Should I/Can I take care of my grandmother?

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My mother has just recently suffered a severe stroke from which she will likely never recover. She was my grandmother's POA, and was paying half of my grandmother's stay at a nursing care facility. My grandmother was not willing to travel around the house with her walker, and after a few too many close calls, the decision was made to put her in supervised care.

This was two years ago.

My father (my grandmother's new POA since my mother's stroke) does not have the funds necessary to continue paying for half of her care. He will continue to be unable to pay for my grandmother's care until he has access to my mother's assets, which will take 6 months to a year.

I have been considering acting as her live-in caretaker in that time. For me, it seems very simple. She is my grandmother, she helped raise me, and she doesn't like the nursing facility and would like to come home. She has dementia, but her general attitude towards life and her family has never wavered. She is a model guest at the nursing home, I have been told repeatedly that she's a wonderful person to work with, she's friendly and funny and cooperates always with their staff. My grandmother is 93, she was diagnosed with dementia six years ago, during which time her mood and attitude has not changed hardly at all. I have noticed a lot of people experience caretaker burnout dealing with ungrateful or uncooperative elderly persons. My grandmother is not in any way like this.

My fiance, he has many more reservations. My heart is telling me that taking care of my grandmother is simply the right thing to do in this situation, but he feels I'm taking on more risk and responsibility than I understand, and he believes I might have a REALLY hard time, and that I might be ruining my future to do this. I'm 23, I've just gotten a new job with a good company that provides a lot of opportunity for growth. He doesn't want me to have to give up this job, especially since my current boss has been a good friend of mine for years.

He also believes that this cannot be a one-person job. He believes that he'll find himself helping me out often, if not daily, with my grandmother's care (since I couldn't be expected to be on duty 24/7.) This would cause problems for his own future; when he isn't working, he's developing a software portfolio. He wouldn't be able to focus on his future career if he's helping me out so much, but I don't really see how I might need his help, seeing as my grandmother is so docile, and low maintenance (for her condition.)

There's also the matter of cost. I have been promised by trustworthy family that I'll be paid slightly more than I'm currently making, but much less than the average live-in caretaker. I'm okay with that, but I'm not okay with the fact my family and I will be responsible for the entirety of employment taxes. That hasn't been worked out yet, and how much or the manner of payment has not been ironed out. This is another concern of my fiance's.

The greatest of his concerns is simply that I will not be able to provide care at the level the nursing home is able to provide care. He reiterates often that there are 4 or 5 trained professionals on staff at the nursing home at any given time for my grandmother, but that I am only a single person who has never cared for another person in my life. I don't have kids, I have never been responsible for someone's care. (I don't need CPR certification or anything; my grandmother has a DNR.) He worries I'm biting off a lot more than I can chew, and I'm oblivious to that fact because I'm so motivated to do 'the right thing' for my family. When, in fact, this may not be the right thing for my grandmother.

He's right. I'm having a hard time processing his concerns out of a sheer drive to do the right thing. I also have no idea what I'm getting into; other than generally managing the household, and making sure my grandmother is safe, clean, and well-fed, I'm not sure what my specific job duties might become.

What should I consider that I haven't yet considered? Is there weight to my fiance's concerns? Am I even capable of providing adequate care for my grandmother? (My fiance doesn't seem to think so.) I don't want to ruin my life, and now he's scared me so much I'm actually reconsidering.

Any words of advice from someone a little further down the road than me? Anything at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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Sounds like at this point you are very unsure of you role as caregiver. I personally feel that you should step aside from that role and see who is can do it. I am a Grandmother and I would not want my young granddaugther who is just starting a new life to take on such a difficult role--and the role is going to be much more difficult than you can ever imagine. Be your grandmother's advocate and her POA and make sure that she receives the care she so deserves. You go out and live your life and hope that you can financially contribute to her care. Just being there and seeing your grandmother is enough love for her. See her a couple times a week, talk to her on the phone, and have dinner or breakfast with her. She will love those special moments with you and she will undestand--give her a great grandchild that you might name after her. Your love and devotion is the best you can do at this time. Thanks for being the best grandchild any grandparent would ever want!!!!!
You are a compassionate, loving granddaughter, and your fiance is a wise, wise man. If I were in your situation, I would not move my grandmother in with me and become her live-in caretaker. But I would be her caretaker. Being a loved one's caretaker does not always mean they live with you (or you with them). Keep her at a residence where experienced staffers can take care of all her needs (ADLs, physical and mental exercise, entertainment, social camraderie, etc.). You can then spend the loving, quailty time with her at her residence or take her for outings/overnights. You can keep in daily touch with the residence staff and be an attentive, involved loved one. The toll of live-in caretaking is enormous. You cannot underestimate the stress and strife it can cause in your life. There are many books, articles, websites, etc. where you can read up on what is involved with being a full-on caregiver.I would most definitely reconsider your very noble, but star-crossed, plan.
Wow - you are WAY to young to do this. You have all the right intentions -- so sweet. That is good. But I agree with your fiance. It will definitely change if not destroy the rest of your 20's and beyond. Your right when you say that you no idea what you are getting into. You don't, honey. It's a 24/7 job. And it just gets harder as the dementia worsens (remember it will never get better). I thought I had a trustworthy family too but when it came down to money (I care for both Mom and Dad), they changed their mind. And I was left making all the decisions and figuring out how to pay all the bills. The same could happen to you. I know you might want to think that, but it's a possibility and then you left holding the bag, grandmother in tow, no money and no job.

Medicaid - I've been through this process for my Dad who is in a nursing home. Get an elder care attorney to walk you through the steps. It's complicated but well worth it. To start the process, you only need to file one form and give it to the nursing home. From that day on, she is considered "Medicaid Pending" and you only pay what you can pay. It much more complicated than that, but that's the idea. It will save your Dad from bankruptcy, you from hardship etc...

Leave grandma where she is. She is safe and being taken care of properly. Go and visit her as much as you can. Bring her home for a day, bring her ice cream, do her laundry. Please take time to think about this.


I agree with the people who say that you are young (and engaged) and shouldn't feel that it is your responsibility to care for your grandmother at home. Believe me, it is much more difficult than you can imagine!!! I currently care for my husband at home but if anything were to happen to me, I would NEVER want one of our children, who are young adults, to give up their lives to care for him. If your grandmother does not have the funds to pay for the nursing home herself, she should be eligible for Medicaid which will pay for her care. Mediciad will not take into account any money that other family members have and will pay for the nursing home in full.
Everyone I know who has become a caregiver to a loved one says that it is more work than they ever imagined. It is physically and emotionally draining. If she is friendly, funny, and cooperative with the staff, are you sure she is unhappy in the nursing home? Or is she just saying what she thinks you want to hear? Every elder wants to return to the health and activities of their youth, and she might just have moments when she wants her youth back. There is a wise saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Your grandmother's situation is not broken, and her attitude reflects that. Since she loves you, had she not dementia, I'm sure she would want you to live your life fully. She would also give you her blessings to do so.
Please listen to all the people on this site who are giving great advice about you caring for your grandmother at home. Visiting her ane seeing her for a few hours doesn't even give you a glimpse of what you would be doing at home. She probably needs full assistance to use the bathroom or may be incontinent and you would have to change her and keep her clean. Not to mention night time when she might not sleep well. Then there is the worry about her eating well. Sometimes older adults do not want to eat the foods you prepare. Anyway please let her stay where she is happy and visit her often. I take care of my 92 yr. old mother and I love her very much, but it is very stressful having to be her caregiver 24/7 and not having the life I would have expected to have at 61 yrs. of age.
You are such a wise girl to really think this over before jumping in. I jumped in. I moved my Grandmother in with my family 2 months ago. (basically because no one else would). We are surviving but it is very, very hard. My Grandmother is sweet and loving too, but the dementia is difficult to deal with, 24/7. You can't just "take a break". Everything has to be arranged. I can't even go to the grocery store without making sure someone is here to watch her. It's like having a baby again. Only it's not a baby. I understand where you are at, and I might even go so far to say that I would do it again if I had the chance to start over. But it's not easy, and it will change YOUR life drastically.
I think it is great that you want to take care of your grandmother. You have no idea what you would be letting yourself in for. You say she isn't happy in the nursing home==she won't be happy at home either. It will be 24-7 and it is not your fiances duty to help you. Sounds like the family is going to pay you. How long before they begin copping out. The road to you know where is paved with good intentions. I took in my 94 year old mother to keep her out of a nursing home. She was good for a year. For 3 years she has turned in to someone that can not be pleased and nothing I do is right. I am 74 now and have not had a life for 3 years. My husband has to go to church by himself every week. I can't leave her alone. Leave your grandmother where she is. She will adjust easier than you can. You take her in and you may have to kiss your fiance good-bye (if he is smart he will run the other way)
If money is an issue to keep Grandmother in nursing,check if she is eligible for Medicaid. If she is a "model guest" at the nursing home, I suspect she isn't all that unhappy there. Of course, they would rather be home, but if she is doing ell there, I would leave her. In her state now, you might feel that you can handle her. But her dementia is only going to worsen. It would be difficult to move her, then months down the road have to make the decision to move her back. Read posts on this site. Most of us have gotten into more than we have bargained for. If your fiance already has so many concerns, I would serioiusly consider not doing this and leaving her where she is.
I want to commend you for wishing to care for your grandmother while your mother is overcoming the effects of her stroke.

I would recommend that you keep your job which is difficult if you chose to become a primary caregiver for your grandmother. At 93 your grandmother may not live that much longer, so your stint as a primary caregiver will be relatively short run. However, at 93 various things tend to happen, conditions worsen etc.
As far as a diagnosis of dementia, if she has had this label for 6 yrs and not much change in function, I fear the label may not be accurate. I found medical staff unfamiliar with normal aging process are all to free with whipping out the label for any elder over age 85 yrs.

However, I think you need to determine exactly what she can and can't do for herself as this will give you a better idea of what it would take to keep her at home. If your grandmother has been paying her way in the nursing home, there might be enough money to provide a home health aide/companion for your grandmother while your and your spouse are at work. This would reduce the amount of care you need to provide each day while trying to focus on your employment.
Will your mother or father be able to continue to care for her at some future date? Will your father be consumed caring for your mother leaving grandmother's care to you? Do you have aunts/uncles who could step up to provide some care for their mother? Do you have siblings who could help either with grandmother or your mother? The more support you have the better off you will be to maintain your home, and your employment while caring for your grandmother.

It may be something you wish to do, but you do need to have your ducks in a row or it will be overwhelming. Caring for an elder is unlike caring for a child. The child over time becomes more independent --needing less care. The elder will become more and more dependent ---needing more care. It is just a factor of the aging process. Elders wanting to be independent, having lived a full life, want to remain independent. While this desire is commendable, it can make it difficult to care for them at times. Say they refuse a cane or walker when it is needed, it results in falls and injury. While direct guidance to children tends to work, it often is resented by elders even when well meaning. I found I needed to discuss things in detail with my dad and give him time to think about things to gain his support for any changes in his care. Since he kept his mental abilities I had that option.

Lastly if your grandmother is running out of money to pay for the nursing home, then your father/mother could make arrangements for her to get Medicaid money to pay for her nursing home. If the inability to get to her money to continue paying is due to your mother's illness and her having the POA, I think the POA could be transferred to allow the current payment to continue to the nursing home. This might be the best solution.

Good luck Your are amazing to be willing to care for your grandmother at 23 when she is 93yrs.


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