Aka how do I support my dad? (This will be longggg.)

My paternal grandmother is almost 90. She lives in a second story, 1 br apartment - but laundry and mail and all that is downstairs. The stairs leading up to her apartment are outdoors, kind of rickety, and pretty steep. She's also started to have serious mobility issues.

My dad has been trying to get her to move in with them for YEARS now. Neither of his two brothers would be able to take her in - one travels nearly constantly for work and the other lives in Chicago (really not the climate for an older lady who's lived in warm places her entire life). My dad works from home, my mom can be around to help out, and, since I moved out, they have an extra bedroom. It seemed the perfect situation, but she valued her independence too much and refused for a long time.

Over the years, there have been a lot of non-starters, where she'd say "okay, I'll move in" then change her mind. Most famously was the time when she moved in, then the very next night told my dad to take her back to her apartment.

Recently, she fell a couple times, and finally finally told my dad she'd move in with my parents for real. That was a month ago. My dad rushed to get the house ready for her (meaning: he packed up my childhood bedroom, got new drawer space for her, etc). It was a whirlwind effort. He helped her pack, moved all her things into the room. All the while, she was calling him every so often and saying she'd changed her mind. One day, she came to move in, then said "I can't live here, it's like a castle. It's too nice."

So she went back. My dad left her alone for a few days. Then she called and said "okay, I'm ready to move in now." Great! He went and got her, and she moved in. Five days ago.

Advertisement

I guess, since she's moved in, she's refused to eat meals with them, has only stayed in her room. My mom bought her a tin of her favorite cookies and she told my mom "I don't want them." Everyone chalked it up to her adjusting to the situation, so they've all been trying to strike a balance between encouraging her to be part of the household and give her space to adjust.

Yesterday, she wanted my dad to do something for her, but he needed to talk with our gardener, pay him, and update the checkbook since finances are so tight. He told her he'd be right with her, he just needed to do a few things first, give him ten minutes.

Apparently, she sat down at the dining room table (well within earshot) and started muttering to herself about how she'd rather die than stay there, how she felt like a prisoner, she couldn't do anything, she just wanted to die, this house was her prison, etc.

Advertisement

And that was the straw that broke the camel's back. My dad lost it, then took her back to her apartment right that moment.

When I talked with him several hours later, he was still so upset, and basically said that he had tried everything he could to please her so he was done trying. He also said she's no longer welcome to move in with them at this point.

At this point, my dad is equal parts really hurt and really angry. He put in a LOT of work to get my old room ready for her as quickly as possible. I think it's completely unfair of my grandmother to keep jerking him around like that. She's just toying with his emotions, you know? But. I know my dad. If something happens to her now, he's going to blame himself and it will eat him alive. I just don't know how to support him now, what to say, how to help.

Advertisement

And all of this is made even more wibbly-wobbly by my own complicated feelings toward all of this. The complete overhaul of my childhood bedroom was symbolically difficult for me. And I have a very complicated (aka toxic) relationship with my grandmother, so I don't know if I'm even the right person to talk to my dad about it?

I don't know, GT. Have any of you had to deal with anything like this? What would you have wanted in terms of support?

ETA: assisted living would be another complicated bag of worms. It's not completely off the table, but I know that my grandmother will see it as being abandoned by her sons, because she's said as much...