Dear Annie: I am a live-in caregiver for my grandmother, who is in failing health. She has five children (including my father) who do absolutely nothing for her because they say Grandma is a mean, nasty person, which she is. Grandma feeds off of negativity and gossip. Nothing is ever good enough, and she blames everyone else for her own failings.
I go out of my way to do things to make Grandma’s life easier, and it is either never good enough or she just doesn’t care. It has brought me to tears. I have threatened to move out numerous times, but then Grandma walks on eggshells until the dust settles, and everything goes back to the way it was.
I am at the end of my rope. But I also have a conscience and am afraid that if I move out, her children will rip her out of her home and slam her into an assisted living center, and that would be the end because no one else would step up to take care of her.
-- Frustrated Charles
Dear Charles: You are a caring grandson, but please don’t let Grandma blackmail you into a situation that is no longer tenable. Does Grandma have money to pay a caregiver? Would your aunts and uncles be willing to help foot the bill in order to have Grandma cared for without their direct involvement? Look into the cost of hiring someone to live in the home, which Grandma may prefer. But also check out senior housing, including assisted living options. Many of them are excellent places that offer activities and friendships. You can visit often. Grandma undoubtedly will complain about the change, but she will get used to it and may even come to like it. You deserve to have a life, too.
Dear Annie: Two years ago, we took our 10-year-old grandson, a voracious reader, to visit the National Archives in Washington, D.C. As we proudly looked intently at the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation, my grandson looked up at me and asked, “What does it say?” Why would the people of this country think it is worth millions of dollars to protect documents that our children cannot read? Surely our schools can find a way to teach children to read historic documents that were carefully written in beautiful cursive writing. And then we, the grandparents, can go back to writing birthday notes to our grandchildren.
-- Grandpa in South Dakota