How do I deal with my father-in-law constantly complaining about his health?

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My FIL complains constantly that he does not feel well....." he is always tired, does not sleep well, is very weak, has troublle breathing, etc..."
He does have severe copd and is frail. I cook very nutritious meals ( he also complains that he needs (" more grease in his system",) always have snacks available, etc. He is an alcoholic and does not eat enough to keep his strength up. I suspect he has some malnutrition and vitamin defiencies as well, due to the alcoholism.
He still drives, so I cannot stop him from buying alcohol, but I know that most of his problems are due to drinking. He doesn't bathe nor change his clothes for weeks.
I know, due to his severe copd, he will get worse, but how do you deal with one who does not want to change their bad habits, in order to FEEL better? For example, when I suggest taking vitamis, he can't, due to his breathing (????)
If I suggest some stretching exercises, he's already done them, he can't take a bath due to the well water bothers his breathing. My husband broaches the subjects carefully ( when he starts to smell like urine), because if your direct with him, he is in complete denial.
We are both at our wits end.
How do you help someone, who believes they are in good health, but all they do is complain?
Thanks

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You have to KNOW what YOU can manage.
I was in a similar situation 3 years ago. I insisted on help from the husband's other siblings. Subsiquently, I said I could keep him for four months of the year and some thing would have to be worked out between my husband's other siblings. At the end of the first four month stint, he left and returned after one week. I asked when he would be leaving, his respone was, 'do you not want me to live with you?' I packed some belongings intending to leave home. Suggested that I would be back when the family situation is settled. That night the FIL left. That was three years ago. :)
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I would encourage you to join Al-Anon. It is a free meeting for the friends and family of alcoholics. You will get access to literature such as "the merry-go-round of denial" that will enable you to see that alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful, progressive disease that only gets worse. It is very difficult to change the alcoholic's behavior and he really is in pain, not just belly aching. Pitying him doesn't work either. It ends two ways. They get sick and tired of being sick and tired and they reach out for help or they die.
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Hi dgrey 63

You received some , in my opinion, EXCELLENT answers to your query. I thought Ed's idea of you leaving the house for a couple of weeks was a super idea. As you are the main one that looks after FIL now, if you are away for a couple of weeks your husband will have to deal with EVERYTHING that you deal with now ON HIS OWN. This might help him stop pussyfooting around his father and instead lead him to taking some positive action - like moving his father into a facility. If, when you come back home after the two weeks, and things have changed as far as the FIL goes, then you can decide if your marriage is still worth saving. If things haven't changed, then I think you need to escape. Best of luck.
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I assume you knew what he was like before you moved in with him, and you assumed with loving care you come change him. Now you find the reality to be that you cannot change him against his wishes, and you cannot stand to live with him the way he is. Is that about right?

Your husband isn't with you on a program to change Dad, at least not on the alcohol question. If it is any consolation, it probably wouldn't make a big difference if he were. Dad is who he is and behaves as he chooses. Some of his choices are no doubt shortening his life. But that is really his choice to make. Many of his choices are driving you up the wall, or rather out the door. His choices have conseqences. Who wants to live with a nasty old man who stinks and drinks and complains?

There have been other posts recently about living with constant complainers. You might find them interesting reading. But the complaining seems to be just the tip of the iceberg here.

I don't really see a way out of this, except through the front door (unless the back door is more convenient.)

Good luck to you.
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D:

Since you're already thinking about leaving the situation for good, I'd start packing. Let your husband deal with it. But make sure you have a place to go and your resume ready. Do you have a trusted friend to stay with until you get settled?

Another way of handling it is telling hubby you're spending a couple of weeks with a friend; and that it'd be nice to come back to a clean place where people change clothes and aren't allergic to soap and water.

Exercise your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness girl!

-- Ed
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Thanks to all for the great input. We moved in with him, because FIL did not want to leave his home.
I have realised that the entire family is dysfunctional. I am the main caretaker and will more than likely leave this situation entirely.
I know that FIL is manipulitive ( as addicts are ) and will never cooperate with my husband or me.
My husband's way of thinking is " let him drink, he's not hurting anybody..."
I am sad to say, that my marriage probably will not last, but my happiness is more important than living in a mess of a family.
I will try some of the suggestions....all I can do now at this point is hope for the best and prepare for the worse.
Thanks.
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Dgrev63,
You are not in a pleasant situation. It certainly takes the joy out of your life to listen to a complainer especially when he is uncooperative to boot. This situation will more than likey progress because alcoholism is a progressive disease, and I assume he smokes or has since he has COPD. Recommendations: do not enable him in any manner. Redirect his complaining by changing the subject, leaving the room, going for a walk, etc. Do not hold yourself hostage to a negative whiner(sp). That is not always easy to do but when you think he is going to get going on a complaint session, try a different tactic. Behavior that is rewarded tends to get repeated. Yeah, I know sometimes you are a captive audience because there will be times when you will get stuck and you can't remove yourself. He probably does need vitamins especially folate. It is unlikely that he will voluntarily quit drinking. He needs some sort of intervention because the situation is not in your best interest or his. Al-Anon could provide you with support for coping with your situation. It doesn't sound like you are codependent but your husband may be, it is common when children are raised in a home with dysfunctional irresponsible parents. As the above respondants mentioned tough love may be in order or daddy may need to go to adult daycare. You didn't mention whether or not you are the one providing most of his care. Take care of you. Let us know what works.







This will pro
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Dgrev63, Sorry you've had to put up with a FIL who acts like that. If a person doesn't want help there is not much you can do to help them other than take control of there finances, have them committed, etc. Because you are dealing with an alcoholic I don't see any other way. Does he live in your home or you his? Like you said his main problem is the alcohol. From what you've said it seems like you've tried both direct and indirect approaches and neither of them got you anywhere. If he were my father and carrying on like this and especially if he lived in my house I would put a stop to it. Get him into an assisted living facility and let the pros. deal with him. You can still be loving and supportive by being attentive and visiting. Sounds like his Alcoholism is more than you or your Hubby can handle. Unless he gets help with the Alcoholism he will use it as a crutch for denial in everything else. In and around professionals they won't buy it. Whatever you decide to do just make sure you do it before it puts a wedge between you and your hubby. Stay hopeful.
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You did your best to be tactful. It may be time for tough love. Be blunt and tell him that you are concerned for him and cannot continue to watch him decline because he won't do simple things to improve his health. Tell him that his body oder is strong and offensive, and makes you ill. Insist that he bathe at least once a week or you will have aides come in and do it for him. Tell him that, unless he makes these changes, you will not continue to listen to his complaining - then do all of the above. Right now, there are not consequences for his behavior...so he continues on. I would also be alarmed that he is still buying alcohol AND driving. Your hub really needs to be at the forefront here. Or have a visiting nurse with you when you talk with him...some parents respond to a "medical" person better than family.
If it gets too extreme, you may need to find him another living situation, or you may have to move out and have paid caregivers help him with your supervision.
good luck
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