How old does a teen need to be to "watch" Grandma occasionally?

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My 86-year-old mother recently fell, damaged her rotor cuff and does not have good use of her left arm/hand during recovery. Mom has MCI but her primary problem is short-term memory. I purchased a lift assist recliner since she cannot sleep laying flat in a bed for several weeks. Because of her short-term memory problems, it took Mom a few days to get accustomed to the chair and use the control to raise and lower the recline. There are a couple of other chairs Mom has been using her arms to push out of where that is much harder only pushing with one arm. I have been providing an arm for her to "pull" her way up because she is so much more stable getting to her feet that way. I do not pull Mom up just provide a "mobile" grab bar.


I have a grand-nephew just a couple months short of 14 who is Mom's oldest great-grandchild and has always been fairly responsible - good "big brother" and "big cousin" with younger children. He lived with me a number of years during his father's divorce and remarriage and only recently moved back in next door with his father and stepmother (he lived with me and Grandma for over 2 years so he is familiar with her memory problems). One of the reasons I relocated next to his father's home after Mom came to live with me was so that he could occasionally help me when he grew older by staying in the house with his great-grandmother when the day comes I don't feel comfortable leaving her alone while I run to the store or he could pick up the groceries when he has a drivers license. I have no intention of ever asking him to provide hands-on caregiving for my mother, although he started bringing her the newspaper every morning before school and will occasionally help her with her shoes or find her glasses on his own initiative.


Although my Mom normally stays by herself when I work in the office or go shopping or out for a movie, I did not feel comfortable leaving her alone immediately following her fall when she was still adjusting to doing things without using her left arm and seemed to be just a bit off her normal good balance. So I asked my grand-nephew to stay with Mom and help be that mobile grab bar while I went to the grocery store. I should also probably add that my grand-nephew is 4 inches taller than I and 155 lbs of solid muscle so he's as physically capable (or maybe more so) than I am.


My question is this - is he old enough at nearly 14 to keep an eye on and help Grandma for 60-90 minutes with his father and stepmother in the house next door? Am I expecting too much of him at too young an age? He has never lost patience with Mom even when she asks him the same question 2-3 times in an hour. He was in the house when Mom fell (as I was) and helped me get her up into a chair using a sheet wrapped around her waist and support under the uninjured arm - very concerned and helpful at the time and didn't seem to be upset afterwards. He was already at my house to watch a movie when I asked him to stay with my Mom until I got back. I told him if Grandma fell again while I was out of the house to not move her and call his father or stepmother.


I want him to learn that family members help each other in many small ways - Grandma sewing up a rip in his favorite school jacket, his carrying in groceries, my driving him to football practice or helping him with a school project. But I don't want to cross the line and make him feel responsible for Grandma's care or put him in a situation he's not emotionally capable of handling.

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If he's a responsible kid (and it sounds like he is) and has places to call if he has issues, I'd feel comfortable leaving him with grandma - IF he's ok with the idea. Make sure he's comfortable. And run through some possible scenarios with him (and write them out with what to do). Keep that handy for him when he's alone with her.
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Reply to blannie
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Tacy I loved my grandparents and it never felt like a burden to spend time with them, he's being asked to keep her company while Techie goes to the store not to give up his childhood.
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Reply to cwillie
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I think under 2 hours with help right next door is not asking too much, I know my brother and I sat with my grandfather when we were around that age.
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Reply to cwillie
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I see no problem as long as he has someone close. If she falls again, he should not try to pick her up. You probably shouldn't have before. Hips break easily and you should wait until the EMTs come.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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I loved my grandma with all my heart. I'd have done anything to help her and would NOT have considered it a burden at that age. I don't think he should be babysitting grandma on a daily basis but once or twice a week for a grocery run isn't cruel or unusual in my opinion. It will teach him compassion and that family helps each other.
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Reply to blannie
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I don't have any advice beyond what has already been said but I would just like to say that an hour or two alone with G'Ma could be a very educational experience for this young person.
I remember those time with my GG'Ma. Some of the best stories I have ever heard. She told of her G'Ma walking behind the wagon from Tenn. thru Kentucky. Of injuries and home treatments. Tragic deaths. Looking at the old black and white pictures of relatives and how they dressed.
talks like that could help keep G'Ma out of trouble and relaxed. And with assistance right next door, both should safe and build memories.
You might even consider getting him a voice recorder to document those times.
I wish I had done that.
Just my take on the flip side of the coin.
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Reply to OldSailor
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I agree with Cwille. He sounds like a good kid.
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Reply to Windyridge
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In this case, he suggested he would stay while I went to the grocery store. I was out of milk for cereal, his favorite vanilla ice cream and the ground beef needed to make a couple of his favorite "snack" dishes so he asked me when I was going to the grocery store. I told him maybe later that night after Grandma was asleep or early the next morning before she got up because I didn't want to leave her alone while she might need some help getting out of a chair. He volunteered to stay to help Grandma and carry in the groceries if I would make hamburger helper stroganoff as soon as I got back. :)
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Reply to TNtechie
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"One of the reasons I relocated next to his father's home after Mom came to live with me was so that he could occasionally help me when he grew older by staying in the house with his great-grandmother when the day comes I don't feel comfortable leaving her alone while I run to the store or he could pick up the groceries when he has a drivers license."

Where are her children or grandchildren? I really cannot believe that I am the only voice of dissent but this is wrong on so many levels. This kid has went through enough without the additional burden of great grandma. He is a kid and should not be burdened with this it is for adults. He should be enjoying life, your only young once.
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Reply to tacy022
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TN, I understand your perspective but I would not ask that of my own child much less anyone else's. Im sorry but I cant agree with this. It doesnt matter how much someone loves someone...its a forteen year old with generations in between.
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