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Pretty unusual situation. I'm British/Aussie married to a Japanese. We returned to Japan for a year, but I decided to stay on while he went back to US for his work. I prefer the schools and support for me and the kids. Intercultural marriages are difficult, he's a researcher, dedicated to his work, didn't help much with the kids. Didn't know how to so not his fault. Also, I felt his parents weren't going to be around much longer. Seems I was right. Our dear Japanese FIL died last November. It's not out of Japanese obligation, just felt I was in a position to look after MIL as not working, in a large house. Two sisters are really incapable of even looking after themselves let alone another person. Clearly no mother and daughter relationship anyway. I don't feel any resentment towards them. They never contact, meaning no interference. Think husband asked them not to. He has taken over all affairs for mum, as should be in this country.

So, here I am, in Japan, alone caring for my 7 and 10 yr old, and MIL. My Japanese is passable. It's not a problem as I love Japan, love the kid's school, and generally living here. I've always been a go getter and giver.

My 83 mother in law has pretty advanced dementia. I know I should be more patient and understanding. I've been through all stages of her transition to her new life. Over medication caused frustration so she went thru a stage of bullying me, the kids and the staff at the Day Center she attends. Tough behaviour, hey, I can take that....I'm Australian! Our Care Manager has been wonderful and supportive. I'm no stranger to asking for help. We have two ladies come in weekly to help me with cleaning and her stuff, but not when she's here as she drove them away when going through her mean streak. We usually have a laugh over things like her long johns, baggy and ugly, that she doesn't remember owning and says their mine. We talked with her doctor, who agreed to get her off all the crap and just medicate her blood pressure etc. The aggression improved.

My issue now is which is worse, the zombie medicated mean kicking MIL or the very active and harassing MIL? What happened to all of our images of elderly Japanese, sweet and docile? She had a terrible lifestyle before. Sleeping a couple of hours then awake a couple. I have kids in the house. We can't have her waking us up all night. The doc gave her sleep aid medication to get her off for a couple of hours, but she fights it trying to stay on her old sleep/awake pattern. She harasses me ALL day. "I want to sleep", "where's my lunch" "I'm constipated, you need to help me", "fetch this or that!". One day I was beside myself. "Which do you want first, lunch or me to go to the pharmacist to talk about what to get for your constipation?" "Lunch" but when I made it and served she refused to eat due to the constipation. She asks me the same questions over and over again. It's exhausting in another language. I'm drinking at night to relax, unwind, not hear her to where I feel so unhealthy. I've put on weight, suddenly gone grey!

I seriously contemplated ending it all on Mother's Day. Got nothing from my husband or kids. Oh, but did get her cold! Flowers husband sent to MIL but later said "oh yeah, and they're for you too" He is usually pretty good. Skypes every morning and talks with me and the Care Manager lots.

Mostly I can't handle how I'm losing my patience with her and frightened I will hurt her. She never listens. Even with the "DON'T FLUSH' (in Japanese of course) sign she still flushes, waking me and the kids up. Calling out to us. Accuses the kids of things. Never a nice word to them, but expects them to be her slave. The care manager suggested we tell her to do it herself, good exercise etc, which is working for me, but culturally the kids can't say it to her.

I'm beginning to really hate her. Remembering the time when she told my husband to divorce me, when the kids were 4 and 1, drives me more. I need to snap out of this whirlpool of hatred, resentment, unhealthy lifestyle.

I've never been a "give up" person and like most Aussies always there to help others. I want my kids to see that and know their Japanese cultural side, the importance of caring for elders. I must say the care for elders is excellent here. Everyone keeps telling me what I am doing is so wonderful, especially as I'm a foreign DIL, but I still feel angry and frustrated. I swear I could write a book on what I've learnt over the last 6 months.

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So good to read. :) I've vented on here a lot. I know when I do I never expect anyone to have the answers, but I just need to talk to someone. It lets some of the frustration out.

My mother is a lot better if she stays engaged, too. The worse thing she can do is watch TV or nap during the day. It seems to make her more forgetful and confused. She is at her best when we do things like go to church or out to eat. This week we went to my niece's graduation exercises, and my mother seemed almost normal. Her memory is still impaired, but she perks up and talks to people. When we're at home, she disagrees with me about everything. But when we are out, she is very agreeable with me and everyone else.

My mother is like your MIL in waking up every couple of hours. Often I wake at night to hear mine walking in the hall. She sleeps part of the night in the living room and the rest in her bedroom. This is okay, since it doesn't bother anything. I usually sleep through her nighttime activities, fortunately. The only bad thing she does at night is adjust the thermostat. Sometimes she cranks the heat up. Now, that is a terrible thing to wake up to, particularly when it is warm already.

Wish I was on the trip to Australia with you. I would love to see the animals there and maybe even hear a kookaburra in person.
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Alloyz, is going to the U.S. out of the question? I mean, is this the kind of marriage that is ok for you and the kids? Being without their father and your husband for months on end? If there is so much support in Japan for elders, if you were to tell your husband that it's time for all of you to be together, will he make arrangements for his mother's care? Does he WANT you and the kids to come to the US at all? Without knowing exactly what kind of relationship you and he have, it's hard to make any informed comments I'm afraid. Maybe it's all well and good for you two to be apart for so long, but for me....NOT. ♥
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Thank you SO MUCH everyone for your outpour of advice and support. It IS incredibly healing to know we're not alone.

A couple of things feel I need to clarify
SIL - they really are not capable of caring for grandma. We all know and accept that and have moved on. We tried having them come and help, however, due to the dynamics of the family it only caused me, the kids, AND MIL to get agitated. We all agreed best for them to visit her at the Day Center. They haven't but, hey, it's not my place, nor do I have the energy to judge them on their relationship with their mother.
The other thing is, yes, my husband is a &*&@! But he's actually very easy going, if anything it's me who calls the shots. He isn't able to, so again I let go of that many years ago and just moved on. He really is very supportive and helps a lot. For example, we changed her sleeping meds but they are not working well. Only causing her to get groggy, so she's fallen a couple of times when fighting the urge to sleep. He called the doc and he's prescribed another med for us to try. I had two different issues with the kids at school this week and he's talked with both teachers. (getting the husband in, in this culture, is equivalent to calling in the big guns, ha) He always listens to my concerns or problems. He can't fix many but he at least does try these days. Japanese are just not hands on fathers, so I can't make him something he's not. He is getting more involved with the older boy nowadays, talking tech stuff etc. Romantic stuff, like flowers......I REALLY need to let go of that one. LOL!
I get huge amounts of support here from the ladies who come to help and the Day Center she goes to. She also stays overnight more these days, which gives me and the kids a bit of a break. Have a 3 week trip back to Aus all booked for July! She'll stay at the Day Center and husband will come back to Japan to look after her for 10 days. He comes back every three months for a week to see us and do any urgent paperwork stuff.
You'd think we have it all wrapped up, but, of course, as many of us have discovered, with a dementia patient, the only consistent thing is inconsistency! AND I do try too hard. A big fault of mine.
Venting helps. Especially here as you know exactly what I'm talking about. We're not perfect, but we're trying to be. Watching the Teepa videos have really given me some tips. I was totally guilty of pushing too hard and she was just resisting. Some thing just simply wouldn't translate culturally, but, given me ideas which I can ask our Care Manager. For example, I've been advised to say "don't worry". That does seem to appease her, however, we all know how annoying that is if someone says that to us. Even so though, knowing what causes their behaviour still doesn't always help our reactions to things, especially when we're exhausted, physically and mentally. That's what I need to work on. Yesterday was a much better day. Let's see what tomorrow brings...ha!
Have a question: Keeping her active seems to help. She hung up some laundry, did a bit of gardening with me and the kids yesterday as she loves that kind of thing. I've even slung a load in just for her to be able to hang it up. Sitting her down to rearrange her photos doesn't work. Do any of you have any activities under your belts that will keep her busy. (going out is not an option, she gets horribly disorientated and nervous)
Again, thank you soooo much. Recharged to see in another day at least.....;-)
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Alloys is an Australian married to a Japanese. She n the 2 kids are living in Japan while the husband is working in the U.S. thanks jessiebelle for knowing that it is not as easy as that. Culture isr very important for Every nationality. It's very important to understand it. Otherwise you can learn a very expensive and heartbreaking lesson.
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I know it is not as easy as this. I don't know if it is true for everyone in Australia, but I've heard it can be very chauvinistic there, with men being quite macho. Really, it is in the USA, too. Men... what can you do?? allyoz, you might just need a safe place to vent. Come back here and talk about things all you want. Sometimes things are as they are, and we just have to work the best we can with the situation. I think that is true for most people on the group. We are not in the best position in the world, but we're just all working through things. Life can stop being much fun when we are caregivers. I still like the idea of a long vacation for you every now and then so you can refresh yourself. Big hugs.
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This is a little harsh, but there's just no other way to say it. First off, with the cultural stuff and the strict rules of Japanese life, the fact that your husband is working in the US, negates that, I guarantee he is not abiding by any strict Japanese rules while he's in the US, you are the only one living by any strict Japanese lifestyle. Basically your husband and his sisters have placed you in their mother's home to be her caregiver and they've ditched you, that means they've washed their hands of the situation and walked away. They are all doing this by telling you it's traditional Japanese and you're sucking it up frankly..... and they expected that. Of course you haven't heard from the sisters, why would you! And your husband is in the US having a good time work or not, and your taking care of the children and his mother, of course he can't help, he's in the US, very convenient, and he still gets to control everything including what you do because of his "Japanese culture". I think half your anger at the MIL is really anger at the whole family and it should be. I think respect needs to be paid to "you and your own culture" as much as it is paid to your husband. And it is quite possible the reason why you are there alone to begin with is because the sisters are treated without respect, if they were, they might be there to help. As far as I know, Aussie women are strong women who expect to be treated with respect. Time you set your foot down and demand it as you rightfully should. Those sisters need to come in and help their mother so you can get a break, and if they are cast off from the family because they're daughters, they need to be paid for their time if they are willing, or help needs to be hired. You should have a long talk with your husband as well, you're angry, not just at the MIL, but the whole thing, you were not raised for this culture even though you find it interesting and appealing. Feel for his poor mother and what she's been through in her life, if it is finally okay for her to receive respect, she should have it finally in her elder years, but not at your expense. Have a long talk with the husband, hire some help, give yourself lots of breaks, spend time with your children, sisters should be brought in if at all possible. All meant with love, good luck.
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You say that "Mostly I can't handle how I'm losing my patience with her and frightened I will hurt her. She never listens."

For that part of the problem, I have a suggestion. Learn as much as you can about dementia. If she has a specific diagnosis, learn about the type of dementia she has. No doubt that some of her behaviors are cultural, and some are personality-based. But when dementia is part of the picture everything changes. There is something very wrong in her brain. Upon autopsy you could be told exactly what it was, but for now understand that their are plaques or protein deposits or deal cells or ... many other variations of defects in her brain. She cannot help her behaviors. She cannot learn new ways of coping. She will not (because she can not) refrain from flushing the toilet when she uses it.

Learning as much as I could about my husband's dementia greatly helped me be patient with him. It enabled me most of the time (hey, no one is perfect) to react with compassion instead of annoyance at the behaviors he couldn't control.

You are clearly a compassionate and competent woman. The current situation you are in must be very frustrating to you. You WANT to be kind to MIL, and it is very hard. I hope that knowing more about what MIL is experiencing will help you be able to do what you want to do.

If you find that you are seriously still worried about hurting this impaired woman whom you love, then I urge you to find a way to remove her from harm's way. You should not have someone in your care that you might lose control with. I would say the same thing to you if you had an irrational rage against one of your children. See to that person's safety while you deal with your own issues.

But I suspect your strong practical side and obvious desire to do the right thing will help you through this.
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allyoz, being a caregiver to an elderly person who is going down the dementia lane is very very difficult, frustrating , and lonely route...no matter where you live in the world. If you read around this site enough, you know it. People here on this site is from everywhere - USA, Germany, Pacific island, Philippines, etc....

What makes it worse, you are married to a Japanese male. And it IS a CULTURE thing. Even here on our island, a 4hr flight, we have lots of Japanese men working here. I worked for a Japanese company in my early 20's. All I can say is, that when I quit my job, I swore to never ever marry a Japanese man.

If your husband is a typical Japanese male, he will be quite dominant in your relationship - in the whole family relationship. After work, they go out to dinners and bars with their "clients" or "business associates." It's a Japanese thing - after hours entertainment. When he took us out to dinner, his wife came along. She just sat there quietly. He ordered everything. I felt so bad for her, that I tried my limited high-school elective Japanese with her. She was so grateful. When hubby/my boss turned his head so quickly to look at me, I clammed up. You see, I never told my boss that I had limited understanding of Japanese. He once was blaming me for something in Japanese, and I quickly spoke up in English defending myself. I decided to quit when he was cleaning out a former employee's desk. He threw the papers on the floor, and then ordered me to throw it in the wastebasket. I took a wastebasket and set it beside him - and he still threw it on the floor. I knew what he was doing. I've been abused while growing up. He was trying to Degrade me in front of my coworkers. You see, I kept refusing to do things he ordered me to do. I told him in a nice way that it was not part of my job description when I applied for an office work. Nothing on the application said that I drive to the Port, guide the fisher vessels fish cargo to the airport cargo and if the box breaks open - that I have to pack it (because it's not the airline's responsibility to pack up a damaged cargo box). So, we were clashing and I was not doing his orders. When he did that with throwing the trash on the floor despite the wastebasket behind him, I went home, wrote out my resignation letter giving him 2 weeks notice and turned it in the next day. He had the nerve to try to persuade me to stay longer so that he can train another person to do my job. I was firm.

I'm sorry, that you now have to deal with the Japanese culture. Be very careful with your relationship with your husband. Most people on this site don't know what you're dealing with. I have an Inkling but not the full story. You do know that Japan is one of those countries where it is very, very, very difficult to get back your children if your husband decides to keep them there. It doesn't matter if you go back to the US or Australia and get full custody. Their father is Japanese, and therefore those kids are Japanese nationals. Japan is very protective of their people.

For now, are there support groups in your area? Can you check with your MIL's doctor if there are any govt or private organizations that can help you? And because you're basically winging it, I strongly recommend that you watch as much of Teepa Snow's YouTube videos on Dementia. She has broken it up to several short videos. I've currently been re-watching videos 1-4. I've actually applied 2 new things from her videos - and it works! You see, father and I are both stubborn and must always be right. He resists, and I insist, and then we both endu up with a yelling match. My cholesterol has skyrocketed due to Stress not food. So, I've decided to watch Teepa and try another way of dealing with father. Because she gives sooo much info per video, I have started taking notes. Sooo glad that I did because I fall back on it to find out what she said about sense of taste, etc....

Welcome to AC, and please come back - even if it is to vent about MIL. I understand the necessity of you showing a good face in Japan. But here on AC, vent all you want. Get the anger, resentment and the unjustness of hubby leaving you to do all of it on your own. It will help you feel so much better to let it all out. {{HUGS}} from a small island 4 hours flight from you. Book
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No offense, but you husband is an oaf! Why should he not be more supportive for the kids in raising them? No excuse there. You are being mentally and verbally abused by your MIL and it's time to take control. Is this your home she lives in with you? If so, your house, your rules. You do what you can for her as far a meals and meds, but if she is getting violent and abusive, you need a sit down with hubby and relay your feelings---you are not a door mat, so don't be one!
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allyoz, I admire you so much. You are one tough lady. That said, I did get the feeling that you have a need to please everyone else but yourself. The situation you described seemed great for you MIL, fantastic for your husband, even better for your SILs, but you and your children are suffering. And personally I think you are Aussie enough that you know what you need to do. I've known quite a few people from down under in my life, and each was savvy.

If the toilet is waking you up at night, you can disable to flush arm. Many times there is a simple chain or rope connection that is easy to take on or off. Then no matter how many times your MIL flushes, nothing will happen. The only thing is that she might spend a lot of time jiggling the handle or wake you up to fix the toilet. I don't know which would be worse. Will she consider a bedside commode during the night? Since your house is big and you are in Japan, I assume the family is wealthy. If so, the thought of a bedside commode may offend her. But you can ask.

I found myself being madder at your husband than at your MIL. Anyone can provide a living, but only one person can be the father. That he considered you as an afterthought on Mother's Day is infuriating. If I could find him, I would give him a hard kick. What could he be thinking? I know many Japanese men and they are smarter than that.

Do the children go to school year around? If not, I think I would hire someone to take care of the MIL for a while and go on a long vacation to refresh yourself and think. Maybe you and the kids can be with your husband for a while, or maybe you can visit your home in Australia. It will let you get out of the dutiful wife/faithful DIL role for a while and let you find yourself again. I am not saying to be selfish -- I don't like selfishness -- but I get the feeling you are trying to please others and it is not being reciprocated enough. It is perhaps the hardest thing about caregiving. People can take and take until there is nothing left. If no one else is going to help us refill what has been drained from us, we have to do it ourselves.

Still want to give your husband a good kick, culture or no culture!
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