Dear Margo: Hope Versus Reality

When family and love clash continuously. Margo Howard’s advice

Hope Versus Reality

Dear Margo: My mother “did her best” to ensure that both of her children grew up to be straight, conservative Christians. Well, my poor little brother greatly disappointed my mother with his homosexuality (and being vocal about it), and our father also felt his expectations were not met. In any case, my mother’s “plan” totally failed, because I ended up an agnostic lesbian. The only member of the family, including my extended family, who supported me was my aforementioned brother. He, however, became very depressed and took his own life. I believe this was due to our parents’ emotional abuse, which I was not able to completely escape myself.

Despite the backlash and lack of support, I entered into a relationship with “Natalie.” I knew she was bisexual, but I also knew she was monogamous. She was a great girlfriend, but when tragedy struck, I felt it was unfair for her to be caught up in all the family turmoil, so I ended things between us. Now, a few years later, I find out she’s getting married next month — to a man. That was bad enough because I felt somewhat betrayed, but my mother took the opportunity to remind me that Natalie’s marrying a boy, “so there’s hope for you yet!” I don’t know what to do about this or anything. — Really Bummed

Dear Real: There is nothing “to do” about any of this except ignore your mother, whose idea is nonsense. Her wish, I guess, is understandable for a conservative Christian, but it is a hope entirely uninformed by reality and fact. As for feeling betrayed because Natalie ended up with a man, I remind you that she is, as you stated, bisexual. This denotes an attraction to males and females. For marriage (at least her first marriage), she chose a man. I do hope you find a suitable girlfriend and get your life going again. — Margo, positively

When Playing Along Is the Solution

Dear Margo: Two years ago, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to move in with my grandmother. She’s 77, and I’m 27. She has memory loss associated with the elderly, but on top of that, she has a third-grade comprehension level due to leaving school at 13. She is also deaf, and there was very little in the way of education back then for the deaf.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that she wants to use me as her interpreter. She’s developing the habit of using me to “finish” her thoughts, as in: “I want to talk about this, but ‘Sarah’ will talk to you about it.” It’s turning into something of a battle between us. Both of her sons know about the problem and have gently reminded her that I am not a professional and she shouldn’t use me as one. I am not a mind reader, and neither are her children, but she refuses to listen.

Short of blowing my top (which, so far, seems to be the only way to make myself understood), what can I do? I’ve tried talking to my dad, but he doesn’t want to hear that his mother is slowly getting worse. His fiancee has tried to pitch in, but she’s not getting anywhere with him, either. — Really in a Bind

Dear Real: Your grandmother’s limitations, added to what sounds like early-onset dementia, make her immune, as it were, to rational thinking. And the hearing loss doesn’t help matters. Since the other people involved are essentially putting their heads in the sand, it falls to you to manage the situation. I suggest you do this by talking about anything you want, either taking a cue from what you think might be the subject, or just saying, “Ah, yes, Gram’s having one of her unfinished thoughts.” There is no point to getting into it with someone who is clearly impaired. — Margo, pragmatically

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

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31 Responses so far.

  1. avatar JC Dill says:

    A suggestion for LW #2 – learn about Operant Conditioning aka Clicker Training.  Using positive reinforcement and consistency, you CAN modify behavior.  It works on goldfish, it works on chickens, it will work on a deaf grandmother with a 3rd grade education.  The key is to be mindful of one’s own behavior, make sure you only reinforce (reward) desired behaviors, and to watch for behavior changes that are in the “direction” of the ultimate goal.  You “shape” behavior with small steps.  Don’t demand perfection before reinforcing and rewarding, it’s a process of tiny steps, not a huge leap to the finish.  Practice on a goldfish.  Practice on a dog, or cat.  Practice on someone at school or work.

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      Unfortunately, Dementia is a last-in-first-out disease when it comes to learning. 

    • avatar mayma says:

      Wha–?!?!  You suggest training Grandma (like a goldfish??!) not to have dementia or deafness?  

    • avatar carol grzonka says:

      this is highly insulting, disrespectful, undignified suggestion,. this woman is a decompensating ADULT, not a pet.  my suggestion for the lw?  if compassion can’t be found, and you continue to let your sensitivity rule, MOVE!!!  after 2 years, you should have better  control of your ‘circumstances’.  ‘blowing up’ is not the answer AND borders on elder abuse toward someone who provided you with a safe haven when you had problems.

  2. avatar Amy says:

    Wow…I guess the theme of today’s letters are “rotten parents and the children who have to deal with them”. To LW#1, I ask you, why on earth are you still even in contact with your venomous parents? Cut yourself loose – NOW. Until you do they will always find a way to dig into you, and unthinkably, maybe even drive you to thoughts of what your poor brother did to himself.
    LW#2: I don’t understand what could possibly be beyond your control that would require you to move in with your ailing grandmother, but if your father won’t lift a finger to help, then you need to contact a local care facility and request information on assistance.  There are plenty of options for aid, both financial and physical, and much like LW#1 I think you would do well to build a life for yourself away from your dysfunctional family after your dear grandmother has passed.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      As usual, I fail to see the logic in your zero-to-sixty-in-two-seconds thinking that “but he doesn’t want to hear that his mother is slowly getting worse” somehow equates “he won’t lift a finger to help.” 

      There’s nothing at all mentioned about anything such—and I think you just look for the most negative aspects to harp on, even if they are imaginary.  

      • avatar wendykh says:

        I think you seem to be ignoring the fact this young woman appears to be expected to deal with all of grandma’s social care alone. that’s pretty jacked up. Her dad needs to get off his ass and get involved.

        LW2, you need to get a job, move out, and get a social life. that will force others to step up. Get to it.

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          Really? And what part of the letter did you pull that from? It must the part of one sentence that discusses the father “[who] doesn’t want to hear that his mother is slowly getting worse.”

          This statement says nothing at all about what contributions are being made by other relatives—since LW1 doesn’t mention her mother’s contribution, I guess we can assume she’s at home on her ass right now, eating bon-bons and watching “Maury” whilst Grandmother sets the house on fire. 

          If anything—oops, I see that LW1 has written a reply, so let’s read it—yeah, and she STILL doesn’t say anything about being the only person who does anything for her grandmother. 


          • avatar G T says:

            Why in the world would the LW’s divorced mother have any obligation to take care of her ex-MIL? Talk about not paying enough attention to what is actually in the letter (i.e. the father has a fiancee).

    • avatar Vincent Camley says:

      I see no reason to believe LW#2’s family is dysfunctional. Dementia and old age can be stressful not just for the sufferer, but for their loved ones as well, and not everyone knows how to react properly.
      As for LW#1 getting the hell away from her parents and LW#2 seeking external help, I agree entirely.

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      Dementia is not a condition that shows up overnight.  Early on, it is very easy not to notice how bad it is without extended contact with the person in question.  Brother and I would not have known our grandma had problems as soon as we did, if a good friend and neighbor of hers hadn’t called us.  And even then, we did not expect things to be as bad as they were when we moved her in with us.

      It is very human want to believe loved ones are all right, or “not that bad”.

      • avatar Miss Lee says:

        Lts 2: My parents were the ones to deal with both of their parents when they became very elderly back in the early 70’s.  Their siblings, one each, lived several thousand miles away (one was in Alaska) and never really got a clue as to how bad it had gotten.  They weren’t being evil about it just clueless in part due to the distances involved.  From what I have seen in the years since, this is a common situation that many of the primary caretakers find themselves in.  If you have contact with her doctor, he/she can often be your best ally when dealing with those who haven’t come to grips with the situation yet. 

        Ltr 1, Bi-sexual folk are just that, bi-sexual.  Your ex has moved on.  It is time you should as well.  AND FAR away from your parents.  There is nothing Christian in their judgment of you but you won’t change them so leave them behind for your own sanity.

  3. avatar luna midden says:

    lw1-okay, you had a lousy upbringing… How bad? We can’t figure that out in a few sentences, but, many mothers, fathers, tried to ‘instill’ a conservative belief into their children… (as well as liberal parents who instilled their views on to their children)…  If your mother was abusive, we have to take your word for that, but, don’t blame your brother’s death on her, nor your depression. Professiional help is definitely needed for the LW-to let go of her childhood (I have done this myself) and to get the ability to live her life. Like Margo said, LW KNEW GF was BI. They were brokeup.  The bigger question is why is the LW giving her mother power NOW? LW is a grownup and it seems, even worse, that she is ‘reporting’ things in her life back to MOMMY DEAREST-i.e. ex gf getting married TO A MAN!!! I learned quite quickly what to share and what not to share with my mother… saved my SANITY. LW1-COUNSELLING AND LOOK FOR A SUPPORT GROUP FOR LESBIANS.

    lw2-She/he does not make total sense-‘Had to move in with Grandma’. No, you did not, it was the cheapest or best option at the time. Save your money and get out. (make sure relatives know and possibly have grandma evaluated for long term care). 2nd, if GM is deaf, 3rd grade education, HOW WOULD SHE KNOW IF YOU FINISHED HER ‘THOUGHTS’ or just said ‘forget about it’.  

  4. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Move on and wish Natalie good luck in her marriage. She’s expressing her sexuality in marriage to a man. Has it occurred to you that you’re somewhat repeating “sexual expectations” similar to your parents?

    L #2: I have no idea. Guess go with Margo’s suggestion of “Gram’s having one of her unfinished thoughts.” You apparently have uncles (and aunts); is temporarily living with one of them an option? I hope so, because you’re far to young to be living with someone who is nearing 80.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Give Cindy a gold star on LW1, because she has one aspect of it pegged. You are being judgmental of your ex, and your “feelings of betrayal” because she’s marrying a man are bogus, so move on. 

      It was your own choice to break things off with Natalie because you didn’t want to get her involved in the family tragedy (which I am assuming was the death of your brother, although I guess it could have been something else). How do you think this came across to Natalie? “Wow, she obviously doesn’t believe that I’m capable of providing love, support, a shoulder to cry on, a distraction, blah blah blah.” Or maybe it was “What is she trying to hide?” Regardless, it’s nor exactly protecting someone from an issue when you decide to break up with them and it’s not even their issue.  

      Look, people make mistakes with other people and have regrets and wish they did one thing and didn’t do another. Learn from it and move on. You already know about your mother’s wishful thinking and how it will never, ever apply. Quit trying to be like her and add your own version to Natalie—instead, be happy that she managed to find a positive path in her life, whether it is with a man, or another woman. 

      LW2: It actually sounds like you’re the one with the communication problem if you’re blowing up at your 77 year-old grandmother. Who has dementia. And is deaf.

      For whatever reason—period. She’s in a vulnerable position, and you’ll need to accept that and work with it, or remove yourself from the situation, which translates to “move out.”

      Focus on what’s causing the disconnect between you and your understanding of your grandmother and figure out how to bridge it. The solution may be something very simple—and if her dementia is part of the issue, you should talk to a professional and member of support groups to learn how to respond in a positive, gentle and supportive manner. 

      • avatar Vincent Camley says:

        I agree with David about your reasons for breaking up with Natalie, LW#1. FSM, if I let my Ashley go every time she tried to break up with me “for your sake”, I’d be alone and miserable. Sometimes she even tries to convince me that she wants to break up with me because it’s what she wants for herself, but I know she’s lying and when pressed she admits she really thought “you deserve better than me”. It drives me nuts.

        Don’t expect everyone to be as patient as me. It’s UNFAIR to decide for someone else what THEY want. Only THEY know what THEY want, and if they want YOU, and you want them, you should let them decide for themselves. You could offer a way out if you wanted, but don’t make the decision on your partner’s behalf.
        So you feel “betrayed” that your ex wants to find love from someone else? Tough luck. You “betrayed” her first by breaking up with her “for her sake”. Learn from your mistakes and move on, like others have said.

  5. avatar KarrinCooper says:

    LW #1 – I have been in your shoes as for as the upbringing goes. I found my path and peace religiously being Wiccan. Needless to say, it too caused the disappointment in my parents. Although my Mum would sit and talk with me about it and the one thing she said to me the last time I saw her was ‘Are you happy with your choice?’ When I replied I was she said ‘Well then, that’s all that matters.’ My Da was a COMPLETELY different story – when my Mum passed he said in email ‘too bad you can’t see Mum in heaven since you’re not Christian’. My reply was ‘gee Da, I don’t think those I follow would mind if I crossed the thracks to ‘that’ side of town’. Through those almost 6 1/2 years after that we reach an accord – he doesn’t mention it, I wouldn’t be snarky. So I suppose my advice would be – let it slide. Tell your Mum to get up, get over and get on. You are who you are, and if you do your best in life that is all anyone can ask, even your folks.

    Brightest Blessings


    ps – my heartfelt sorrow on your loss (hug)

  6. avatar hoosier says:

    Letter #2
    Off day, Margo?  One hopes that when you’re old and vulnerable, your family will be more respectful and supportive of you.  You are very quick to assume this grandmother is incapable of rational thought.

    It’s a mistake to accept the description of the grandmother at face value by a 27-year-old who, despite apparently having intelligence, education, good memory and excellent hearing cannot live independently.  She doesn’t have to be a “professional” to help her grandmother, who’s providing her a home, to communicate with others.  A 27-year-old who has so little patience (“blows her top”), appreciation, and compassion is both selfish and immature.  She needs to stop texting her probably equally self-centered friends, stop checking Facebook, and grow up,get a job and step up to her family responsibilities.

    I would also suggest to the father’s fiancee reconsider if she wants to grow old with a man, and his daughter, who are so inconsiderate and narcissistic.  The way a man takes care of his mother says a lot about how he’ll take care of his wife in her old age.  Run and take granny with you!

  7. avatar mayma says:

    LW2 — Surely when a 75-year-old deaf person took you in, you understood that you would have to be helpful to that person in exchange, right?  Right?  Please stop yelling at her, at least.

    LW1 — You broke up with this “great girlfriend” because it was “unfair to her” to continue (??), and now you feel betrayed?  Years later?  Why are you still sharing your private struggles with your mother if she’s the one responsible for your pain?  Get help if you haven’t already.

  8. avatar wendykh says:

    Wow I’m wondering how many of you chewing out LW2 for being so mean have experience dealing with deaf, elderly dementia sufferers? Sounds like she’s left alone to deal with this all herself and her dad and his siblings are leaving her to it. Not cool. It’s VERY common for people to lash out at people they care for due to the stress and being overwhelmed. It’s not right but it doesn’t make her a bad person. It makes her a person in need of assistance. Also, dementia sufferers can be downright mean and negative. There is no reason to assume Grandma is a ray of sunshine. Finally her disability and not having proper terhapy to learn to function in her youth is likely to not make her a super happy person either. This LW needs her family to step up and participate. I suggest she move out to get them to do so. 

    And btw there are sometimes reasons one “has” to move in that are beyond simply being lay and not wanting to get a job. Sometimes people live in rural areas with few employment opportunities. Sometimes people are leaving abusive relationships. Sometimes people go bankrupt and need to start over. However, after 2 years, she needs to get a plan, a job, and get out. That will solve the problem instantly. 

    • avatar I am "Really in a Bind" says:

      Thank you, Wendy.  You just said it better than I ever could.
      Without going into much detail, I do have a plan but it’s contingent upon many factors I can’t control.  I just hope the plan works.  I will definitely miss her once I move out.

  9. avatar I am "Really in a Bind" says:

    Wow.  I wasn’t expecting the reaction to my letter to be so harsh.  To explain more (since people are jumping to rather hurtful conclusions):
    1.  I’m hard of hearing.  My hearing level (with hearing aids) is ever so slightly less than a person with normal hearing.
    2.  If I were to interpret something for someone, she will tell me “I” told her (this), when in actuality, the person I was interpreting for was the one who said it.  It’s a small distinction, but one that is very important when interpreting for a Deaf person.  Also, IF I were to actually interpret a variety of things for her, I then open myself up to litigation.  I’m not a licensed interpreter, and have no desire to be one, and am not willing to open myself up to being sued.
    3.  Regarding her “thoughts”:  What she’ll do is she’ll start saying something (it could be ANYTHING–someone’s name I’m not familiar with, a story of times gone by, something that happened yesterday that I didn’t bear witness to, etc.), and then say, “‘Sarah’, you tell the rest of the story.”  Most of the time, I haven’t the foggiest idea what she’s talking about, and then she throws a fit when I tell her so.  We have all reminded her at different times that we cannot read her mind, but she persists in behaving as if we can.
    4.  The way my grandma was raised means that she will not listen to females (i.e., me) in any decision, either great or small.  I refuse to go into much detail, but we have had some unbelievable fights because she discounted what I was feeling and/or telling her that what she was calling me was inappropriate and hurtful.  What ended up happening was that I had to call my father, explain what was happening, and he had to tell Grandma to back off.  That was (and still is) the only way I can communicate with her.  Every other method I’ve tried is like trying to break down a concrete door with my body as my only tool.
    Also, when I tell her something, it has to be repeated.  If my dad tells her something once, she’ll be a broken record:  “Daddy say…”
    5.  I have patience to the max.  I have more patience than I know what to do with, but you try living with a MASSIVELY passive-aggressive grandma who believes the man’s word is law and the females must obey it without question.
    6.  Again, without going into detail, my choice two years ago was to either move in with her, or become homeless.  That was it.  I cannot move into any of my other relatives’ houses because of their current living situations.  (They’re all dirt-poor and are struggling to make it week by week.)
    7.  I don’t have a phone & I don’t have any friends, so people who are saying I’m “texting self-centered friends” are wrong.  The people on my Facebook is family only.  (Although why I’m even bothering to explain this…)
    8.  I “help” my grandma by doing most of the cooking and baking, and just about all of the housework.  I do all of the grocery shopping, and I help her balance her checkbook when she forgets how; however, I only do the latter when she asks.  I fill out forms and various other paperwork for her, as well as describing what a particular letter she may get in the mail is for.  I also check her spelling when she asks me, or when she wants to know what a word means.
    9.  As her oldest grandchild, I’m her alternate health care proxy.  My dad is her first choice.  I will not abuse it.  I will (and I have) advocated for her with some of her health issues that she would rather ignore, but I’m not going to take over scheduling her appointments and such unless she becomes incapacitated and only if I have my father’s (or my uncle’s, if my dad is somehow unable) blessing to do so.  This, and her budget, are two things I will not touch.  If, for any reason–however far-fetched–my father and my uncle both cannot give me their blessing, that will be the only time I will step into that role.  I can’t take advantage of the implicit trust my father and my uncle have placed in me now that I live with my grandma.
    Any decisions that may need to be made in regards to my grandma will be made first by my grandma’s two children.  I’m here as their eyes and ears, and this was made clear prior to my moving in.
    10.  Living with my grandma has actually–oddly enough–taught me a lot of things about her, and me as well.  I regret the circumstances that landed me here, but I wouldn’t change living with her for the world.  I get to know my grandma as she really is, instead of visiting her every so often.  She’s become much more three-dimensional to me.  I love to pieces, and I have defended her multiple times when some of her “friends” decided to criticize her and the way she speaks and/or signs.
    She drives me batty, particularly when she tries to put me into the “mother” role, and when she decides to inform my family that I don’t do anything to help her (like I said, she’s unbelievably passive-aggressive), but I love her to bits and will protect her, advocate for her, and anything else I can do.  I’m deeply appreciative of what she’s done for me and, although I do tell her often, I don’t think she realizes just how much I love her.  She’s funny, very crafty, smart in her own way, very loving/affectionate, and she cares for everyone–even those she doesn’t know.  (Example:  She’ll see an ambulance or firetruck go by, and she’ll tell me that she just prayed for the person.  She will actually tear up.)  I’ve learned some of her recipes, learned how to crochet, and I’ve learned what she loves.  I’ve learned more about my family through her stories than I ever have.  That, to me, is priceless.

    • avatar G T says:

      Thank for writing a follow up note.  You sound more mature and knowledgeable than those who left you those snotty, non helpful holier than thou replies.  It can be tough giving advice when the letters are shortened for editing reasons.  I know money must be tight, but if you can somehow get your hands on a video camera and film grandma having demented moments, it might wake her kids up some.

    • avatar bright eyes says:

      I can understand how you can love your Grandmother but get frustrated/aggrivated with her at the same time. I have family members who do the same thing to me. You love them, but things they do get to you. I don’t have any real help/insights into how to get her to listen to you (my problem as well) instead of your father. If you’ve shown her you are a strong woman and after 2 years, she hasn’t changed, I’m not sure that she ever will.
      I would try not to get upset when she tells your family that you don’t do anything for her – esp if they know that you’re there for her every day. They know you’re there and they should know all that you do each day for your Grandmother. However, if they’re calling you asking you why you’re not helping with this or that, then invite them to stay with you and live a day in your shoes. After that they should be more understanding. 
      When she acts as if you should know what she’s thinking, you might gently remind her (which I am sure you do) but also find a polite way to tell the person she’s talking with that your grandmother is having memory issues, if possible without getting her angry. Having a good one liner ready to tell the other person would help in these situations I think.
      I wish you all the luck in the world in dealing with your situation. I know you love your Grandmother and would do anything for her. – And don’t forget to give yourself a break every now and then. Taking a break from being someone’s primary caregiver also gives you time to relax and recharge your own batteries which will increase your patience level. I learned that sometimes retreating to my own home for a few days will increase my patience when dealing with my family members.  

  10. avatar martina says:

    Really in a bind – I’m sorry, I have no advice, just sympathy.  Dealing with an elderly adult that needs assistance is very difficult because it’s like taking care of a child that doesn’t have to do what you tell them to because they are your elder and they still have the right to make their own decisions.

    Been there, done that and prayers are with you.

  11. avatar Allaroundtheworld says:

    RE: Hope vs. Reality,
     I too came from a very religous new born Christian family that had Bible study 4 times a week and all day Sunday service. They worhsiped at home and at two differnt churches in the area. I always known I was gay since a child as young as 6. I was not out to my family, but was outed by my school when I was seriously bullied at school (a whole differnt story for another day).  So at the age of 15, my family kicked me out to the streets. Thank goodness I had older gay friends who took me in and helped me finish high school and get into college. Now 30 years later, I still get Christmas and Birthday Cards from my family saying your going to Hell. If it wasn’t for my husband (yes we did get married in CA while it was legal and going on 25 years) and a great therapist I no longer feel the guilt that my family shovels on to me. The best thing for me was to cut all contact from them, and to this day I still do. My family still tries to contact me through Facebook (delete) and letters but I just send those back unopen. Strangely the only persons who didn’t care were my Great Grandmother and Grandmother who I did keep in contact with until they passed. They said if God made me this way and God doesn’t make mistakes then thats okay with them. They use to tell me stories about when they grew up that they had friends that were gay and leisbians way back then too and they were good people also. My family is now those people who I’ve chosen to be my family and not those who are blood relations. I think them for given me life but that’s where the line stops. So I guess the moral of my story is be true to yourself and if you need couceling get it and if you come from a toxic family don’t let them bring you down even if you have to make your own family. 

  12. avatar silverlily83 says:

    All of you assuming LW1 told her mother about the former girlfriend’s engagement: some couples announce their engagements in the local newspaper, in both print and online form. It’s quite possible “Natalie” and her intended did this, and that’s how the mother and/or LW1 herself found out. Or perhaps the couple set up a “wedsite” and LW1 or her mother happened across it on some Google search or something. 

    In any event, LW1, it seems as if you are just now realizing just how “great a girlfriend” you had in “Natalie”, and of course it’s too late. She’s not going to break up with her fiancee and come running back to you no matter what you try to do- that scenario is much like you suddenly becoming that good Christian housewife your mother apparently still envisions. But that doesn’t mean you have to go the way of your brother. You didn’t say how many years it’s been, but it’s very likely that resources for the support he needed (and you yourself need) are less limited now than they were then.

  13. avatar A R says:

    LW1: I agree with those who say it is ridiculous to style yourself as feeling betrayed because your bisexual former lover picked a man to marry. Be honest and say that on some level you’d hoped that she’d be available to you later when your family issues were resolved.  Hopefully some of the replies have snapped your head back a bit from the woe-is-me place you have been living in emotionally. I think David Bolton nailed it when he reminded you that your break-up to keep your lover from suffering the family trauma was actually a nonsensical move. Your break-up “for her sake” simply freed you from the give-and-take of a relationship. Better to just admit that when you broke up with her, it was because you wanted/needed to be alone. 
    LW2: Despite all the points of your later reply, I’d simply say this: If you can’t bear it, get your ducks in a row and move out. Get a roomie, rent a single room from a family or retired person, hire yourself out as a live-in housekeeper, something.
    Unfortunately, living with another adult when you’ve lost the ability to live on your own (I assume financial problems of some type because that is the only reason I can think of that you’d still be there two years later) means that you have to deal with whatever they dish out until you can leave. Granny may be high-maintenance, but you’ve got a roof over your head, tasks that are not unbearable, and hopefully a job that you go to each day. If you don’t have a job, that’s priority number one for getting out on your own again.

  14. avatar Shortyblueyes says:

    Wow, talk about an incomplete answer to LW#2…Come on, Margo, you’re better than this….
    First off, age 77 is not early for early-onset dementia. My husband had dementia and I took care of him for YEARS before he passed away. LW needs to know that Grandma is not going to get better. The responsible adult(s) – the lady’s sons – should be working diligently to get this lady home-health care. If she doesn’t have insurance, get her Medicare – NOW.  For a young woman who is presumably working full-time to care for an elderly relation is going to be very difficult. She will only become more resentful and angrier as time goes by. And while nobody intends to abuse their elders, it DOES happen….too often. A daily visit from a home care assistant would be just the thing to keep the senior lady’s thought processes as fresh as they can be. Home aide doesn’t have to be chores (although it can be…), how about music therapy? My mom loved that…. or just someone to sit and watch TV or tell stories to refresh one’s long-term memory of times gone by.
    Bottom line: get professional help to care for the lady. It’s too hard to do it alone, especially if your heart’s not in it.

  15. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I suspect the problem between the granddaughter and her grandmother has nothing to do with the inability to communicate but something else. Possibly her resenting having to move in with her due to “circumstances beyond her control.” So who would she have moved in with? Her grandmother obviously offered her a refuge and she in turn on some level resents it. How sharper than a serpents tooth is an ungrateful granchild.  Dealing with the elderly comes down to the golden rule.  Do unto them as you would have someone do unto you. And believe me it happens to all of us if we live long enough…

  16. avatar Eileen Heath says:

    Really Bummed  – You dumped her. You have no claim. Your letter smacks more of “We grrls need to stick together” when in fact you shoved her away. Not many people like fair weather friends – some like it even less when they are being treated as one. 
    You don’t even really sound that sad, just disappointed that you don’t have this card in your desk against your mother’s terminal case of Gin Rummy.