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My grandmother is 93. I try to visit regularly but I find it depressing as she talks about how her husband and friends are all dead. I don't know what to do.


Question:  My grandmother is now 93. My grandfather died in 1994. My grandmother’s friends have all passed away and she lives in a two story house with my cat. She's got shingles, macular degeneration in both eyes, and she's wobbly when she tries to walk. My parents go over on Saturdays to bring her groceries, and I’ve been asked to check on her more often. My boyfriend and I go over every few weeks to trim the cat's nails and my boyfriend landscapes her yard. I don't live super close to her and she's out of the way to get to. I feel a sense of family obligation but at the same time, with my own issues with depression and anxiety, I'm afraid all grandma's chattering about how she doesn't want to be here anymore and her friends and husband are dead makes it hard to want to be in her presence. The amount I visit her now is depressing. I don't know what to do. I’m feeling lost and pressured. 

Dr. Amy:  Before it’s too late, it is important to get clear in your own mind what you want to be able to say ten years from now about this period in your life and these visits with your grandmother. If you thought this were possible, I imagine you’d like to say that you took care of your health, you were there for your grandmother, and that these last years of her life were rich and meaningful — that you drew closer together and learned things about her life you never knew before. If this is true, you may find it helpful to bring conversation starters with you when you visit. That way, you can steer the conversation to interesting and fun topics.

Home Instead carries a product called Caring Cards. This handy deck of cards fits neatly in your hand bag and contains more than 50 questions you can ask your grandmother. Each pack of Caring Cards can provide you with hours and hours of conversation inspiration, and can help you avoid topics that make you feel anxious. I encourage you to contact your local Home Instead to see about getting a pack of these Cards.

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