Why do I feel like I can't do this anymore?

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My MIL's youngest is coming to visit on the 4th. She knew he was coming last week but FORGOT on Monday - denied knowing - she got upset because I mentioned that she forgot.

Then this morning, I vacuumed her apt, (an addition to our home) and scrubbed her floors. I notice her pension check on the desk and took it and wrote a note that I would cash it for her while I was doing errands this afternoon.

She came in and said 'HOW can YOU cash MY check without me signing it???!!! I said my name is on your account and she said "well, now i HAVE LOST TOTAL CONTROL!"

Just a side note - she put my name on her account of her own free will 8 years ago - before her memory issues began (pre stroke). I have paid all her bills for three years - ever since she wrote an $865 check to pay an $8.65 bill. She cashes her pension check and that is her mad money. Her bills, groceries and prescriptions come out of her SS check that goes into her checking acct.

The problem now is that she got upset with me - insinuated that I was 'taking' her pension check. I have cashed her pension check numerous times when she isn't able to get out or the weather is bad. Never have I kept one cent of it.

She said something that 'set me off' and I said - maybe it is time to rethink things. if you aren't happy here - other arrangements can be made. She said YES, LET DO THAT!!!! and turned around and went back to her apt. She has been pouting in there for 3 days ever since I suggested that she 'forgot' that her son was coming.

Her bath lady came and the first thing out of her mouth was 'Well, it looks like the kids are thinking about putting me in a nursing home.' WE HAVE NEVER USED THE TERM NURSING HOME to her. If anything, it would be assisted living.

I went in and of course I was upset - because she was insinuating that we were going to put her away in front of her bath lady. I told the bath lady that SHE was the one who said she definitely wanted other arrangements made. If she isn't happy here - she we force her to stay?

Then her bath lady said to me 'Well, Oldcodger2, just WHAT DO YOU DO here, anyway? Insinuating that I do nothing for my MIL. I have nursed her through surgeries - sleeping on her couch for 2 weeks post surgery, nursed her for 6 weeks pre surgery (another surgery) when she was bedridden - this was PRE BATH LADY - so I did that, including wiping her butt since she was to weak to do it. I puller her upright, put a wash cloth under her foot to pivot her to the commode, then pivoted her back to bed or to the wheel chair. This was 24/7 for 6 weeks. The last surgery - we decided to let her recoup in the swing unit of the hospital until she could be up and around.

I prepare her meals, do her shopping, order and pick up meds, organized her 'calendar' of numerous doctor appointments. There were times when we had 12 appointments in one month - entailing an hour drive each way and for 6 of those procedures - required me to wait 6 hours before bringing her home.

Obviously - all this constitues 'nothing.' I think I am just plain tired of doing nothing and I want to stop. Do I have the right to stop? Sure, I know others have it far worse. But since her stroke in December - it is the memory issues and the snide remarks that have gotten to me. I know I am 'way too short tempered' to be a good caregiver anymore. Is it wrong to think about NOT being her caregiver anymore? Her other two children have left her care to us and basically, it is me - but, I forgot, I don't DO anything - so why should I be upset?

I am sorry, but I am upset. My MIL tells everyone she cares for herself. Thankfully, she can take care of her personal needs. But 90%+ of her meals I cook. IF she tries to cooks something - it is often inedible.

When she came in (she was outside on the patio) she complained of the bleach smell (I used Clorox Clean up to scrub her floors and clean her commode and toilet.) She said "I just scrubbed the floor." I told her it needed it again. The corners were dirty and full of little bugs and there were drips in front of the refrigerator - basically, it needed a good scrubbing on hands/knees and she can't do that anymore.

Often, I will do her dishes and clean her sink (she doesn't run the disposal sometimes and it gets so gross) and basically, just can't clean the way she used to. But, I don't DO anything - I forgot, the invisible cleaning fairy does it :0)

I think I am going to have a stroke myself. I hit a wall 2 years ago and I have never been the same since. If SHE makes me miserable and I make HER miserable - isn't it time to rethink things if possible? Doesn't she deserve that too?

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Top Answer
If you feel that you can't do this anymore, you can't -- at least not in the same way you currently are. If you are miserable and your MIL is miserable, it is definitely time to rethink things. You both deserve that.

The most drastic way to rethink things would be to physically move MIL out of your home. If she can afford a nice assissted living facility that may be best all around. Instead of being her landlord and caregiver you could be her advocate and friend. This might indeed reduce the misery. Perhaps this is the best step to take next. But I'd at least consider les drastic changes first.

You could rethink who does what. No doubt her little apartment can use some hands-and-knees deep cleaning once in a while. But you can hire people to do that on a regular basis. If she goes into ALF the deep cleaning and the meal prep and laundry and other homemaking tasks are going to be done by "outsiders" paid for doing them -- that could happen right where MIL is, without the more drastic change. No one appreciates the hard work you do? Hire that hard work out. This might reduce an element of tension between you and MIL. Please don't dismiss it without carefully considerng it.

You could rethink your attitude about the situation. Poor MIL is losing her memory and her cognitive abilities. Caring for someone in this state is significantly different than caring for someone with just physical impairments. Adjustments are necessary in how you approach the task and what you expect. OF COURSE she does not appreciate being reminded that she has forgotten something. Don't rub it in. "Oh. I'm so sorry it wasn't clear to you that Billy will be here this week. I thought you knew that. I didn't mean for it to be a surprise. Next time I'll write it down so we'll both remember." Rethink how you react to what she is "insinuating." She is no longer in her right mind, remember? You have to make all kinds of allowances for her behavior, and learn not to take it so personally. In the old days if she accused you of mismanaging her money you would be justified in feeling hurt and defensive and maybe angry. The old days are gone. She can't remember that you've done this service for her, let alone be grateful for it.

You are upset because of what the bath lady said?! Who cares? You know what you are doing. I sincerely hope that your husband knows what you are doing. The members of these discusson boards know what you are doing. Share your feelings and experiences with the folks who can understand what you are going through. Do not expect understanding from your cognitively-impaired MIL, or from outsiders. Just because someone is trained to give bathes doesn't mean they have a professional understanding of the family caregiving role. Develop a thicker skin. Don't give uninformed people to power to upst you.

It is very, very hard to rethink the nature of your relationship with someone who now has dementia or other mental impairments. There is no shame in getting help with this hard task. Join a support group. Get some counselling.

My heart goes out to you, oldcodger2. You are working so hard, giving so much -- you do not deserve to be so miserable. Rethinking things is definitely in order. There is more than one way to do that. I hope you find ways that will work well for you.
oldcodger2, I agree with Jeangibbs. You sound overwhelmed. But don't do make a decision in the heat of anger. We do understand what you are doing to make life bearable for your MIL. If it was me I'd talk to the bath nurse and let her know that she was out of bounds by her remark. If she doesn't talk to you then talk to the boss about her remark and let them know how it has effected you. They are responsible for her actions.
I also agree that you should have help brought in to help with the cleaning. But MIL needs to pay for it.
You sound exhausted. Do you get out and pamper yourself? You need to take care of yourself? Do you get support from your family? What about MIL's other kids? Do they help? {{{{{{HUG}}}}}}}}
jeannegibbs - I agree with you - but I have known all these things on a subconscious level - but I can't seem to put them into practice. My MIL and I have been friends for over 40 years. NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think our relationship would be like this and yes, I should rethink how I think and react and I can't seem to do it - no matter how hard I pray or how hard I try.

It isn't that I mind cleaning for her - her apt. isn't big. It is just doing it and having her say 'I just did that - it didn't need it' - when she used a swiffer 3 weeks ago and there was real dirt in her corners that needed attention that she cannot give. I know she is in a cognitive decline - but you know what? Somehow I can't keep from reacting 'normally' to this 'abnormal' situation and it is just a mess. I am a mess. I am just tired.

I think down deep that I feel I am being taken advantage of by her other two children - who by the way shared equally in monetary gifts from mom - but have never helped with her care or offered me respite in seven years.

And your comment: ""Oh. I'm so sorry it wasn't clear to you that Billy will be here this week. I thought you knew that. I didn't mean for it to be a surprise. Next time I'll write it down so we'll both remember." - oh how I wish my first reaction came out like that! It doesn't.

The scenario went more like: She was wiping out her microwave and complaining about how tired she was. I said "he will only be here for a couple hours - I wouldn't go to so much trouble - he may not even come in here.' and then she said WHO? Well, when I told her (and I wasn't sarcastic or cruel or insulting - I just said 'remember, so and so is coming on the 4th' and she said NO ONE TOLD ME! I said yes, so and so told you over the phone and you told us. Don't you remember? Remember - you said he was coming to - in your exact words 'steal you away?' and she said yes, but he didn't say when and I said we had emailed him and he said he was coming the 4th - we discussed it several times since then. She just got mad. Of course it didn't help that I then said I can't help it if you can't remember that you forgot.

So, you see, I think I have run out of patience. I resent that her other kids have their lives to themselves and all we have ever asked is that they take mom for a couple weeks a year - EACH - and they have never mangaged to find the time. Of course, the youngest can make trips to Europe each year and several trips to the beacheach year to visit his wife's family. I asked her why they didn't spend more time with mom and she said 'they were comfortable with the amount of time they spend with 'his' family. So, there you are. I think I am tired.

I saw a quote that said “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” I am tired of always being the one who apologizes - by the way she told the bath lady that I only apologized once since she has been here - the ONLY way to get her to come out of her pouts is to apologize and since she has a pout every week - how many apologies do you think I have made.

She can't hear her snide remarks, she doesn't see her screwed up hateful faces (only mine) or the complaints about the smallest things.

My husband is going to talk to his brother tomorrow. I am willing to donate MY SS check towards assisted living and I feel her other two kids should be willing to do the same or take her home with them. She does not have enough funds to pay for it without help.

I told my husband that I don't think my I would have 'hit the wall' had his brothers helped with respite - just two weeks each a year. I don't think that is asking too much.

The funny one is that last year the same youngest child said he would come and stay with mom so we could get a way for a week. Mom had just gotten out of the hospital, was on steroids and her sugars were running through the roof. She was weak in her legs due to the sciatica attack. We had purchased trip cancellation ins. (we always do - just in case) - so we could have cancelled had he just told us that he planned to leave mom alone just a few hours after we left. He came here and waved us good bye and said 'We'll be fine' and no sooner than we were out of sight - HE LEFT HER AND WENT HOME! He didn't tell us - and he has never apologized. We found out because she called one of our kids asking about a medication. Our son called us and said 'I think so and so left - I think grandma is all alone' - I nearly had a stroke and of course, we had to come back home! He has done this to us 4 times - promising to come and then cancelling But coming here and letting us leave was the worst! We will never trust him again. That was a year ago - I don't think I have been the same since.

So, my 'state of mind' may not all be my poor MIL's fault. But, at this point, I think our arrangement is broken and we have to do something else.

I would love to be her friend and advocate and companion again. My parents died when I was in my twenties - so I had absolutely no idea what old age and caregiving were about.

Thanks for listening and caring. I just wish I could cry - maybe I would feel better.

Your state of mind is not at all poor MIL's fault. At this point the arrangement is broken and something has to be done.

So far you haven't been able to get your head around the fact that MIL CANNOT HELP her cognitive decline. But that doesn't mean you are incapable of acheiving that ... just that what you have tried so far hasn't worked. Here are some things you could try: 1) Counselling for yourself 2) a local caregiver's support group, preferably one for dementia caregivers 3) reading about cognitive decline and caregiving. (Many of us could suggest good books for you, if you want to try that route.)

It is certainly hard to have been a friend and companion to a loved one and to suddenly have that person become hostile or paranoid or abusive. Spouses who have to suddenly contend with being accused of infidelity, or theft, or abuse know this pain perhaps even more strongly. I can relate to how awful this feels. You do not deserve those snide remarks and the faces and the complaints! I can also tell you that it is highly likely that you can overcome this pain and regain the compassion you have for MIL. I think that you would need help to do this, though. Coming here where there are other people who understand is a great first step, but it might not be enough. You are NOT obligated to work on getting past this pain and reestablishing the relationship on another level. You have done more than your share already. If you decide not to work on this in other ways, that is perfectly legitimate. Don't beat yourself up. If you WANT to give it another try, I suggest counselling, support groups, and reading. If you are done trying, that is OK, too.

My husband's dementia (LBD) is characterized by great fluctuations in cognitive ability. I find it in some ways easier to be patient and compassionate when he is obviously not doing well cognitively. When he has a long run of "good" days I am very happy, of course, but I also find myself treating him more like he is "normal" -- and that really isn't fair to him. I wonder if that is sort of where you are at with MIL -- she still seems "normal" in so many ways it is hard for you to remember that you can't treat her normally. In spite of her appearances, she really is significantly impaired.

Perhaps ALF would be a good option for MIL. However, she can't afford a good ALF. Your suggestion that all of her children ptich in financially and make up the amount she can't pay herself is a very reasonable solution. But from what you have said about your in-laws I think it very unlikely that this will actually happen. (I can see them all agreeing to it, and then in month 2 one has an emergency and can't ptich in that month, and by month 6 you are on the financial hook alone.) For an ALF to be a viable option there needs to be a way to pay for it. I wouldn't give up the idea without trying, but if "we all pitch in on the cost" is Plan A, you'd better have a Plan B in mind, too.

You and your husband NEED RESPITE. Absolutely, positively, no question about it. You need time away to recharge your batteries and just be a couple. You need individual time off, too. You've tried to arrange that, relying on the sibs. You've learned, saddly, that isn't going to work in that family. But here's a news flash: relying on family is NOT THE ONLY way to get respite. Caregivers who are only children with no living relatives except the one they are caring for manage to arrange respite care. It is critical. You are willing to spend money toward ALF ... what about spending money for respite care? And, certainly, it is not fair that the sibs are not pitching in their time or at least some money. It is not fair that poor MIL is declining cognitively. Life is not fair. Try to let go of the aspects of the situation you have no control over. Come here and vent about your selfish in-laws. But get on with doing what needs to be done.
Oldcodger2: First of all, I would fire that bath lady and file a complaint with the agency that sent her. Who needs a problem person stirring up trouble in an already difficult situation. I don't know if you did something to provoke the bath lady, but for her to judge you and and then bait you with that hurtful comment after you have taken care of your MIL for 8 years is inexcusable and totally unprofessional. You don't owe her an explanation of what you do. She is paid to give your MIL a bath, not to come into your home and ask you to justify your contribution to your MIL's care. Get rid of her.

Secondly, you need a big fat break. I don't know what your MIL's finances are, but if you can swing it financially, put her in respite care for a month and have your husband put the hammer on the sibs to help cover the costs. What does your mom do with her money. She has SS and her pension? Does she have money in the bank or any assets. If so, start using that money to cover respite care and, again, have your husband do all he can to get the sibs to help out financially.

I don't think you should have to sacrifice your social security to get MIL out of your home. Possibly she could qualify for assistance. Her income might be too high for Medicaid, but it is still possible that she could qualify if Medicaid picked up the difference of what she can pay. Check with your Area on Aging and with your Department of Social Services. Get a good education of what is possible.

My recommendation is (1) Find a way for MIL to live elsewhere for one month. I pray you can do this because you are at your wits end and you must have some down time. Maybe she will be happier to be home when she returns from a month away and hopefully you will be too. (2) Talk to your local Area on Aging and your Department of Social Services. Understand every inch of your options for her care at your home and in a facility. (3) In the end, if you just can't do this anymore, then you can't. Your life is ticking away and you are not being supported. You have done more than your share and you have every right to save yourself. It's ok and it's not your fault. You are a human being who needs a life too.

I can't imagine your brother in law leaving your MIL alone after you left for vacation. I'm sorry you had to come home. One thing bothers me, however, maybe your children live far away, but could they not have stepped in and helped with MIL since you were on a much needed vacation?

Anyway, these are my thoughts. Hope they are helpful. Love and Hugs, Cattails
well, I just spent 'forever' writing a response and it didn't go through. No wonder there were no replies..................... I don't feel up to rewriting it - I am done for today. Thanks to all who replied. Thank you for caring enough to do so.
Update: Well, after baiting his mother with a visit for the last two weeks - her youngest replied to my request for a ETA with a text saying he wasn't going to make it. 'Tell mom I will call her later.'

We texted him back saying we would NOT tell mom he was not coming - that was HIS job. We told him she was dressed up and waiting since 9 a.m. this morning - that he needed to call ASAP. That was 11 a.m. He finally called her at 3 p.m. She sat ALL DAY all dressed up waiting - for nothing. Don't know if this was worse than leaving her alone last year - but it was pretty darn close.

We are contacting her social worker and her doctor for their input on what to do. We have also decided to switch home health companies and I plan to tell the manager of the current company just WHY we are making the switch. She may see her old bath lady once more - but not after this week if I have anything to do about it.

A decision will be made after consultation with the social worker, doctor and her other two sons. What a week. Hope everyone has a nice day with family and friends.
OC2: I'm so sorry your MIL waited all day for his no show. What a complete ass he is. I don't think it would be wise to place your MIL with the idea that sibs are going to chip in for her care. If the youngest can't keep his word to visit, it's fool's play to count on him in any way. That's pretty obvious.

Be sure you check out Medicaid. Even if she is over the limit, I think they might help if all her funds go towards her NH care and they pick up the difference. Please be sure to check it out.

My heart goes out to you. You have done so much to care for your MIL. I'm sorry she is so difficult, but it is the illness. I'm sure your heart broke for her today. I wish the two of you could have a good cry together. I know you love the person she was and every once in a while, maybe that person is still there.

I want to commend you on everything you have done. You need a break and a chance to regain your spirit. I'm glad you are changing home health companies. That bath lady needs to have someone explain that the care they give is as much for the family as the patient.

Good luck OC2 and please stay in touch. Sending you lot of love and tons of hugs, Cattails

Thank you cattails - despite all this - it was a better day than yesterday :0) Not many have been any worse, ha ha. Yes, poor thing was disappointed - but he has disappointed her so many times - I think she kinda 'knows' that he is a selfish, spoiled, heartless brat. (I am trying to be kind here :0)

Yes, we know that we cannot count on him for ANYTHING. It would just lead to more and more disappointment. We have already decided that since her general health is poor and her cognitive health is declining and it would require us to 'lie' to get her into assisted living - I am not sure they take someone with known cognitive issues - we are going to to a lot of researching, visiting, questioning, etc. We have a good friend who is the night nurse in the ALZ unit of and very nice NH near us. We have been there visiting other friends and it has always appeared to be clean, pleasant, etc. I just wish they had private rooms. But we will not 'jump into this' without a lot of research, thought and prayer. As the scriptures say "in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom."

Thanks for all the kinds words and thoughts. They mean a lot. To know that others understand - even when you are almost 'crazy' with stress and weariness. Thank you all for be non judgmental.
PS........ all I have to do now is overcome my guilt. Even though I know I have tried and done my best and just because she doesn't remember all that I have done and dismisses me - I know what I have done for her all these years. MORE than her other sons or DIL's would ever do. So, I am trying to convince myself that it is THEY who should feel guilty, not me. After all, either one of them could take her home with them anytime and they know it. They choose not too be bothered.

An afterthought: I have 4 sons and 1 DIH - kinda know what's ahead for me :0) Just kidding. I have already told them, that unless forced to by the government - I didn't want any of them to go through what I have been through. To keep their dad and I together as long as possible and then find a nice home for us and visit us often so we are not neglected. And remember that I said it when my brains were intact :0) I hope I don't change my mind later , ha ha. But, all is well as long as all is well - and when it not - it's hell.

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