My husband and I are in our late 20s/early 30s and have been married just over a year. We currently live in St. Louis, MO where my husband is in his 3rd year of medical residency. My 86 year old grandma lives in Hot Springs, AR where she has been for at least 20 years. Recently, she has started pressuring us to let her live with us.

For some context, my grandpa passed away over a decade ago. My mom died from cancer almost 6 years ago, and she was my grandma's only child. The reason my grandma has remained in Hot Springs so long is because she has a sister and a niece (in her 50s) living nearby.

Physically, my grandma has been pretty healthy her whole life and able to live independently. She does have trouble driving at night or long distances. She recently has had some weakness from artery blockages, but my husband spoke with her doctors, and she got a stent and has been doing okay. Her niece does freelance work, so in her free time she has helped my grandma with housework/yard work/ grocery runs (especially during Covid). She also has been taking my grandma to doctors' appointments for her stent and inviting her over for holidays.

Covid has been bad for my grandma. She's always been a very anxious person, and now she is more isolated. She lost touch with all her friends in Hot Springs and doesn't seem interested in getting reconnected or meeting new friends. Even though she has her sister and her niece, she doesn't like to reach out to them to make plans. She says she is all alone, and she wants to live with us. She wants us to break our current lease and buy a house. She would sell her house to pay the downpayment on this new house.

I've told her we would be open to her living with us in 2-3 years when my husband is done with residency, and we are more financially established. She doesn't like that answer because it isn't soon enough. I'm not sure I like that answer either because I'm nervous about living with her at all. We are newlyweds and hoping to start a family in the next couple years. I love her but am concerned what having her around all the time would mean for our ability to live as we please. She can be particular and is very anxious (ex: she gets nervous every time I go for a run by myself or go anywhere by myself). I'm wondering what it would be like to have my grandma there all the time while also starting our own family.

I've offered other options (she come visit us, she come buy an apartment near to us), but she is not interested in any of them. She just wants to buy a house for us and move in with us. And she wants to do it now.

Anyone have any advice how to handle this situation? Or positive experiences of their older relatives living with them? I feel like I'm the one responsible for my grandma's care since my mom died, but I also feel anxious every time she brings this up.

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I see 32 answers are below. I'd gamble that 99.99% of them say "Don't let her move in" (... you're too young and have your entire life ahead of you). I haven't read them yet. The only ones that may be in the affirmative might be focused on religion and your DUTY . . . which isn't your duty. Onward.

The way to handle the situation is:
* Clearly and honestly communicate your desires.
"No, this won't work out for us." ... as she may keep pushing / pressuring (which will likely not stop as she believes she can wear you down... AND DON'T LET HER), say:

I would be very happy to help you find a senior community residency / apartment so we can stay connected in ways that WORK FOR BOTH OF US (or all of us).

* DO NOT give her specifics . . . we are going to start a family . . . we are newlyweds . . . She WON'T CARE. (Going on and on is guilt talking).
1) Be firm; 2) Be confident in what you want to do and say; 3) Don't elaborate. 4) as / if she continues to push (on the phone, trying to make a case for herself, say "I'll give you some time to think about my decision (NOTE: DECISION is the word to use) and let me know if I can help you find a living situation close by (or in the county, state, etc.).

You must feel and know in your gut and heart that you and your husband deserve the time and privacy to start your own lives. I am sure it is very stressful now for both of you, with your husband in medical residency.

* If you start to feel bad/guilt/or wobbling in your decision (help her get her own place), come back here and we'll perk / prompt you up again.
* I truly believe that if you allow her to move it, it would be hell for everyone and you, your husband and the relationship will suffer/be challenged and then on top of that, you may have a child and be a new mother.
* If it might help, write out your thoughts and feelings and send her a LOVING (and clear and direct) letter - something she can refer to. Tell her you love her. While she may not appreciate being around others in her own age bracket and privy to some social events (Covid excepted) / develop new friendships with others, you can mention this - even find photos, words from elder care housing websites.
- The plus to writing it out is that you can ask her to refer 'to my letter' - if she keeps saying the same thing.

You must listen to your anxiety and trust your inner self.
If she can buy a house, let her get a two bedroom - one for her and one for a housemate or caregiver (if needed).

She is giving you HUGE RED FLAGS ... insisting (?) to do this NOW. This shows she doesn't have the ability or sensibility to respect you/your husband and potential family. As someone said below, her consciousness / mindset / intellect / neediness / mental-cognitive functioning will decline.

- You can help her understand her FEARS. She may not understand them herself. Ask her what her fears are and address each one. Let her know that you will support her and be with her 'as you can' - you must set boundaries or she'll steam roll all over you. You cannot let that happen.

* She is fortunate to have the $ to buy a house. Let her. Tell her you will help her find a good realtor if she wants to buy a house. Share with her HOW it would would be much better for her to move into an elder community (levels of care, food / restaurant, activities, new friends, etc. She will not be alone.

Gena / Touch Matters
Helpful Answer (23)
gladimhere Dec 2021
One more NO!
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No, no and NO! Do not let her move in with you. You are newlyweds trying to find your ownselves as individuals and as a couple, and for your husband, his new career (and ALL the long long LONG hours that will go with it).

If she wants to move to the same city as you and live in assisted living - then fine. But if she moves in with you, not only you but BOTH of you will no longer be just a couple - you will be a couple plus 1. ALL THE TIME. YOU will no longer have a life...YOU will be taking care of ALL her needs 24/7. YOU will be her companion/caregiver. YOU will be dealing with her health issues and problems. YOU will be fixing her meals and cleaning and doing her laundry. YOU will be bringing her to the many medical appointments. YOU will be listening to her and talking with her and entertaining her. This is what AL is for.

If she is unable to afford such, then she will have to remain where she is. She already has family there, and certainly SOME connections. If she moves, all she will have is YOU. Do not let her buy a house for "all of us" nor get her own place - you will be over there constantly and helping her ALL the time. Forget about starting a family with her living you - especially as she gets older and more infirm, she will be a full time responsibility.

I understand wanting to 'help' 'family', but she made her own decisions decades ago, and this is part of the consequences for her. Inflexibility now because concrete stubborness in another few years.

As an only child of a single parent, it became my 'responsibility and obligation' to take care of my mother as she aged. She was self-centered, narcisstic, entitled, and the world always revolved around her. Nothing I did could or did ever make her happy - and trust me, I was at her call 24/7 (she lived a mere 20 minutes away from me). She didn't make friends easy and most of hers passed away by the time she was 88/89, didn't want to 'impose' on her neighbors, didn't know how to handle household emergencies, had me listed as her only emergency contact for everything. Let's just say after cancelling I don't know how many vacations, getting countless holidays ruined, dreading having the phone ring because I knew that when it did it was ALWAYS some sort of problem I needed 'fix'., I was so mentally exhausted. Yes, she was my mother and that is why I endured it but I lost so many years of my life...and now, at nearly 70 yo myself, my medical conditions are putting the brakes on the places and vacations I wanted to go and do, there are so many years of missing holidays that I can't look back on, so many missed birthdays and anniversaries that I can never get back.....She passed away at 95 this year, and the last 4 months of her life - MY entire 24/7 was about her - to the point where I, myself, became ill and am now paying the price. Let's just say towards the end the word 'love' was not part of how I felt - resentment, anger, frustration, and finally relief when she passed. I did the responsibility and obligation because she was my mother - but it wasn't done out of love.

If she doesn't respect your decision (which, btw is being made for not only your best interests but hers as well), since such a living environment will have you feeling feelings you didn't think you would - resentment is mild, anger is always simmering, frustration constant and feelings of neverending hopelessness will be on the horizon. These are not what you want as part of starting a new life as a newlywed. Have her stay where she is and SHE can figure out how to enlist her remaining family members to help her where she is.
Helpful Answer (21)
overwhelmed21 Dec 2021
Excellent response!!! Kelsey, please take note!!
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Maybe watch a Romantic Doctor Tv show.

Pause at every scene not located in the hospital.

Then, imagine grandmother there in each scene.

Handsome newlywed doc comes home and wants some private romantic time with his wife. She meets him, wearing his favorite outfit. You know what comes next. But, NOPE! Grandma is there.

Beautiful Newlywed wife gets home from work. Hubby surprises her with a nice dinner, bottle wine. Will their evening end the way they would be imagining it to? NOPE. Grandma is there.

Grandma probably won’t retire to her room. That’s NOT happening.

You can imagine the rest of the scenes yourself. Grandma will be joining you for ALL of them.

This will be your life if she moves in.
Helpful Answer (20)
KNance72 Dec 2021
I am really laughing it’s too funny and true . They will never have a moment of privacy .
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DO NOT for any reason or any offer let your grandmother move in with you and your husband.
I know you love your grandmother and want her to be happy, but here is what WILL happen if you accept money from her and she moves in.
You will become grandma's new best friend. You will be responsible for all of her socialization needs because after 20 years out of your area, she has nobody there anymore. She will be the third wheel to you and your husband 24 hours a day. The two of you will never get a moment of privacy. You will not even be able to leave the house without
A) Taking her with you.
B) Asking her permission and providing a detailed itinerary of exactly where you're going, who you're going to see, and how long you will be gone.

This will be your life. When she starts losing independence that's a whole other story. She will have a live-in physician (your husband) who she will expect to diagnose, treat, and cure ever ache or pain she ever has. She will expect you to become a nanny-slave to her as well. Why? Because you and your husband accepted her money to buy a house. Elderly people often assume when they give a family member money, that family member becomes their old-age care plan until they die.
Now add dementia. Maybe your grandma doesn't have it now, but at 86 it's not unusual. You indicate that she's in pretty good health. So you could be looking forward to a decade or longer of being a nanny-slave.
Please, for your own sake as well as your husband's do not let her move in. Caregiving can end a marriage too. Please don't take her in.
Helpful Answer (17)
Clairesmum Dec 2021
a generally good picture of what often happens..though the use of 'nanny slave' seems harsh....though I will not have an elder move in with me..and I imagine you have learned through experience.
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I would encourage her to remain in Hot Springs. If she chooses AL, there's bound to be someone who at least knows someone she knows. She knows that community. Plus there's a sister and a niece there. If the niece is burning out on caregiving, then the niece is ideally situated to have the chat about moving if Niece cannot do it anymore.

The problem with even having her move up to STL --even if not with you--is that you guys will STILL be expected to fill the role that Niece does. Even if she goes into an AL near you, you will be expected to be available every day. Your husband after he finishes residency and fellowship could well find his dream job in KCMO, or Chicago, or further out--with the expectation that you will move her because after all, she came to stay closer to you.
Helpful Answer (16)

I haven't read beyond "grandma wants"

What do YOU want?

That's what matters. Not what someone else wants.

Consider your wants. Your marriage. Everything else is less than tertiary.

Read a bit more; Get her to a geriatric psychiatrist.
Helpful Answer (15)

You say you feel anxious about this. Listen to your feelings! If you feel anxious now, how will you feel when your Grandma is living with you full time? Suppose you want to change your mind after she buys a house with you all. How easy would it be to reverse that decision afterwards, if it doesn’t work out for you and your husband? Also from what you write, your Grandma is already making demands on where you should live and how you should live. She is not considering any of the other options you proposed at all. Would you feel comfortable caving in to her demands not only now, but in the future?
Helpful Answer (15)

Do NOT let her move in with you. Your husband in residency will have almost no hours with you as it is and those hours will be precious.

She had her life. She could see this coming 20 years ago. If she needs companionship, ALs are definitely an option versus this dependence on you, just you, which may fray relations with DH.
Helpful Answer (13)

No. Stop even entertaining the idea. Seriously, your husband's in med school and I assume at some point you'll want to start a family. He still has residency to get through--you need to spend time with him while you can. Time for grandmother to sell her house and go into assisted living.

This sounds like the beginings of depression, MCI, or dementia to me:
''She's always been a very anxious person, and now she is more isolated. She lost touch with all her friends in Hot Springs and doesn't seem interested in getting reconnected or meeting new friends. Even though she has her sister and her niece, she doesn't like to reach out to them to make plans''

The first thing we noticed with my mom wasn't quite so much her memory, although that happened soon enough, but it was that she stopped calling us. ''Apathy is the term used when a person with Alzheimer disease experiences the loss of drive or the inability to use initiative. The part of the brain that controls initiation of activity or communication is damaged. People who have this, need to rely on other people cueing them in order to be involved in conversation or in activities.''
Helpful Answer (13)

Just tell her NO - you don't know where your husband will be working when he qualifies, and he needs peace and quiet for any studying and sleep until then, Just keep repeating the answer as often as the question comes up and if it doesn't stop then move to the " I have answered this a lot of times it is not up for discussion". You cannot sensibly even be thinking of taking this on at this stage in your husbands career, your marriage and your desire to have children. If your husband it being supportive of you even thinking of it, it has to be out of care for you and what you want, hell will freeze over before as someone doing a medical residency he thinks this is sensible. Don't put him second, you should have many happy years with him if you don't take Grandma in for a few unhappy ones. Your responsibility is to your husband and children to come NOT to your Grandma.
Helpful Answer (13)
tidalblue Dec 2021
"Just keep repeating the answer as often as the question comes up and if it doesn't stop then move to the " I have answered this a lot of times it is not up for discussion"."

And then change the subject immediately. It helps to have a couple of subjects ready, no matter how trivial (like the weather) to pivot to in those situations.
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