How do I decide whether or not to freeze my own life for family?

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I apologize if this is not the right place or even website for such a question, but I'm at the end of my rope stressing out over this and decided to give this site a shot.

I'm 23 and earned my M.Ed last year. I've recently begun the process of applying to positions at universities, which has been an exciting prospect to think I'll finally put my skills to use.

But then there's the family side. My family essentially consists of me, my uncle, my mother, and my grandfather. My uncle and I live in a big city about 4-5 hours from my mom and grandpa, who live in a small town. My mother contracted a disease five years ago that has her in chronic pain all the time, which has worn her down mentally and physically and pretty much driven away all of her friends because of her inability to spend time with them without pain. In addition, my grandmother passed a few years ago, leaving my mother caring for my grandpa. All things considered, he's in good health, but looking after him can be a monumental task when any little problem he encounters then becomes my mother's problem. He doesn't really know how to care for himself since it was always done by my grandma, so my mom has taken on the task of preparing meals for him (so she cooks twice, because he eats much earlier than she does), cleaning his house, and running his errands. All in all, that doesn't sound too bad. But with my mother's chronic pain, she's hanging by a thread.

So I feel stuck. I know there's not proper equivalence to caring for a child and caring for a parent/grandparent, but I feel a sense of duty to move back home and help. But with no cure existing for my mother's disease and my grandfather still looking like he's got several years left (thankfully), I have no way of knowing how long I'd be down there. I wouldn't be able to actively pursue my career as a campus organizer at colleges, I'd be hours away from the nearest city, and I'd have virtually no friends, as they all moved away from the small town as well. And it truly terrifies me to think my life will just be staying in that town and working an office job at some company. My uncle is unable to help because of his recurrence of melanoma, so he has to stay in the city for treatments. I've never been stressed or depressed before this past year, but with this decision having been on the horizon, I've truly experienced both, to the point I've even had meltdowns involving manic actions.

I know everyone's situation is ultimately up their individual feelings and circumstances, but I'm just looking for any advice or thoughts at all. I was supposed to see a therapist, but they never got back in touch with me. And I have to make this decision soon. I want to help my family, who I have a good relationship with aside from the fact that my grandfather can be really arrogant and sarcastic. But I also want to get my own life moving.

My mother I know is too guilt-ridden to ask me to move down to help, but if it's my own choice, she'd probably be grateful. All I would be doing at home would be fairly minor things, such as occupying my grandpa to give my mother a break, shopping for groceries, and preparing a few meals. And while I know even those things would be an immense help, I can't help but weigh that against the value of starting a career and a life.

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It doesn't sound like it would be a good or healthy idea for you to limit your career prospects because of family illnesses. I always like to ask myself in these situations, "what if this young man didn't exist? How would these folks get cared for then?"

It frankly sounds as though your mom is wearing herself out caring for grandpa. Depending upon grandpa's resources, can he hire outside help? Does he qualify for care in the home through Medicaid? Has mom explored these resources for him?

As to mom, there my be no cure for her illness, but is she getting the best care available? Pain management? Once she's freed up from caring for her dad ( who sounds like he causes a lot of stress for her) she might find that her physical and psychological health improves

And call the therapist. Don't put that off.

I also want to add that I have children your age. I wouldn't dream of asking them to limit their life choices to care for me or my parents. Not in a million years.
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Could I point out that now that you have your education completed, you MUST USE that degree, without delay. This probably sounds nuts, but degrees age. They go stale. Employers are going to want to see what work experience you can show - you may get away with thin experience if the degree is brand new, but within a short time, employers is going to concentrate on what you did with the degree. SO.....at your time of life you must work on you. Basically (I'm going to be blunt here) your selfish old grandpa is holding everyone hostage. He hates idleness, but cannot learn to operate a dishwasher or microwave? This is silly. He has no real physical problems, just an entitlement attitude that some woman must take care of him. I'd change that but fast, and not by giving into selfish, unreasonable demands. What kind of father expects a sick daughter (your mother) to imperil her health for his convenience? I'd call his bluff. He wants to live in filth? Call the Health Dept. on him. Time someone explained that he needs to be a real stand-up man, not a prima donna. And if someone criticizes you or your mom, just tell them that they need to talk to the old tyrant.
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You are 23 and need to live your life. You need to be working in your chosen field, spending your time with people your own age, looking for a mate eventually. You will lose far more than your mother will gain, if you give all that up to run errands for your mother.

If your mother needs help, then she needs to look into what is available to her and your grandfather in their community. Your mother has made the choice to do for her father, even though it is not the best choice for her. She can tell him no, she can tell him, if he wants her to prepare his dinner, he will have to eat when she does. She can tell him she can no longer perform all the duties she has been and he will have to accept outside help.
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Don't do it!!!! Be supportive but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go on with your own life don't put your life on hold. There are so many services that can help mom and rest of family, meals on wheels, church group visitors/services, senior center, in-home care assistance, etc. that can help them.

You will be giving up the best years of your life, relationships, friends, a family of your own. DON'T burden yourself out of guilt or that you owe them anything. Parenting is a gift of love paid forward; not one where you are obligated to reciprocate and care-give full time.

It's a mistake -- you will regret; go to grad school; have fun, visit family when you can but don't get sucked in and don't feel guilty.

Its difficult, get counseling to help you reconcile your feelings and make the best decision for yourself - get counseling at the university where you are going or just graduated from.

Good luck.
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Congratulations on completing your education. I’m sure your family is proud of you.
I’m pretty sure no one intended for you to go to school and complete your degree to come back home and run errands for grandfather.
It’s time for grandfather to find help that he qualifies for or is able to afford.
Keep it very simple.
Your mom as you have already observed is not going to be able to long term care for her father. The longer she tries, the more worn out she will become.
Grandfather is getting all the care when mom needs to be self caring as long as possible.
Call the Area Agency on Aging to determine services available to help both your mom and grandfather.
You can make recommendations but unless one or both are willing to accept them there is little you can do.
Have their situations assessed and go from there.
This is a great place to vent and to seek advice but remember if your elders are competent to make their own decisions for their care then that is their right.
It’s not unusual for a caretaker to pass before their patient such as what happened to your grandmother.
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What sort of illness does your mom have?

Does she realize that by "doing" for her dad, she's probably making it worse?

I'm sorry if that sounds blunt and cold, but it's the truth for many caregivers. A whopping 40% of caregivers DIE before the folks they are caring for do.

Your mom needs to lay down this burden...now. That does NOT equate to YOUR picking it up, dear boy.
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If you do go home we'll be reading a post from you in a few years. You'll be telling us that you gave up a career to go home and take care of family. You'll tell us you feel trapped, have no friends, no prospects of starting a family of your own, no savings, and no job opportunities. You'll be living with your mother and someone on this site will say that you need to find a place of your own and have your mom find outside help and you'll say, "At this point I can't afford to move out and she won't let anyone but me help her". And this could go on for five, ten, fifteen, twenty or more years.
Do you see the road you're headed down? I read similar stories on this site all the time.
This next step may determine your entire future. My advice would be to get a job and help your mom find help for both her and her father. If she wants to keep taking care of her dad to her own detriment that's her choice. I just hope you don't make the same choice!
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First of all for being a 23 years old you seem very mature and have your heart in the right place. Many go through life without understanding what really matters nor having their priorities clear.

You say you’re sure that if you moved back home to help the situation your mom would be relieved; she even said to you that you’d be a tremendous help. I’m afraid that’s where you are mistaken DaCrowz.

I’m 45, my mom is 83, but other than age the situation is pretty similar. I moved with my mom overseas -left my house, sold belongings, left a very good job- because in our particular situation it was absolutely necessary. But every day since then it hurts me tremendously to know that although my mom is being cared for and loved, she lives an absolute (repeat, absolute!) Calvary every day because she feels she literally destroyed my life by having me here.

So every day I conclude that if the situation weren’t as extreme as it is from a practical standpoint I’d rather find another solution somehow so she didn’t feel the pain she feels inside for considering herself the reason my life has sunken. Pain inside is much worse to endure than physical pain.

You did a very good job at explaining your family situation, but although for you it may seem like extreme, I don’t think it is. Not enough to put your life on hold and cause the type of pain you’d be causing to your mother. You and her might not even realize it now, her because she’s overwhelmed and her physical pain is wearing her down, and you because you’re looking at the situation also overwhelmed with worry, guilt and love. But in the long run she’ll be the one feeling guilty and depressed and you stuck and maybe even resentful.

It is true that family comes first, never doubt it. But how we do good to them is what needs to be well assessed so we don’t make mistakes with lifelong repercussions. I don’t think you’d be doing your mom a true favor by moving home. She’d be suffering more than she suffers with her physical pain.

As to what to do then, I have learned on this very website about CBD oil, have not tried it because it is not legal where I’m. But I hear it is a great alternative for pain and more effective than regular medication. Can you do some research and see if you could get it and if checking with her doctor they’d advise you to try is on your mom? I really have heard it does wonders, wish I could get if for my mom.

Also do some research as to what’s available in your area as far as help. Some organizations do volunteer work (not even talking about the regular system provided help, which you should also look into). Maybe they could come to your mom’s house and help her with daily chores, including cooking. Or if you can afford it, hire someone to come to your mom’s houseonce or twice a week  to clean and cook, maybe cook enough for several days, so your mom is relieved from those activities. Your grandfather doesn’t need to know who made the meal. Maybe your mom’s job could be reduced to just bring it to him.

In any case, his stubbornness is by no means a valid enough reason to put your life on hold. Please understand that. If you were a little older and had a little more experience you’d see it clearly.

That by no means implies not helping him or caring for him or loving him. But you as a family need to find a way to do all that in a way that the entire family is not sacrificing everything in the process.

I’d gather as much information as you can about possible ways to get help. Research online, make phone calls, go to places to get information. Then go back home (nothing like face to face conversations) and have a family meeting, including your uncle but excluding your grandfather. Share with them the information you’ve collected, present all the choices. Also share with them what you’re struggling with, your guilt, your love for them. Make a decision as a family.

I’ve a feeling you’ll be surprised as to the different resources available and as to your family willingness to try those avenues. Once the decision has been made, help them get settled, reach out to where they need to reach out, leave the situation established if you’ve time. Then you could leave relieved because you will have taken care of your mom and grandpa, still being always ready to help them and love them but in a situation that’s manageable.

Hope some of this helps and God bless you for the good heart you have!
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Your mom needs to find a therapist. Her father is a narcissist who is kinda bleeding her dry.
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Do you realize that your grandfather has, at the very least, Mild Cogitive Impairment? Has he had a workup by a neuropsychologist?

Yes, there are lots of bad psychotherapists out there ( I'm in the business). I'd try to get mom to a psychiatrist who works with a pain management team.

You need to Dr the big picture here. Gramps has entitlement issues and is starting down the road to dementia ( sounds like). Mom is in a hostage situation. And you?
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