I am in my mid 20s, and caring for grandma. I do not have a career. How am I going to enter the workforce after my grandmother passes away?

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My grandmother is 95 years old. While she can pass away any day, her health is such that unless something drastic happens (fall, etc.) she will not be going anywhere for a while. I want to remain with her until she passes, because that is her wish. She does not want to go to a nursing home, or even a hospital. She wants to remain at home until the end.

I am concerned about some things:
1) Career: I have no job skills that can help me re-enter the job force when my responsibilities change. I studied viola performance in college, and am a good violin teacher. But there is no demand for this skill, so I have to get reeducated. I am already 26, and I am concerned about ageism in the work field. I do not want to go into care taking as a career. I regret going into a profession that does not earn money, and I only have a small window of youth left to really pursue "what I want."

2) Exercise: The past 3 weeks, I have been leaving grandma alone for about 3 hours, 6 days a week to exercise at a local gym. I gained 90 lbs in the last 3 years, and I need to get healthy and lose weight. I am able to go and leave her alone at the moment, but I know there will be a time that grandma can't be left alone. Recently her back has been getting weak, so she needs someone to walk behind her and hold her back to ambulate. Lifting her off the toilet, etc.

3) Church: I go to church 4x a week, and I would like to continue doing this because this is the most important part of my life. Again, she is left alone when my mom drives me. There may come a point when she can't be left alone.

I guess a lot of these concerns are "what ifs" but they are bothering me. I have squandered a lot of my youth even before being a caretaker, because I made poor decisions and had psychological problems. I'm on disability (though I don't feel "disabled.") I'm very motivated. I am finally getting my life together, becoming Christian and going to church to be with godly people, and this challenge comes up. I guess it's God's will for me to be a caretaker. But the dreams I had once to be a career woman, an independent person who could support myself with a career I love, I feel like these dreams are gone. I guess reality sets in.

Thanks,
Neesa

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It went ok. She told us that we will be eligible for home nursing care through medicaid on May 1st. We are taking grandma home this morning (Tuesday) so we will be on our own until then. We definitely are going to try to hire someone privately right away though.
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Neesa, try pushing further w/hospital (if Grandma isn't home yet). My husband's aunt was in the hospital in December for the minimum 3 days. She then spent 5 weeks in rehab. All she had was a UTI and a related fall. I don't know, maybe it's the fall that helped qualify but generally, the fact that the seniors are in bed for several days qualify them to get rehab. Good luck
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How did the visit with the lawyer go?
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The hospital has staunchly refused rehab. Period. They don't want to give it because she didn't have a stroke or broken hip, she just had a UTI. Which doesn't require rehab. So that's it; they're washing their hands of her. It's completely preposterous.

My grandma EXPECTS 24/7 care. She expected it even before going to the hospital, and we were really at our end. My mom visited the hospital today and she said that Grandma was 1/2 way back to her old belligerent self. Probably because she feels stronger and less weak. (She was nice when she was weaker.) Grandma expects us to care for her 24/7. It was frustrating before because she would always want to manage everything we did, and "help" us with the garbage, etc. Then she'll want to go through her papers that she can't read, and she's constantly asking "What's that? What's that? Put that there." and then the next week she tells us to put the stuff back where it was before. If she is bed ridden this will be easier, but I think she will start to be belligerent again. We'll see how she is at home, but if we can't take it, we'll have to spend her life savings in nursing care. There it goes. What a stupid woman.

If I am caregiving for Grandma, I don't want her to pay me. It doesn't feel right; I am her granddaughter and I love her and will do it for free.
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It seems like the hospital should at least give GM the chance to go to rehab and see if she can improve strength wise. I'd push for that. When my dad was in rehab, they did much more for him when they knew I would be bringing him home. He improved quite a bit. His swallowing improved quite a bit too. They would not have done the extra if he was going to be a resident. If they understand that you want to continue to care for her at home, they bust their butt to make headway, and Medicare approves that because it's a cost savings to them to have an elderly person return home.

Jeanne has a point too. Your GM might enjoy 24/7 care. It's hard for you and your mom. Try the rehab and make it clear you are bringing her home, but need her to be as strong as possible. If she can't do it, then that's another story.

You need to get to the gym and carry on with your life. Your idea of teaching English is fantastic. Wow and you speak German too. Girl you rock!!!!

Yes, the need for escape and a little rage can be a motivator for exercise, but it's good for your brain, mental health, etc. regardless. Love Ya, Cattails.
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Thanks for the update! An elder law attorney is a good source of information. That should really help.

If you are bringing grandmother home in order to save money you can inherit, be sure that you know the contents of her will and who else will be sharing this money you are working so hard to protect. The lawyer may suggest GM pay you for caregiving as you go rather than waiting for her to die.

If GM has gotten to like the kind of care available when there is a 24/7 staff of professionals, perhaps she really would prefer a nursing home. Would that be OK with you and Mom?
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Here's an update:

Grandma has been in the hospital since Wednesday. Today is Monday. Since Friday they have been trying to kick her out because she is "better" from the UTI. However now she is too weak to get out of bed, and she herself doesn't know if she should go back home. This is coming from the same grandma who VIOLENTLY hated the hospital. Now she thinks they're taking good care of her. She needs someone to change her diaper at least every 2 hours, and also feed her (although she can eat some foods on her own like sandwiches or easy-to-see food on the plate). We are concerned because my mom cannot lift her to change her diaper. Also we would need to hire someone to help us out at least part of the day. We have a woman in mind who can come at least on weekdays from 1-8, but we don't know if she does personal care. Also of course Grandma needs to be sponge-bathed, hair washed, all that stuff.

We are also concerned because if we agree to put grandma in a nursing home, the government is going to take all her money that she saved her whole life. The matter was not dealt with when we had the opportunity, so now we have all this money showing. So even though grandma is willing to go to a nursing home, we most likely will take her back home anyway.

I am enjoying the break now, but because I am unsure if she will return home, I have been sort of in "limbo." If I knew she wasn't coming back, I would organize my "new life." But right now I am just feeling very unproductive and stagnant again. I am actually missing having a routine in caring for her. Also I am not motivated to go to the gym again. It was very easy to go before because I had all this pent up stress to let off from caretaking, but now I am just relaxing so there is no "rage." Funny how that works. I am still eating well though, probably around 1500-1600 calories a day with no snacks except for 2 100 calorie power shakes. Fingers crossed. It will be a super blessing if she returns home, because then I will want to work out again or something.

A friend of mine at church offered to give me a hospital bed for our house if she returns home. Our insurance is not providing one, so if she needs on we have one for free.

Also people have talked about rehab and after-care plan. The hospital gave her none. They have been really unprofessional in this whole process. When we were told of her discharge, 2 social workers called us and said stuff like "Well she's been like this for a long time." (she hasn't) and "She's 97, what do you expect?" (She's 95, and that is not the attitude they should have.) They told us nothing about our options. Then we talked to a 3rd woman, and she told us some things that were more helpful, like "talk to an elder care lawyer." So today (right now) my mom is meeting with an elder care lawyer. We'll see what the result of that is. But regarding what I know right now, it seems like Grandma will come home.

In terms of "career" that is on hold, I have this idea that I want to teach English. I live in NYC so there is high demand. I could get a TESOL certificate and then teach English. Also I can get more violin students when my schedule frees up. Right now I found a German tutor online so I can improve my German while I'm at home. (I speak German fairly well.) I'm trying to figure out Spanish lessons as well. I hope this works out.
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Neesa, thanks for bringing us up to date. Sorry about the UTI but it may be responsible for MANY issues. After the admission, etc your GM will likely settle in and you can get away during her naps or tests, etc. Presumably, she will be offered the opportunity to go to rehab (standard after a 3 day hospitalization). Consider this too as it may help strengthen your GM. (Also, it gives you a break). You can start to look into rehab centers now as it is the family's decision not the hospital's as to which rehab she goes to. Last summer, the hospital wanted to send my Mom to the rehab in her continuing care community. Its reputation wasn't all that great. So we chose another one geographically closer to my brother and myself. This made for easier visits and their reputation was better.

How is your new eating plan working out? Don't let the hospital stay get you off of your objective. We're all pulling for you.
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Nessa: I so agree with Jeanne. Be open and engaged and the world will find you. As for your GM, I so understand what you mean about a different kind of stress. I went through it with my mom on many occasions during hospitalizations, cancer diagnosis, surgeries, etc. and I've been through it with my dad too.

I'm going to advise you to get some rest and go to the gym. Keep something of your routine in your life. It's very difficult when you feel that the person in the hospital can't eat on their own. Your GM probably doesn't eat a lot to begin with so make it a point to help her with at least one meal and ask the hospital to provide a supplemental shake (calories and vitamins) to go with that meal. That will help her and help you too. You hang in there sweetheart. Cattails.
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Neesa, I want to comment on your career fears. Don't worry about being "too old" to start a new career. I say this not because employers are benevolent and want to give older folks a chance, but because it is in their self-interest and they know it. Assume you'll start at or near the entry level. If you were the employer, would you rather pay that entry level salary to a wet-behind-the-ears graduate or to someone with a little maturity, a little experience with being reliable, conscientous, and serious about achieving a goal? Once you are hired, your advancement depends on your contributions, not on your age.

It is amazing how often people in our culture change not just jobs but careers. The dentist who becomes an art dealer, and the biochemist who becomes a park ranger are alive and well. People start new careers at any age. You'll fit right in.

When I started my third career, I discovered it through a course designed for women entering or re-entering the workforce after an absence. I highly recommend seeking such an experience, when the time comes. For now I'm just trying to reassure you that your age will not be an obstacle to leading a fulfilling and productive work life. There are plenty of other things to worry about. You can cross that one off your list.
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