20 years. Are you prepared to have this unruly child in your house through your own children's schooling?"
I will totally agree with jeannegibbs. Move her out to a senior house.
Take care,

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