I have lived and worked overseas for the past few years and just got back earlier this year, and have since then had the responsibility/task of taking care of my grandma thrust upon me. She's on my dad's side--and my dad passed away a few years ago and her husband a couple years ago as well. Her daughter (my aunt) lives out of state and is supportive, but my grandma still is mentally there and is extremely stubborn so won't entertain the idea of an assisted living community. However, she's developed macular in one (or both?) eyes and should not be driving. She also has difficulty reading and problems with her hearing. I'm working two jobs and working on my Master's degree. I feel selfish wanting to keep my time off as time off rather than driving her to wherever she needs to go...and I'm frustrated that this is somehow my "problem" now that I'm home. I have a brother who lives about 30 minutes away, but he says it's my responsibility now because he did it when I was away. She's very active at her church (2 minutes from her house) and has a sister nearby, but her stubbornness makes her nearly refuse to ask them to drive her around. I can feel myself withdrawing and growing more resentful with all of this...but then I feel like a huge jerk for not being more willing to help out my grandma.

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Your Aunt should be the responsible party. How is it that you feel compelled to take this on? I don't blame you for feeling this way.
Helpful Answer (9)

swqurk97, I can totally understand your resentment. Even though I truly loved my parents I held a lot of resentment that they didn't plan for this stage of their life, and didn't want to part with a dime to help make their life easier.

One time my Dad asked me to give up my career so I could help more around their house and drive them to more places. It was then that I asked my Dad if he gave up his career to take care of his parents or my Mom's parents. He said no, and never asked me again.

My parents had a wonderful fun filled retirement for over 25 years, and here I am now at 70 and the stress from caregiving has damaged my physical and emotional health, forget any fun filled retirement.

So, set boundaries as soon as possible, wished I would have done that. Just because Grandmother doesn't want to move to an elder housing, that is her choice, not yours. Independent Living apartment would be great for her since she is so social, she could meet other ladies just like herself. Then if she needs more care, she can add an extra level of care. Then later down the road she can move over to the Assisted Living side of the complex and still have all her friends.

Make a list of everything you do for Grandmother, now cross off half the items, now cross off a couple more... now take that short list and don't add anything to it. Just say to Grandmother "sorry, I just can't possibly do that".

It's tough getting old, if Grandmother can't drive any more, then get other relatives to help drive her, or set up a taxi service that offers senior discounts. If Grandmother refuses the taxi, then she stays home.
Helpful Answer (9)

Swqurk, I live 600 miles from my elderly parents, I'm the last child living (Well, 62 year old child) and I'm the sole caregiver. There are 3 adult grandchildren that live within minutes of my folks but I can't imagine asking any of them to become caregivers to my parents. The g kids are good people and can do some favors or deal with emergencies but that's all I would ever ask. They are all busy with young lives, kids, jobs, school. No one this age wants the burden of caring for old people. Hells, Bells, neither did I but I'm all that's left of the kids.

I am the son. It is my cross to bear.
Helpful Answer (8)

Swquark, to answer your question, I call each day and make the trip as needed usually about 4 to 6 times per year. Luckily I'm retired so I'm able to do this. Mom has multiple health and mobility issues and Dad has dementia but they still get by (barely) with mom directing operations from her command center. (An electric lift chair).

Your grandma, my mom and countless other elders are all the same, stubborn, don't want to leave home, don't want strangers in the house, you know the drill. I used to beg, plead, try and trick them, anything, to either get in home help or move to assisted living. No way.

It's counter intuitive but we tend to enable elders in this stubborness by caving in and taking care of every need, people move in with elders, build an addition on the house, or feel they must spend all day, every day at the nursing home because they feel guilty.

We have to pull back a little. I used to go crazy cleaning, cooking, fixing, shopping, driving, trying to buy some decent furniture, get meals on wheels, and they love it when I'm doing it but NO OUTSIDERS!

This is the fact that all caregivers have to face at some point: We can only do as much as elders allow. (Assuming they are mentally competent). And, there will be a crisis eventually that forces the issue of home help or facility living. It may be a fall, surgery, or a dangerous level of dementia. At that point elders just have to do some stuff they don't like. Tough love.

So like many, I'm waiting my folks out. I've pulled back a little. I know they don't eat very well, the house needs a good cleaning, and mom will have falls. And this stuff won't change even if I lived next door.

It sounds like you have good relationships with all the key players in this situation. Start talking this out with the other relatives. Start saying no if you have to. Help you grandma as much as you have time for. But your life comes first. Don't get trapped by guilt and the expectations of g ma and others.

When this all,started for me after the deaths of my siblings I was very clear with my folks. I'm not leaving my life and moving home and I'm not moving you guys in with me. I may move them near me when the ship finally sinks, and I'll make sure they are cared for but I'll keep my life.
Helpful Answer (8)

I think it's because I live the closest to her out of everyone. She'll call weekly and ask me to drive her around on a bunch of errands (typically about 3 hours) and I feel guilty because if I'm not busy and she needs to get somewhere, but it unable to because of her vision...that I should help out.
But my aunt and mom have both said that I don't have to...but when I get calls once (or sometimes multiple times per week) asking for me to take her places--doctors appointments, shopping, etc.--I just feel bogged down.
I've started saying "No" more, but then...I don't know...what if she really needs to get somewhere. What if it were me?

Well, actually, if it were me, I'd move into an independent living center with free transportation, but she refuses. She refuses point blank to move from the house she's in (she's lived there her whole married life and wants to die there because my grandpa died there).
She's not very adventurous either, so I can see how moving to a center would be difficult. She tries to take me out to lunch afterward and to make this our "bonding time", but I'm just not interested. I'd rather help out of my own willingness and good-will than out of a sense of obligation.

My aunt (her daughter) also tried to get her to move in with her (out of town) because she has an extra bedroom, but my grandma apparently got angry and mentioned again about staying in that house.
Helpful Answer (5)

I've written this before and I think it applies in your situation as well. There are two people in this relationship - you and your grandmother. Each's desires, wants and needs must be considered. At this particular time, yours aren't.

In any relationship of two people or more, each has to make some sacrifices so that a balance can be achieved. Grandma isn't making sacrifices, nor is she planning.

You can help her make the sacrifices while simultaneously planning: limit the number of trips. Help her make lists; if it's hard for her, list what you do for her, when, how often, and what purchases she needs. Then make up a list which she can check off when she needs something.

Make the requests and driving weekly - no more spontaneous interruptions.

You have a right to refuse to be a chauffeur. The trips need to be consolidated. That's the first step in setting boundaries and establishing what you will and won't do.

And don't feel guilty about it. Many of us have gone through this.
Helpful Answer (5)

Your grandmother certainly is entitled to want anything she wants. She can want free transportation from someone she trusts. She can want to stay in her home. She can want bonding time with her local grandchild. She can want her breakfast delivered in bed every day, and someone to draw her bath and dry her off with soft fluffy towels. (And while she is at it, she might as well want her vision back and to be able to drive.)

But wanting doesn't make it so (or I'd be on several cruises each year.)

You, too, are entitled to have wants, like private time and uninterrupted down time. You are in charge of what you want and what you are willing to do to get it. You are working two jobs. You obviously know that what you want in life doesn't drop automatically into your lap.

You have no obligation to fulfill Grandma's wants. I'm guessing that one thing you want is some kind of relationship with this woman rather than estrangement. What are you willing to do to achieve that? It sounds like three hours a week providing transportation is beyond what you are willing to do cheerfully. Would one hour a week work for you? Would one hour every-other-week be OK? Would no driving but lunch twice a month be OK?

Or maybe I'm wrong and you really don't want to have a relationship with this woman. That is a legitimate decision.

Once you know what you want regarding your grandmother and what you are willing to do to achieve that, then establish clear boundaries. Maybe that means GM isn't going to get everything she wants. Maybe she'll have to accept rides from strangers, for example. As GardenArtist says, successful relationships involve compromise.

As a personal note, I have some relatives I wouldn't be particularly eager to have bonding time with. But I did bond with my father's mother. I spent time with her, I helped her find garments that had nearly stopped being manufactured, she took me to the state fair when I was a child, and I took her when I was an adult. We wrote letters to each other. But by the time she was in a nursing home I was busy with my own young family. I am very grateful that she was a part of my life and she will always be in my heart. But I deeply regret that I didn't spend more time with her in her very old age.

Decide what YOU want. Decide what you are willing to do to achieve it. Then set appropriate limits.
Helpful Answer (5)

With helping out aging family there is "never enough" that you can do. The more you give the more they ask. You may be enabling her to plead for more, more, more. I suggest you limit your help. Some suggestions would be to take her to doctor appointments if you can, but you will call to set up the appointments on your time and not hers. If you have no extra time for errands, tell her. She needs to adapt.
Her local community social services may have van transportation or senior public transportation for errands so ask them if they can help. You may want to ask social services for recommendations on driving a car. You can also send a letter to her eye doctor explaining that she is still driving and ask the doctor to talk to her about it. I used to send letters to my mom's doctor to explain changes that I saw in her cognitive ability.
One last suggestion, by stepping back on your seeing her, she may come to realize that assisted living is what she needs. Until she notices that no one will help her. Let her suffer a little but periodically check on her well being or call her every few days.
Take care of yourself first. Give explanations that you need to keep on working for your retirement, payments for housing and school and that you have little time to spare.
Helpful Answer (2)

Thank you thank you for all the great advice.

I had no idea what kind of responses I'd get when I first responded.

As far as my brother, he's 26 but acts like he's still a kid. That's a whole separate story in itself. He says he's "too busy" to help but has major prioritizing issues in general.

I think I'm going to go the route of backing off a bit because I do think I'm enabling this type of behavior by agreeing to take her places out of guilt.
Even when we're together, we don't talk about anything of importance (like mentioned above--weddings, memories, etc.) She has poor hearing (and refuses to get a hearing aide) and often talks over us/takes over the conversation because she can't hear the question and doesn't want to ask us to repeat it.

I think I also feel a bit used (hence the resentment) because we didn't have that great of a relationship anyway (just obligated to visit when I was younger with my parents, lack of deep conversations about anything) and then all of a sudden I'm back in the country and now I'm needed.
I know she loves me and stuff (have always gotten birthday cards and phone calls), but there's just a lack of depth there that I have with my other grandma.

Anyway, thank you again for all of the advice. This has been really therapeutic just hearing about everyone else's situations and just getting this all out.
Helpful Answer (2)

Dear swqurk97,

Please don't get sucked into this vortex of swirling chaos. I promise you that the more you do the more gma will demand of you. It's something I have read over and over again. I am in a similar situation with my mother. It is sometimes so unbearable that I go outside and scream just for release. Take some time and read the caregiver burnout posts. Time after time I read these very sad stories of people who ruin their lives trying to give the person all they want. The trouble is the list of wants never ends. You keep thinking "ok, once I get this settled all will be well for a while and I can rest a bit." BUT NOOOOOO. All is never well. A new thing pops up as soon as you fix the previous crisis. Please, please, please get some information for your grandmother about assisted living, in-home care, taxis, etc. Make a list of what you can do, and tell her what you can't do. It will feel scary and bad at first but I promise it gets easier. My mom is a master manipulator and I have managed to set some limits. Good luck and let us know how it is going.
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