I am a 17 year old girl in high school, and my grandmother is dying of cancer. She had helped raise me and my older sister because our mother was a single parent, and now she has little memory of me. My mother and sister tell me I am selfish because I do not want to care for her, but it's just that I never had a death in the family and don't know how to go about this. I just need some opinions... I don't think that I should be caring for my grandmother alone, when she can't even walk. What if she dies in my care? Should a 17 year old really have this responsibility? Am I being selfish? Please, I don't want to feel alone on this.

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When you say caring for your grandmother alone, do you mean you're the only one doing the caring or do you mean you are anxious about being left alone with your grandmother from time to time while your mother and sister are, say, out at work or running errands?

The former would be such a bad idea that I can't imagine it's the case. So assuming that what you're afraid of is being left in charge for relatively short periods, I have a couple of ideas that I hope might reassure you.

You're only 17, and I can imagine that the idea of your grandmother needing help and not recognising you as someone she knows is pretty panic-inducing. But have more faith in yourself. Courage isn't about not being afraid of things. Courage is about "feel the fear and do it anyway." Looking back, doing this could be something to learn from and be proud of having faced.

On the practical side, what might you have to do for her? Break it down into individual tasks. You can make a phone call if she needs urgent medical or hospice help - or if you need urgent advice, come to that. You can fetch her a drink. You can hold a bowl if she needs to puke. You can wash her face, brush her hair, plump her pillows. You can read your text books sitting quietly in your grandmother's bedroom just as well as you can in your own. Above all, you can hold her hand.

Talk to your mother about what exactly is expected of you. Make sure you understand clearly what you should do, step by step, if something seems to be happening that you don't know how to handle. If you feel that you're being asked to spend too much time caregiving and it's affecting your school work or activities or friendships (although, by the way, good friends will be supporting you, not whining about your not being able to go out the whole time), then negotiate - offer to do what you think is fair, rather than getting into a fight about the whole situation.

Death is frightening. It isn't right to tell you that you're weak or selfish to want to get away from it. But you will grow as a person if you can face it squarely and know that you've done all you can to make this sad time easier on your whole family. Good luck, look after yourself, and come back to let us know how you're doing.
Helpful Answer (14)

Seems to me that your mother and older sister should be part of a team caring for her rather than pushing it off onto you.

Caring for an older person is challenging enough for a young person, but more so when that older person is dying.

If your GM can't walk, not only should you not have sole responsibility or even joint responsibility for her care, but she should have professional support as well.
Helpful Answer (11)

Yes and no. If we are talking about just a few hours, so your mom can get some respite, you are old enough to handle that, and should out of respect for your mom and your grandmother. However, if we're talking day care or long stretches at night, you are not old enough to be a primary caregiver long term, especially when she can't walk. If this continues, and you can't get help, I would suggest waiting it out until you can declare yourself an adult - and leave. I'm sorry, sweet one. Be strong. Be smart.  Hugs.
Helpful Answer (9)

I personally feel I was abused by the amount of responsibility I was forced into to care for my dying grandmother. Over one winter, I was locked into an apt with nailed closed windows for the weekend with a minimal amount of groceries and told to feed her and change her diapers. There were no fire extinguishers, no way out, no phones, no tv. If all you are being asked to do is to be uncomfortable sitting with demented grandma for a few hours, then yes, you need to do this just because. Read her the Bible if you can't think of anything else to do with her. See the last season of Inspector Lewis TV show for how that works.

If you are given 12 hour stretches where you are the sole caregiver and must make sure she eats or she will die, then yes, you should not be doing that much, & she needs hospice care. Which?

By the way, you have had deaths in your family, you were just kept from their knowledge. Isn't that unfair, that you are almost an adult yet you have not learned how to deal with life's unpleasant truth? Studies show life has a 100% fatality rate. 
Helpful Answer (7)

You definitely should NOT be the one caring for her. Has your mother looked into hospice care for her? Or a nursing home? I think they are selfish for expecting YOU to be the caregiver....stand firm...tell your mother to get pro-active about this situation...shes the adult. Tell her to contact your grandmother's primary care doctor for guidance.
Helpful Answer (7)

No, this should not fall on your young shoulders, and your not being selfish. Sorry for your grandmother's condition. It should be a family task with the main responsibilities lying within the adult. I hope your family can find resources, like hospice for example. Who will come to the home and offer many vital services. Grandma could even go to a hospice center. Your a teenager, but you can still helping and it won't be forever. Speak to school counselor about how this is affecting you and try your best.She loves you even if she can't remember. and I'm so sorry that so much is being p!Aced upon your shoulders. Please speak to mother about hospice. They will help provide care and resources.
Helpful Answer (7)

Depending on level of care you are being forced to provide you may consider calling Child Protective Services. You are still considered a child until you turn 18. If you choose this routers prepared to move out on your own, get a job and provide for yourself once you turn 18.
Helpful Answer (6)

Are you saying that you are the only caretaker or that you are being asked to assist in caring for your GM ?
And what is it you are being asked to do? Sit with her and read, feed her, give her medication?
Is your GM on hospice? At home ? In a facility? It's difficult to know what's appropriate without knowing more about the situation.
Helpful Answer (5)

No this is not your responsibility. Call your county protective services, make a list of questions. If you feel you mom is going to throw you out, disown you because you have refused, then ask the state if they can find you housing. There are group homes, and also HUD apartments provided for people at the poverty level and who are displaced. It is not an easy route, but the stress of caring for an elderly person can truly damage your own health. Remember you once had a grandfather, he must have passed away, and possibly great aunts and uncles. You are 17, and should be allowed to be in school and get a decent education for your future. You need to find out from the state all that is available to you, before you make any quick decisions.  You need to have a contact person that can help you plan everything out so things go smoothly.  Try to stay strong and prepare for what you may need to do. Wishing you my best.
Helpful Answer (4)

Although you are nearly a young adult, you are still in my opinion not yet an adult, but a child, legally speaking, and see this as child others have said, you should contact any one (or several) of various agencies, and I suggest Social Services be one of them if not the first...

The accusations that you are not fulfilling your "duties" are beyond ridiculous...

Please reach out to authorities and get yourself out of the outrageous situation..

Grace + Peace,

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