Please see my profile for details. My grandmother is 101, totally dependent upon my parents for her care, and they all live at home. Both she and my mother have had significant health problems over the past five years, and I have watched my mother become weaker and more feeble, while my grandmother hangs onto life with the tenacity of someone who will never let go. Mom is her only child.

I have grown children, a son in high school, a wonderful husband and a job that overwhelms me, but I don’t see any alternatives yet. COVID has taken a huge toll on my mental health, and I want to retire early and start a new job doing something that I actually like. I feel absolutely trapped in a holding pattern, and guilty. My parents are becoming more enfeebled, and it’s just a matter of time before they will need more caretaking. I feel resentful of my grandmother, but also of my parents who will not set boundaries with her, to their detriment. I also feel the crushing weight of expectation bearing down on me. I deal with depression and chronic pain, and this isn’t helping.


Be very careful that you don't become your parents with caregiving for them because you feel bad.

You know that they will not willingly go to a facility, if they would they would put grandma in one.

Your boundaries are what will protect you from a similar fate.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Maryjann Dec 4, 2021
OnlyDaughter, welcome!

Understand that the ONLY thing you can change is YOUR behavior. No your parents' and certainly not Grandma's.

Your brother seems to drawn a boundary, yes?

If your parents are so short-sighted as to neglect their health because they cater to grandma and don't consider her needs rather than her desires, that's on them.

You can only save you.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

Bring in the pros. Have someone there at least half a day to take care of those three elderly people.
What would you say, think about this situation if it was happening to a close friend? I remember talking with my best friend on the phone, and her father was shouting in the background-he was really loud. "Hey, what's the matter, why is he screaming like that?" "Oh, he does that all the time" "Uh-you know that's not normal" "Yeah...." About two weeks after that she had to place her father in memory care. Don't know if my input made a difference, but-she was so glad she did it.
I just wish society didn't place such a premium on caregivers being heros-without any kind of support for us. "Yay, look at her taking care of ______, she's amazing! Oh-sorry dear, no respite care for you, obviously you can do it all, and aren't you wonderful!!!" Yep.....time for the pros and your family members.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Ariadnee
bundleofjoy Dec 3, 2021
i agree ariadnee!!

and again and again, it's usually women who end up helping...
...and the women's lives suffer...their career, family, friends, peace of mind, life dreams/goals...

"women are more exploitable."

dear onlydaughter,

i hope you can hire people, or find other good solutions.
your brother must help too, not dumping all decisions/problems/stress on you.

For your own health and well-being, and the quality of your relationships with husband and son, you need to LEARN to set boundaries.
* First, you need to FEEL you deserve to have a life - a full life - with some responsibilities to others although not at the cost of causing you mental, psychological and physical illness.
* It is a plus that you acknowledge how you feel (resentful of your grandmother).
* When we feel stuck, we are the only person who can un-stick us - you can and must acknowledge how you feel (as you do here) and plough through doing what needs to be done.
- Sit down and write a list of what you want and need in your own life.
- Write about the hard decisions YOU need to make. Feel through the guilt and 'crushing weight of expectation" - realize the only expectation is the one you take on / take in 'from others' or yourself and reframe it. i.e., xxx believes I should xxx. That is their feeling and expectation. It is not mine.
* Do a mantra "I deserve to full life (as as full as I can create).
* You must set boundaries by feeling worthy to do so - enlist your husband to support you. Friends, professional social workers, senior services.
* Know the choices you make now IN YOUR BEST INTEREST and for your parents will be hard emotionally. Expect this process to confront your feelings - and then move through.
* You will not resent your grandmother if you do not allow her to affect you as you have been doing. You need support, help, and get off the fence and make the hard decisions. You CAN do it. You MUST do it - for you, your husband / relationship, and for your son. They need you TOO.

Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to TouchMatters
Dianed58 Dec 7, 2021
This might be of interest:
Working Daughter's Bill of Rights
@ Caregiver Bill of Rights - Working Daughter
Your parents have submitted to grandma's demands at every turn, agreeing to live in a tiny cottage & waiting on her hand & foot while she lives like a queen in the Big House. They're truly living like servants, in the servants quarters, while withering away themselves due to their duties to grandma who can live another few years with this level of care.

You can't change THAT dysfunctional dynamic, nor should you try to; it's too late. Don't bother trying to figure out how to get her into a SNF, either, that is something that should have happened years ago but didn't. What you CAN do is decide right now what YOU are going to do and not do for your parents once grandma dies. That's of utmost importance. Are you going to move into their home or into (God forbid 'the cottage') to continue this family dynamic into the future? Or are you going to let them know that you are not available to be their hands-on caregiver at all? That you can help them with finances or help them get into managed care of some kind and be their lifelong advocate, but that you are not cut out to be the person who comes into their home to do adult brief changes, showers, feedings, etc. If you set down these boundaries NOW, there will be no surprises LATER and that will force your parents to make plans for their old age independently.

That's what I did with my folks. As an only child, I grew up in a very dysfunctional household where my grandmother lived with us. It ruined my childhood and it ruined my mother's mental health. She and I developed a very strained relationship as a result and I made the decision at a very young age that I'd never, ever take them into my home to live with me. I stuck to my guns and I'm very happy I did b/c my mother is now 95 years old next month with advanced dementia and hanging onto life just like your grandmother is. I'd be dead right now if I'd have taken her into my home. My marriage would be over and so would my life. The best thing I ever did was to place my folks in Assisted Living back in 2014 where they have been well cared for ever since (dad passed in 2015). When mom's $$$ runs out, I'll apply for Medicaid to have her cared for in Skilled Nursing.

It's not wrong to plan YOUR future now. You see where this situation has gotten your folks. You have learned where you do NOT want to be down the road yourself. Learn from their mistakes. It's fine to love your parents but choose not to do any hands-on care for them and grow to resent them in the process b/c you've given up your life by doing so. Your life AND your family's lives too, don't forget. It's them you have to think about as well. Make your plan and then stick to it. Your folks will own quite a bit of property once grandma passes which can be sold to finance their stay in managed care if/when it becomes necessary, or sold off to some degree to finance in-home care by CNAs and caregivers that aren't YOU.

Wishing you the best of luck carving out your own future.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to lealonnie1


I'm responding to your comment lower on the thread about your parents wanting to leave property inheritance to their kids and grandkids.
There's really only two choices. If you want to go back to living your life and stopping keeping all the things you want to do on ice until everyone dies, potential inheritance has to be forgotten about. Or you stay and try to wait it out.
It's not worth it. My good friend thought very much as you do. He was the live-in caregiver to his mother for over ten years. He had to quit his job three years in as her caregiver. I knew this family for a long time. His mother was a nasty, cruel, narcissistic and needy bully on her best day. Add some dementia to that and I'm sure you can get a picture.
Anyway, my friend became a nanny-slave. His entire life was just mom's hysterics, fight-picking, and misery. A non-stop state of permanent crisis and drama with a side-show of incontinence and hoarding. Moving to any kind of senior community was out of the question with her. She adamantly refused any kind of homecare services too. I even offered to work for her to help my friend a little bit. The whole family was on board with the idea but mother wasn't. She only wanted her son and her family obeyed her. So my friend's life as a nanny-slave began.
My friend and his out-of-town siblings who did absolutely nothing to help with the caregiving, wanted to preserve inheritance for themselves and their kids (my friend didn't have kids). Their mother had a nice place and other assets. They didn't want to see it all get handed over to a nursing home and rightly so. Nursing homes and care facilities do take it all.
My friend dropped dead of a heart attack when he was 55 years old. The slavery he lived in caused him to just give up on life. He became active in the addictions of smoking and drinking again that he worked so hard to put out and keep out of his life. Prior to becoming a slave he had lost over 115 pounds. Not with weight-loss surgery but on his own and kept it off for 13 years. He put it all back on and then some.
The only glimmer of hope this once beautiful man, my friend, had left to him was that his elderly mother wouldn't live forever.
He died four years ago. The miserable old baggage is still here, clinging to life harder than a blood-sucking tick on the back of a dog. Living in a nursing home on Medicaid. Her kids placed her about a month after he died.
All the assets were spent down for her care and my friend is gone.
It's not worth your life to potentially preserve some assets for inheritance. Your life is more valuable.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
OnlyDaughte2Gen Dec 8, 2021

Brass tacks: I will never take care of grandma, if something were to happen to my mom. My father used to be more resistant to her dependency and neediness when I was a child, but he’s been fully sucked into the martyr caregiving role. If his health fails, all 3 of them will need full time nursing care. I visit, but I don’t do hands on stuff like diapers. I’ll bring meals from time to time, and help with household stuff if they let me. It’s a big control issue, and they’re all very proud and don’t want to lose autonomy. I get hysterical calls when grandma falls, and they can’t pick her up off the floor, and they don’t want to call 911. That’s happened more times than I can count.

My mom is bullied by my grandmother, and she refuses to put her into a home. I’d do it in a heartbeat, I don’t care how much she complained or manipulated us. There’s just no way I’m doing that for decades. I don’t think my mom wants that for me. I believe my father has different expectations about family obligations, but we’re going to have to sort this out.

As for my brother and my kids and nieces/nephews, I expect they’re going to have to adjust their expectations if nursing care winds up hoovering up all of the assets. My folks have been more than generous with them all, myself included, all along.
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Well, they are living in Grandmom's house. But they could set boundries but I think its a little late at 101. You can set your own.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Please consider the analogy of the airplane. When the oxygen mask drops, you put on your mask first and then help others with their masks. In your case, please attend to your mental and physical health and job situation first. Then, you will be more able to help others.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Taarna

Have you made it clear to your parents that you are not going to be taking over their caretaking? If you are helping them as needed, they may have no idea that you are not going to continue to step up to take care of them. Your mother may assume that since she takes care of HER mother, you will similarly take care of her. Be honest with yourself about your own limits and then communicate your limits to your parents. You can help them make arrangements for the help they need. You do not need to make the same choices ypur mother has made.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to RedVanAnnie
lkdrymom Dec 7, 2021
This is an important point. You can’t change what everyone else is doing but you make darn sure your parents understand you are not giving up your golden years as they did r become their caretaker
OnlyDaughte2Gen: Imho, your grandmother has seemingly controlled this dynamic. It is important that YOU take care of yourself, else you fall faint and ill and may be good to no one. Please seek help via a medical professional for your depression. Do NOT allow your mental health to worsen!
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Llamalover47

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