How do I help my aunt who is living with my grandma (89) while working full time?

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She is stressed and self-medicating and snaps easily. My aunt (56 y.o) is very stressed after providing FT care to my grandma while working FT. My grandma is still somewhat mobile and lucid but can not do as many things as she used too and as much as my aunt would still like her to do. My aunt is very set in her ways, becomes mean and defensive when I see her, even though all we are trying to do is help. She is self-medicating a lot with alcohol. She is not exercising, She is overweight and compulsively, anxiously over eats terribly and also has her own health problems. She lives 350 miles away. I try to visit as often as I can (3-4 times a year) and I call every week however it is never enough and my sister and I have become victim to her stress. I am 41 and am treated as if I am disrespecting if I question or suggest anything. I need to have a hard discussion with her because the status quo isn't working here and I am dreading future visits. Any advice on how to approach this?

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Hope, thanks for giving us more information about what is going on.

What usually happens when a grown child moves in with a parent is that the adult/child dynamics starts up again. Your Grandmother wants to continue with her life style at the sacrifice of her own daughter's life. Elders tend to forget that their own children are now senior citizens themselves and no longer have the energy they had back in their teens and 20's. It's tough.

Your Aunt is crashing big time, and I am glad you can sense that. And believe me, it is not uncommon for an elder to refuse any outside help or to move to a "home". I had to deal with that with my own parents who were in their 90's. Heaven forbid a stranger come into the house, and it's hard to tell them "you have no choice, this is how it is going to be".

Whatever your Aunt does, she should NOT use any of her own money to pay for her mother's care... that money is for her own retirement, not her Mom's retirement. Too many times grown child use up all their savings, and are left penniless when they get older.

The only thing I can suggest is for your Aunt to stop enabling her mother... Grandmother thinks everything is fine and dandy because her daughter is doing everything. Time for the Aunt to cut back on what she does... just say NO... it won't be easy because she is in the trenches with Mom.
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Instead of making suggestions or questioning,,,,(not that those are bad things) how about giving your Aunt a long weekend away and staying with grandma while she's gone? You could pay for a cabin in a state park or even a hotel room for 4 days in nearby area (maybe throw in a couple of tickets to a movie & dinner and a good book) set for a time you'll be in town to stay with Grandma.

Coincidently, I'm a 56 year old woman with a full-time job AND my 90 year old father living with me at home....I think I get a little defensive when well-meaning folks make "suggestions" because they aren't around for the heavy lifting. Praise is nice - hearing that they respect me for taking care of Pop is nice,,,,but offering to cook a meal for us or take Pop on an overnight trip would be better. I would think I'd died and gone to heaven if somebody in my family would give me the opportunity just to sleep in for once.
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Fregflyer - I realize she is burning and that is why I am looking for advice. My grandmother will not live with anyone else or in assisted living. I have mentioned to my aunt that perhaps she can get assistance to come in, only to be dismissed. My aunt is not taking care of herself and drinking way too much. I am very concerned that she will "drop dead". She has the monetary means to do something, like hire help to take care of grandma while she goes to work out or visit with friends, however I cannot seem to convince her to do so. I have even mentioned support groups which she hasn't taken me up on. My taking a couple weeks off will not prove anything as I have done that before and she only wants to drink/eat and the unhealthy behavior continues. I am not looking for "bubbly and happy"...I am hoping for healthy and her to get help.
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Good heavens, your Aunt is burning out due to all the stress of being the only caregiver for her 89 year old mother PLUS she is working full-time.

Please note that 40% of caregivers pass away leaving behind the person they were caring for. They just can't do it any more. Step into her shoes for a couple of weeks and then you would understand why isn't all bubbly and happy.

Does your Grandmother have funds where she could pay for a caregiver during the day or evening? Or funds to move into Assisted Living where she would be around people of her own generation and to enjoy the last few years that she has?

Something has to be done before your Aunt drops dead in her tracks from sheer exhaustion.
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