How can I get my grandmother to understand that I need to live my life?

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I am 33 and taking care of my 80 year old grandmother. I moved back from Paris France to New Mexico 7 years ago after my grandmother told me she was dying. I came to take care of her, but the longer I stay the more like a slave she treats me. She only continues to do less and less. She still says she is dying every day (but aren't we all?) even though her doctor says she is doing well. Her doctor is also part of the problem, he acts like I should drop everything for my grandmother, including my own health issues. I have been diagnosed with stage 3 NHL (lymphoma) and caring for my grandmother is severely hurting my health now. My grandmother does not seem to even acknowledge my health, nor does her doctor who actually one time told me to blow off my surgery to remove tumors from my lungs to get my grandmother's toenails cut, he totally acts clueless that if I die then she will have no slave left. My grandmother refuses to go to a retirement home, she insists that I have to take care of her or I am the worst person on the planet. I can only work part time while taking care of all of her needs and it is putting a strain on me financially, all the money I saved in Paris is gone now. Anytime I go out my granmother pouts and calls me names. To me it seems like she is a miserable person and she wants to make me as miserable as she is. Now that this is affecting my health, I need to find a way to cahnge this. I can no longer act as a slave for my grandmother, but I also know that if I just walk out the door she can't/won't take care of herself. Her doctor is no help, she plays the part of sweet, quiet old lady in front of him and he buys it. He also does not care for my health. I believe my grandmother needs to be placed in assisted living, but she has never been declared incompentent nor do I have any power of attorney. She won't listen when I try to talk to her. I am at the end of my rope and don't know what to do that will be good for her health as well as mine.

Answers 1 to 9 of 9
I truly feel for your situation. Misery does love company.

Please remind yourself daily that you can only control yourself....SO TAKE CONTROL of yourself!

You have health issues, take care of them. Find someone who can look in on grandma, or take her to a area daycare, etc... Then if she refuses the alternatives that is her decision. Take care of your health issue. If need be don't ask her...inform her. Inform her doctor of the days you will be away from your grandmother, the days you need to recoup and not available to assist her, and if she refuses help...advise him of that and make it clear you will not be able to assist her from this date to that date. Then he is on notice of the situation.
When you get have recovered I'd get a calendar and inform grandma of when you are available and when you are not. It is up to you if her negative comments make you feel guilty or not. Offer to set up alternative care (some to come in and visit, etc..) and again if she refuses get over it. (I know that is written easier than it can be done.)
Consider getting her involved in something outside the home. Church, a community activity for her age group, bridge group, social organization, ... anything that will make her feel valueable and needed or with a purpose. Invite friends or family over to visit for tea, coffee, or brunch. If she has knowledge about cooking, a craft, gardening ask her to share the info with you and make her feel valueable.
Get her out of the home for drives. Help her to gain a life outside the walls of her home or bring a life to her within the walls of the home if her health dictates.
Maybe set it up so that she goes to the hair dresser every week at a certain time, has her nails (fingers and toes) once a month and when you get there take her in and drop her off. Have them call you when she is done and come back. Give her time on her own and it give you a break too. Get out the photo's and rework a photo album. Consider going to the movies on another night once a month, out to eat another night and share the time. She needs something positive to look forward too. And if she won't go then go yourself.
My advise is live. Try to help her to create a life to live. Take care of yourself. When necessary don't ask to discuss just inform.

Top Answer
I think the answer is in your question: You CAN'T. You have to find the way to be okay with the fact she isn't going to change. Whatever triage you can do to focus her attention elsewhere (church, communitr group) won't eliminate the fact that she has built a life around you, and expects that to continue.

The only one who can change here is YOU. You have to find the way to live despite the name calling, despite the demands. They have to mean way less than they do now. Whatever you would do if that bad behavior stopped -- do it now. It's time. Otherwise, you are waiting for "permission" from a woman who will never give it.
Today is Nov 1. Set the countdown calendar for 60 days to find her a place, get her in before the Holidays and get on with your life.

Where are other family members in all this? My guess is they, who did not get away like you did, are well aware of the swirling vortex of drama that granma is and avoid her like the plague. You are the new target for her and she know she can use a guilt trip on you. She's successful so far on it too.

My suggestion to to lay down the conditions to her, that you expect to have her share her financial situation with you and have the following done:
- Durable Power of Attorney (not just POA)
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Living Will &/or Advance Directives (DNR)
- Declaration of Guardian in Event of Incapacity
- HIPAA Waiver
- Will or a Living Trust

I'm a firm believer in having an elder care attorney take care of all this. It will not be expensive as most is done by the paralegals. You do want to go in prepared with what the information is for the documents (e.g. the residence located at 123 ABC street, aka parcel #5678; Ann Smith, wife of John Smith, with the info on all the births, deaths & prior marriages) as well as valid ID for the elder. If the decisions have been already made, this should all simple, straightforward paperwork. Should take 1 - 2 hrs for intake & then 1 hr a couple of days later for the signatures.

If gran has assets, then all this should be paid from her assets. You & another family member (as a second because you are going to get out of NM) should be named on all the documents so that you or them can do what is needed.

Start looking for IL places, at 80, she is still young and sounds like she is capable and cognitive. IL will be significantly less than AL too. I imagine she'll hate it and rant about it and what you've done to her, ignore it and think of being in the Metro.

You have got to look out for yourself first & foremost. At 80 she could live to her mid 90's and you'll be 45. Think about it. If you don't do what's in your heart you will be very bitter later on, that is not tres-chic in a woman, french or americaine.
Lived on Rue St Andres des Arts on the LB and those years were priceless.
SEVEN years ago? Oh my, sounds like my mother. She has been dying since she was my age. First decide what you want to be different for you. If you want to work full time, tell her you need to get a full time job and she needs to plan around that. If you can't work right now with your condition but want more time away from her, tell her what days/times you will be available. If you are comfortable with your choices, let her call you names. She would be paying at least $12 to $15 an hour for an aide if you weren't there - more than that through an agency. So if you are living in her home supposedly "rent free" remember that 8 hrs a day is worth more than $3200 a month that she would have to be paying to someone else if you weren't there at her beck and call. If she is doing well cognitively, try to set this up like a business transaction so there is no resentment on either side. Don't let any more resentment build up. Seven years is a lot to give up at your young age. Do you have other relatives that could help? Do they know how you are feeling?
SVT - spot on!
WOW! What kind of a doctor does your mother have? I wonder if he is a medical doctor or just some unqualified person.. Frankly, I have never seen a so-called doctor who has such a lack of understanding either for the patient or the caregiver. As I have mentioned to others who have related problems there are medications for those, like your mother, who have behavior problems. My own 70 year old wife, who suffers from advanced dementia, is on Prozac and there are many other drugs that can help. If her "doctor" was worth his salt he or she would have prescribed something long ago. My wife is calm and very much like her old self but not drugged out. She is loved by our daughters, the neighbors and me. A prescription properly ordered does not make a zombie out of a person but it takes the edge off of the patient's personality and makes the patient as well as everyone else happier. So, you decide the order of importance but I urge you to consider retaining a lawyer and changing doctors. The present conditions are intolerable and you must be the grownup since your mother is unable to behave rationally
Well, the only other family is my mother (an only child) who is currently in jail on drug and prostitution chrages. So no family help is coming. My grandmother has always had few friends and never gets out, as long as I can remember she rarely goes anywhere (including when my grandfather was alive). She refuses to go to church, I have tried to get her to go to any and every senior center/programs in town and no.

I have looked into IL and she is not independent enough to qualify. And unfortunately the AL places with good ratings in town all have waiting lists of 1-2 years. I still have a few more to check out, but this is not looking promising.

And I need support and documents from her doctor and that is still a huge issue. He just does not seem to even listen when I speak. He does not understand that my health is important as well and that I can no longer phyically do what he and my grandmother expects. Yesterday I took her to the nurse practioner at her clinic and flat out asked for senior affairs refeeralls for these reasons and she just gave me a dirty look and said I don't think this situatoin calls for that. I now have calls into the state services, but that is a waiting game.

I am feeling like I am just going to have to walk away for them to understand. Maybe then her doctor will work on getting the resources needed to help her from outside the family.
First I want to compliment you on the work that you have done with your grandmother over the past seven years. Caring for an aging family member can be very stressful and frustrating and it sounds like you have invested a lot of energy and dedication. However, it’s also important that you take care of yourself too, because like you mentioned, if you’re not healthy you won’t be able to care for her. It sounds like your grandmother is very comfortable living with you and the idea of moving into an assisted living facility could make her anxious, which can be why trying to talk to her about this has become futile. Try to include other people into this conversation like family members, professionals (aside from her doctor) or individuals she has connected with in the community. For a more immediate solution you can look into home care agencies to have someone help you with your grandmother’s care while she is still living with you. You local Area Agency on Aging is a good place to start to locate resources in your community 800-677-1116


Sherri, Bless your heart. You are too young to be stuck in this situation. I'm sorry about your Mother, but obviously, you are the Angel in the family. Being kind and compassionate, you are easy to manipulate, you react to people's threats, want to "help others'--your Mother probably set you up for that with her addictions and your own need to "fix things". You sound like a hundred other special souls on the site:) Have you called a social worker for elders in your area? You need someone to help you with this so you can resume your life. Also, I do not agree that the thought of moving into assisted living is causing Grandma "anxiety". Do you have an agreement with your mother to take care of Gma until she gets out of prison? Does she have dementia? Doesn't sound like it. She just wants what she wants and to heck with your life--your life has no value to her!!! Selfish narcissistic woman--but also fearful, but that is her fault. Sherri: Please put your foot down and take care of Yourself. I would use every resource offered to you, and pray. Hugs, christina

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