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I am 26 years old and take care of my husbands 87 year old grandmother who lives with us. Im a female and I work in the medical field so she depends on me for a lot of stuff and has become like a toddler and attached to my hip. I dont get hardly any me time at all so I choose to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings and sit in the living room with my cup of coffee in silence in hopes that no one will find me there. Low and behold she always manages to find me and always says I shouldnt be sitting in here by myself and proceeds to sit down with me and try to talk. Since she has interupted the only quiet time I get at all I get frustrated and at times I can tell that she senses my frustration which in turn makes me feel guilty. I have tried explaining to her that I dont mind that time to myself and that I NEED that time to myself and yet she still does it. She lost her husband 2 years ago and I know she probably doesnt sleep really good because she doesnt do a whole lot during the day when I am at work because she doesnt want to risk falling, and I know she misses that companionship of just talking to someone who van relate to her, but its a hard battle of asking her for that me time and feeling guilty seeing her go back to bed or just taking her company on those mornings and making the most of it. Any advice?

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Dear Morganleighann,

You are an amazing and caring young woman. There is a lot on your shoulders. And I can empathize with what you are going through. I think its only natural and normal to want some private time. We women are so good at giving all the time, we don't think to put ourselves first.

I know its hard not to feel guilty when an 87 year old woman just wants to sit with you for coffee and talk. But if you keep accommodating her, it will only lead to resentment and anger building up. Better to try and have some boundaries. Consider respite care or getting her into an adult/senior day program. Tell her its because you love her and want to ensure she keeps getting the best care. But as a primary caregiver you also need a break to keep giving that care to her.

I know it won't be easy. And she might even make you feel more guilty but try to be firm if you can. My grandmother does this to me a lot. I go visit her in the nursing home and she always wants me to stay longer. I know she is lonely and misses her own home. But I feel so much anger and resentment for helping her but where are the other grandchildren??? Why is it always on me??? Finding that balance always feels impossible.

Thinking of you.
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You might have been joking, Rainmom, but I was thinking the same thing. I would put a chair out for myself that would be waiting for me each morning the weather was okay. There I would sit and enjoy nature while sipping my cup of coffee. The chair would be out of gmil's sight, so she wouldn't even realize I was sitting out there by myself.

Morgan, I wouldn't feel guilty at all. You're already doing so much for your gmil. You can't give her everything that she needs. There are other people in the world that need to help fill in the blank spots.
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I use to be home all day with two dogs and my adult disabled son - when hubby was home I took the luxury of going to the grocery store all by myself. Seriously, that was my "me time".

As fates perfect timing would have it, just when I found a good organization that I trusted to take my son out 4-5 afternoons a week my mothers needs ramped up. So does driving to IL, AL and later the NH by myself count as "me time"?

I eventually learned you just have to be a hard-ass and take your "me time" cause chances are - no one is going to step up and offer it to you. So I started a routine that is sacred at my home. Once Rainman is in bed and the dogs have been out to potty - usually around 9pm - I am OFF DUTY! I take a treat - desert, a book, a magazine - whatever - and head into my bedroom. Unless the house is on fire - no one better disturb me!

Mom passed away back in August but my days are still full with Rainman, 3 dogs now, the usual household stuff and being executor of my moms estate. I'm looking forward to the estate wrapping up in a month or two and then I'll have some real time for me - just me!

It's funny - when my mom was alive she use to jokingly say to me "what will you do with all your free time once I'm gone?" Haha, right?

Keep your morning coffee time to yourself - its little enough to ask. Nicely but firmly tell gma that you need this time to wake up and organize your day. Have you considered going out to sit in the garage? Just joking!!!
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Sounds like your husband has free help to care for his grandmother. Something doesn't sound right about that. It sounds like if she is able, that she would enjoy an assisted living place where she could be around people her own age.

Also, where are her children and why aren't they involved in her care?

Have you had a heart to heart talk about all of this with your husband? If not, it is time to do so.
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Please don't feel guilty for taking time for you.. Our elders don't feel guilty about being so daggone needy, do they? My mother, who suddenly can't be bothered to speak to me (has gone to head nods and gestures) would love nothing more than for me to sit beside her and keep her company. I can't do it and I refuse to feel guilty at all.
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Can she be picked up and go to adult day care a few days a week or maybe a senior center. So she can socialize with others and not need you so much.
You do have to get time for yourself.
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Although I can tell that you cringe at the though of hurting her feelings it's time to be honest with her, simply tell her that you love her, but you aren't up to being social until after your coffee and you'd like to have a little alone time before you are ready to start your day.
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If she is capable maybe there is an organization in town that she can volunteer her time at for a few hours a week where she can socialize with others.
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Wow. I completely get what you are saying. When my kids were little, I used to wait until they went to bed to have a bit of dessert, just so I wouldn't have to share it with them. It was MY little thing to keep my sanity. WE all need ME time. It is what rejuvinates us and keeps us going so that we can be the anchor to those who need us. Just yesterday, I planned on getting my nails done (after spending the whole week running my mom from appointment to appointment). I was going squeeze it in first thing in the morning of an already busy day. Lo and behold, Mom calls and needs her adult protection as she is completely out. So, what did I do? Cancel the nails and run her her unders. Resent it? Yes. Dutiful? Yes. So, take the time you need, when you can get it. And know that you are not the only one who struggles with this issue. What a lucky Grandma! Cheers to you.
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