(Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago, we launched a new section on the site, “What Do You Think?” In the section, you can ask for suggestions and advice from other family caregivers. Today, a family caregiver to his grandmother would like your input on his situation. Would you like to post your story in order to get suggestions and advice? Simply send an email to Denise.)
I’m my grandmother’s caregiver, and I can tell that I’m reaching a breaking point. Nothing’s happened yet, but I notice that I’m getting angrier with her than I had in the past.
She and I are different. She’s on oxygen and has been told by her doctor that she needs to wear it 24/7. It’s okay if she takes it off for a short break every once in a while, but basically, whenever she stands up, she needs to wear it.
This is where we differ. If my doctor told me that I needed to do this, I would make sure that I wore it as much as possible. My grandma will get up in the middle of the night and go to the kitchen for a snack, which is fine.
The problem is that she won’t take her oxygen with her. I’ll get up to tell her to go back to bed. I’ll see the oxygen in her room and ask “is the bed sick, grandma?” She’ll be like a smart-ass kid and say yes. I’ll ask again and she’ll say it’s only temporary. But she has CHF, so without the oxygen, her heart is working twice as hard.
I feel like I’m doing more to take care of her than she is doing for herself. She’s never hungry, so getting her to eat anything is a job in and of itself. And when she does eat something, she’ll always say she’s not hungry so I have to bargain with her every single meal “okay grandma, if you just eat this much, then it’ll be okay”. That would be fine, but again, every single meal. It gets tiring.
Also, I feel I’m getting more depressed myself. My mom is the only other family member that comes over and does anything. But she gets worn out herself. There are family that live close by but none of them ever visit or even call. I know what they’re thinking…” We don’t have to worry about Grandma, Nate’s taking care of her”. That’s true, but two of those people are my mom’s sisters and they don’t even say thank you. Their idea of thanks is money.
I recently went on a trip to L.A. for a week and those two sisters had to share the task of taking care of her. One would sleep over for breakfast and dinner, the other would come over for lunch. I hadn’t even arrived home yet, and they were already packed up and gone when I walked in the door.
I guess I didn’t have to write all of that. I could just ask how do I put up with a stubborn person who doesn’t want to eat and doesn’t want to wear her oxygen? I’ve tried everything I can think of. With regard to protein, I use Carnation Instant Breakfast, but she’ll say it’s too sweet. So, I’ll add more milk to dilute it, but then she’ll say it’s too much milk. She complains about everything. I’m almost tempted to see my own doc about antidepressants if it doesn’t get any better.
I’ll stop now, because this could go on forever. Thank you.