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!

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SunShine, good for you. You are making positive motion forward and that is always helpful.

She probably feels that you are done with her nonsense and she is behaving herself, good. Keep the attitude of enough and she may actually be able to give you 3 positive things. People that have self confidence are able to create comfort for people that don't have any security in their lives because they are old or young and need to feel that someone is in control, you have shown her that and she is less insecure because of it, well done!

I so appreciate this update. So few come back to tell us what they are doing or how they are doing or how it is going for them, and you DID!
I hope you will continue, as it is clear you are thinking, sorting, working within time frames, and being honest and up front with everyone. You are working well with the aunt and with those on the periphery.
KUDOS to you. So happy for you. It won't always be one step forward and then another forward. There will be steps back like that bad old Simon Says game, but you clearly have thinking and organizational skills, willingness to try new things and work on things that puts you, in my mind, in the "The-would-be-a-great-employee" file. Add me to your resumes!

You go girl!

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