Anyone in the sandwhich generation?

Started by

mom wants to live with us. we've done this before and it didn't work. we have nothing in common being that she is critical of everyone and very negative. changing the conversation only comes back to herself. since she has no hobbies except watching tv, every conversation is doom and gloom. she wants my family to provide all her interaction and companionship. she talks about relatives that I no longer know since I haven't seen these people in 40 years. the grandkids sure don't know these people. she likes being around my kids because they are polite and respectful but they are tired of doing her feet, hair and back rubs. she takes no interest in what they do because she can't relate to any of it since she locks herself away in her IL apartment and won't socialize. I homeschool them so she assumes I should be able to drag them over to school at her apartment 45 min. away anytime she wants company. I try to visit once a week, take her on walks, but she just wants to talk about her illnesses. hubby helps sometimes but can only tolerate so much. she has relatives in another state that aren't raising families and are retired, but she wants to be in this state with me and only wants me or my family doing for her. I set her up with agency for doc appointments and rides, but she drops hints that she prefers me to do these things despite me setting boundaries. I ALWAYS feel guilty!


Yep. And it's extra intense right now with a new school year just around the corner. We have six kids -- 1 in college and 5 still at home. We moved my husband's parents from another state into a house down the street from us when it became clear that they could no longer live independently without significant support. They've been here two years. We homeschool, too, but we've since put the youngest two in "regular" school for a while. I just can't do it all. The in-laws also no longer drive, which makes this even harder. There's a great book I'd recommend called "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud.
They have every physical need met, but MIL is no longer allowed to place demands on our time at her whim.

Our teen still at home drives MIL to/from dialysis 3x a week. We hired a companion 2x a week to drive them around for errands and to go out to eat. Husband and I split the dr appts. We pay their bills, make all dr appts, manage meds, maintain their home (met the plumber there this afternoon), and do their yard work. I hired a housekeeper. A daily home helper just started this morning. My husband is an only child, so we're all they have. It's hard, that's for certain!! It helps TREMENDOUSLY that they are only a few doors down. Imagining them living even just across town makes my head spin!!

MIL isn't overly negative or critical, but everything is always all about her. We can only be around her in small doses. Her dr recently put her on an antidepressant, which has helped. She doesn't yell at us nearly as much as she used to. As for your mom's demands on your time, hold firm. Tell her you can be with her on certain days and for certain hours. You need to be home with your kids doing schoolwork. Maybe even tell her it's the law, and you could get in trouble?? If she still isn't pleased (this is the point where the most intense fits were pitched in my direction -- ugh!!!), then tell her that you can hire someone who is more available, and tell her how much it will cost her. She may call you during school hours, but remind her that you may not be available to answer the phone so please leave a message. I'm sorry that she has isolated herself. It makes it harder on your family. At the risk of sounding callous ... She's lonely, but she's made choices. Encourage her to find a senior group (local church or county day service?) or call a friend for lunch. DROP THE GUILT!! It sounds like your mom is inviting you to take a guilt trip, but you don't have to buy a ticket!! You are only in control of how you respond. Love her well.

Caregiving is HARD. It often feels like we're parenting our kids UP and his parents DOWN. Sooooo many times I'm saying the same things on both ends!! "Use a kind voice, please." "I can't know unless you tell me." "No, I can't run to the store for candy just because you want it NOW." Lol!!

You've got this, Mama!!
Ahhh the guilt. Mom's must have a secret mom school where they learn the manipulation and guilt trips. My advice - you know her living with you will be a nightmare - do not allow it! You will never get her out. She makes too many demands on your time. Do what YOU WANT TO DO with love. Nix the rest. As a grown woman - she can pay to have some of this stuff done. You have a ton on your plate as it is.
Dear Desperada,

I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through with your mom. I know you are trying to help her the best you can. I feel for you. I know so many women who try and please everyone and all you get is more grief sometimes.

The truth is we can't be everything to everyone. I know its hard to set those boundaries. I struggled with this with my dad after his stroke. I have terrible regret about the anger and resentment I felt in the last year of his life. I wish so badly I found a better balance.

I know its a lot easier said than done. But try and set those boundaries even for a week and see how it goes. In my case, I wish I had went for counselling or even tried a support group. I never understood what I was dealing with till I had a melt down.
you guys really gave me some good advice. i feel understood. thank you! i am going to see about hiring a companion for her. again, thanks so much.
God bless you all as you do your best to help your loved ones too.
Farmjelly, just a question...why did u move parents into a house instead of an apartment? Didn't consider you would be doing the upkeep? Really feel for you. I pay someone to do Moms grass. The boys live in the house and responsible for keeping it clean. No critisim just curious.
My Mom got needy. I can't do needy. My MIL was ill in Fl, I live in NJ. Between the brothers we were going down for two weeks at a time. Going to Fla was not new to us or Mom. She told me to make sure I called her when we got there. No, I have never done this. I would tell her when I was leaving and when I was coming back. I call no one while I am on vacation. I did call her when I got there and again before we left. When I got home, Mom calls me early in the morning to say she was coming over. Mom knows I am not a morning person and I do feel guilty about this but....I told her I wasn't even out of bed yet so she shouldn't come over. This was not my Mom but I didn't realize she was in early Dementia. Problem, I am the only child who lives nearby. Also, the oldest. She could always guilt me into doing something but I talk myself out of feeling guilty. I have two brothers who choose not to visit her. I feel I have done it all for my parents. She is now in a home in her own world. I check on her everyother day or so. She is clean, taken care of and well fed. I have done my share.
Sandwich here....I have an almost 19 year old son at home (he's behind in school which is partly my fault--yay) and a 17 year old daughter at home, (we also homeschool) and the 26 year old step son has sort of moved back in (hardly ever see him except when he's starving) and my step daughter and her three kids live close by. Mom was living with us for about 6 weeks, but it simply wasn't fair to my husband or kids, and I was miserable.
Mom is now five minutes up the street in a lovely Memory Care Home. She has good days and bad days, mostly good. She wants to live with me, but I can't do it, and so she never hears the answer she wants and gets quite ugly at times. Usually it's short-lived and she's happy to go to the gym or park or out to lunch the next day. I feel guilty a lot, but I recognize that despite the guilt, I am doing a good job, maybe not great, but I deserve to have my life too.
I see Mom on average 3 times a week. Some weeks it's more, some weeks it's less.
JoAnn29 -- When it was time for them to move here, we consulted an elder law attorney (and have since been back several times for more advice!). My husband is an only child, so there is no other family to confer with. The attorney helped us consider every option for their care, and he recommended buying a house instead of renting to help protect assets for one in case the other needed NH care. Also, having them living SO close by would allow us to help them live in their own home as long as possible. They flat out REFUSED to go to assisted living. We felt like this was our best option for a compromise so they would agree to move here AT ALL.

The house they purchased really fell into our laps! The couple who previously lived there had both recently passed away. Their two daughters also live at either end of our street and had been slowly clearing out the house. When we approached them to purchase, they were thrilled! They both raised their families on this street and then shared the caregiving responsibilities as their parents aged. They have been a tremendous source of advice and encouragement.

At least once a week, my husband and I remark that we are SO thankful to have them SO close to us. It's much easier to leave our kids (19, 17, 13, 11, 10, and 9) playing in the yard, doing schoolwork, or whatever and walk three doors down to pop in and check on meds or meet a caregiver than it would be to hop in the car and drive even 5 mins away. Husband and the boys (17 and 11) do the yard work -- it's good practice and they are using their skills to show love in a very practical way.

Just today I took my FIL to his annual eye exam. I dropped him at his house, popped in on the kids and made lunch, and headed back out to the pharmacy for his script. We can see when therapists are down there. We can meet repairmen easily. The kids can run down with treats and drawings anytime of day. I can SEND the kids down to check on them and watch tv (they have cable!) when I need a quiet minute. Lol!! They get help faster this way, too. We can run down and find teeth, glasses, etc when they are needed. I can send a tech-savvy teen down when their tv settings get mixed up. And all these things, tho they are interruptions in our day to be sure, are QUICKLY handled because they are so stinkin' CLOSE. Except for the few extra steps, it's like they're in an apartment in our backyard. We jokingly call their house "the annex."

We know all of our neighbors. We've been here 13+ years, and our street is small. So when MIL sent FIL down the street to borrow bread from us (Whyyyy would she do that?!? He needs help to find HIS front door; finding MINE is nearly impossible!), my neighbor texted me to let me know he was in her kitchen. She gave him the bread and walked him home. (We now have better systems in place.) We would never have known about this if they were living somewhere else, so we might not have been able to put a stop to it. Of course, it's likely that MIL wouldn't have sent FIL to borrow bread from a stranger, so maybe not the best example.

It's hard, but all caregiving is. We pray a lot and make the best choices we can. I'm always in awe of those who can have their parents or in-laws living in with them. No way could we do that at this stage of our life!! Not to mention, our bedrooms are already double-booked. Where would we even put them!! Ha!! No, they need their private space, too. They're still husband and wife, still a little family. We'll work as hard as we need to work to help them stay like that for as long as possible.
Don't do it! I moved dad in 4 years ago, had no choice. Gave up my beautiful home office ( I own my own business) for his living room. Gave him a nice sunny bedroom. He moved his old little dog in. OK, so we lost a bit of our quiet time. Last year daughter moved in with husband for 2 weeks... I said last year..... He brings every excuse to not find their own place. They have a very healthy down payment we have for them. Its been a year. 3 dogs 5 adults. One guest room left with other daughter visits. We have no quiet time. Our personal time (if you know what I mean) has diminished to the point we have to go away from our own house to enjoy each other. We have built my wife's dream house and it is slowly getting destroyed (3 dogs and a SIL I wont go into what I really think about him). Oh, did I say either pay no rent? When I get upset I get some electric money from my daughter. Sometimes.....
Suffice to say I have become the cook, shopper, yard man (OK it is my house) and us the cleaners. No one does anything to help. We have melted down, yelled, talked and cried until we are blue in the face. Picking up dog poop, vacuum the dog fur, cut the lawn, paint? Oh h*ll no...... SIL comes from a family that are slobs and dont care about anyone else. Me? I work at least 3 jobs and have leadership roles in more organizations you can count. We work hard. We have provided for our daughters maybe a little too much. One is on her own and making it with very little assistance from us. Yes, they both work but give me a break, get your own place.
You are in a different situation with kids at home. Enjoy your home time by yourself. Little kids you can yell at as adults? Not so much.
No , dad has no money left at the end of the month to pay for his own place. I end up giving him money. If I had to do it over again? I would say NO for both him and kids.....
I had the dream that dad would help with the yard and little projects around the house. My SIL would help me with projects..... then I woke up to a nightmare...... Don't do it...

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support