How do I say, "Grandma's house is no hotel"?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My grandmother is 88 and lives alone. She is able to take care of herself, and my parents or I visit daily for company and weekly housecleaning. The problem is, her daughter, husband, and her grown children (my father's sister) live out in the Midwest (we're on the East Coast) and use her two bedroom house as a hotel. They visit often, bringing with them kids, grandkids, friends, sisters-in-law and their kids, you name it. They crowd into her bed with her, camp out on the sofas, floors, anywhere there is an inch of room. My grandma feels she must cook for them and it's very stressful for all involved. They are terrible house guests and leave the place in shambles. To make matters worse, I am the one who must clean the house top to bottom when they leave. I should also mention that my uncle's parents and brother have large houses and live just a few streets away, yet they refuse to stay there. They are also well off enough to get a hotel, but that is out of the question. How do I get all of these people to stop treating grandma like an innkeeper every few months? It's mentally and physically exhausting for all of us.

Expert Answer

Dan Tobin, M.D. is the author of books and articles focused on the practical and positive aspects of family caregiving.

Hi:

Family dynamics can be tricky but clear and honest communication is usually the best direction. It may help to start by explaining how stressful the visiting is for your grandmother and politely asking family members what they think about visiting in different manners. Start with open ended questions and see if you can guide the discussion so everyone focuses on your grandmothers needs ,not their own.

All the best

Dan Tobin