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For anyone reading this and contemplating acceding to the pleas of any elderly relative, to allow them to live with you, plainly put, just provide an empathic NO! This approach may appear cold, harsh, blunt and possibly making you rethink your value system as a loving and caring human being. However, the negative effects which result from sharing your home with and providing care for an elderly person, to me, is emotionally and mentally devastating. I say this after now living in the role of care provider for my elderly mother-in-law who is so absolutely self-absorbed that my husband and I are convinced that she can see her internal organs! No one else matters but her!
Medical Science has a tremendous amount to answer for in creating emotional and mental health issues in the relatives of the elderly; through advances which allow people to live longer and spending more time with often debilitating illnesses and disability or the corollary of an aged body but a loss of mind to dementia. Arguably, these scientific advances have severe implications for ‘true’ productive living but since when is being incontinent, inability to walk, loss of sight and the myriad of other life limiting issues, quality life?
Additionally, one popular theory holds that humans are essentially programmed to die after they are no longer needed to raise the children they produce. This may be perceived as an extreme view but should truly be the case since your life is subsumed and consumed by care giving. Undeniably this holds true, for the most part to an elderly person where ‘the world is not enough,’ and ingratitude rules.


There is no recognition that after living their own life, that living on memories in the evening of their years should be an option. It seems that the need to live not only vicariously through yours, but to do so in reality is a high priority. There is the constant demand of wanting 24/7 attention despite having their needs met in every regard. Followed by the requests to be involved in everything you do and to go everywhere you go; when this is denied you get the adult tantrum of anger of being left out. Therefore, you leave your home with a ‘guilt trip’ feeling that you are the selfish one!
Obsession to be included in all visits which you make to your friends’ homes and to feel the need to be a focal part of your home entertaining is a regular occurrence. FOMO, fear of missing out becomes an elderly virus resulting in your loss of privacy to have conversations with your husband and friends. Your actions, choices, and way of living all suddenly have to be either defended or justified. You are now ‘psychologically incarcerated’ by your agreement to do your best for this elderly person, who will continue to manipulate you by the immortal phrase, ‘I don’t want to be a burden but I don’t want to go in a nursing home.’ Therefore from the outset, don’t get sucked in, just say NO!

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Came here to vent - and have to say reading the part about "she's so self-absorbed she can see her internal organs" made me bust out laughing! I needed that. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. I too am really feeling so MAD today and throughout my 3 day weekend. I wanted to enjoy it but she (meaning my 93 year old mother who has moved back in with me for the past 3 years) always finds something to complain about. I'm so SICK OF IT!!!! She has a clean, comfortable home to be in and moving back in with me was her choice! I'm so sick of her! I know that sounds horrible but I am. I'm tired of her not doing anything to correct her hearing loss. I practically have to shout for her to hear me - and them it's because I talk in a "SQUEAKY" voice! She seems like to tries to just piss me off. I have to load up with groceries every week and she eats like a damn 25 year old timber jack. She's very tiny. I on the other hand have to really fight to lose one freaking pound and want to have more time to work out and not have to be expected to eat a huge meal when I get home. She can still cook but that worries me because I'm afraid she could fall and burn the house down. She wants to bake an entire cake and then pout if I don't eat it every night. I'm pre-diabetic - something she knows!!! She is constantly and I mean constantly in my kitchen! I've never seen anyone have to constantly shove food down their face. She takes over my t.v. I finally put one in my bedroom because I don't want to have to watch stupid Wheel of Fortune every freaking night of the week. I just want her to go!!!!! Go back to her small town. The only reason she wants to live with me is to spy on me. I'm almost 60 and so tired that so much of my life has been spent to try and make her happy. I'm mad at myself for all those weekends/holidays etc. wasted on trying to entertain her. Trying to win her approval. YES it's taken me this long to realize she's a narcissist in the highest sense of the word. But I'm burned out and I look at her and don't feel anything - just contempt! I've had some health issues related to stress and the grey hair is really coming in lately. She's a total control freak and can I ever related to the part where you feel like you have to justify the way you live your life in your own home!!! Anyway I'm just venting today.
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You are absolutely right. I promised myself that no matter what, my mother will not move in with me. I will not get sucked in.....and she knows it. Tough love at its finest!
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"Additionally, one popular theory holds that humans are essentially programmed to die after they are no longer needed to raise the children they produce."

Not true. Humans, along with whales and elephants I believe, are programmed to survive an unusually long time after their reproductive years because the tribe/pod/herd/society/species benefits from their accumulated skills and experience.

Be that as it may. Your situation seems to be unsustainably stressful for all concerned.

I can't see that it is unreasonable or unnatural for a person who lives in a household to want to feel included and welcome in that household. But since the truth is that your MIL is not welcome, and that she IS an intruder in spite of your and your husband's best intentions, and that you (and he?) resent MIL's constant presence in your entire life, the truth needs to be faced.

Take your MIL's protests and criticisms on the chin and assert your right to decide who lives in your home (and, indeed, your lives as a married couple). She's not so much a burden as background noise, and you are getting a massive headache from it. Move her before you really hate her.

And don't worry about how she'll do in a facility. The whole point is that she'll have loads of other people to take an interest in, and loads of other people to support her daily care needs. From the sound of her, she'll be an asset to the place!
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In the words of Bette Midler, “...you’re my hero...”.
the timing of your post and my current reality crisis synced which gave me reassurance, gonna be ok and sanity preservation- thank you.
xoxoxo
susan
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Thank you for this topic! My MIL moved in and unfortunately I had no idea she would become so dependent. I’ve tried to get her to take ride services, we live in a very walkable area, have tried to get her involved in things, but if I can’t drive her there she won’t go. I’m having a baby soon and I’ve tried to motivate her to take some more initiative, but no luck.

She doesn’t want to be a burden, but leaves herself no other option. Every time I’ve talked to her about being more active and independent I think the convo goes well, but as time goes on it becomes negative in her mind. So, even having regular conversations with her seems pointless. I truly think she’d be happier in an independent/retirement community, but know if I suggested that she’d be really upset.

I just pray about it. Her needs are met and I can’t control how she perceives things. Praying for all of you too 🙏
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Thanks to all those who have so kindly commented and offered suggestions. In response to 'why I haven't thrown her out?'  My husband told her that her behaviour and attitude was severely affecting us and directly making me ill; he emphatically told her that she had to go and he meant it. She came and apologised to me and to him, and promised to alter her behaviour; that was short lived. The proverbial abusive relationship syndrome!

Her status, her husband is long deceased and she has four other children, one overseas and the other three, 300 miles away. They all  'knew her better than we did' but  given that most people are related to the  Roman God Janus, they never openly discussed her awful behaviour and pretended that  all was well but they declined to help her. Wise choice.

Am I a machoist?   I have 'endured' because I felt we had made a commitment to help her and would not retract because, additionally she is way pass her  80's but you won't believe it!  My husband is 100% supportive of me and we have gone to great lengths getting paid help to, for example, take her around to various places of interests, link her to a seniors' lunch and entertainment club so that she has friends of similar age to do things with.

BUT all of this is inconsequential if she still cannot follow us everywhere we go and be a 'blood-sucking leach!'  Incredible but she must live her life all over again through ours! Therefore, to all of you, who are experiencing the tyranny of being incarcerated by the misguided decision of noble intentions, of doing your best for any elderly relative, my husband and I share your pain as many days we just want to go and lick the toilet seat! We do know that one way or the other, 'this too shall pass!'
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Sometimes I think my mother living next to me in my condo is almost like living with me. Think of a duplex situation, it feels similar. In other words WAY too close. She constantly wants to know what I'm doing. Drives me insane. Thinks absolutely nothing of hijacking my life and even feels entitled to it.

We make these decisions thinking we are doing the "right" thing, only to find out it's living hell.

I'm becoming more and more hardened with time. I day dream about getting in my car and driving far away never to come back. When I'm trying to be rational I picture different scenarios for how to end this arrangement before I lose my mind and health.

I haven't figure it out yet, all I know is I have an endpoint and it's coming sooner rather than later. I'm 57, and I can say with a lot of certainty I won't be doing this at age 60. I'm not giving up the entirety of this stage of my life for someone who not only never took good care of me, but never took care of anyone. Lived her whole life exactly how SHE and she alone wanted it. She has always been selfish. I'm thinking I might have to sell my condo and move, it might actually have to come to that.

Karise, you don't say why you can't move your MIL out of your home? While I agree with you hindsight is 2020, and we both should have said NO, Minsue is right it's also okay to say "no more".
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I can relate. When you reside with the person, they see you living your life. They want to be active too. Go different places like they use to. I know it's difficult for them.
But us as well.
What would be good is if they are willing to have a professional care person help them. Take them somewhere, talk to them, etc.

Or be willing to live in a senior community with their peers, so they have both their physical and social needs met.

It's sad and difficult when elders are Unwilling to help themselves, by not accepting the resources out there because of money, ego and so on.
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Must be mega hard to get a parent out into a home once they're installed in your own home.

I can just imagine my Dad. He still lives alone but he still thinks that (and I quote) "families should be ashamed when they put away their elderly parents to die in those places".

I always think of workhouses like in Oliver Twist when he says that,.....
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You can always change your mind, and move her into AL, a person does not have to live with you to be cared for.

Personally, I would never move a parent in or live with them under any circumstances. I have a life and I will continue to make sure that I do. I moved out of my childhood home at 18 and never looked back.

No is a complete sentence, more people need to use this little two letter word. This manipulation stuff of "I don't want to go into a nursing home" has to be dealt with as soon as the other person starts trying to box them in. Guilt is a self imposed emotion driven by fear, it is the new buzz word that keeps us stuck.

Great post!
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Almost every senior I know in my life right  now is self centered. They ALL want their kids to give up their life to take care of them even though not one of these people did the same for their elderly parents. Its kind of shocking, but its one more lesson in life about how NOT to act when we get older. I will live under a bridge before I would ever do this to my adult children.
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Yes, why can't she go to a facility or go to live with one of your H's siblings? How many years has she been in your home?

"Medical Science has a tremendous amount to answer for in creating emotional and mental health issues in the relatives of the elderly; through advances which allow people to live longer and spending more time with often debilitating illnesses and disability or the corollary of an aged body but a loss of mind to dementia."

There is still the societal expectation that children will care for their elders, no matter how old the elder is (or the child!) and how incapacitated the elder is. This is particularly the case for daughters.
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Why is she still living with you if she is impacting your lives so negatively? If you regret not saying "no", remember that it's never to late to say "no more".
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