Any advice for a new and frankly terrified caregiver?


So I'm moving down to Texas to take some of the load off my mother's shoulders by caring for my grandfather, who lives with her. He's basically bed-bound, using a urine container but still getting up for bowel movements, and until now, he's relied solely on my mother for his care and maintenance. I see how stressed and tired she is, and it scares me a little.

I've taken care of elderly people before, but always on a temporary basis and never for family. And never with anyone who is as stubborn and often cantankerous as he is, coupled with general mental decline. I could use some tips from those more experienced than I.

Thank you!

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Dierdre, Your question stated that you are terrified. I pray that is not true. You sound like this was not a decision made lightly. My only source of strength with my 93 year old Mama (who does not live with me but nearby) is God. I pray everytime she calls or I call to be able to deal patiently and lovingly to her needs. So, my prayer for you is that you turn to THE source for your peace and strength. Blessings, m
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It is wonderful that you want to help your Mom take care of her Dad. When you get settled called the local Senior Services office to find out what in-services your grandfather might qualify for. His doctor can also recommend a home health care provider that will visit to do an evaluation and let your Mom know what options are available. Medicare takes care of these fees. This will allow him to stay at home for as long as possible and relief some of the stress for both you and your Mom.

Good luck and best wishes. There is no place like Texas!
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Another quickie piece of wisdom:

Every caregiver NEEDS respite. Nobody can do 24/7/365 care and remain sane and healthy, as you can see by your mother.

It is good that you aren't going to be living there, and that you will go home to your husband in the evening. And your mother will benefit greatly by having some daytime freedom. You and hubby also need to take vacations, build a social life, nurture your relationship. In that respect, treat this as a "job" where you put in your day and that is it. You get vacations and sick days and time off to go to the dentist. This cannot be all-consuming for you.

Build respite into this situation.
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So are you 100% decided? If not, let me suggest you consider that at 30 these are the critical years for you to be having/raising children or working and putting money toward your own retirement, building your life with your husband. If your mother is unable to care for your grandfather there are other resources that can be put in place to help her short of you taking over. That your mother will not put him in a home should not require you to derail your future. "Homes" aren't the horrible places they used to be and if he requires that much care it may actually be good for professionals to do it. Just my two cents, I hope not to offend just looking out for you.
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Thank you all for your responses; your wisdom and concerns.

Jeanne: Good idea. GF is 78, mother is 54 and I'm 30. I'm married, and my husband works from home, so he has no problem moving with me. I have one long time friend left in Texas who I've kept in touch with, so I won't be completely without support. I lived in Texas until I was 19, although I haven't been back since. I lived with my grandparents and my mother until I moved, so even though he's a hard man to deal with, he did help raise me, and I love him very much.

Sand and Jessie: I know y'all are concerned, but did what y'all advised, and I thought about it. I think I'll be all right. My husband and I are going to get a place of our own nearby, so I won't be living with them 24/7. I'm going to care for him during the day, and he still sleeps fine alone at night with my mom on the intercom.

The thing is... my mother will not put him in a home, so she needs some backup. They both helped to raise me, so it's the least I can do. Thanks again.
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Dierdre, could you give us some additional background information? For example, if Grandfather is 95, your mother is 76 and you are 57 and just retired from the military that would be a very different situation than if GF is 70, Mother is 52, and you are 26, if you see what I mean. Do you have a spouse? A boy friend? A social support group where you are? Have you ever lived in Texas? How did you get along with GF while you were growing up?

More details would save us from making assumptions and going off in directions that don't apply.
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Sand56, you are thinking the same as I am. Texas is a state that has wonderful resources in place for elders. To me, if grandfather has gone beyond the mother's ability to care for, other options need to be considered. Bringing in the granddaughter is not an option I would consider.

Dierdre, is there some plan for your life in TX other than going there to help you mother take care of your grandfather? I don't blame anyone for wanting to go to TX. I would go right now if I could. However, please consider the effect that this will have on your life. It is not selfish to think about the effect. It will give you some idea of things you can do to prevent future problems for yourself.
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It is evident that you love your mother and want to help but please re-consider and evaluate all viable alternatives with your mother.

This may not be what you want to hear but frankly my advise to you is don't do this.
You are disrupting your life to a magnitude that you may not be able to comprehend or imagine. Please examine this web site and read numerous heart breaking storys especially from individuals who are young and/or taking care of negative, "cantankerous relatives that are experiencing mental decline". Moving results in isolation, lost friendships and opportunities, financial hardships, depression and the list goes on.... Cantankerous people are unhappy, unpleasant, difficult, nasty and most often abusive... You deserve to live your life with joy and happiness and I truly fear that this situation will lead to much unhappiness and turmoil.

If you plan to move forward with your move to Texas do you plan to live with your mother, work outside of your home or stay at home and take care of your
grandfather? It would be beneficial to understand your plans so advise given may be better suited to your situation.

I hope that I did not upset you with my comments. Good luck and take care.
Helpful Answer (3)

I'm on my way to an appointment so I'll just offer a quickie but essential tip:

Don't take it personally. It is Not Your Fault. Grandpa isn't likely to change significantly. Be a duck and let it roll off your back. Develop a strong sense of humor. And above all, don't take Grandpa's disagreeable behavior personally.
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