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What role should I have in the lives of my elderly relatives?

Asked by Haleth (19538points) October 12th, 2014

A couple years ago I was broke and out of a job, and I moved in with my aunt and my grandmother. Back then they were in pretty good health.

Since then, I’ve found a job that is a great stepping stone to the career I want. I work six days a week, but I’m getting great experience and don’t plan on staying forever.

Their health and mobility have gone downhill in the last few years. They each have many health problems, and my aunt is obese and has rheumatoid arthritis. I started taking both of them to their doctor’s appointments and running all their errands. They’re each pretty difficult in their own ways- for instance, it would take an hour to get granny ready and into the car.

My family is small and dysfunctional. My parents divorced and the two sides don’t talk to each other. Both of these ladies are on my mother’s side. My mother is dead, and she’s the only one of her generation who had children. I have an uncle, but he’s a couple states away and barely in touch. I have a sister who’s a year younger, and she’s been very clear about not wanting to get involved, and she’s overseas in the military. There are distant relatives on the other side of the country, and that’s it. I’m 27.

For the last year my grandmother has been living in a nursing home, so nowadays I only do this stuff for my aunt. My aunt is her primary decision maker, but if anything needs to be done in person I handle it.

My aunt gets groceries delivered in, but whenever she goes out she needs me to drive her. She gets frustrated easily. When this happens, she goes on long rants about everything, talking in circles, going on tangents, and repeating herself. EVERYTHING is TERRIBLE. I have to talk to her slowly and calmly to get anything done.

Last night one of those conversations happened. I made a couple suggestions afterward about how she can make her own life easier. She needs to set boundaries with my granny, and only deal with the big important problems. One day they had a struggle over, I shit you not, a piece of mail from Publisher’s Clearinghouse.

I asked her to find a support group for elderly caretakers and a therapist. And that if she wants to rant, but doesn’t want solutions, she has to tell someone else. From now on I only want to hear about a problem if she actually wants to fix it.

Maybe that sounds harsh, but I need to set boundaries in my own life. I wish I could move out and know they will be ok. I’ve always lived in the DC area, and I really want to have an adventure and live somewhere else for a few years. It would be nice to be their emergency contact without being involved in their day-to-day problems. I do love them. But to them nearly everything is a problem or an emergency.

What are some reasonable steps I can start taking?

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