How do I deal with the stress of my grandmother living at home?

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First off I want to say that I love my grandmother very much and we have been living together for 5 years. It hasn't always been easy but we have made it through.

Three months ago she took a turn for the worse and has become house bound. We are able to get her to her doctor appointments but that is as far as she wants to go. She has been having major trouble sleeping and was getting me up about 4 times a night t go to the bathroom. We finally got her on some sleeping meds and now I only get woken up about 2 times.

I sometimes take to sleep on the couch to make sure that she will be heard if called. Or sometimes I sleep with my head next to my husbands feet.

I'm completely stressed out by this. Getting up in the middle of the night for 30 minutes at a time is very hard on me. I have a 5 year old son that I have to get up with to take to school. My husband works late hours (usually doesn't get home till after both are kids are in bed) and I try on some nights to stay up for him. I'm burning my candle at all ends. I sometimes lay awake at night and stare at the clock thinking "as soon as I close my eyes she will need me."

And, last night my worst fears came true and she fell. Luckily she didn't get injured but I don't know what to do now.

To be honest I would like her in a NH but she REFUSES to go. Round the clock care would cost so much money (which she does have) but I feel guilty for sugesting that. She believes I am making to big a deal of this. That her falling is "no big deal".

I have days that I feel like I am barely hanging on. I stay at home to take care of her. But, I also have a 2 year old, my 5 year old (who now has homework), a house to take care of (laundry, cleaning, etc), my own bills, and my husband who works 12 hour days (he really tries to help out but its hard for me). Now I am completely in control of her life. She has no other family that can help.

I have all these balls in the air and I'm just waiting for them to come crashing down on me. I've had this back pain that radiats down to my foot that will not go away. It's been there for over a month but don't have the time or the money to do anything about it.

I guess I am just venting. Am I crazy for feeling that this is not fair to me? That she does need round the clock care? Please help.

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Gryheart25,

I'm sorry to hear about the stress that your grandmother is causing on you. You are not alone out here in this caregiving community. Many caregivers feel the stress of having their loved ones living with them. You are very strong for being their for her, especially these past 5 years.

There are two great article written by AgingCare.com Editor’s that were already posted in our community. We thought this might answer your caregiving question.

10 Signs of Caregiver Stress
Page 2: 14 Strategies for Controlling Your Stress
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/strategies-for-controlling-caregiver-stress-135916.htm

and

6 Surprising Ways to Instantly Lower Stress
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/relieve--caregiver-stress-instantly-143093.htm

I hope this helps. Best of luck :)

Karie H.
AgingCare.com Team
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gryheart - there is some solace in knowing you are not alone. There are tens or hundreds of thousands in your situation. We want to give back to those who have given us so much - but at what price? I can't even imagine my girls being little and also having the care of my Mom who just recently died of Alzheimer's after being cared for at home for 6 yrs. It would have killed me. (or I would have killed us both)

As a Mom, your first responsibility - IMHO - is to your kids, and they only have one childhood -which will be thrown in your face - good or bad - for the rest of your life! And also you have that hard working husband. Marriages are fragile things even when they're very good. They must be nurtured. And how do you manage that when you are worn out anfd in pain from the stress and time involved in mothering little ones and taking care of Granny? You don't - and then bad things can happen. Consider your situation if you didn't have your husband.

You might try sitting down with your husband and setting some life goals. Where do your see things 6 months from now? A year out? 5 yrs out? Will you need to work or return to school once your youngest is at school? Is his income sufficient to pay your bills and build a savings plan both 'emergency' and long term? These things are important - and the time will go by in the wink of an eye. You have to begin NOW to expect any security in the future.

If your grandmother is cognizant, you need to be frank with her. Tell her you love her, but that you have other responsibilities, and there needs to be another solution found that will work for all of you.. You are truly blessed if she has the funds - that changes everything. A daytime caregiver housekeeper? An assisted living home? A 'retirement' village? You have to BE STRONG. As long as you are nearby, as long as she knows you are her advocate and ally in all things - she can bitch and moan and complain all she wants - but you also have to do what is best for you, your children and your husband.
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Venting is fine. You have a lot to vent about.

Taking action might be called for, too. "Fair" doesn't come into this. Old age isn't fair. Disability isn't fair. Family dynamics often aren't fair. The question is what is realtistic and loving in this situation? I can't tell whether Gram needs the full time care of a nursing home, but it seems clear that she needs more than you can reasonably provide at this point. More care, either at home or in a facility is going to cost, and you say she doesn't have money.

So I think the next step is to figure out the financial piece. Does she have a case worker? Contact that person or get in touch with a social worker through your area's agency for aging. Find out exactly what services she might be eligible for, or what would have to happen to get her eligible. Find out exactly what will happen to her house under various circumstances. Talk to a professional who can give you some guidance here.

You have given your grandmother five years of independence she might not have had otherwise. That is a wonderful accomplishment. Feel proud. You need to be there for your children and your husband and you need to take care of you. You need to also lovingly look after your grandmother's best interests. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to personally provide all her care. And it sounds like for you to continue to do that is not at all a reasonable expectation.

Good luck to you, dear.
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