Grandma was admitted into the hospital from an assisted living facility, her main condition was listed as failure to thrive. Now I am questioning the decision I made over a year ago to move my grandmother into my home. At the time, I knew it was huge and I wondered if I could truly handle it. I decided I could, and unfortunately I failed to take into consideration the impact it would have on my children. Grandma adores my son but only tolerates my daughter. My daughter has been subjected to unfair favoritism and she is fully aware of it. I am very angry right now. That is such an understatement at best.
I know all the sacrifices I have made and I did it willingly at the time, but things have changed. I look at the state of my life and the quality of my children's lives, and I question my decision. I want to 'undo' our living arrangement and get back on the track of being the best mom I can be, which I've recently redefined. There was a time that I thought as a role model that meant taking care of my grandma in my home with my children helping along the way. It seemed like the only right thing to do, but now I'm not so sure. Today it seems more like we are all hostages because grandma didn't want to acknowledge her abilities declining and she wanted to stay in her home as long as she could. The truth is, she stayed too long and refused to plan for the time when she couldn't.
Now, I can't help but ask myself why I continue to take responsibility for the choices she made, rather refused to make year after year. The truth is, the children and I have done a remarkable job with making her comfortable and happy in a life she would NEVER have chosen for herself. The catch is that now I've noticed that the three of us are no longer thriving, but she is. Is it worth it? I find myself in a quagmire of family values; priorities vs. loyalties. Honestly, I do not know what I am going to do to change the current situation. But, because of my experience I have become very proactive and set up long term care plans for myself so I never put my children through a dilemma of this sort. However, I'm not sure that means very much to them at this point.
I feel compelled to say a few words here...If you fail to take care of yourself first, how can you possibly offer care to others? Ever been on an airplane? The friendly and well trained flight attendant always instructs the passengers, should the event occur, to first secure your own oxygen mask - then assist your child. Do you know why they say that? Because we all (well most of us anyway) need reminders to take care of our needs first - so we are able to offer assistance to others.
Have you ever observed a lifeguard assisting a distressed swimmer? The first thing they'll do is to dunk the person in need of assistance under water, assuming the swimmer is still conscious. The reason they do it is because they are trained to do it. It doesn't come naturally. But if you think about the distressed swimmer- very afraid- he is trying to grasp and cling to the rescuer -quite desperately, for it is a matter of his life or death. If the lifeguard doesn't sufficiently control the panic, then he is at risk too and no one will be rescued.
If you are just now putting your health and safety first, I think you have just reached the 'trained professional' status. Congratulations!!! What part of that permits guilt? Not a bit of it, really.
Lots of love to you!!!
And you're doing great!
It's one thing when the ideal situation happens and kids and parents grow together with the grandparents. Three generations in a home happened a lot decades ago. But people didn't live on to be severely demented and create an abusive atmosphere for grandchildren (let alone the adult child - or in the case of Jamiea - adult grandchild and great-grandchildren). They died of some disease before that happened.
Getting out of that hole after once trying the live-in arrangement can be very difficult. But, detaching with love, taking steps to get the elder into another living arrangement, and then visiting or doing what you can - well, it can be done. Stay strong. Do what is right for your WHOLE family.
You are wise, brave people. Be true to the spirit of what you know is right.
I spent a lot of time defining my beliefs, values and principles. It is hard work but so worth it, because you then know when someone is feeding you a line of crap (aka: trying to take advantage of your good nature or WORSE trying to tell you you're not capable!) Do not try to live on crap, it cannot sustain you. I can't say that it is easy to always honor your truth - actually it is very hard, but it is so worth it because you can always feel good about who you are. (and I make that statement from the place of truly believing I am good, kind and caring- even though I'm prone to the many mistakes humans make. I must always guard myself 1st because I often offer my goodness to others too freely and wrongfully deny myself.)
First you have to believe in yourself, then you have to trust yourself to do what is right - even if/when everyone else has doubts. "To thine own self be true..." Wasn't that from Shakespeare?
Austin - you take care (of you!)
PS: My sister thought I'd go to gram's house collect a few belongings, get the utilities connected, and not much more than that. Can you imagine how shocked she was with all that was accomplished on my trip? Here's another bit from my trip...the man from the gas company came and reconnected service. He lit pilots on the stove and water heater, but he wouldn't light the boiler furnace because he thought it should be checked/serviced. Once he left I sat at the kitchen table and contemplated who to call for the job, phone book in front of me. *sigh* I reached over to the phone (circa 1940 something...rotary dial, tethered to the wall and all) I picked it up and looked underneath. There, I found receipts from the HVAC Co. dating back to 1987 - so much for wondering who to call...
I'd like to share a little more just because this was a tough one for me to learn/accept. We have NO feeble words so long as we speak/live what is true in our hearts. Feeble happens only when one lives in a way to please others and meet their demands instead of listening to the calling of the soul. When you feel something from the core of your being, that is the truth and it is never wrong. I call it intuition, others may call it a hunch, again some others may feel it in the gut.
I have amazing intuition, but I had to re-learn to listen to it and ACT ON IT. In the past I have discounted and ignored it because I was trained to do so, I was trained to be a good girl and 'do the right thing' even when it wasn't the 'right' thing for ME to do
I am so happy for you
Angela and mia Madre Anna
I drove the 750 miles to grandma’s home town and checked in at the local Super 8. My oh so thorough planning ahead skills fully at work, I had reserved a room for one night only. I checked in just before midnight and promptly passed out. I woke up bright and early the next morning thanks to all of the other guests slamming their doors (every door sounded like it was right next to my head). I decided to forget about needed sleep and instead get an early start on my work. I stumbled out into the lobby since the motel offered a courtesy breakfast bar, and the staff was on the ball because it was up and running. (Side note) I DO NOT function well without morning coffee, and coffee really was my sole mission. But immediately my senses were hit with the smell of something yummy – fresh hot waffles – and I was starving. I couldn’t help it, coffee or not, I HAD TO HAVE A WAFFLE. So in my still mostly asleep state, I attempted to make a waffle and it wasn’t working out so well for me. A very sweet and kind woman bystander began to instruct me through what should have been a relatively simple process; that is, if you are not sleepwalking. Finally, my waffle was cooked and I had my desperately needed cup o’joe. Since I hate to eat alone, I invited myself to join the kind woman who helped me. – By the way, her name is Barb. - We shared breakfast and a little small talk, “Where are you from…what brings you to town?” I about fell out of my chair when Barb said she was in town to help her son find a place to live. Thank God the caffeine had started to kick in or I may have really embarrassed myself! In retrospect, I asked too many pointed questions and probably made her feel a little uncomfortable, but fortunately she answered honestly anyway. Her son had just separated from his wife and needed a place to live, fast; one in which his wife could not object to their children coming to visit…Do you get where this is going? I was wide awake and smiling like an idiot while I told what brought me to town, “Which by the way, did I mention grandma’s house happens to be fully furnished right down to dishes, silverware and linens? You know, maybe we should talk more about this with your son.” I can’t recall anymore exact details, but by the time breakfast was finished we had agreed that Barb and her husband would follow me to see the house. I felt the need to give a disclaimer about the fact that I hadn’t seen its condition in almost 2 years, and honestly I had no idea what we may walk into.
I was quite surprised to find the door unlocked and in the middle of the living room floor was a fake Christmas tree along with many bags of household items, none of which belonged to my grandmother, her basement was full of cushions for patio furniture and also empty luggage. As it turns out, the neighbors who were ‘watching it’ for safe keeping had turned grandma’s house into their own personal storage facility. Okay, things could have been much worse like the local homeless using it as a shelter facility. Right? Barb and her husband looked past all of the neighbor’s belongings and checked the house out thoroughly. Barb sat down on the living room sofa and decided grandma’s house was just precious, perfect in fact, and she hoped her son would think so too. He came to see it later the same day and he took no time to express his desire for a lease agreement on a furnished rental. He didn’t feel any need to check for other/better options as long as I felt we could work something out. My 1st day in town was far more productive than I ever imagined. Grandma’s house was a done deal, almost.
It took me a full two weeks to get all the household systems up and running properly and also deal with grandma’s personal items. I must say that all in all, the timing and success of my trip had to be orchestrated by God’s grace. All I did was show up with a quasi-willing heart and He took care of the rest. I’m not saying it was easy, because it definitely was not. But I am here to say that every need I had was already filled – all I had to do was look around to notice, and find it LITERALLY waiting for me. There is some much more I could write but this post is crazy long already. I just wanted to share this awesome experience.
veteranaid.org is a good place to begin before you call the VA. Jerome.
Angela and Mia Madre Anna
I don't know how to start a new topic on this venue, so I hope you don't mind me asking my question here. Anyone know how to start a new topic?
Angela and Mia Madre Anna
Believe it or not, the VA is fufilling it's promises to mom as a veteran. She served in WWII. Once the VA, SS benefits are in place I should be able to have more time for myself.
BTW If your parent served in the military from 1943-1957 in Chapter 9 of the SS online handbook, question 954 addresses additional compensation a vet may qualify for up to 160 a month for each month served.
I vent and she makes suggestions for action.
My mom and I took care of my dad after his stroke for 7 years, then he fell- hit his head- and died 14 hours later. That same year mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Its been 12yrs so far and now her care is a little easier. There was definitely some rough patches. I am the kind of person who doesn't like to ask for help, so it took some doing for God to put me in a place where I was ready to ask for help.
A while back I called the Alzheimer's National Association, and asked for an Elderlaw attorney they would recommend in my area, and he has helped with the legal side of things.
Caregiving is often lonely and isolatiing. Please keep checking in.
This is my first post and I have enjoyed reading (but also saddened by) your events of the past month and a half.
I have been caring for my father in my home for almost 4 years now but just became conservator/guardian last May due to his 2nd stage dementia. When my youngest went off to college, I had moved from southern California to northern Idaho so that I could live in the country, raise chickens, grow veggies, and live out my "country girl" dream. My father joined me 2 months later and so has curtailed a lot of what I thought I would be living. I didn't know the extent of his disability because he had been living with my sister who "was clueless". When he couldn't figure out how to make coffee and ate NOTHING unless I set it in front of him, I began to worry.
For the first couple of years I continued to work as a registered nurse but as we work 12 hour shifts, leaving him home stressed me a great deal. Once, when I was working, he bought a truck and had it delivered to the house. When he called 911 to alert them that the astronauts were in trouble in space, I knew I couldn't leave him home alone anymore.
Because he does not like strangers of any sort in the house, and because I don't want them in my house either, I opted to become his paid care giver this year. It is by far, less expensive than assisted living or a nursing home and because I AM a nurse, I feel qualified to provide good care for him. My mother (who is still married to him but chooses not to live with him) is angry at me for accepting money from his estate. But I won't apologize for it. I'm not rich; I need an income and I am providing a service that is a better alternative (at this moment). In addition, my life has been put on hold for 4 years now. I used to dance, enjoyed wine tastings, gardening, etc. but rarely get out. It has only been since the court made me legal guardian that I began to consider myself a care giver and have adopted a new paradigm, one that involves taking care of myself as well.
I have taken a lot of classes on aging and dementia, started a blog and a newsletter, have signed up for respite care so that I can get a break once a week, at least.
It's still VERY tiring, oft-times lonely and I'm not sure how long I'll be able to do this. But.....as you have all said, we all have to make choices that are best for all concerned, and we cannot feel guilty about those choices we do make, because we are making them with a loving heart.