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My grandma has been in a nursing home since a hospital stay last September. She initially went for rehab, but it was determined by myself and her care team that it wasn't safe for her to return home due to cognitive issues and falling/safety awareness. Because of covid, the nursing facility was closed to the public until recently. For the first few months she was there, we talked on the phone occasionally, but it was only ever for her to tell me her latest delusion (usually someone had stolen something that was never there in the first place). After around Christmas she continued to decline mentally and stopped charging her cell phone. I continued to check on her via nursing home staff. Now that she has been vaccinated and I can go visit again, I just don't want to. I feel like a terrible person. We have never had a close relationship. Before my parents passed away I maybe saw her twice a year even though we live in the same town. I have spent the last almost three years dealing with family stuff, first my dad passing unexpectedly, then my mom being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer 3 months later, being the sole caregiver for my mom who moved in with my husband and I, my mom passing away, cleaning out and selling their homes which was a massive undertaking especially as an only child, and then becoming caregiver for my grandma. I feel selfish, but I'm tired of living my life for everyone else and feeling like I'm just biding time until she passes away.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond. I did actually go visit today for about 15 minutes. The visit was ok and she seems to be doing well and in good spirits. She has no clue she is in the nursing home, which may be for the best. Our visit ended with her asking about things she thinks we're stolen (this has been an ongoing theme and and subject of our only calls in the time she has been in the facility) which were never there with her to start with. I know the hospitalization, dementia, infections, etc have all exacerbated the delusions. I told her I would look into her concerns and excused myself telling her I had to go pick up some lunch for my husband. It definitely won't be a daily visit but maybe every other week or weekly could be doable.
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BurntCaregiver May 5, 2021
hfry15,
Good for you. It was nice of you to go and visit her in the nursing home. You're a good person and god bless you.
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I'm really glad I had 2 children because being an only child is a huge burden I wouldn't wish on anyone. I'm an only myself, and I've always hated everything about it, but now even more so with a 94 y/o demented mother living nearby for the past 10 years and nobody to help me bear the load. I dealt with my father and his brain tumor for a long time, then he passed in 2015, and my mother has been declining ever since, living in Memory Care and causing me a LOT of stress & heartache.

My condolences on the loss of your mother and father, and all you've been through the past few years. You are suffering from what's known, I believe, as 'compassion fatigue' after all that's gone on. Google it. It's real and it's worse than burnout, too.

Do whatever you feel you must do for YOURSELF now. The thing about advanced dementia is that your grandmother likely won't remember your visit anyway, yet you can wind up suffering the after effects of it for weeks. Post traumatic stress is REAL and many of us suffer from it after years of care giving and watching loved ones die painful deaths. Seeing your grandmother in a debilitated state may be the straw that breaks the camels back for YOU, you just don't know. The 'one too many' thing that tips you over into PTSD and then what?

If you feel the need to call her once in a while, go ahead and do so. Otherwise, just check on her status with the nursing staff and leave it at that.

Wishing you the best of luck moving forward with your life.
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hfry15 May 5, 2021
I have never heard of compassion fatigue, just googled it and it just hit the nail on the head! Definitely going to talk to my therapist about it. Thank you!
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If you never had a close relationship with your grandmother at any time in your life and only saw her twice a year in spite of living in the same town, that's on her not you.
Why should a person feel obligated to visit someone in a nursing home who is pretty much just an acquaintance to them?
You have no reason to feel like a terrible and guilty person for not spending time in a nursing home listening to a delusional elderly person that you hardly know complain about everyone stealing from them.
If you still feel like a terrible person visit her twice a year. That's what she gave you.
No one should expect more then they were willing to give themselves.
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You aren’t “a terrible person” for taking good care of yourself, and your feelings of being last in line behind “everyone else” is certainly pretty understandable.

Could you consider taking a “caregiving leave of absence”, and then consider following up with some casual brief visits, sending a greeting card or two, contacting social services to see if someone could give her a phone or iPad if you were to call at a specified time during her day?

I thought I’d go bonkers when my mom was placed, and I too was a “lonely only”, and my PCP asked me if I’d considered reframing my situation with her. Ultimately, that actually worked. After I got to know the staff, help with some of the activities, chat with some of the more cognitively intact residents, the task became less onerous and more personally rewarding to me.

Three unrelieved years of sorrows and obligation is a long time. Take a little break, figure out some easy interim strategies, give it a shot. Really, you’ve paid your dues, but maybe you can come up with something to do enough to please Grandma and give yourself a bit of a boost too.
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hfry,

There is no ‘right or wrong’ way to feel. My neighbor was extremely close to her grandfather.

When he was dying her mom asked if she wished to see him before he died. She told her mom, “No, I want to remember grandpa as he was, not at death’s door.” Her mom respected her wishes and her grandfather completely understood.

Do what you need to do for you.

You are not being selfish, nor are you a terrible person.
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You and grandma were never close. No need to be now. And she probably won't miss you. You just talked on the phone "occasionally" and she wasn't particularly interested in what was happening in YOUR life (which was plenty!)
She might wish she had more company, but it doesn't need to be you. You have enough to deal with. No need to feel guilty. You are a kind and and caring person, but just take care of YOURSELF for now.
As an only child, it may end up being your responsibility to handle some end-of-life issues for her. Do what you need to, be considerate, but don't feel obligated to act out a relationship that you never really had with her.
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I doubt that a 30-minute visit would be "living your life for everyone else."

Make the effort to visit once a week or so. I think you can do that much.
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BurntCaregiver May 5, 2021
MJ1929,

Why should she make the effort to visit once a week?
Her grandmother who lives in the same town as her granddaughter didn't make an effort to see her more than twice a year her entire life.
The grandmother doesn't deserve more than that from her granddaughter because that's all she was willing to give herself.
So now she's elderly, bored, and lonely in a nursing home and wants company? The granddaughter she saw twice a year isn't the person who should be doing it.
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I remember once talking to someone about grandparents. They couldn't wrap their heads around the antagonism I have (had?) towards some of mine. I told him "you know, not everyone has warm and fuzzy grandparents." He was floored.

I can tell you, that if either of my grandmothers was in a facility, I can't envision visiting either one of them...my mom's mom was a difficult person to get along with, and my dad's mom was just plain evil.

Just because you are related to them by blood, that does not elevate them to the level of "family". And you have nothing to feel bad about.
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hfry15 May 5, 2021
That is exactly how I describe her to people when they seemed amazed that I'm not overly involved in everything regarding her life, health, etc. She is not my "warm and fuzzy" grandma.
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Hi ☺️. Just do the best you can. You’ve been through a lot. I’m an only child who is caregiver to my very elderly parents as well, so I get it. This is a very rough situation you’ve been through, and yet are STILL going through. Be kind to yourself. Do your best with your grandmother. They don’t have to be long visits. And as one of my favorite Aunts used to tell me: this too shall pass. Hand in there, you’re a human being and none of us is perfect. We do our best. God bless you.
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Reply to KarenC148
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Grandma doesn't have anyone so you should go visit at least once a month.

Old people in Senior Homes that don't have visitors don't get taken care of as well as the ones who get visitors.
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