Living

Annie: Grandmother feels trapped in her own home

Dear Annie: My granddaughter, "Tara," is 27 and a single mother of a 4-year-old daughter. I have been the child's caregiver since birth, and we are very close.

When Tara lost her job, we allowed her to move in, with the understanding that she would get another job and pay us rent that we would put aside for a down payment on her own place. But it]s been seven months and she hasn't showed much interest in finding a job. Tara doesn't contribute anything for the household, nor does she offer to help much around the house. She gets $50 a month in support money from her deadbeat ex, which she uses for cigarettes and gas.

We have set several deadlines for Tara to leave, but we know that she would end up living in her car or on someone's sofa. I am worried about the child. I have threatened to ask for custody, but my husband and I are almost 70 and on a fixed income. I don't really want to raise another child.

I feel trapped in my own home, and it's causing conflict in my marriage. I don't trust Tara's judgment. I'm afraid if we ask her to leave, she will take the child and we will never see either of them again. They may not even survive. We have tried counseling, but it didn't help. What can we do? -- Anguished Grandmother

Dear Grandmother: You keep setting boundaries that you are unwilling to enforce and Tara knows it. However, your fears are not completely unfounded, so we understand why you feel trapped. Where are Tara's parents? Could they contribute to her care? Are there other family members who would take her in on a temporary basis in order to give you a "vacation"?

You are doing a wonderful thing to raise this 4-year-old in a stable environment. While there are limits on motivating Tara, most states provide help for raising a young child. Your state or county may have specific resources in your area, and you can check with your local Department on Aging.

Dear Annie: I read "Drained and Frustrated" and wanted you to know that Medicare pays for most of a 100-day nursing home visit if you have had a qualifying three-day hospital stay. Otherwise, once someone's money runs out, the family should contact the local social services office and ask about Medicaid. Many nursing homes will accept a patient even if the application is in process.

People many times consider themselves a "failure" because they couldn't take care of a loved one. But nursing facilities have many things to offer their residents, along with support for the family. To "Drained and Frustrated": Don't expect your mother to be happy with your decision. But you can have a life beyond caregiving, and your mother will be well cared for. Who knows, she may even make a friend or two. -- Nurse Manager at a Long-Term Skilled Nursing Facility

Dear Manager: Hundreds of readers wrote to correct us on confusing Medicare and Medicaid. We should have known better. We appreciate your clarifying that, along with providing encouragement to "Drained." Our thanks to all who wrote.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.

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