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I am a live in caregiver to my grandmother, and my aunt has both POA and med proxy. She handles all the finances and whatnot for my grandmother while I do the day-to-day stuff.


Ever since this pandemic started, my aunt and I have been bickering, arguing and fighting almost constantly. We never had a good relationship to begin with, and the only reason I am doing this is because my grandmother was always there for me, so now it is my turn to be there for my grandma.


A lot of bad things have happened in our family recently in a fairly short amount of time: my aunt fell and sustained a major leg injury that she is still reeling from, then COVID19 which took our grandfather, my grandmother not only got COVID but also suffered some complications from this and now my cousin is having health issues which has my aunt in a panic, naturally.


There is no doubt that my aunt is overwhelmed, who wouldn't be. "Stressed out" would be a gross understatement. Not to mention being in pain from her injury, that would put anyone in a foul mood. With everything in mind, I can understand why she is snapping, but lately it's gone far beyond that. She criticizes everything I do and say, and she gets really nasty about it. Nothing makes her happy anymore and truth be told, I'm getting really sick of her treating me like dirt on her shoes.


She's been less of a family member lately and become more of a bad boss towards me. The relationship has gone from bad to downright toxic and we don't really communicate anymore. That might be part of the issue, because who wants to communicate willingly with an a*hole.


Note: moving out is not an option because my aunt will not place grandma in a nursing home. Supposedly there is "no money left" for that, and I won't abandon my grandmother, so here we are.


So the question I pose is this: how do you deal with difficult family members who seem to fight you at every turn?

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Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for your responses and advice.

You are right that as time marches on, this will not get any easier and this will surely put family relations to the test. But I have now learned how to deal with it in a better way.

A few people had suggested talking things out, which I did. My aunt came over and we had a heart to heart talk. Turns out she didn't mean to be rude or anything towards me, but she has been super stressed out dealing with more problems than I realized. She told me that she appreciates me being here for grandma. A lot of what was happening was miscommunication.

I also learned a valuable lesson in this: when someone treats you badly, it's not really about you. They are dealing with their own problems and maybe it's overwhelming to them. When she gets like this, the best thing I can do is let her know I'm here for her if she needs anything, and then step back to give her the space that she might need at that time.
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Countrymouse Aug 3, 2020
God bless you. Keep coming back when the going gets tough. I'm so so happy that you and Aunt were able to clear the air.
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Check the assessor's website in your county. Also, clerk and recorder for any property transactions. There you will learn who owns the house and if house was transferred to auntie dearest in the past five years that means trouble for auntie. That would also be why grannie has no funds for care. Medicaid would penalize granny by not paying for Care if auntie transferred home to herself in the last five years. Put your detective hat on.
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FloridaDD Aug 1, 2020
Well, the problem is Grandmas.  Auntie is trying to make it OPs.  I agree strongly with detective work.
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You deal with the difficult family members by telling them to take over the caregiving then step back and watch. The supposedly "no money left" is total BS. Families love a member like you because why pay for elder care in a nursing home, when it's likely free live-in from you? Demand that your aunt show you all of the financial records that prove your grandmother is broke, and if she is she can go on Medicaid and get outside homecare paid for, or go into a nursing home paid for (they will take her house though unless it's in someone else's name and has been for several years). Call your aunt's bluff and make her show her cards. She's playing a game with you. Also, start demanding payment from your grandmother's income for being her caregiver. Working for room and board is slavery or indenture. If you're getting paid you'll get some respect. Then try talking to the other family members about your aunt's abusive behavior towards you. They will probably speak to her.
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There's two choices. Here. Either Aunt doesn't understand Medicaid or she is lying to you.

As someone else mentioned, find out whose name is on the deed.

Grandma's funds go to fund grandma's care, not Aunt's.

Stand up for your grandmother's right to her hard earned lifetime of savings. That belongs to grandma, not Aunt.
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FloridaDD Aug 2, 2020
I agree, but would add, when you check whose name is on the deed, if it is Aunt's, check if Grandma transferred the house to Aunt within the last 5 years.   If Grandma transferred the house within the last 5 years, then there may be a penalty phase of a period when Grandma is not eligible for Medicaid to pay for a nursing home.  If Aunt Is telling you that Grandma not eligible, I would be very suspicious that Aunt wants to get the house, but the only way to do that is if you care for Grandma.   Don't subsidize Aunt getting the house with your unpaid (and unappreciated) labor.
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Kimmotion,

What do you want the outcome to be?
- you and your aunt have made excuses of why your gramma can't be transitioned into a care facility. Yet caring for her has, by your own description, become overwhelming.
- you admit auntie is stressed and sick yet you don't cut her any slack and now see her as an "a*hole", therefore you will always respond to her as such unless you make a concerted effort not to, no matter how she speaks to you.
- you don't like the working relationship, yet you've made an excuse as to why you are unwilling to leave.
- if your aunt is as old or older than your gramma, do you honestly think things will be better or worse for her as time marches on? The honest answer is: worse.

By planting your flag on so many molehills you've painted yourself into a corner. You say you want things to change (if that's what you mean by "deal with") but you've also decided 1) auntie's an a*hole, 2) your not giving up caregiving 3) gramma can never go into a facility due to finances AND you think this is abandonment (these 2 aren't true...Medicaid will cover gramma for LTC or MC and many of us have our LOs in very nice facilities. My own MIL is in LTC on Medicaid receiving excellent care. Are you saying we've all "abandoned" our LOs?).

Since you can only control yourself you will need to decide what YOU can do to "deal with" (improve) the current situation. Do you want auntie to talk to you more respectfully? Then you must make a lunch date with her and sit down and carefully and respectfully tell her how her behavior is impacting you and then propose a better way. That's literally all you can do. If she rejects this, then you must understand that nothing changes if nothing changes. You don't have the authority to move gramma into a better care facility where she doesn't need to be subjected to bickering by her own family; or you move on and let auntie find someone else to care for gramma and you can go see her whenever you please and life for everyone will be much less stressful.

If you are NOT being paid for your caregiving, this is a mistake on many levels. Please read the responses to posts about Getting Paid as a Family Caregiver. I think it would be eye-opening for you. I sincerely wish you all the best as you try to improve the family dynamics. I wish you much wisdom if it doesn't come about and peace in your heart as you consider your options. Whatever you do, don't be complacent with things as is.
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If your Aunt owns the house then grandma should be able to get Medicaid and Aunt keeps the house. Others can speak on here more about Medicaid or you can speak to an elder lawyer. Nothing is going to change unless you are willing to make changes. Your Aunt is not going to change and things are only going to get worse. Does your Aunt and grandma both live in the house? Aunt will not change. I’ve been waiting all my life for my 96 year old mother to change and she won’t. I visit her once a week and that is it. If Aunt lives in the same house as grandma then Aunt needs to have grandma placed in a facility and then when Covid is over you could visit grandma daily if you wanted, WITHOUT AUNT being there. Your situation is not going to get any better as long as you are in contact with Aunt every single minute of every single day.
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Medicaid is based on grandmoms assets. Your Aunts don't come into it. So if grandmom gets less than the Medicaid cap in monthly income she should qualify for Medicaid. In my state the cap is approx 2300.

What does "technically Aunt owns house". She is either on the deed or not. If not, the house is Grandmom's. Grandma is allowed a house. If Aunt can prove its also her residence and can afford upkeep, she may be allowed to live there. But, when Grandmom passes, a lean will be put on the house. Medicaid has to try to recoup what they paid out. At that time, Aunt maybe able to remain in the house. There is more to all this but that is the basics.
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You honestly cannot control other people. You can only control your own reactions and actions. You have told us that you will not move out, so that sort of cuts off any real advice we might give to that effect. Perhaps "not communicating" will work, as communications seem to only create a bicker, which must be really difficult if it happens in the presence of Grandma. Remember that it always takes two to tango. If you do not respond in anger she will run out of fuel for her own anger. When she is testy you tell us you understand a lot of it is pain and frustration. So tell her you are sorry things are so difficult right now, and will continue to try to do all you can to make it better. If you are choosing to stay, and you tell us you are, that really is the only option I can see.
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Kimmotion Nov 20, 2020
You know, Alva, you are right- I can't control any of this beyond my own reactions and in this case, I have a choice to make: if things get really bad, moving out may be the only choice I have because I have to put my own health and wellbeing first now. I could either stay and continue being completely miserable, or leave and be happy and go live a wonderful life.
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If your aunt owns the house outright, it would not have to be sold.   It sounds to me like she is using your grandma's social security or whatever to help pay for taxes, etc..  If your grandma has no assets and has not gifted money in last 5 years, she should be eligible for Medicaid.  Tell aunt either you get paid and get treated fairly or you are moving out.  Don't let this go on.  Give aunt warning, but this is not fair.
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Couple of questions for you so I can understand a little bit more clearly, are you afraid of moving out because gram would be left alone without a caregiver? Do you have the ability to make a move if you choose to financially? Is your aunt paying grams bills in full and on time, ie utilities, pharmacy, drs, groceries? Does aunt live in the home with you and gram? Social isolating is making everyone get on each other's last nerve. Is your aunt's "technically " she owns the house because she does (as someone said look it up on the county's recorder of deeds website, free to look up to verify as to who the home actually belongs to and is anonymous to do so) or is her technically she owns the house because gram is going to will it to her? Maybe a small talk is in order for the 2 of you with another trusted family member as mediator. Aunt (name), I know you've been thru quite a lot lately that has been extremely stressful for you. It hurts me to see our relationship deteriorating and I hope we can work on improving it. Is there something I have done, not done, or said to make you angry or is it just all of the stress and tension you're under lately? She may be nitpicking you because she's not a happy camper right now and you're her scapegoat. On the other hand she just may be a toxic person who you need to avoid, only interacting with her when absolutely necessary. I had a spawn of satan to deal with while taking care of my MIL, haven't heard from her since 11/28 till last week when she began making demands about who should attend service (limited to 20 people). Told my husband (her brother) that I shouldn't go so her stepdaughter could, I'm not "blood". But I was good enough to have mil live in my home and did everything for her for 2 years. People like these can not be reasoned with and are best avoided.
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