Knowing when to push for change and when to leave well enough alone.
My mother in law and her husband live in an independent living apartment, and have for a little over a year now. The purpose of them moving there was to make life easier and more enjoyable, and to have them closer to us.
However since they've moved in, they do nothing but watch television (sleep), and occasionally go out to eat and grocery shop (even though the cabinets and fridge are full to the brim). My mother in law has really declined. Her legs are like rubber and she's supposed to use a walker, but she's vain and we have to stay on her constantly about it. She also has no interests. Her retirement community offers activities of all sorts and she won't take advantage of any of them. She says it's because the father in law doesn't want her to do anything without him, so she just doesn't even try. In his 80's he's still controlling, jealous, and overpowering. He's pretty sure one of the old men downstairs is after her. She's always allowed him to dictate her every move and she still does. At least, she blames her lack of activity on him. Not sure if that's all true or if she just uses him as an excuse sometimes. We're constantly trying to encourage her to do things like Chair Yoga or Bingo to socialize her more and give her a little exercise, but no matter what we say she won't do it. She gives us the impression she "might" think about it, but never acts. The latest is doing laundry. She bags up her dirty laundry in trash bags and puts them in the closet. For 2 weeks we've been asking her if she's gone downstairs and done her laundry yet, and every time she says no. She makes excuses for everything, and they're never good, rational excuses. She's either so busy going to the doctor or she's just tired. It's like she just doesn't care about anything anymore. It's more difficult for her to get around, but she is capable of doing some things at her own pace and with the assistance of her walker. We suggest to her that she create a routine for herself where she does laundry on Tuesdays, chair yoga on Wed, grocery store on Thursday and so forth. She could care less about structure in her life. She won't even open her mail daily. She just puts it in stacks and then we have to clean it all out and make sure she's paying her bills. She doesn't like to throw away junk mail or anything for that matter.
We just don't know what to do. Every time we talk to her or visit her it feels like we're just lecturing her the entire time. If she has clean clothes to wear, should we care that there are two trash bags of dirties in the closet? If she moves at a snails pace because she refuses exercise or do physical therapy do we just let her make that decision for herself as we watch her decline? Does it do us any good to tell her she has to stand up to her husband and do what's right for her if she's never done that in her life?
Just feeling a little frustrated and have lots of questions about how we're handling things. I'm sure part of her problem is that she's depressed. She is on an anti depressant (20 mg Lexapro). Don't know if its working or not, or if it will help as long as she's stuck in the apartment with "him" all the time.
Would love some advice.