Taking Care of Elderly


#1

Shortly after college I landed a job close to my grandfather. Being that I did not have the financial resources to rent in the area, he took me in and I have been staying with him since (about 2 years). While I was financially capable of renting my own place a few months into my new job, I decided to stay with him as I realized it was becoming harder and harder for him to live on his own (my grandmother has been deceased for many years). While I don’t consider myself a full time care taker, (he is not at that point yet) I do cook dinner every night, clean, buy groceries, drive him to the doctors, ect. - activities he has trouble doing on his own. He is set on living in his house for the rest of his life, and will not entertain moving to an assisted living apartment (& I respect his wishes on this), but this has put me into a situation where I feel I will stay with him unless he changes his mind on living arrangements or allow a full-time helper to come in in lieu of my absence. While I embrace this opportunity with an open heart and enjoy the time we spend together, I struggle with the idea that I am growing older and not perusing any vocational path due to my responsibilities (I am now in my late twenties). I would never entertain dating/courtship as I feel I need to be in a place where I am on my own and where the vocational path would not detract from another important responsibility (taking care of my grandfather). I am beginning to realize there is no easy solution to this, and I don’t mind dying to myself and my ambitions for the near future if this is God’s will for me at this point in my life - however I’m not sure and the pressure I feel by not pursuing my vocation seems to mount. I guess I would like feedback on other’s similar circumstances or any advice people can offer.

Much thanks in advance!


#2

I commend you for taking on this beautiful responsibility. :slight_smile:

Are his own children involved in his care at all? Your mother or father and/or their siblings? What are their opinions? THEY carry more responsibility in “Honoring their Mother/Father” than you would in caring for your Grandfather.
It may be time you have a family meeting on how to handle the situation. :o

God bless you for sharing your love with your family. :slight_smile:


#3

Have you talked to your grandfather about this at all? It is possible that he doesn’t realize how things have changed! Personally, I had one grandfather that meant the world to me and I would have gladly taken care of him, but I know he wouldn’t have expected me to put my life on hold for him. I think that it is wonderful that you care so much and are willing to help out so much, but it seems unreasonable to me for you to feel responsible for your grandfather. Although he is getting older and so is due respect and help, he is still and adult and should be responsible for himself. Maybe you could make a list of your priorities in your life and a list of what you’d like to do in your life, then see what path would allow you to do both. I don’t see why you can’t live your life for you, while helping your grandfather out as much as you are able to.


#4

Remember, God designed human beings to live in families - in extended families. Somewhere along the line, we went off track and started cutting off from our parents and aunts and cousins.

Why could you not date and marry and have your grandfather live with you?


#5

Thank you for doing this. It is wonderful to hear about families really coming together like this–especially across generations.

I have a couple of questions–where are your parents in this? Do they have a sense for how much grandpa can or cannot do on his own? They should be involved in any decision about when and where he might move to assisted living.

Are you still working in the first job you got when you moved to that area? Do you think moving up in your career would take you away from living with him? Or are you just worried about additional time spent at the office/job?

Would he consider a home-health aide who would come in to help him with things like a bath or physical therapy? That would lessen a few of the tasks you have to do. Also, look into senior centers or similar places where he could spend time during the day when you are at work.

Finally, I agree with Kage_ar. You can date and even marry while continuing to live with your grandfather or have him move into another house with you. It used to be very common to have multiple generations living together. Even now, many families I know (including my own when I was a girl) have a grandparent living with them.


#6

“ExDeoVita” I understand your feelings very well. I am sole caregiver to my 87 year old mother… who suffers from Alzheimer’s. I have been caring for her, without assistance from our family for over 6 years now.

Caring for the elderly is a “vocation”, in itself. It is a VERY Pro-Life vocation. But it is also a vocation which requires great, personal sacrifice. I had felt a subtle “calling” from Our Lord, to care for my mother… for a long time, before I finally obeyed Him… and took on that role. I resisted His call for a long time. But He very gently persisted.

My decision to do this, necessitated the loss of my job of 8 years. Something I did NOT want to do (especially now, the way our economy is).

Over time, I came to realize though… that Our Lord has granted me a privileged opportunity, to serve Him… to find Him… as He suffers, through my sweet mother. I still have a great many moments… when it is all very difficult. But my overall feeling… is now one of acceptance and gratitude to God, for allowing me (the least of His children) this opportunity.

You are quite a bit younger than I (I’m 50); but perhaps, Our Lord has put you into this “vocation” as a way to prepare you for something greater down the line. When you care for the elderly, you learn so many things from them. Your grandfather is a priceless treasure.

I will keep you in my prayers, dear soul. God bless. :slight_smile:


#7

I agree with this… I would encourage you to not let your situation stop you from dating. I bet your caring nature and sense of responsibility will be attractive.

I doubt your grandfather wants you to postpone marriage for his sake. There is always the option of moving your grandfather with you into your own place if for some reason you feel you need to demonstrate your ability to maintain your own home to anyone you would date.


#8

I have worked with the elderly for several years in assisted living facilities, so I know what a strain it is to be a caregiver. First I must ask, what about the rest of the family? Are you the primary decision maker for your grandfather? Are there other relatives who might be more obligated for his care then you?

Secondly, what is your grandfather’s health status? Is he suffering from dementia? Can he OBJECTIVELY communicate his plans for the future? How is his physical health and how much can he do for himself? Very many elders will adamantly insist that they don’t need help. It would be best to talk to his doctor privately and get a non-biased view on his mental and physical health.

This is a very difficult situation for all involved. At first glance, I would say to you that you should find arrangements for his care. I personally think that you need to advance yourself with education and career and family if that was your original goal. You should also find out who is his power of attorney in order to make arrangements for assisted living or a home nurse. Unfortunately assisted living is very expensive, but you can check with his insurance company to see what they can help with. Avoid “nursing homes” - these are only the place for seriously incapacitated individuals. If you do choose to stay with him, there are lots of resources to help you with supplies, medications, transportation and even periodic “eldercare” (like daycare). Make lots of calls and check the internet.

Making arrangements for an elderly relative IS a loving thing and should not be looked upon as abandonment. You need to pray about it and and ask what God wants for YOU. Then make a decision based on what your heart feels is right for BOTH of you.

God bless you both.


#9

If he’s not at the point of needing a full time caretaker, maybe he doesn’t need all of your help. You didn’t give his age nor describe his mental and physical health.

For your own mental health, you need to have a social life, get out with friends, date etc.

If he can make himself a sandwich, go out a couple of nights a week. See how he does and then extend it to taking a vacation. Obviously, he stays by himself while you’re at work.


#10

I would like to thank everyone for their input. As has been pointed out there is a lot I would need to expound on regarding the situation in order to receive clearer advice. He will be 90 this month, and he is still very sharp mentally but has trouble getting around even cooking simple meals would be hard at this point. What I have found is that in my absence he will resort to just eating plain bread all day long or something on the shelf that doesn’t require much preparation - and I always notice a change in mood and how well he feels as he doesn’t get proper nutrition. Thus I try to cook every night and if feel even a short absence would lead to quick deterioration in health. Aside from that he is very strong headed/willed and will not allow a full time aid worker to come in (I have already tried) or consider moving into an assisted living apartment. If I do move into my own apartment in close proximity I will still have to cook dinner after work, dishes, general cleaning, ect. which would get me home pretty late at night, I suppose I have not tried this option as I feel the time I would be spending at his house would pretty much defeat the point of having my own apartment. Out of respect I will not disclose the family members and their roles, I will just say I may be one of the few that believes he would not do well on his own if I moved out and nobody filled in in my absence. (The opinion exists that he is still as capable of living/surviving on his own as he was in years past, this I disagree with) It looks like I will need to tough this out until my family realizes and makes real plans to help him at this point of his life. I also feel the help I will need to get him (ie: emergency button, chair he can get out of) will need to be tough love decisions as he feels he doesn’t need any of this.


#11

God bless you for this help. I do agree with your assesment of his state when he doesn’t get proper nutrition. And with your thought that moving away (even close by) will actually make things harder for you in terms of your time commitment and need to maintain two households.

A couple of suggestions:

Do order the chair. Check into medicaid coverage. My mother has the chair that elevates to make it easier to get out of and it has made things much more comfortable for her. Low furniture or furniture without arms (like a soft sofa or and armless dining chair) will also be much more difficult for your grandfather.

Even if he resists a home-health nurse, consider having someone come in to asses the house for safety. Your county or hospital may provide that service. They look at simple things like increasing lighting or removing throw rugs, but also issues you may not have considered like the type of shoe he wears.

Spend some time one day browsing around your grocery store. There are tons of new easy cook or quick prep foods available. Even if they prove to be beyond your grandfather’s ability to make (or willingness), they will certainly help you with getting dinner after work. Almost all pre-prepared foods have more salt, sugar, fat than cooking completely from scratch, but there are also lots of healthy choices out there.

You might also want to consider packing him a lunch before you leave for work. If there is a sandwich waiting or soup in a thermos (not scalding hot), he may eat better during the day which would allow you a bit more flexability with getting home to fix him dinner right after work.


#12

Were caring for my soon to be 94 yr. old mother. She lived on her own until her 90th birthday existing on cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. Strong willed, it took the flu to change things. Brought her to our bldg. where she had her own apartment for three years taking her meals with us. When the Alzheimer’s got to the point where it was no longer possible for her to live alone, we moved her in with us last year.

The closer they are to you, the easier it is to care for them. So I have to agree it would end up harder on you to have your own place and take care of him and two apartments or homes.

Mom exists on BOOST. Fine with the doctor. I try and give her four bottles a day which is equal to 1200 calories. The doctor is not worried about the high fat content because it would take ten years to have any averse effect on her. Also check out the beneficts of asprin.

We still have a life. If you can leave him alone during the day, there certainly should be nothing stopping you from going out at night.

My mother’s former neighbors are 100 each. He still drives. My friend’s Mom is 98, drives and plays bridge once a week, my aunt is 90 and keeps house and cooks for her son. In her 80s, she cared for her Mom who died at 103.

Check into Red Cross’ Life Line, Hospice, Visiting Nurses and Doctors. Also a lift chair (looks like a lounge chair but puts the person in a standing position) is worth the $$.


#13

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