Personal dilemma

  1. This is something I've been struggling with for a few months now, and I really don't have anyone that can speak honestly about it with me, other than my SO.

    I have a Grandmother, who is nearing 93 years old. She is a very sweet, good woman, and I love her very much!

    For 92, she is in very good shape. She has, however, slowed down quite a bit in the last 6 months. Soon we know that she will not be able to walk (she currently walks very slowly, barely well with a cane); my Mom is in healthcare, and expects it won't be much longer than the end of this year-beginning of next. She lives alone in a house less than 300 yards from my parents house. My parents would never have her in a nursing or retirement home, and my Grandmother has always been dead-firm in staying in her home anyway, as she frequently (pretty much every day) has her friends and church pals over.

    A few years ago, she went through a bout of pneumonia. After that, she was weak for a while, and we hired someone to spend the day helping her out. The woman hired was an older lady, and eventually had to turn to carrying for herself, so my Grandmother went back to doing things for herself. My Mom would take her out whenever she wanted to go out (for groceries, clothes shopping, etc.) My Dad (her son) would take her to doctors appointments and such. But after a while, my Mom started to slack off in that area (she went through a big weight loss thing, so she's a bit self-focused right now) and my Dad is so busy with his company that he can't take her much of anywhere anymore.

    So it sort of fell on me to take her. Which was just fine with me, because I enjoy taking her places. She's spunky and talkative, and a sweet woman. I take her to the grocery store every two weeks, I take her clothes shopping once or twice a month, to hair appointments, eye appointments, some doctor appointments, bank, etc. We're out at least 1-2 times a week. After a while, my Dad said she couldn't clean her house anymore, so I took over that also, which I do once a week. Then the gardening, the organizing (she keeps her house in flawless shape, every closet in order, no dust anywhere, etc.). I usually do that once week also. Essentially, I became the complete caretaker.

    I'm a full-time college student and I also work for my Dad's business. I live about 30 minutes away from my Grandmother, in my own house. I take as many summer classes as I can, so I can graduate at my planned time. So I stay fairly busy, in addition to my duties with my Grandmother.

    The problem is this: I love my Grandmother very much, but she has a history with being a bit on the order-ie side. A few teenagers that wanted summer jobs with my Dad have been sent to her house to do work, and have had a good bit of difficulty because she isn't particularly nice to them, and tends to really order people around. She's yelled at two of them before for not doing something the way she wanted it done. She tends to poke her cane at people, and even get a bit loud with store workers when she wants something. She's very intent on still doing things herself, and has fallen a total of 5 times in the last two years trying to do things that she shouldn't, like picking up a piece of lint off her carpet or trying to throw a half a watermelon over the fence. So I can understand her frustration when she's in a store and can't reach something on a shelf because she can't get out of the riding cart. Never mind that I'm there to do it; often she'll ignore my attempts to get the item and order a sales attendant nearby to get it for her.

    Sorry, I'm long winded...

    Over the last two months, she's kind of started to order me around. I love her, but I feel like sometimes I'm less of her granddaughter and more of her worker bee. She'll have company while I'm over and kind of order me to clean things while I'm there. She used to call and ask me if I'd take her somewhere, and I always said of course, anytime I didn't have school work or a previous commitment to my Dad. But lately...she doesn't really ask anymore. She kind of just calls me and tells me what we're doing and when.

    I can't say anything to her, I love her and I'd feel awful. But she tells me sometimes to take her out on days when I just can't, so I end up canceling plans or pushing my school work back to the last minute.

    I've never had a problem telling someone no, but when it comes to family...I just can't manage to ever say no :s It's not just with my Grandmother; my Mom has other priorities lately, so when she throws dinner parties or has company over/family, etc., I end up doing all of the cleaning afterwards and often before, because she always asks me to. I end up cooking quite often also, as her diet as made her uninterested now. I tried to ask my parents for a bit of help sometimes or advice, but they said I should make time or that I have time already. My Mom says I should spend all the time I can with her because she may not live much longer. My Dad has offered to pay me for doing it, but the money isn't a concern. He's holding onto some for me regardless, but I don't care to get it from him; she's my grandmother, I don't feel like I should be paid to do things for her.

    SO's opinion seems too harsh to me; he thinks she likes to order people around, including me. He thinks my parents say what they say because they don't want the responsibility of taking care of her anymore, which in the case of my Mom I can believe, though I know she doesn't do it maliciously, I just think she's too into herself right now to really consider everything; my Dad because my Grandmother calls him 15 times a day to tell him about so-and-so dying or so-and-so getting married and just generally interrupting his work (Grandma is a bit of a gossip, lol, she knows everyone and stays on the phone most of the day). He says that if I don't have time I should just say no and offer to do it on another day. I don't think she enjoys ordering people around, but I don't know...anyway around, I can't manage to say Grandma, I just can't do it today, can I take you two days, a day, etc. from now?

    I guess I'm just not sure what to do; I'm supposed to take her to the Doctor tomorrow, which was fine and I scheduled it on my calendar a month ago (only about a three hour deal, after 12pm), but then she called me today to tell me we were going grocery shopping and such after that. I scheduled my day so that I could finish work on my paper (due very soon), get some typing done for my Dad's business, finish cleaning my house, etc. It wouldn't be a big deal, just the store...but given her condition and stopping for restroom breaks, etc., we can't get out of the grocery store in less than 2 1/2 hours. Tomorrow just isn't the best time for an all day trip out for me. But I just can't say anything to her when she tells me she plans on having me do something for her. I'd be happy to take her in two days, and suggested it, but she said no.

    I know I shouldn't be saying anything or complaining, she's 92 and she's a good person, but sometimes I just feel like something isn't right :s Any advice would very much appreciated, but any way around I appreciate being able to just vent to my fellow tPFers! I hope I don't sound like an awful grandchild, I really do love my grandma, but things have just seemed off lately...
  2. It sounds to me like you're doing all that you can and even more than that. I'm wondering about your stress levels and whether or not someone else needs to be called in to let you have a break. There are a lot of articles in the news about how important it is for families to realize that the caretakers of the elderly are often overwhelmed, if not stressed out, and that they need a reprieve, too.

    What would a proper balance look like, as far as juggling your responsibilities with taking care of your grandma, and how can you work towards it?

    Guilt shouldn't factor in here, not when you've done so much and are doing it all alone, more or less.
  3. Wow, sorry to hear of your family stress. My biggest suggestion to you would be to set your own boundaries. You should sit down with your mom and dad and tell them what you can reasonably do and what you can't for your grandmother. I'd even go as far as saying "I can help Grandma on Mondays and Wednesdays from noon until three" or something like that.

    I'd also insist that you need to focus on school and getting through it now, and tell your parents they need to hire a caretaker for your grandmother (like a nurse's aide). There is no doubt in my mind that you love your family; however, as an adult, you also have adult responsibilties and your family needs to realize that fact. Don't let them look the other way while you are taking on all of the work to care for your grandmother.

    Good luck!
  4. what a good grand-daughter you are! hey man, you are only human. its obvious you love your gammy very much and even though she's 92 you have every right to be a little frustrated with her cause after all, she's human too. it sounds to me like she is a fighter and she is fighting off death in every way imaginable including yelling at it, by barking orders to you since you are the closest to her. she's gonna go down fighting God bless her! have you ever told her how you feel? saying something like "grandma, I'm sure gonna miss you hollering orders at me when your gone!" :lol: she sounds like a pistol and I'm guessing she has a great sense of humor as well. she may feel like she's being a burden too which may also bring out some hostility. she may feel like people only do things for her when/if she asks. perhaps you can take a few hours on your own and do something nice for her that she hasn't asked for like taking her out to tea or making her a nice brunch and watching a movie with her or just doing something she hasn't asked for. then tell her how much you love her and bring up how busy your life has been with school and everything else. bring her into your world for a minute. then tell her you're sorry if you ever seem tired because of all your responsibility but that you love her to death and she will never be a burden to you. sometimes people just need to be softened up a bit to soften up their behavior.
  5. Janos614, I've never been able to see myself as stressed; SO will tell me I'm stressed, but I can't see it and will deny it. My family isn't familiar with stress. We kind of just work through, and as my sister says, the family idea runs something similar to...buck up butter cup. I can't get upset with my parents, so I end up breaking down a bit sometimes with SO, just because school will get to me, Grandmother's falls or injuries get to me, my family can get to me...a few weeks ago when I took her clothing shopping, I was in the dressing room helping her put on clothing when I saw blood on her shirt. It was all over her side. Her skin is so thin that a paper cut had cut her skin open and she kept bleeding; I just didn't know what to do and even though I'm sure it was a small thing, it scared me. I wasn't prepared for it. I had bandaids, but I was afraid if she tried to take it off it might tear her skin. I know I need to look for a balance, but I'm not quite sure what to do about it atm.

    lorihmatthews, my parents have mentioned to me that my Grandmother is distrustful of people that she isn't familiar with. She'll call the police if a car drives by too slowly, we live out in the middle of nowhere, very rural, and she won't leave her purse in her car for even a second without the door being locked behind. SO has mentioned that he believes my parent's having me adopt all of the care-taking isn't particularly responsible, but I think it may just be because of my Grandmother's distrust of people.

    , she is a sparky woman, lol, she's worked hard in her life and seen a lot of bad stuff (her husband, my Dad's Dad, died when he was 12), and her second husband wasn't a very good man; he didn't treat her well, and neither did his family. But it was the older south, and she didn't believe it was her place to say anything. She's the polite southern woman.

    I visit her outside of taking care of her; I'll bring her green beans from the farmer's market on Saturday mornings (she loves beans!) and I'll stop in during my lunch break with my Dad to say hi and chat, because she loves to talk about anything and everything. I hope she doesn't think I'll only do things for her when she asks, but I guess it seems that way with my family now. My sister, I love her, but she won't even really pick up the phone for my Grandma anymore...every time she is home from school, my Grandma wants to have her up to lunch, but my sis just won't do it; she's at a kind of college/partying part of her life right now. Family isn't her top priority right now :s Taking her out to tea is a good suggestion, thank you for it, it would give me a chance to talk to her about things in a different atmosphere; I just hate ever see her upset or disappointed for any reason, and I just feel like anything I might say could upset her :sad:
  6. hey neeya,

    I just wanted to tell you first of all that I think you are a great grand-daughter and a real family person, something everyone surely appreciates.

    whether your SO hit it on the head or not, doesnt really matter bec it won't change the situation - but your schedule is pretty packed and I know what it is like to try and make everyone happy in a family situation - the only thing I had to learn the hard way: you can't. if you try there will still be someone who will be upset, and often enough more than one, and even more often you are one of them. now, since you are happy to let your grandmother be as she is, that is great but in the case of work I am pretty sure she does understand if you tell her in a clear enough manner. you are not letting anyone down if/when you tell her: look I am sorry I can't do it tomorrow. you are not being rude, mean etc but you also have priorities to fulfill, and this is your future, I am sure she wouldn't want to stand it in the way. I tend to do with my grandma what you do but I have to come to realise that if I don't treat her like a 'grown-up' I do'nt take her seriously anymore (this is my particular situation - but kwim?).

    oh also, she is your grandma you know - she loves you and surely will understand. also, to me the ordering around is a way of dealing with the fact that she needs help, she sounds very independent and people can have a hard time that way.
  7. give her credit for being a tough and smart old lady. as long as you come from a place of love and respect, she'll get it. she'd probably be very impressed that someone respects her enough to tell her the truth! just remember to tell her how much you love her and love being with her. and don't worry about your sisters behavior, that is her own burden to bear. you just keep doing the right thing and let her worry about herself. afterall, you don't think she's worrying about you do you?
  8. Hey Neeya,

    Sorry to hear about what's happening. I know schoolwork is hard and life is hard, and sometimes you can't set boundaries on situations just like that. My grandma broke her hip and had a good old time ordering me and mom around because that's just how she was. She was an incredibly feisty old lady, wanted things done just so, and god help us if we didn't do things the way she wanted!

    Anyway, we managed somehow. Boundaries just don't exist in our family or our culture. Grandma wants help? We go do it. Gotta study? Well, I could stay up a couple hours extra in the night for a few days and didn't need 8 hours beauty sleep did I? That's how it went.

    Grandma lost her mobility and in several months succumbed to pneumonia. I miss her a lot because she and I were very much alike and we loved each other. Thinking back now I don't regret the hours I couldn't study or the time I didn't spend sleeping. I miss grandma. That's just the way it is.
  9. I feel for you. I know it is hard and really don't know if anything will change unless you talk to your parents. Have you thought of doing a calendar with "YOUR" schedule first. One that shows the hours per day you are doing your school, ect.... and then one that shows all the time you are taking care of your grandmother. Your parents may be surprised to see how little time you have for yourself.
    My dad lives with me for a month every three months and I can't say NO to him. He also likes to bark orders at me and just expects me to drop anything to take him where ever he wants to go. He also expects to be waited on and I do it. I feel guilty if I don't. What gets me is that he does not do this at my siblings houses, they will not wait on him and he is capable to do things himself at their houses. He even does yard chores at my sister's house, he is 85. When he is here he acts like he can't get out of bed. My siblings keep telling me to say no to him but I just can't so I continue to do what he wants. I don't mind a lot of stuff because we do have fun. I just wish I could get him out more to do things like go sit near the beach or hang out instead of running errands and having him refuse to get out of the car. I understand how you are trying to do all you can and it seems like your grandmother is probably taking you for granted or else she could just be a spunky old lady who is having fun with you and is does not expect anyone to say no to her. She probably loves the attention you give her. The only thing I can say is talk to your parents and do a schedule, you need some days off.
    Good luck.
  10. I have a fiesty little old grandmother as well. As much as she bosses me around and slaps me, spanks me or pinches me (all lovingly of course, as annoying/embarassing as it is) there is NO WAY I would ever stop hanging out with her. Her days are numbered and I want to take it all in. There will NEVER be anyone like her.

    I like it when she calls me out of nowhere because she needs to go pick something up, to gossip or whatever. I like knowing that she can count on me for anything. She would bring me breakfast in bed every morning from the age of 16-23 (when I lived with her). Hell she would bring me a beer in the morning if I was hung over and drink one with me! She's my wingman.

    It's the least I can do for someone who went through so much to raise her family and help raise me.
  11. Hi Neeya!

    Sorry to hear about all the frustrations. You definitely have a TON on your plate. I can somewhat relate. My Nana just passed & it was hard to see her when she was sick. I live in a different state than she did & she was my father's mother & I DO NOT get along w/ my dad.

    It was a long drive & always trying to dodge my father, it was very stressful. NOW, my grandfather (her husband) is alone & frankly a cranky old man who is sitting on a heap of cash & refused to help me pay for law school. (long story but he'd rather will it to my dad who will drink & drug it away)!

    Then there is DH's grandfather. 95ish & cranky as the devil. He tells us all off all the time & will completely freak out over nothing!

    Also, I am currently helping to take care of a friend's grandmother. I've been doing it for the last 9 months. This week is my last as I have to prepare to move & get ready for law school. But, its one hell of a job to take on the care of an elderly person along w/ all your own responsibilities.

    Unfortunately it sounds like your Mom is a bit self-centered at the moment & your sis is just not in the right frame of mind for the actual circumstances at hand.

    Are there any other family members that could help out? Does your father have siblings?

    I don't know what exactly to suggest to you but I just wanted to know that I can REALLY relate to what your going through. I hope something will happen so that you can release some of your responsibilities and thus reducing your stress.

    As cold as it sounds maybe you need to be firm w/ your grandmother & say no sometimes. Like w/ the grocery shopping after the DR. appt, could you tell her you'll bring what she needs home from the store but that you'll go to the store alone? So quick in & out??? IDK...

    Hope things get better!
  12. Wow, you're a great and strong person for being able to take on all of that and not crack! Unfortunately, there is only one other sibling, my Dad's sister. She has her own mental issues, and lives in another state. She doesn't have a lot of money, and seems to have little interest in helping her mother out. She visits maybe twice a year :tdown: I wish my Grandmother would let me pick items up for her sometimes; one time we made an hour long trip to the store she requested, I got her in her wheel chair, into the store and into a cart, took the wheel chair back out, and it turns out she only needed 3 things. It wouldn't be a big deal if it wasn't such a huge thing to get her in and out of the house/car/and store; I tend to think an excursion like that is most appropriate when we're doing a a full-on grocery shopping trip. The only time I've ever been able to cough up the courage to say "no" is a few weeks ago, when we were clothes shopping. We'd spent four hours in the mall, me pushing her around and dealing with the big bleeding cut I'd mentioned earlier, and she wanted to go to a store an hour away. It had started raining, and the car was parked a long way away. I ran out in the rain to get it, and pulled up the curb. I'd asked her to wait inside for a minute, so she wouldn't get wet. By the time I'd pulled up, she had asked a passer-by to wheel her into the rain, so she was just sitting there getting wet, so I hurried to get her in the car. The curb was at a downhill incline, so I was trying to manage holding onto the wheel chair, an umbrella, and get the door open to the car and help her in. The wheel chair almost slipped from my hands and that could have been bad. I finally got her in and when I went to put the wheelchair in the trunk, it was raining harder and I was soaked. The trunk is high and deep, so I have to lift the chair up and throw it over the edge. The metal was so wet, it slipped from my hands and nearly landed on my feet. It took me forever to get it in. I get in the car, soaked, and my Grandmother just tells me we had better hurry to the store now. The store she's talking about is a long walk in the rain from the car; I just had to tell her I couldn't do it, we both would be soaked and I couldn't handle the chair as easily in those conditions. I felt awful, and she seemed pretty upset :sad:

    I appreciate your suggestions, and I know I just need to work out something with my parents and with her. We had a plan before, last year I could take her out every Wednesday and Monday, but now since I work for my Dad and summer school requires so much squeezing-in of work, I just can't do that right now.

  13. ^ Well, I really think you need to call on your Mom & your Dad. You shouldn't have to as they should be a bit more adult & know when to step in but I know things can be weird. Sounds like you have a nice Dad but just super busy at work.

    The woman I have been helping for the last 9 months can be VERY demanding & she sweetly refers to me as her adopted grandchild but sometimes I have to say No or Not now. She doesn't like it & she has told me off many times & gives me dirty lokks but thats what I'm there for. Its not fun but a lot of times the elderly do that whole regression thing were they end up needing to be parented all over again. The woman I'm w/ likes to use the retorts;
    "Who died & made you boss?"
    "You're like trying to fight the town hall. I'm never going to win."

    And she also told me I looked fat in my winter coat.:wtf: But hey their elderly & sometimes they just don't take others time, feelings etc in to account.

    Obviously you really love your grandmother & perhaps she's gotten a bit needy in her elder years & is latching on to tightly. If she was a real spitfire in her day... well usually they just get more sparky as they age!:yes:

    I would definitely call your Mom & Dad to the plate & MAYBE just think about vocalizing some of your fears to your grandmother. If she is a controlling, demanding person by nature maybe you could approach her as being in need & perhaps she would respond in a better way to you. Like if you said "Nana (I'm just using that), I love you so much & I really want to spend time w/ you but I just am concerned about getting my studies done. Do you think it would be good to schedule our outings, so then I know when to do my school work & when I'll be able to relax & treat myself to some time w/ you?"...

    You might feel better if you put your emphasis on one thing like school & not mention housework, work, friends etc. I tend to find multiple things can be overwhelming to the elderly & they can just block it out. Also, if you treated the situation as though you were looking to her for approval and/ or advice maybe that would soften the waters around her expecting so much from you.

    In the very least you really need to voice your feelings to others that have control over this situation. You've taken on a ton & its really too much for one person to carry.