In many cultures, the word “Family” may as well be synonymous with “Responsibility”.
You have a duty to be of service to your elders.
What happens, though, when you feel that what’s being asked of you is beyond your abilities?
This was the problem facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Street-Patience-3814 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole”(AITA) subReddit looking for guidance.
“AITA for telling my family I can’t take care of my grandmother??”
First, the backstory.
“I 16 (f) am a junior in high school and since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been taking care of my 74-year-old grandmother who has dementia.”
“As of this year, she has been getting worse and has become quite difficult and aggressive.”
“My family has days where I have to take care of her for example I have to make sure she showers, puts on clean clothes, doesn’t attempt to do any chores, or walk out of our front gate.”
“In my country juniors have to take CSCE which requires a lot of course work and assignments that I have to get done.”
The situation came to a head.
“Today I was at my aunt’s house with my grandmother and I had to watch her for a few hours while my aunt had some errands she need to get done.”
“My grandmother started crying and yelling that she wanted to go home and when I told her she couldn’t she almost attacked me.”
OP made a decision.
“After this incident, I told my family that I could take care of her.”
“They call me an AH and told me I had to look after her because she babysat me when I was younger. Am I the AH?”
Feeling conflicted about her choice, OP came to Reddit for an outside perspective.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some responses were very direct.
” NTA. You’re a kid. Not a caregiver. They need to find alternate arrangements so you can focus on your future.”~rileygreyy
Others pointed out that this could be dangerous for everyone involved.
“At this stage of dementia, she needs professional care. You are literally not equipped to handle her if she becomes so disoriented she lashes out.”
“You shouldn’t be responsible for her anyway because that’s not your job and your schoolwork should take precedence, but it’s unsafe for your grandmother as well.”
“She needs skilled caregivers, not (to be blunt) an untrained teenager.”~HonoraryBoyscout
“NTA you are a minor, you should not in any way be responsible for the sole care of an elder who had dementia and is aggressive.”
“This is dangerous for both of you. It is reasonable to expect you to help, but leaving you alone in this situation is risky”~Dontdrinkthecoffee
Some urged OP’s family to find alternative arrangements.
“Wow that’s awful.”
“Adults have struggles with this especially when the person becomes aggressive and abusive which is not uncommon with dementia patients.”
“It sounds like she needs a full-time caregiver who is trained in memory care patients.”
“There is a reason there are specifically trained professionals and facilities who specialize in this, it’s because it’s especially hard and it burns caregivers out.”
“I understand the occasional short visit but if she has gotten to the point where she is aggressive it sounds untenable and a new plan is in order.”
“The family may want to check into adult daycare.”
“I’m not sure if they exist where OP is bit it’s not uncommon not the US”~JuryNo7670
Some responses focused on where the obligation should be.
“NTA, I’m so sorry that your family is making you feel as though this is your responsibility.”
“IT IS NOT.”
“She needs full-time long-term care by staff that have experience with dementia cases especially aggression.”
“It is not your responsibility to care for her, you’re not even a legal adult yet.”
“I would even consider this bordering on elder abuse in terms of neglect for your grandmother, your family leaving her with someone who has directly expressed that they are unable to care for her.”~Apprehensive-Mix1566
“This is horrifying!”
“She needs adults taking care of her, and it sounds like she needs trained caregivers, not just family.”
“This is way too much for a 16yo, and it’s not fair for them to put this on you. This is very similar to “parentification,” which is a form of abuse.”
“Parentification is when parents make their child take on the role of a parent— caring for younger kids, doing the majority of cooking & housework.”
“Obviously your grandmother is an adult so you are not being made to ‘parent’ her, but otherwise it’s the same.”
“If they keep insisting that you care for her, see if you can reach out to someone like a school guidance counselor or another adult that you trust.”
“Your parents and aunt need to find proper care for your grandmother.”
“Finding a caregiver might be hard but that is not your job to deal with it. It’s theirs.” ~beansandneedles
OP did return to clear up some possible confusion.
“Edit 1: Thank you all for the advice and resources but I guess I should clear some things up.”
“1. I’m not from the UK I’m from the Caribbean”
“2. My grandmother though she babysat me she neglected my needs while I was left in her care ie. She didn’t feed or bathe me.”
“She mostly focused on her home business than taking care of me.”
“When I pointed this out to my family they basically ignored it and told me she was my family and it’s my responsibility because my dad is her only son that’s married so if my mom wasn’t at home to take care of her I had to.”
The word “Family” does seem to get connected with “Responsibility” a lot.
It’s okay though to remember that you are not the only person carrying the obligations.
Let us all remember that the whole point is to share the burdens but that it’s okay to say that a burden is too heavy for you to lift.