I'm 22 years old and caring for my grandmother. I'm at my wits end. I don't know how I should be feeling: angry, helpless, guilty...all of the above??

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I'm at my wits end. I don't know how I should be feeling: angry, helpless, guilty, all of the above??

I'm a 22 years old nursing student who lives at home with my parents, two sisters (18 and 25), my 87 year old grandmother and 65 year old aunt. My grandmother has dementia and cannot be by herself. We bathe her, feed her and someone always has to be home with her. My aunt has cancer but she is still very lively but stays at home all day (she doesn't speak English well).

I lived with my boyfriend of 3 years until a year ago when he lost his job and we lost our apartment. I then started nursing school and moved back home. Part of my stress is having lost the freedom that I had with him.

Most of my stress comes from being at my parents house. My mom has taken responsibility of my grandmother and my sisters and I do most of the care. My grandmother sleeps most of the day but has gotten very combative during bathing and other care. We get almost no help from my other aunts and uncles. Most days I am stuck at home watching my grandma since I don't work and cant due to my classes.

I know I should just suck it up and deal with it because she's my grandma and she needs us, but I get so depressed when I see my friends living their lives while I'm at home. I miss having my own life and freedom, living with my boyfriend and only having to worry about school. Some of my friends have married, one is going to Harvard Med, a lot are moved out, and most are just not saddled with my responsibilities.

I have asked my mom about nursing homes but she needs my grandma here for extra money for bills. I don't want to be selfish but I feel like my grandma would get better 24/7 care In a professional setting.

I don't know what to do. Can anyone relate?

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Since you live at home and are part of the family, you should be chipping in with the care of your grandmother. However, this does not mean that your parents should be taking advantage of you. Set aside some time every day where you are willing to help. Use the rest of your time studying and getting your degree so you can move out on your own. Either way, you should help out with your aunt and grandmother...they are family. I know what you are going through - my grandmother lived with us for a long time and I hated it. Now that I am older, I realize what a tough spot my mom was in. Do what is best for you, but do not add to your parent's burden.....good luck....Lilli
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Is there any chance that in your grandmother's situation that the state would pay for in home health care assistance, like bathing and some aide hours to give you some relief? I suppose she is not well enough to attend day programs to give you some relief?

The only thing I can say on the positive side is that you are helping your grandmother, you are gaining experience in the field you will be working in (nursing) and your situtation is not long term- when you graduate and find a job or your boyfriend does you will be back on your own again with free choice as to whether to continue to assist. Also, although you are not being paid for your "job", there are many students who don't have it easy either, they are working to pay for their educations and living expenses or taking out big loans. I know when you look at others seemingly easy carefree lifestyle that it is depressing but there are many others in situations like or similar to yours where they don't have money to live independently and do what they want or those who don't have the opportunity like you to further your education and move on, they might not be caring for a family member but they are stuck in a low pay dead end job. Meanwhile, have you tried explaining to your parents and two adult sisters that studying is just as demanding as working and that the workload for your grandmother needs to be shared. With five adults in the house, I would think a schedule could be arranged that permits you free weekend and evening times to get out and enjoy yourself.
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