My husband is in denial of just how bad his mom truly is. There are days where I just want to walk out the door!

Started by

Details: Mother-in-law is 90, walker bound with mobility/balance issues, a fall risk. Broke one hip in 2004, healed fine & back to normal. Broke the other hip/thigh bone in 2008, where she fell outside her Florida acreage, dragged herself from falling point to back porch steps, could not make it up steps, laid outside in Florida sun from 4pm Saturday to approx 5 pm on Monday afternoon after we could not reach her by phone, calling sheriff office to do a well check. She was covered in fire ant bites, gangrene on her tongue, broken thigh bone from fall, kidneys shutting down, in and out of consiousness, very confused, sunburned, within a couple hours of dying said the doctor. She did not heal back as well this time, one leg shorter than the other due to the surgery, so now has balance issues, walker bound, with damages to brain (grey matter issues). Doctors in Florida declared she could still live on her 2 acre home in Florida where they had a caregiver come in once a week to take her around, (she lost her driver's license over bad decisions - example: oh, my mirror isn't right, let's just stop on the highway and fix that, NOT pulling off the road either & having a couple car accidents, once totalling her car out, all her fault). She had frozen meals brought in once a week that she could prepare. Hired help to cut the yard & handle outside maintenance. The closest relatives are 1000 miles away, both her son and daughter live in Ohio where she retired from & moved to Florida to get away from frigid Ohio weather). She has had a wonderful, independent life after retiring from GM. Her husband passed away when my husband was only 12. She has been both mom & dad to her kids since that time. I mention this to explain INDEPENDENCE is her middle name & her lifestyle for many, many years. Age has caught up to her, where she was diagnosed with the beginnings of alzheimers, but she had other brain issues from being outside affecting her, too. Her mobility worsened. Her eating patterns consisted of cookies & ice cream, and not eating the dinners provided - stockpiling them in her large freezer until it was filled. NO LIE! Her daughter tried to convince her to move to Ohio, be with family, so we can get her eating better & to improve her muscle strength & increase mobility. She had NO part of that. The story got ugly in May 2011 where her daugher tried to force her into coming to Ohio, leaving her home - a physical fight broke out, where sheriff was called. I can't believe a daughter would put a mother down on a bed, trying to strangle her, but she has had anger issues and short on patience ever since I have known her. My mother-in-law was still covered in bruises when we were able to come down to truly evaluate the situation a month later. My husband was able to convince my mother-in-law to come home with us (Florida to Ohio) for a "summer visit" he says. Yes, a trick, but there was no other way. After getting her back home with us, she had to see a doctor right away, where she was very "unclean", urinary infection, staph infection, bruises looked over, eye issues (her tear ducts needed surgery), atrophy had set in (over not walking around like she should and poor eating habits losing muscle), her mental state had her crying a lot - she was a mess. We had her evaluated by 2 Geriatric Doctors, both agreeing she can no longer live alone. We had her seen by the hearing aid doctor, getting new hearing aids - she is practically deaf. Example: tv volume, I can listen at number 12 on volume control where she is at 59, blasting us out - gives me a headache. Great, we get the hearing aids, she won't wear them. Says they make it worse and plugs up her ears. At least she will wear headphones when watching tv so my speakers don't get blown/destroyed.
Ok, so now you should understand what I am living with. Very independent woman, age 90, mobility issues with one leg shorter than the other, poor balance, practically deaf, doesn't like to wear her glasses so poor eyesight without them on, uses a walker or I can push her in wheelchair, not much strength in her musles, gets confused easily, beginnings of alzheimer's, and NOW that she has been told that she can no longer live alone & we tricked her into coming here - she is one nasty lady! In 2 weeks, she has been in our home 1 year, with me getting a break around Christmas where John's sister was willing to keep her for 4 1/2 wks, but kicked her out when mom wouldn't give her $700 to fix a car. Hmmm. More on that story. So she was back with us. Then my husband's sister has had her a couple more times, which tells you I have been the primary caretaker this year 24/7. I am a real estate agent, and moved my office from the main real estate office to my home, to make it easier to take care of her. My mother-in-law "could" microwave meals when she first came, but no more. She can't tell the difference from 90 seconds to 9 minutes. Plus cant pour herself a cup of coffee- scalded herself.


Wow...what a story. Your MIL is obviously a fighter and is not ready to leave this earth!

What is your question and can you elaborate about the title of your post. How do you think your husband is in denial?
Ohio: I'm guessing here, but are you at a point where you would like to see your MIL placed in an nursing home and your husband doesn't agree? A couple of suggestions:

1. See if you can take a week off and get away from care giving. While you are away, be sure it is your husband that is providing the 24/7 care in your absence. It would be helpful if he could get the full experience you live with every day and night.

2. Talk to your local Area on Aging and talk directly to the person whose job it is to help care givers. You may find your MIL qualifies for in home help or day care at a reduced cost.

I hope you can arrange for your husband to provide the hands on care for your MIL for a week. It would be great if he could experience what is required and then you both may be able to sit down and have a real conversation about what is best for all involved.

Good Luck, Cattails
My husband is in denial because he believes his mother can be "left alone" , unattended in our home and I don't need extra help brought in to help take care of her. His mother is rude, nasty, mean, tells me to "go to hell", is very verbally abusive. She won't wash her hands after using bathroom where fecal matter is under her nails at times, then she wants to dive in and wash my dishes. NO! And she has urninary problems, refuses to wear a diaper, wears regular underware with urinary pads that she will saturate, wring out or dunk in toliet to re-use and wring out, which freaks me out. I have clorox wipes all over the home to try not to be in a bacterial breeding ground home. She spills things, messes to clean. I have to make all her meals, give snacks, prepare coffee, help her get in and out of tub for showers & assist, do the washing of clothes & bedding, deal with her abusiveness & outright delusions to where some days, I just cry and don't want to get out of bed. She has grabbed my paring knives to carry around inside a bag, hanging on her walker, which is a danger to herself and others, so now I have to hide all my knives, keep out of reach. I unplug the microwave so she doesn't overheat something and gets burned when I am not close to watch her. She goes through my drawers accusing me of stealing her things. She loses things by hiding them, can't remember where she hid them. The other day, she started taking everything out of my kitchen trash can, looking for her bank statement - accusing me of throwing it in the trash. I try to get her to stop, she starts throwing it out faster. My husband doesn't understand what I am going through because I do everything, looks easy enough to him! He doesn't have to do anything differently but my whole world has changed. I can't leave her alone. If I do, I worry myself sick about what is she doing? Is she burning the house down? She hates me at times - feels I am the reason that she can't live alone. So if I can't work, my husband does not pay MY bills, so I am upside down and finding myself for the first time, my personal savings gone and behind in my card payments. I have never been without money or had credit issues. I asked him to get outside help hired, so I can have some of my freedom back. Here is HIS answer: his mom is unwilling to pay for it, HE is unwilling to pay for it, so if I want help - it is up to ME to pay for it. We don't go out anymore. My other family members don't want to come over because she is not someone you want to be around most days. Plus once, I tried to watch a 1yr old granddaughter, his mom fell - taking the walker with her, splitting the babies back of her head open, his mom had poop running down her leg but my attention was get his mom back upright since SHE didn't seem to have broken anything except my granddaughter's back of head, had to call step daughter to come back to take baby to hospital, where she had to have her head stapled. They have not been back since. While mother-in-law pooped herself with poop running down both pant legs from family room to bathroom with her sceaming at me, why wasn't I helping her and cussing at me. My attention at that time was to get the bleeding stopped for granddaughter and getting help for her. I am at my wits end with depression issues settling in now. My husband just doesn't care, AS LONG AS I CONTINUE TO HANDLE IT ALL!!! But I have no choice. I can't leave, I have no money, bad credit now, too. While his mom can belittle me, cuss me, throw things at me - my life sucks. My husband works long hours, never comes right home after work, does not sit and talk to his mom - he stays busy and not around her. AND doesn't want to hear about it. I can't find any answers and feel doomed. I can't see it any other way. I just pray for the good days where my mother-in-law is nice and not abusive. (which is now getting further and further less). My husband's other daughter doesn't want to help. She is 25, attending college and works. She WILL at times, if asked, give leftovers on a plate or take in a bowl of ice cream if I need to run out, and allowed to DECLARE that she is NOT going to be her grandmother's babysitter or caretaker. And my husband allows that. So I feel like I am nothing. I have gained weight, so he longer finds me attractive either. Yep, so not only do I have a mother-in-law telling me to "go measure my behind" I have a husband who doesn't feel attracted to me either. Ok, I'll tell it straight - I have no sex life either. My friends and family tell me to walk away. But I want my husband to love & want me. Gaining the weight was my fault anyway.
I am at a point I don't know what I want, cattails, except to have my life back. I had a successful career that is now in jeapordy, I want my body back (gained so much weight because I am frustrated & depressed wtih a husband that no longer is attentive or desires me), I want to look forward to waking up with a smile on my face instead of sadness, wondering what kind of a day will it be, I want my freedom back without hearing his mother's voice being nasty to me, when all I do is give kindness in return & make sure her needs are met (even IF she can't remember and tells my husband's sister I don't give her anything to eat which is an outright lie, so I now text EVERY breakfast and lunch along with photo as proof which is MORE work on my plate). I want a clean house that I don't fear of getting a staph infection or sick over. I want my financial and credit back as it was with a bank account of savings in place. IF I could have at least a 10 to 4pm person coming in, I could work & juggle better. I understand his mother can't help her condition, but I am worn out. It would be nice to have her into a full time facility, but I have heard horror stories of the care - especially with someone that has a nasty, mean personality. I care about her & she deserves to have a good life - she's 90 and I don't know how much longer she will be here on earth. I don't wish anything bad on her. Yes, I get angry and have raised my voice at times when I am just so tired or a migraine is setting in. But I have never cussed her, told her mean evil things like her daughter & son has done (seen & heard it first hand), will never ever hit or hurt her (not my personality to lose control and hit). I am very soft spoken, which is hard for my mother-in-law to hear and I feel awful when I have to talk loud around her, so I use a lot of hand motions and signs, which she understands.
No, I can not transport her. She has mobility issues, where I risk her falling trying to get down front steps and into car. She is just too feeble and weak. Shakes in fear of falling. Then fear makes her lose bowel control, so it just isn't worth going through even considering a day care. In home care is best. Getting someone else to help her regain strength, like another phy therapist would be awesome. But how to pay for it????
Ohio: How long have you and hubby been married? How old are you and your husband?

I'm 63 and retired so I do not have a personal income anymore. My husband has a retirement. When I went to our Senior Information Center (Area on Aging), I spoke to a woman who handled support to care givers. I was inquiring about a care givers support group, but by the time I left, she had arranged for me to have 30 hours a month on in-home care and it ended up costing me $1.20 per hour. The reason I qualified for this is because I am over 60 years old and caring for a parent at home. It didn't matter that my husband had an income. The fact that I didn't was what was important. I don't know if this is available in Ohio and you won't know either if you don't go in and talk to them. So please make the time to go in and see what might be available for you. I will keep my fingers and toes crossed for you.

Your MIL should be seen by a geriatric specialist who truly understands dementia. Talk to her doctor for a referral. She should be evaluated and it's possible that medications could be prescribed to make her more reasonable and cooperative. Believe me, it is possible.

Ohio, I am so sorry for your sadness. Being saddled with your MIL and with the economy in the state that it is, I can see why you are having financial difficulties. I am also truly appalled at your husband's cold and selfish behavior. Weight gain is a common problem for those who end up being primary care giver. You can always lose weight, but the lack of compassion and support your husband is willing to lend you is possibly a sign of his character. He's fine when you are thin, pretty and financially successful, but not interested in you when you gain some weight, are struggling with your career and having to deal with his wacko mom around the clock. His mom is 90 and clearly dealing with dementia, but your husband is not and has no excuse.

I'm sorry to knock him because I know you love him and want things to work, but have you wondered what he would do if you were ill and needed help. Take MIL completely out of the picture and just ask yourself, "would he be there for you?"

If your husband has lost interest in you, I don't think it is a reflection on you. I think it is a reflection on him. You are doing your best. He is doing nothing. Just guessing here, but sounds like he was married before and after that ended he decided that he would detach himself emotionally in future relationships or maybe he was always detached. Maybe he thinks everyone needs to be independent like his mom was and ask for nothing. A good marriage doesn't work that way.

I'm not going to tell you what to do with in your marriage. I've already said enough and I'm sorry if it was hurtful. Go talk to your local Area on Aging. If you can't locate them, call your local Department of Social Services and they can direct you. See what help they can give you.

I'm keeping you in my prayers. You are a good person and deserve so much more help and compassion than you are receiving. Stay in touch, Hugs, Cattails.

Would a note/call from your doctor make an impression on your husband? You need a break before you break completely. Will a family member or (very good) friend put you up for a week? Could MIL go back to Florida with a FT aide that her pension or Medicare/caid would pay for?
Unfortunately, staying in there isn't going to help but make things worse. You might want to consider documenting a day or two in-the-life (nanny cam?) and taking it to the County's Aging Services to request assistance. At the least, talk to them and see what can be done. Talk to them soon!
Oh boy do you ever have your hands full!!! Yours is about the worst situation I've heard of. You need help OhioGal!! I don't want to sound mean, because its very clear that other people are being mean to you, but it sounds to me like your in "denial" over alot of what is happening here!!! You shouldn't be treated so badly, especially by your own husband. I 'm only saying how I see it from what you say,but I don't think your husband can't possibly see or know exactly what is going on. He would have to be out of his mind if he thinks this is O.K. If you took a step back & heard someone telling you that they were in this position you would see that nothing about this is right. Please don't let him put you thru this. You obviously love him,but I think your letting that cloud your judgement. A man who loves you would be doing all he could to help you for taking care of his mother.He's very lucky that you do so much for her . It's clear that you even still sympathize with her even though she's soooooooo difficult. I'm afraid that he might be figuring that you'll keep on doing all of this as long as he needs you to.He would have to be dumb & blind to think this is except-able. He should be helping you find out about getting someone in to help you out with her. Most people can't handle all that you are doing. That's why there are nursing homes & or, help available. Just remember that your only 1 person. If you keep this up you won't be good for anyone, ESPECIALLY yourself. When people are so caring, it's hard to see that your a victim. I bet if you read what you wrote, & imagined that this was happening to someone else, that you'll see that you are not being treated right.. Please think of yourself for a change!!! You really are worth it!!!!!!!! Hang in there OhioGal, & keep us posted.. Good Luck & God Bless YOU
Cattails, you are awesome. I am 57, so is my husband. He has a good job making over $100K a year with money he freely "blows" on purchasing "toys". From guitars, to cars, to guns, to tools, to computers, electronics, etc....whatever his desire is for the moment. He pays cash too. No issues on running up credit cards. But you CAN when you make that kind of money and hardly any bills. For me, I'm now broke unless I can get back into the game & sell some houses. I can't as long as I can't leave my home to show & sell. Plus, while I am NOT making income, my bills pile up. So I have cut back as much as I can. So with his income, we won't qualify for anything free, I am sure.
PLUS his mom gets a GM pension monthly, SS checks, has pretty good bank accounts/savings, owns 2 homes free and clear. Just gave her low mileage car that was spotless (mint) to her daughter, and freely writes out checks to her daughters kids (example: one of her daughters children had a bad debt to pay off, she freely wrote out a check for $1900 to pay it off for him) Another time, John's sister comes over, saying hey mom, I need help paying my car insurance & I need $700 (yep, she freely gets out the check book and writes a check to her). My husband and I do NOT ask for money. SHE needs her money for the day I can no longer take care of her. I am so afraid MIL's daughter will clean her out!! It's wrong. But I can't stop MIL from writing checks or handing out cash to her. What is unfair is this same daughter is unwilling to be the 24/7 caregiver. She is a TAKER!!!
We have been married 9 years & yes, I am questioning my marriage & life with him. I have some definite fears. I am seeing a side of him that I don't think he would be there for me. Forget the marriage vows for sickness & in health, for better or worse. Nope, don't think so in my case.
Yes, he was married 16 years before me, divorced because his ex-wife moved out for another man. She said she was tired of being ignored and he was selfish.
Nope, I didn't see that side of him. He lavished me with gifts, dinners, vacations, attention - but that is all over. So no, he didn't seem selfish to me at all.
BUT now, he won't even consider my feelings. He keeps repeating I promised my mom that I would always be there for her, take care of her, not ever put her in a nursing home. His mom also had given him $30,000 for the downpayment of the home he currently owns & was purchased when married to now ex-wife, as pre-inheritance, so this is why MIL feels this is HER home, not mine. I am the outsider. Plus she gave him $11,000 to pay off a 2nd mortgage which paid off his divorce settlement.
My MIL has given big chunks to daughter all her adult life too - example: down payment on cars, $15,000 for carpet replacement, $15000 for down payment on home (but she bought motorcycle instead), $$$ for other home improvements, etc. MIL has always given her children money & gifts... again, she had a good income & was both mom & dad to her children, since her husband died early.

Thanks, I will be looking into programs for in-home care. And I will try to improve my attitude, watch what I eat to improve my mind and body. I'm a very private person, never lettting anyone know my problems so I can't believe I am allowing my fingers to type all this out for the world to see.
Thank you for taking time to read my frustrations and offer help. I feel so alone. I didn't tell you that I really don't have any friends - I was married 27 years before & left the area because my ex-husband married his 35 yr old biker babe. I wasn't sticking around to watch. It hurt too bad. Then married my now spouse, living in an area that I don't know anyone. My career keeps me so busy I don't have time to socialize, plus a husband who lost a wife due to infidelity, he doesn't want me going out with friends. It's ok. I've got my 3 married boys and grandchildren to fill that spot - except now, they can't come over with the home conditions I have. That makes me so sad, too. Like I have been cut off. Prison sentence for a crime I didn't commit or ask for.
And no, I receive NO compensation for my MIL's care, nor does my spouse offer to help pay my bills. He feels I can leave his mom alone and go do my job - so he gives NO sympathy. He is in denial. I can't leave her alone. She is a risk to herself.Even the doctors tell him that, but he doesn't believe them,
ravensdottir, thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I have my husband go to the doctor's appts & he hears their thoughts. He knows his mom has issues but "that is why he has her living with us", to take care of her. NO- HE is NOT the one taking care of her, I AM!!! I sceam inside.
My husband is in true denial his mother needs constant supervision EVEN after watching her being unable to pour a cup of coffee from coffee pot - scalding her arm, spilling all over floor because she doesn't have strength in one arm. Then she can't balance and walk well, and began sliding on the spilled coffee in floor. Yes, it was an accident. But his mom feels she can do anything. And she reaches to do it again. So what, that her arm got a little burned. It did not faze her at all.

My husband has seen that she can't put time in correctly on microwave to heat meals. He told me to unplug microwave if I can't be there to watch her. He told me to make all her meals now since she lost the ability to cook for herself, telling his mother that she can no longer cook.
Ok, so now MORE work is onto me. When she first came to live with us a year ago, she could still do some things, make breakfast, make lunch, then we all ate dinner together. But she can't do those things now. A lot of it has to do with her frustrations & alzheimer's getting worse.
My husband feels if she falls and gets hurt, it's not our problem. It's life. If she crumbles and falls, life says she goes to hospital & gets fixed. She can fall at a nursing home. She could fall going to a doctor appt. I can't be her pillow.
Oh, here's one. My husband takes her to see a skin doctor over a sore on her nose. He can't find a close parking spot, none available, so he pulls up close to sidewalk, gets his mom out of car, sits her on her walker stool (has a built in seat), leaves her there while he parks car. SHE decides not to wait on him, tries to scoot up the ramp to go on inside, the walker flips over, she falls smacking head onto concrete. We all know that head injuries aren't good. The ambulance comes and runs her to hospital, doctor office not equipped to handle this. She is released after finding out she will be fine, no bad injuries - just cleaned up the blood, no stitches needed. Looked worse than it was.
Again, my husband is in denial. His mom can NOT be left alone. She makes bad decisions.

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