Caring for Grandmother

by Tracy
(NJ)

I found this page while searching for techniques on how to deal with an angry elderly parent and I find myself writing about this experience now and finding comfort in knowing that there are others out there who understand. My 80 year old grandmother raised me, my parents were incapable of caring for me and later died when I was 12, her other son died of cancer in 2006 so we're all we have at this point and you can imagine she's quite bitter and angry at life.


We've never had a particularly close relationship, she's always been overbearing and controlling so I moved out when I was 22 and we've remained as "close" as we could be since--I am now 28. She's always been incredibly independent even when its simply for the sake of proving she doesn't need anything from anyone but that's all sort of flipped within the last few months. Her home flooded in late August with Hurricane Irene passing through and she had to come live with my husband and I--we've pretty much taken over the responsibility of getting her flood insurance squared away, demo'd her entire basement, set up all the contractor work--basically everything pertaining to the house.

With this happening I have come to realize that my perception of her being in control and having everything together is far from true so although this situation....sucks to put it bluntly, it needed to happen and she will be better off as a result. To get to the point, she has been an absolute nightmare from day 1.

She's had health problems for as long as I can remember--8 to 9 heart attacks, open heart surgery, angioplasty's, colon surgery, severe asthma--you name it she has it. Her biggest issue is her fierce "independence" she refuses to make sensible decisions--i.e., do not scrub our floors on your hands and knees while we're at work--we don't want her to do this nor do we ask her to do anything but it's almost as if she feels she needs to earn her keep.

She's been in the hospital 3 times in less than 3 months mainly because she refuses to care for her body properly. She takes out all her aggression on me and turns it into "my attitude" or my problems. She takes cheap shots at my husband trying to blame him for when she and I have issues--he stays out of everything aside from intervening in a few arguments where she was being totally belligerent and surprisingly she listens to him.

I realize that she will never see me as anything but the 5 year old in pigtails so it makes it very difficult to deal with her. Her decision making skills are far from good at this point however I know that if I tried to gain guardianship over her she would appear fine for psych doctors who interview her.

I am at my wits end--she's going to need care after she comes home from this latest hospital visit and she refuses to even consider it. It's getting to the point where I don't know what to do. I don't have the money to care for her, we're just starting out ourselves at this point--I've already loaned her 5k to pay off a credit card she ran up and she has the card back up to $3500 already.

I feel like I've rambled through this whole post but it's nice to have somewhere to vent it where I know people understand--my friends do not and I believe that they think I am being dramatic or overly sensitive--my husband did until he got to encounter her first hand. Then I get the "well she raised you and now it's your turn" I think that's awful to say to anyone. No one asks for this and furthermore I did not ask to be born to addict parents.

She raised me and that's commendable and I've turned out well I am grateful to her for that but that doesn't change that she's completely evil when she wants to be. Anyway feel like I just emotionally vomited all over this website but I'm glad it's here and I hope my story can help someone to feel not so alone.

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You've been Heard
by: Anonymous

Hi Tracy,
Greetings from California. I didn't hear you ramble and your "vomit" didn't knock me over. I was listening to a radio show just this afternoon that was talking about taking care of our elders.

Your case seems to fit in with others where the family (you and your husband) hired a third party (elder care specialist) to help you and your grandmother to communicate and make decisions. I go to a caregiver support group once a month and find it helps me keep my sanity!

I started going very early on so I could build up relationship with the group.
We all vent here so no worries with that.
Thinking of you.
Mary in Santa Rosa

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Caregiver to Grandmother........You can't Always Fix it!
by: Anonymous

I feel for you, you are in an horrific situation and I'm betting that you feel quite alone in this. The lady raised you well and yes, you are right to want to make some repayment, but you don't have to sacrifice your life in order to do this!!! She chose to raise you for her own reasons, she had already brought up children and knew what she was taking on.

On the other hand, you have fallen into this role without being aware of the impact. Don't beat yourself up. Be realistic in what you can do, and don't allow her, or others to make you feel guilty......you're not! Find out about assisted living, involve her medical team, use the local voluntary organizations and social services.

You cannot do this alone without risking your sanity and your relationship. Get help, you deserve it

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