I Have Never read about a Situation Similar to Mine

I completely understand how totally upsetting it is to be the primary caregiver when there are siblings who do very little to nothing.


In my case, I am the primary caregiver for my 95 year old grandmother with early Alzheimer's who lives in her own home. My mother (who is my grandmother's daughter) is 72 years of age, in very good health and financially quite well off.

She has always done pretty much whatever she has wanted, regardless of the other responsibilities in her life. She has traveled the world and been married 3X - now engaged to #4 who came on the scene well after I started pointing out how my grandmother was failing and needing some assistance to which my mother ignored and constantly blew me off.

My husband and I (we have a 20 year old son who lives at home and is currently in University) have stopped attending family functions (my mother is an only child as am I)where we would have to listen to my mother and now her fiance go on and on about all of the social things they are doing...and totally ignoring the elephant in the room.

I work full time in a demanding responsible job - I am 46 years of age and have worked full-time my entire adult life. My husband who is older than me retired from his career position at the age of 60 and is still working part-time as we put our son through school.

My husband and I go to my Gram's every night, have dinner with her, make sure she takes her medications, gets into bed....She goes to a Day Away programme 3X a week as my mother refuses to spend quality time with her - my mother does go every morning to get her up, dressed, fed, medications...hurries as quick as she can and gets out.

Her fiance goes with her some days and sits there eating my gram's cookies and drinking her tea (that of course my Gram who is on a fixed income, unlike the two of them) pays for. They buy her nothing, they eat a meal with her maybe once per month, they rarely take her anywhere.

I clean my Gram's house, my husband and I get her groceries every week, i make sure the bills are paid, i take her to the bank once a month, I pick out her clothes for Day Away and make her lunch, my husband cuts and trims the lawn in the summer and I do the weeding and planting.....just like I have read on so many of these sites, I feel like I have no life, but then feel guilty for saying that because being with my gram is a pleasure and she deserves it.

I have no resentment towards my gram - she has always been there for me and is a very sweet woman. My mother on the other hand has successfully severed our relationship for good with her total selfish behaviour.

I am tired of being the parent in our relationship which i have been for many years (when i was a teen i kept leaving the house as my step dad was an alcoholic who drank whiskey 7 nights a week and she joined him (although she was a beer drinker) at least 50% of the time - they would get drunk and fight and argue - sometimes physically - when I got old enough, I left 3X - first two times went to my dad's but he (bless his soul) didn't want the responsibility as he was a womanizer and i cramped his style - last time was going to my gram's when my mom decided to come along.

Put up with that situation for 9 years and had to be the one to show her that it was very unhealthy living situation. at any rate, it wasn't until this situation came up (over the past several years have been telling her she needs to spend more time with my gram which was then followed up with very explicit emails, notes, voice mails about what needs to be done.

All fell on deaf ears until my gram got pneumonia and that is when i told her she had to start going every morning - but she does it grudgingly) that I came to the realization that my mother has always been a very self-centered person.

Anyways, the other maddening part is that whenever a man comes into her life, she can devote herself to him and go above and beyond - 3rd husband died of cancer and had a stroke previous to that - she became Florence Nightingale.

They were only married a total of 5 years before he died and yet she would go to the ends of the earth for him, yet my gram is a burden. Now her current fiance also has health issues and she will do anything that needs to be done for him.

My gram is only going to day away 3X a week because i pushed for it because she needs companionship and stimulation - my mother does absolutely nothing that will improve my Gram's well-being and has already tried to get her into a nursing home (thank god my gram had the sense to make me an equal power of attorney).

Sorry for ranting - never wrote on one of these sites before - but just wondered is there anyone else who is in the same situation where they are caring for their grandparent 7 nights a week while their parent (who has the ability and the means) is free to come and go and does not contribute in any way to the running of the home nor demonstrate concern for the well being of her own mother?

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Don't let resentment or anger stop you from helping parent
by: Anonymous

Let me tell you. I was filled with anger and resentment like most of the people on this board for many years while I took care of elderly parent and siblings didn't help.

I eventually got over my anger and resentment and learned to have compassion for my parent. I became more patient and tolerant. Sure, my parent was difficult and not always nice to me. SO WHAT? She was suffering. Can't you all understand that?

My parent eventually died and I MISS HER. Yes, I miss her a lot, no matter how bad things had gotten at times. I took care of her for years and sacrificed my own time and life for her and I don't regret a single minute of that.

When your parent dies, you will understand what I'm talking about.

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lower expectations
by: Anonymous

Lower your expectations of your mom. When she does something unexpected, unexpected and helpful, you'll be happy, but you also won't lean on someone who will constantly disappoint you and sap your energy, and you can use that energy to focus on gram...and you!

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I have Been There and There is Only One Solution
by: Anonymous

This was pretty much the situation last year - except for the fact that my mother did nothing whatsoever for 5 months at a time because she is a snowbird. That left only me to look after my grandfather (my mom is only in her early 60s, I am early 40s)

I had such dreadful anger and resentment for the years in which this went on. I had just had to deal with caring for another relative all on my own, and he passed away, which was extremely painful and I believe left me with a little bit of PTSD.

Last year I begged for help from four members of my family. No one stepped up and in fact two of them cut me off for good "for putting them in a bad position." That hurt so terribly.

What helped me? Well, after writing in to forums like these, consulting a psychiatrist, and talking and talking to friends I made the change that they all suggested but that I had been resisting out of a sense of responsibility: I stepped back.

You can do it, too. It is painful in its own way, and I know that you will resist this at first. The thing for me was that I had a nervous breakdown last year from the stress - I have never been so sick and felt out of my mind from the lack of sleep, worry, anger, fear, exhaustion, guilt, sadness...

I knew I couldn't do it all over again this year when my mother and step-father went away for their usual five months of sun. So I didn't.

I was there for my grandfather but not nearly in the way I had been the year before. And you know what? While he was lonelier (which did hurt me) he was no more ill than when I was there, and my absence left a gap that had to be filled. Two of the relatives that I'd asked for help the year before miraculously appeared this year.

I honestly can't say that I feel good about any of this but I know I've been a better mother and wife and I know I've been much, much healthier mentally and physically. My relationship with my grandfather is as good as it ever was (he is good at being nice to me, but I have always known that although he loves me there is some sort of weird wall between us).

The relationships I don't have with my extended family are the same as *they* were, too - non existent (so sad to me, but they are unreasonable and there's nothing I can do.)

I hope that my sharing of my experience will help you find a better path for yourself. I remember being you last year and the idea of stepping back was something that I didn't want to hear.

I wanted to hear people tell me how I could force other people to help me. But there's no way of doing that. There's no way to make selfish, cowardly relatives do the right thing I'm afraid.

Much respect to you for stepping up, it is incredibly difficult and you shouldn't have to feel alone in doing it. I'm sorry that you are having to deal with this most stressful situation.

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