How can I help my mother with the stress of caring for my grandmother?

5 answers | Last updated: Sep 15, 2015
Drc'sdaughter asked...

I am the mother of five, three presently at home. My mom (72) is caring for her mom (93).  My mom still works part time and is finding it difficult to handle it all.  My grandmother has zero interest in a nursing home. Is there a happy medium for this kind of situation?  Also, my mom absoulutely dislikes the situation and has little love for her mother...which makes the whole situation strained....Any advice?

Expert Answers

Merrily Orsini, MSSW, was a pioneer in the business of providing geriatric care managed in-home care. She currently serves on the board of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and is Chair of the Private Duty Homecare Association. She holds a master's degree in social work and is a nationally known writer and speaker on aging, elder issues, and in-home care.

One thing you might look into is finding a caregiver who might come in a few hours a week to provide some respite for your mother. Hiring someone through an agency will run about $20 an hour, depending on the location.

If you are not aware of agencies in your area, try the National Private Duty Association . If your grandmother is low-income, she may be eligible for government-funded respite programs. A good place to start looking into these is through your local Area Agency on Aging, starting with the National Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator .

Another option some families choose is to "share the elder care" by offering to host the grandmother in each home for a period. Even a short break might make a big difference to your mother—and a change of scene could be good for your grandmother too.

If your mom really needs a break -- or wants to go on a vacation -- some assisted living facilities now offer respite care as well, taking residents on a short-term basis. Sometime, elders actually discover they like these communities much better than they expected and surprise their families by deciding to stay.

Community Answers

Dino answered...

You did not give the ages of your children or how close you live to your mother.

You also did not mention if you have any other brothers/sisters who can share the load.

I take care of my mother and live in Florida. My brothers/sister live in NY, Conn, Ill. We have an agreement that they will each come 2x per year. This means that someone will be here to relieve me every other month. It gives my mother and me something to look forward to as well.

Last weekend I actually was able to get a manicure and a pedicure :)

If any of your children could spend an hour or two one day a week, this would also be a big help.

Don't assume that a nursing home will relieve all of the problems. I actually had more calls and compliants and stress when my mother was in the nursing home that at home.

Glenn's daughter answered...

Merrily is right. There are more and more in-home resources for help with senior care. Just make sure you choose one with caregivers who are bonded, insured, and trained. There's also a web site for stressed out families --

Joyg answered...

Dino is right. Find a way to help out. My sons flew in from Seattle to Tucson once a month for a long weekend. They took turns and sent me out for the day. When they really got into the routine, they sent me to a hotel for the night. This break made all the difference in the world to me while caring for my husband. I also feel that Merrily gave excellent suggestions.

1019wolfram answered...

My mom is currently caring for my dad (moderate stage of alzheimers) (doesn't know I'm his daughter now). I live in the basement with my grown son. Mom is worn down taking care of dad (85. She is 83. I try to help them (driving), cooking as much as they'll allow. My dad thinks everything is fine. My sisters and brother help us too. They all live within an hour away. Mom could use some respite care to get a break. Catholic Charities is supposed to come out this week to talk to dad. God bless you for wanting to help your mom care for grandma. My son tries to help me too. joan hux, chicago