Hello, I am a 22 year old granddaughter in college about 2 hours away from home. My grandfather is in the later stages of Parkinson's and is currently being treated in the hospital for a high fever that simply won't go down. My grandparents are fiercely independent, even though my grandma clearly cannot be my grandfather's primary caregiver anymore. She's recently allowed a paid helper to come 3 times a week, but that is not enough. She'll throw her back out just to keep him in the house, which is outfitted with numerous lifts, handles, chairs, etc.
My grandfather will also do and pay anything to stay in his house and avoid nursing care. He knows this is a burden on my grandmother, although she accepts the caretaker role. Now that he is incoherent in the hospital he is having less a say in his caregiving. He's been in the hospital for over a week, only sometimes lucid. I think this spell has convinced him he needs more care help, one way or another.
Now that he is in the hospital and his health is declining even more, my mother and aunts think it is the time to talk about nursing care, DNR and patient's rights issues. My grandmother either won't knowledge the conversation or goes into shock. She has yelled and forced them out of the room, too. My eldest aunt stays at the hospital sometimes 12 hour days while my grandmother can't seem to get to the hospital before 1 or 2 pm. My mother expressed concern that she is drinking until late hours or doing other harmful things to cope with the stress. Nobody knows for sure what she does at home, but she is physically able to wake up before noon. It stresses my grandfather that she is never there when he wakes up.
Ultimately, my question is how do I take on an active role in this situation? My mother is on a business trip all weekend and asked me to take her place. I'm coming into a hostile situation between the elder aunt and my grandma. I am particularly close with my grandma, so she thinks I might be able to convince her to have the serious conversations with my aunts. I know my grandma feels helpless and angry with this power struggle, but it is a whole lot easier to figure these things out now instead of later when his health could be even worse.
I don't know how to speak to my grandma, to tell her that I'm here for her as well, and that we need her to be strong right now. It's a shift from being taken care of to taking care of her. I love my grandparents very much and this is a situation I need help with.
A lot of questions deal with sons and daughters caring for elderly parents or see grandchildren as young and essentially bystanders in the care process. Hopefully this situation will warrant different answers.