First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for your kind words of encouragement and advice. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to reply to my post.
An update (sorry, this is going to be long): I messaged my aunt and told her flat-out that this is no longer working for me. I said that A’s relentless complaining and her dramatics have worn me out, and that I have begun making plans to move on. I’ve already applied for two jobs, and intend to apply for many more. The plan is to take day shifts so I can return to A’s house and be there for her during the night (thankfully, she rarely needs me at night). Once I save up enough to get my own place, I’m gone.
My aunt was supportive. She said that she completely understands how frustrating A can be, and will try to find other options. I also talked to A’s son about how I was over it. He said that I just have to be harsh with A and that I shouldn’t let her behaviors bother me. That’s much easier said than done; he’s completely fed up as well and doesn’t even hide it (he openly rolls his eyes at A when she acts up).
My therapist, a behavior analyst, gave me some suggestions to deal with A, and I’ve implemented them without results. I continue to ignore “bad” behavior, praise “good” behavior, etc, but there’s been no change. Shortly after the substitute caregiver left that Friday afternoon, A started with the complaining. I stopped her and told her to tell me three positive things about her day instead. She dissolved into tears and wailed, “I can’t! I can’t even think of one!”
So I offered three: 1. She didn’t fall (thankfully she’s only fallen once in the four months I’ve been with her, and was not seriously hurt); 2. She heard from her children; and 3. The weather was nice. I will continue to use this tactic, but I’m not holding my breath that it’ll work.
A couple of people have told me I’m not “cut out for this”. Well, yes and no. I think anyone would be as frustrated as I am if they were subjected to behavior like A’s with hardly any respite. Keep in mind I have not had a breakdown or lashed out at A or anything of the sort. I’ve worked with challenging and even aggressive seniors before and been okay. Working with the elderly population isn’t my cup of tea, though; I am more enthusiastic about helping kids and teens. I wasn’t expecting to become A’s caregiver; it literally just happened. In April, my situation with my ex escalated into something dangerous and I had to get out quickly. My aunt said, “Hey, you can move to [city] and live rent-free plus get paid your old salary (I worked at a pet store chain for minimum wage), and we can finally afford care for A! Win-win!” I had never met A before that day, and had no idea what to expect. Yes, it was foolish, but I felt I was out of options.
Some of you have suggested that I get A out of the house. I wish this were possible, but she’s in a wheelchair and her house is elevated with steps (no ramp). Getting her in and out of the house is a production and requires two people. Plus then there’s transportation to consider. I like the idea of giving A activities to keep her busy, but she’s just not interested and won’t even consider anything but watching television and reading the paper.
I talked to a doc who came to the house; he doesn't want to prescribe psych meds ("adverse effects"), but he will send a social worker.
In the meantime, I’m feeling a little better because I know that this won’t last too much longer (I hope!). I just need to be patient until I can get a job, save up, and get out. And next year I’ll be going to grad school, so that’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. Also, A hasn’t gotten nasty with me since my last post, but if she does, I plan on either saying, “I know you’re upset, but do NOT talk to me like that” and/or, “I’m going to leave until you’re ready to calm down and be respectful toward me” instead of shutting down like I have in the past.
Wishing all of you the best!