Should I move to help my elderly grandparents? -

Should I move to help my elderly grandparents?


My grandparents, who are 84 years old, live in the house they built 60 or so years ago and they don't want to leave it. However they are recently needing care (meals, cleaning, bring the cat to the vet, snow clearing, etc.) I currently live in a different state 3 hours away and do not have a job at the moment. Their son, my dad, was an only child and passed away 14 years ago so it is now up to me and my brother but he has his own life and doesn't want/can't help. I feel I am in a place in my life where I could move to be closer and help but I am not sure if it would be the right thing to do.

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Lora, if your thought is to move to the same town, get a job and be available to visit and help coordinate their care then I think it can be a good plan. You need to be aware though how all the little extras can gradually turn into an avalanche that consumes your whole life, go with your eyes open and a exit plan in place for when their needs inevitably increase.
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I agree, this could easily stretch into years, people are living into their 90's and beyond. I moved home temporarily to help my mom when I was between jobs, that was 7? years ago. I can only do it because mom can afford to pay me and an expected inheritance will provide for me in the future.
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Lora, your very first sentence threw a red flag up for me. They've lived in the house 60 years and they don't want to leave it. So many of us got roped into obligations we came to resent very bitterly and have had a world of trouble trying to escape because we started out with the same notion you're expressing here - the idea that our parents/grandparents are more entitled to have their wishes catered to than we are to go on living our own lives in the manner we've chosen for ourselves. Many elderly people are so set against leaving the homes they're accustomed to, even when they can no longer manage the responsibilities of home ownership, that they come to expect the rest of the world to revolve around their desire to stay put regardless of the cost to anybody else.

I'm afraid if you step up with the idea of making it possible for them to stay in their home, your action will be seen as a guarantee, a promise, and will only reinforce them in digging in their heels about it. If that happens, it could be extremely difficult for you to extricate yourself if their needs become too much for you to handle or if your own life takes you in a different direction. You will then be the heartbreaker, the home-wrecker, if you decide for any reason that you need to pull back or move on.

I agree with cwillie about this. If you want to move close to them, do it as a support for them but not as a guarantor of their ability to remain in their home until their dying breaths. Don't trap yourself into an unknowable (but ever-increasing) commitment for an indefinite period of time. Too many of us have done that and have lived to regret it.
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Do NOT move in with them. Do NOT become their primary caregivers. That way lies madness.

You are unemployed. Do you have other ties where you live? Doctors, dentists, good friends, church, health club, whatever that you would miss a lot if you move? Where is your best chance of finding work?

If it does make sense for you to move into your grandparents' town, you would be in a position to help them get help. DO NOT take on all of the hands-on helping yourself. Just don't. But you could help them find a house cleaner to come in every other week. You could look into meals on wheels or similar programs for them. Find a neighborhood kid to do snow removal and basic lawn care. No kids in the neighborhood? Contact a professional service. Perhaps you could help get the pet to the vet. Find them a transportation option for shopping. (There is a senior van parked outside of my grocery store a couple times a week.)

You would be available to help them to find more care when their needs increase. You could perhaps help them apply for Medicaid if that becomes appropriate in the future.

There are many ways you can be there for them and be their supportive family WITHOUT taking on the entire load yourself.

Carla has expressed it very well. There is no basis for the notion that "our parents/grandparents are more entitled to have their wishes catered to than we are to go on living our own lives in the manner we've chosen for ourselves." They are good people. You love them. You're a good person. I hope you love yourself.
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Don't do it. They will completely take over your life and need boat loads of care as time goes on. Could you imagine doing this 24/7 for the next 15 years with no help from anyone. Take care of yourself first and don't give up your long term financial security.
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It's great to help your grandparents. I was very close to mine and they are super valuable, imo, however, before embarking on a life changing journey, I'd take stock in just what they need and how much time, energy and money you can invest.

If they have available resources, it's possible to co-ordinate outside people to do the things that they need, such as meal preparation, housekeeping, yard work, laundry, medication delivery, transportation to doctor appointments, etc. There are Geriatric Care managers who can take care of making all those arrangements, plus, check in and monitor the seniors conditions. Of course, it's costly, but, doable, if the funds are available. I'm make sure they were certified and licensed in their state and get referrals.

If funds are not available, then, I'd consider the logistics of how it's going to happen. Are you going to make the arrangements, do the transporting, do the yard work, cook housework, etc? Because that can quickly turn into several full time, around the clock jobs. I'd explore just how feasible it is for seniors with advanced age to maintain the house and themselves in a large house and yard. Often, it doesn't make sense.

I'd read a lot of threads on this site about how so many times family members try to help care for senior family members and they soon discover that there are mental and/or physical health issues, that makes it extremely challenging and then they are in over their head and don't know how to get out. That's why I'd assess their abilities before committing.

I hope things work out. Please post about how things go.
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Dear Lora,

I know you love your grandparents and want to do something to help them. Your intentions are very admirable and decent. But there is a lot to consider. And sometimes its not always obvious at the beginning. Really ask yourself what you are prepared to do because it can be consuming and overwhelming.

Best to start with an honest conversation with your grandparents. What are their expectations? What are your expectations? Even if they are able to compensate you financially, will be you become resentful or angry about their level of care escalating? Imagine doing everything for them, every day, 24/7, 365 days a year and possibly for years to come. And what if it becomes too much, how will you pull back. Maybe even consider talking to a social worker first.

I always wanted to be the good daughter/granddaughter, but in hindsight I didn't ask enough questions and I never found the right balance. And the anger and resentment was choking me. I hope you can find the right balance between helping your grandparents and staying true to yourself and preserving your own health and happiness.
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lora12, one thing younger people don't realize for themselves is that aging can become the most expensive thing they ever encountered.   Therefore employment and saving like crazy is so very important.   You need to build up your Social Security and Medicare.   Of course, whenever I read the relationship as Grandchild, I automatically assume someone in their 20's or 30's, when in fact the "Grandchild" could be much older.

I can understand you wanting to "go home" back to the town where you grew up, and where it is more of a comfort zone.   I was glad to read that your Grandparents have hired help... whew :)
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Lora, as others have mentioned your Grandparents could easily live another 10-15 years.   It's nice you want to help, but it won't be easy.  Oh, if only we had a crystal ball to see into the future.

Please read this article, it will give you a lot of insight, plus read the 300+ comments.
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I ask because I am in a place in my life for change. I grew up in the town they live in, have friends and more family there. I only came to the state I am in now to go to college and then never moved back home but always wanted to. I don't require a lot in terms of money, I just don't live a lavish life. I currently live in a tiny house. I wouldn't want to do all the work, just the typical be there for them when it snows, make a meal every once in awhile, clean the house once a week, hang out with them. They are very aware and extremely understanding. Their mind is there, just not the physical abilities. Also, I would not be living with them but living on their property in an inlaw apartment, again to be there when needed. They currently have hired help but I want to be there too.
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