Worried about moving my mother-in-law back in with us.

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My MIL was widowed a few years ago, then had surgery with complications. She lived about 2 hrs away. We quickly prepared a room for her, and invited her to move in with us after short term inpt rehab, to recoup for as long as needed. She ended up staying for a year, selling her home in the next state over. She moved to sr housing around the corner. Failed driving test, so no more of that. Her main health issues are obesity, incontinence (bladder and bowel) and RA/OA. She is able to walk for about 2-5 minutes at a time. Able to dress herself with a lot of effort. Does not cook at all. I go over 3x a week to give her a shower, help her dress. We have pursued extensive options with the incontinence - she even has a spinal cord stimulator for it- but not working. She finally agreed to wear depends 24/7 as the staining of carpets, car seats, furniture and clothing was just too much as were the accidents in public places If we're out she will refuse to use a bathroom all day long -"I don't need to go". However, she still tries to get by without wearing any protection at times or leaks around the protection she is wearing. Not sure if she is just beyond caring, in denial, or something else. She has been instructed that getting in to void every couple hours, whether she feels the need or not, would help, but just doesn't follow through. Part of it is that pulling up her pants is hard due to bad shoulders, but she is not receptive to easier clothing choices. One of her friends in the building stopped by the other day to let her know that there is a lot of talk among the residents about the odor and the wet trail she leaves in the common areas (she did it in a kind, helpful - meaning way). I went to pick her up the other day to come to dinner at our house and she was waiting at the door, soaked with urine, and not intending to change. I ended up putting something over the seat of my car, running in to grab a depends and pants. When I helped her change at my house- found out she wasn't wearing any depends - she said her theory that day was to just sit on a towel in her chair because her bowels were loose that day.
What we are now facing, is that we had planned to move her back in with us this spring. She is planning to pay to have a room put on (the former room is now my son's). I work 30 hrs a week as a home care PT. My kids are 18 and 14. My husband also works. We have provided incontinence care, showers, transportation, laundry, etc etc and thought it would be easier to manage the care here where we are in the same place. She is excited to move in. She's in general good health, just very inactive, becoming more obese and this makes the incontinence and mobility worse. I am doubting my willingness to commit to her care for years to come. She's a very nice lady who appreciates the care we give. I am just feeling "caregivered out", especially as my work is also caregiver based.I see families who have so much more care involved than this, though most are either not working/raising teens at the same time or have some level of paid help. She is not receptive to hiring help beyond the 3 hrs of homemaking assist she gets - says she can just do it herself - but doesn't, thus I do the showers, etc with her. Part of me wants to either insist on more hired help or even assisted living, but I feel like I'm breaking a commitment. Her other children live far away and I am jealous that they don't have to think about this on a daily basis or provide any hands on care.
Any thoughts or ideas are much appreciated.

16 Comments

DON'T YOU DARE DO IT! Unless you enjoy a dirty nasty smelly unhappy home. I am dead serious. And your sons do not deserve this either. I have seen this story played out here so many times.

Go around and read other stories and questions.

Life is not paid back, it's paid FORWARD.

She has made her choices. Let it go.
My first thought is do NOT move her back in with you. But if it is written in stone that she is coming back you need to have some rules in place. Tell her you are hiring someone to assist and do NOT take no for an answer. It is groundwork you are laying for this relationship to move forward. I don't blame you for not wanting to "bring your work home", if you do it all day you don't want to do it for somebody else in your home. Then I'd tell her wearing Depends is NOT an option. Ruining clothes, furniture and smelling to high heaven isn't acceptable. Then I'd put her on a diet and have limited, healthy food available for snacking and get this obesity under control. She will lose weight in the process. Keep in mind, she is going to protest all these actions. You have to make the rules, enact the rules and stick to your guns. If you don't, you and your family will be living in conditions you won't like, can't stand and resent. I look at it as a trade off, she gets to be with her family and receive loving care and your family gets to have grandma around and feel good about helping her. If none of this applies, then I go back to my first statement...don't bring her back to your house.
sounds good in theory, and great if it works, but it's her MiL and i just know her husband won't let any rules stand once she's in the house. sons are usually weak where mothers are concerned.
Husbands have to be on board, how disrespectful is that! And what wife would put up with it?
oh honey, you would be surprised what some husbands have forced on wives here!
Laurus, My first question would be where does your husband stand on this issue, as it is his mother you are talking about. Secondly, has she been tested for signs of dementia? Denial is a big part at the beginning.Sounds like maybe there might be an issue there because of the the way she handles her hygiene? Or do you really feel she is just lazy?!!
If she has the $$ to build a room for herself then I assume she has funds to pay for in home help. To me it sounds like an all around bad deal for you! At least with your job, you can leave it and go home. With her there, what will you walk into every day? If she has access to your entire house, including the bathroom, YIKES!!!! You will definitely find presents when you get home! I would have a very serious conversation with your family. especially your husband, and let them know what they will be in for, because when you are not home and they are, and she has an "accident", they will have to deal with it.
Get her evaluated to see if she is in the beginning stages of dementia and then if you do decide to take her in, have a very serious conversation with her about the hygiene issues and her laziness, or you will resent the fact that you ever took her in. It is ultimately your decision and you need to cover all the bases before you move her in. Good luck, you have some very serious thinking to do!
((((((hugs))))) lauras - it sounds to me like your mil's problems are greater than you can reasonably - or even somewhat unreasonably cope with. I suspect that her resistance to wearing depends, for example, will continue, and you know that as she ages her health issues will increase. You already have too full a load with your own life and the caregiving you are doing now going over to her 3x a week. Her incontinence and refusal to self care should be enough, in my opinion, to cause you to re-evaluate your plan. You would not be the first person to have to do that, and it does not make you a "bad" person, but rather a wise one. I do not think any plan if that sort should be written in stone. Things change. People change. Older people change for the worst and require more care. That is life. I think, considering your mil's problems, that she needs professional care by caregivers who work shifts and do not have to live with the problems. Can you tolerate having your house smell, and be stained by your mil's wastes? Can you live with the lack if sanitation this brings, I do not think for one minute her outlook, or the way she deals with her incontinence is going to change for the better, What does your husband think? Is he aware if how bad her problems are? That her place is stained, that she leaves a trail etc. That she has promised to wear depends, and then doesn't follow through and doesn't follow instructions to void regularly? Please do not burden yourself with this degree of care. Find her an appropriate facility and visit her there, take her out if she cooperates with the depends etc. Her care needs are only going to increase. If you take her into your home 3x a week will stretch out to 24/7. You and your family - sons and husband - need a life if your own. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
Thanks to all for the great feedback. My husband is , I think, likely to become very annoyed with all of her requests for small things and her constant presence. That alone should really rule it out. He is 100% behind whichever way I decide, being that I provide most of the care. She had gone to the urology nurse yesterday to get a sample via straight cath and I was able to speak to the nurse at length today - she has known us for a couple of years now and she was straightforward to say the decline in MIL was quite shocking to her - she is definitely encouraging me/us to do assisted living. Her input was very helpful too. When MIL lived here for the year I was only working per diem, and my husband was on the road 6 wks at a time...easier to manage in a lot of ways. I guess for me, I see families through my work every day who do so much in the homes for their parents - but I do also see a lot of burnout.
Also - re: testing for dementia - she has dx bipolar disorder (on Lithium) and though she is not forgetful, she is very distractable at times. Possible early stages.
it's both good and bad that your husband leaves the decision to you. good because you have control. bad, because if anything goes wrong he will blame you for it. it would be better if the two of you sat down and made the decision together. this way this will never be blame.

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