What It’s Like to Take Care of Grandparents

A grandfather holds his grandaughter.

I know at a certain point we must all make decisions about our elderly loved ones. As the youngest/only child to parents who were always older than other parents, I knew this day was coming, but I wasn’t quite prepared to deal with it in my 30s.

Here is my story of how I’ve come to be a caregiver to my own mother. I hope you can use my story to help you if and when you have to take care of grandparents.

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The Accident

Back in January, my mother fainted and fell face-first onto her cement carport. It was a four-foot drop from her porch. She broke her nose, wrist, foot, and suffered hypothermia because she blacked out and we don’t know how long she was out in the cold.

Miraculously, she came to and was able to punch buttons on her phone until she got help. We all know bones heal, but we were not expecting nerve damage to her hands. Since January, my mother has had to undergo surgeries and intense occupational therapy to regain the use of her hands. 

Medical Care

Upon Mom’s release from the Oklahoma hospital, I had to find her an orthopedic surgeon, a podiatrist, as well as in-home care that could provide occupational and physical therapy here in Texas. Thankfully, Fort Worth has no shortage of these types of medical professionals and we have found some great ones.

We used Angels Care for the in-home service and they were wonderful. After mom’s surgery on her nerves, the doctor wanted her to see a therapist that specialized in hands so we had to discontinue in-home care and drive twice a week to an outpatient service.

Learning to deal with Medicare and Mom’s secondary insurance while making these changes has been enlightening. 

Living Far Apart

My mother’s accident happened at her home in northern Oklahoma, which is five hours away from me. I knew she was going to need lots of help, but I couldn’t pick up my family and move to Oklahoma.

I had to move my mom in with us. It has been a big adjustment for her and my family to live together. My girls, who are nine and three, have chipped in by helping feed Mom and joining in on her daily therapy exercises. They have been great little cheerleaders and over the months Mom has shown fantastic improvement.

However, neither of us feels it’s a good idea to live so far apart anymore in case of another accident. 

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Long-Term Plans

Mom, my husband, and I have discussed her living arrangements for the future in depth. We have every reason to believe she will be able to live independently again as she has shown great progress with occupational therapy. However, living five hours from her only child just doesn’t feel right in her twilight years.

We’ve discussed nursing homes, assisted living, and even a tiny home on our own property. These have been stressful conversations but they are important because we all have to feel confident and comfortable about her living conditions.

A nurse holds the hands of an older person in a nursing home.Plus, there are many factors to her long-term situation. Will she need someone to drive her around, will she be able to cook for herself, etc? How much will these options cost and does she have enough money in savings/retirement to pay for it? 

Thankfully, my husband and my job have been supportive during all the changes we’ve endured since my mother’s accident. We’ve been fortunate with great medical personnel here in North Texas to help Mom heal, and we just so happen to live in an area where a tiny home is an option for her to live right next door to us.

I know this is not everyone’s experience. I wanted to share this story because caring for your elderly parents is something most of us have to face. It has been an eye-opening experience that you just can’t understand until you’re in the thick of it, but hopefully, this article will help others to be a little more prepared.

Jennifer was raised in Louisiana and moved to DFW right after college. She's been in Texas for 16 years. She and her husband have two beautiful daughters who are as different as night and day. That second born keeps everyone on their toes! Jennifer is a full-time stylist for a subscription company while her husband’s career takes him all over the world. While they’re never sure when and where he will be, Jennifer has become quite adept at balancing work from home while also being a stay-at-home mom with the two year old constantly by her side. When not at home, Jennifer is running the girls to all their extracurricular activities or squeezing in family road trips. Her goal is to take her girls to all 50 states.


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