I'm 25 yrs old and I will soon be my 80 yr old grandmother's caregiver. Any advice for a new caretaker?


I'm concerned about many things! I am 25 years old and due to family pressures, I have decided to quit my job and will become my grandmother's caregiver when she is discharged from the hospital. I don't regret this decision, but at the same time, I'm scared about the future and am already stressed about what my responsibilities will be. I have recently graduated college with a degree in criminal justice and forensic chemistry. I have been unable to find full-time work, so it was decided that it would be best if I put the job searching on hold and take care of my grandmother.

I am happy to help my grandmother; she has always been a support to me and I feel like this is the right thing to do. However, we are both stubborn women and my grandmother can be rather difficult when it comes to someone impeding on her sense of independence.

My grandmother has suffered multiple strokes and has lost much of her functionality in her left side. She has made poor health choices in the past and insists on still being just as independent as she was before experiencing her serious medical problems. It is not safe for her to be by herself anymore, as she is prone to choking episodes (she has issues swallowing), has trouble walking, is prone to falls, and is generally just weaker and has less stamina than what she used to have.

Honestly, I'm scared about this transition in my life from becoming college student to caregiver of an elderly woman. There are times when I feel selfish and feel like "I'm still so young, I should be living my life, not taking care of someone!", but at the same time, I am glad that I can be able to help my family and that my grandma trusts me enough to take care of her. I know that this is probably stressful to her as well! I don't want her to feel like she's lost her independence. While in the hospital, she did have a small bout of depression, which I totally understand, and I would like to help her and make sure she doesn't feel helpless or hopeless.

Is there any advice out there that can help me know what to expect and how to manage stress for the both of us? I'd really appreciate it!

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Please don't do this, you are so young and you have no idea how long this can drag out. Please don't ruin your life like this. You will become resentful and angry and have problems with depression, lack of a social life, just please listen to what I am telling you. Let someone else do this for your grandmother. Please, Stormy
Helpful Answer (12)

"You're still so young, you should be living your life, not taking care of someone!"

I'm sorry, that is my first reaction to reading about your plans. I know that this is a done deal so it isn't completely appropriate of me to tell you this is a mistake, but I have some strong concerns.
1) Is this seen by your family as a temporary measure? Gramma could need care for another 15 years. Are you expected to do this until you are forty? If it is not permanent, what is the duration? A year? Two years? Until Gramma can be talked into Assisted Living? It can't be "until Gramma gets well" because that is not going to happen. How long are you supposed to put your job search "on hold?" Now, at the beginning, is when the expectations about how long you'll do this should be established.
2) Are you being paid for this work? With a 1099 that you'll pay taxes and Social Security on, or is this just supposed to be a lost period as far as your SS credits go? Even if you are not being paid what the work is worth, you should be paid something!
3) Has a respite schedule been established? To be an effective caregiver you absolutely positively have to get away from it periodically. So, what times to you have off, and how is the family covering those times? Do you get 3 hours off on Wednesdays to go to your bookclub and from Saturday noon to Sunday evening? Do you get a week off every four months? Has respite and breaks been discussed with the family that is pressuring you into this? Get that established before you start. It can be very difficult to get a schedule set up later.

You sound like a compassionate and intelligent young woman. I am sure you will be able to take good care of your Gramma. As issues and concerns arise (and they certainly will with two stubborn women in the house) come back and post with specific questions. We are all on your side, and hoping for a satisfying and successful experience for you!
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Sweet: Listen to us , you are too young to put your life on hold. Keep looking for work in your profession or something else like security officer etc. Does grandma have property the family would like to keep? That would be understandable but it is not your duty. How about relatives taking turns with grandma or a part time caregiver. You can help out and explain to grandma that you cannot be there 24/7. If this does not work, how about senior apartments. My Mom loved the social activity there. Do not get roped in, be honest with your family and tell them this cannot be a long time thing for you.
You have to be able to have a life and an income to take care of you. It is noble effort and I know because my grandmother raised me. Just don't do this at your age. God Bless
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Caregiving is a team effort, so start developing a support network while you still have time. ... Also, there's nothing "selfish" with trying to have a life outside being someone else's lifeline. If caregiving is going to be your full-time job, find out how you can get paid for it. There's nothing selfish about this either.
Helpful Answer (6)

BriFantabulous, I am going to go against the others here and encourage you to continue your job search. You want to get into your field at an early age, not put it on hold for years. It doesn't mean that you can't take care of your grandmother, but continue to look while you are taking care of her. Make plans for how she will be cared for after you get your job. There are many options. So keep looking for that perfect entry level job. If a few years slip by, you may not have an opportunity in your chosen field. I am sure that your family would not want that to happen to you. Many of us here on the site realize that, when it comes to caregiving, years can slip by quickly.
Helpful Answer (6)

BriFantabulous, I had a longer post but I am changing it a little, and would just strongly urge you to live your life and not do this. If there is input from family, there is family that can share the responsibility. If they have already said 'yes' to you being a caregiver, I feel they are already sneaking away from helping and you will be left alone in it (critics will linger, just to comment but never help). Please live your life. I don't discourage you from helping, but don't take on primary responsibilities.
Helpful Answer (6)

Bri, when it comes time, it is okay to say no. I'm finding myself angry at your family for thinking this is actually a good solution. I shouldn't, I know. I hope you find a good job soon. With all the family, you should be able to keep things covered. I wouldn't put off finding a job, because caregiving comes with some unusual side effects. Some of them were discussed in the "New caregiver in crisis" message in the discussion section. You're wonderful for wanting to help, but read the message and take it to heart. I am a pretty tough person, but have found myself suffering about half of the symptoms. Who would have thought?

I'll quit advising now, because I know you feel you have to do this. I don't know if it is because you are concerned they will be mad or if you feel obligated. I do think we are all obligated to help, but not to sacrifice your life at such an early age. There are too many other options. Maybe you can get a social worker in to see what options are available, since there is not a lot of money. These workers know about things that most are not aware of. And don't be afraid to try outside help. For every one apple with a worm, there are ten good ones.
Helpful Answer (6)

my son is your age and also has a degree in criminal justice. I think you are a very special person to consider this. I couldn't imagine my son doing this honestly i don't think its a good idea. Why do you think this is your responsibility did your grandma raise you.? I quit my job to take care of my mom. It is a 24 hour a day job. It is not easy. As noble as it is resentment occurs. This is not something that you should be dealing with at 25.. If you do decide to do this. Do you have support to do it? who will be with you. what about nights and week ends? God bless you
Helpful Answer (5)

Where are Grandma's other family members? Do they plan to do more than visit while you have full responsibility? This is a huge amount of emotional and physical work for someone your age.

The above #3 from jeanne is a must! There is a caregiver agreement document on this site that you need to read and have your family sign.

This a hugely noble act of love on your part and I am sure you will do a wonderful job; however, for your age, my advice is run like heck in the other direction and visit on weekends. How easily do you think finding a job 6 months or how about 6 years down the road? What about your plans for a family and future happiness.

Your family is very cruel to expect you to sacrifice your life for a few months or a few years, while they go about their business. Has an inhome health care agency been considered?

Think very carefully about this without the influence of your family. Good luck and God bless!
Helpful Answer (4)

Bri, you gave in to family pressure to care for grandmother. I still think that the responsibility should be on grandmother's adult children. They have lived their life to the full while you are just starting yours. I can see you Helping your parent or aunt and uncle to care for Their mother but to pressure you to do it....I think is very selfish of them. Think about it. They had over 20years to do what they wanted in life: marry,have children,get a job and climb up the ladder,vacation, etc...

I'm sorry...it's just that I can't stop thinking of you and what you're being pressured to do. You know that this caregiving can drag on for years, right? I started on age 23 and I'm still doing it 24yrs later. But now both parents are bedridden.

I just feel so bad for you and what you will be facing ahead. Why can't any of your Mature elders care for their mother (or aunt)???
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