I'm so disheartened and angry. - AgingCare.com

I'm so disheartened and angry.


I've posted before about in-law care-giving. Aged mother in law, lives in same town.

We are at the tail end of a visit from sister in law from several states away. Sister in law has been here for 3 weeks caring for her mother. A much welcome respite.

It had been discussed, prior to her arrival here on the scene, she would be talking it over with her mother, to try and get her mom to come up to her home, for a stay of maybe a few months.

This, in my opinion, is absolutely essential, as I am expecting twin grand-children, due in about 1 month (if they don't come sooner, as is the case a lot of times with multiples pregnancies). The expectant mother also lives locally here, and has a 4 year old daughter. I will be on that front, helping .. as much as is needed. And not on the front with mother in law and care-giving, and have made that as obvious and apparent as I know how to make it. It would be great if mother in law would agree to go to her daughter's home (several states away) for a period of a few months .. and allow me the latitude to put my energies where I want them to be, on my daughter who will have had a c-section .. and my grand-daughter (4 years old) and new twin babies.

Nothing doing. Mother in law has dug in her heels, and will not hear of it, going to stay with her daughter for any period of time.

What are her reasons?

In mother in law's defense ... her daughter ... I don't even know how to describe it. I will say that when her daughter comes here to visit, she all but breathes for her mother and if she could find a way to do that, she'd do that too. She is the most nervous nelly, never sit down - ever ... worry wart, do everything, all the time .. person that I've ever encountered.

A great example, as I was taking her to the airport yesterday for her departure, . I reached into the fridge to grab myself a bottled water and shut the fridge and turned to walk away, as I've done for all of my 50 plus years living on this earth .. and she said to me, "Oh make sure that fridge shut". WTH???? Like I don't know how to shut a fridge? That's just a small, very small slice of what she is ... how she is.

She is so very hyper-vigilant, seeing to every minute details down to it's finest most minuscule point, fine tooth comb, questioning every point along the way, "should we do thus and so, but maybe if we do thus and so, then such and such will happen, maybe we should do it thus and so .. but then so and so might happen, maybe we shouldn't do thus and so, but do "x" "y" and "z" instead, but if we don't do it that way then ..........", on and on and on and on it goes. And usually in hyper warp speed, as to every single friggin thing.

If her mother moans .. "what's wrong mother?, why did you moan, are you alright?".

Mother: "Yes, I'm fine, I was just sighing out loud".

Sister: "Why did you sigh? Are you hurting, are you sure you're alright, why are you sighing what's the matter?"

Mother: "For God's sake __________________, I was just sighing, .. calm down, I'm fine".

Sister: "Are you sure, .. because if something is wrong you need to tell me".

Mother: "Everything is fine, I'm fine".

Sister: "Are you sure, we did a lot yesterday, did we do too much, maybe we shouldn't of gone to two doctors in one day .. was that too much for you, are you too tired now, maybe we need to move those other doctor appointments so we won't have two in one day, is that too much for you, for one day .. is that why you were sighing .. what's wrong, are you sure you're alright".

Hopefully that kinda gives a little bit of a snapshot of what goes on when sister is in the ring directing things.

So in mother in law's defense.. I do get it, why she wouldn't be chomping at the bit to go to her daughter's home.

BUT ....

The only experience she has with her daughter, in the last years as mother in law has aged and been unable to go anywhere much, has been the daughter coming here, periodically, for periods of about 3 weeks at a stretch. When her daughter comes here, she moves heaven and earth for her mother and then some, and doesn't sit down, doesn't stop .. the WHOLE ENTIRE TIME.

Is there a possibility maybe (as I said to mother in law, when she expressed that isn't happening - talking to me - her going to her daughters .. ever) .. could it be possible that maybe if you would go to where she lives .. she'd be more busy managing her own life in that setting than your's and she would get out of your backside .. and not be as hyper-drive-vigilant as you experience in her, when she's here, could that be possible.

The daughter is retired, lives several states away. Does come here, generally, every few months .. and stays for a period of about 3 weeks at a stretch. I wish I could make a list of everything the daughter did when here this last time, but it would take up the whole character allotment:



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EmilySue, now if I had an engineer's mind .. you can bet I'd be starting on that project, right away. A robot in the corner.

I'm picturing the female robot on the cartoon from eons ago, "The Jetsons". Rosie I think was her name.

With aging baby boomers .. if that could be invented and complete with the AI to match .. somebody would make a FORTUNE.

In the case with MIL, .. truly .. I think MIL .. for the most part, .. with some things .. she has the capacity (at least some of the time) to have some realization around "this isn't a crises .. it can be handled another day".

But .. here's what happens.

She has nothing to talk about .. not really .. since she has a very small existence. Doesn't get out to shows or art museums or anything .. she might see an interesting program on tv, but that's about it. Or read an interesting book.

So, because she has so very little to talk about .. and because her daughter calls her .. at least 2 x's daily, usually more .. just to check in, .. then conversation ensues, or attempts at same .. MIL struggling to find something to talk about, she will mention .. (just happened, is presently at issue, but this is only one of many many scenarios that occur) .. she will mention to her daughter, "I've gotta get ahold of your brother .. I need to see if he can climb up there and clear out that gutter, the rain water .. it just pours and pours that gutter must be full of leaves .. I need to speak to him about doing that".

And she will do so, she will speak to him (as she has, presently, it's on his radar .. he knows about it, and it was put before him by his mom . in a context of .. when you have a chance to do it, so he is aware, but it isn't pressing).

Because she just happened to mention it in a phone convo with her daughter, having nothing else really to talk about .. it then gets on HER RADAR and now . it is pressing. She wants it done .. yesterday. It becomes, "Oh and mother is worried, sounds like the gutter may be full of leaves .. and it rains and it just pours and pours there where that gutter is .. if you could take a look at that, .. she seems to be very worried and it's bothering her".

This is just one of many many things that go on all the time, .. him already aware .. but now answering to his sister on it.

....and I might add, getting quite annoyed at having to do so.

Used to be those kinds of things, as with all things MIL .. I was the gatekeeper of sorts and those kinds of things would land on my radar .. to pass along word to DH.

And I'd do so, and at times, get blowback from him .. "I KNOW, MOTHER ALREADY TOLD ME DAMNIT".

(I didn't know his mother already told him)

I did remove myself from that equation back when I made some changes to it all, and boundaries put in place. That was one of them. Home maintenance issues, I can't fix fences, and clear gutters or fix sprinkler heads or leaky toilets, or anything else .. so .. that .. from here forward goes to your brother. If he fails to answer you (which is he SO GUILTY OF DOING) .. not my problem, still .. I don't want to know it .. you can call him .. you know he is home here every evening, you know our home phone #, use it.

That has, really really alleviated a lot of the above. And it was well overdue.

Midkid I am in the same boat. I think if I fell and broke a limb per se, and couldn't then get up to get help, I think I'd just lay there .. til some hapless stranger maybe took pity. I don't know that there's anyone on the face of the planet that can be bothered all that much with my possible woes.

Been very very fortunate that I've always been healthier than I deserve to be. It's been said of me, precisely because I'm always so healthy, .. that one day when "it" does hit me, whatever "IT" might be, .. it will likely knock me down for good. Probably so.

Yes, it will very much be SIL's cart to pull at this point, for a while. And well it should be. As I defined the other day .. her approach .. obviously, as to whatever woes MIL faces .. always .. first and foremost, .. is to, through and through, try and hold her hand through whatever, and honor her mom's wish, "No NO NO I don't want to be carted off to a doctor". She could be burning up with fever, and a sore throat and you're almost sure it's strep and a simple antibiotic will right the course of things .. but no no no .. I don't want to be dragged off to a doc. So SIL will hold her hand through it .. and try to doctor her along, and honor that wish.

And I suppose that's one approach, .. fine if that's how you wanna do it, and honor you mom's wishes. But then do it yourself. Don't expect others to do the same. If you can't be with her all the time, .. and up til now, that's been the case ... then figure it out, .. that others cannot any longer .. stand vigil bedside with sips of sustenance, and so forth .. to nurse her along. It's not gonna happen that way.

So .. good .. she's going to be with her daughter, .. and if that's how her daughter wishes to operate in her mom's interest. That's fine by me.

It will be SO NICE to not have to live on the edge of, "oh my sounds like the dog is sick and throwing up .. needs to get to the vet", .. or ... "Oh dear, mother's AC has quit working", ....or ... "Oh no, a piece of fence has fallen over in that wind storm ya'll must've had and mother is worried sick her dog will get out", .. or ..."mother isn't feeling well, .. she probably needs someone to go check on her", ... or ... "mother fell yesterday and she really is sore, I hope everything is okay and she hasn't seriously hurt herself", .. or ...

Just, the list goes on and on and on of all the different "things/stuff" that is a constant.

I don't know how people do this job .. for years and years and years .. and no help at all, and still have a smile on their faces. I seriously don't.

I won't know how to act, .. knowing that any of the above listed issues, and/or more that didn't even get listed .. won't be flying into my radar .. at least for a few months.

If the dog gets sick, or MIL .. or whatever .. she is not here for us to hop to .. to see about it.

And if her fence blows over, or a sprinkler head goes awry .. or .. a meteor hits her house .. it will be dealt with by us checking on her house .. routinely .. but there won't be any "all hands on deck, NOW" .. because mother is ____________(here in residence). I won't know how to act.

We had a running joke over the years about what was needed - "the robot in the corner". In my mom's eyes, she wanted each and every teeny little miniscule "crisis" need met INSTANTLY. Drop everything! Come over and open this jar lid! Fix my tv! (messed up the settings with the remote again was a constant) But when she didn't want bothered (like for a planned event, or when her show was on) - she could be quite rude. We reached the conclusion that exactly what mom needed is a "robot in the corner" - to activate and deactivate according to her immediate whims. NOBODY wanted to be "the robot in the corner!" (but we all wished someone would invent one and get it on the market!) hahahaha (humor helped us all, I think)

Dorker - yeah, MIL very well will get stronger and clearer and probably more adamant about going back to her house. (barring a crisis that puts her over the tipping point. ANY little event can start the downward spiral. It can be UTI, flu, diarrhea. In my mom's case it was sudden gout, treated by prednisone.) I would suggest that you enlist DH in preventing this from happening. Maybe educate him more about what CHF entails, that any improvement cannot last without full-time supervision at this point. And work on repeating the mantra to him maybe? "Clearly she can no longer live alone." Let DH and SIL figure that one out together. (Maybe DH would like to be "the robot in the corner", hmmmm?) Repeat it to the pastor, the church-women, any relatives, anyone who even mentions MIL.

Most of all, you take care of YOU now. Caring people must take care of their own health first in order to be any good to anyone. It is not being selfish to take care of yourself, it is being loving - so you can be there for others!

I gotta wonder if sil will react like my brother did...

I had been trying to tell my brother about our mothers mental decline for months. He wasn’t having it.

Brother always had an excuse for mom. Or I was overreacting or misreading. Or, or, or...

It was easy for mom to pull it together for the once a month hour long visit my brother made. Easy at first. Until it wasn’t...

Then one visit my mother went all crazy-town on my brother and his wife. He called me in a total panic and was nearly hysterical about what had happened - the things she said to him - her Golden Child.

I had several minutes of the
smuggest satisfaction I have ever felt as I listened to him babble.

Then after I hung up the phone I laughed until I had tears running down my face. My hubby just
looked at me like “this is it. She finally lost it!”

Perhaps Dorker, if that phone call from sil comes your way - you’ll be able to handle it with more grace than I did.

It still cracks me up.

Total agreement with CM.

Enjoy the time away from MIL. Enjoy YOUR kids. Block SIL's # from even texting you. Keep those boundaries tight and tough.

Before they leave for IL, it may be a good time to have a sit down with DH and SIL and let them know that you are thinking of stepping out of Thursday care, also, as MIL needs SO MUCH. They will be machinating ways to draw you back in--guaranteed!! Like a 2 month vacation is going to "heal" you.

How she acts in IL is of zero concern to you. Can you let it go? Work with your therapist in this.

SIL and DH are in charge, MIL"s place gets cleaned up in her absence or it continues to sit and stew. (Did the 2xs a month housekeeper demand extra $$ for cleaning up after the chitstorm?? You should have tipped her out 50%!!)

SIL will feel the need to blow up your phones all day and night. I feel almost certain there will be an ER visit, for something, while she's gone. Let SIL handle it, for a change! MAYBE SIL will open her eyes and actually SEE.

We SO RARELY get what we want. I know I don't. As I have stated before--not one single person on earth is truly concerned about whether or not I am HAPPY.

Watching and waiting on this ongoing thrill ride. MIL is not done being MIL.

It's gonna be a bumpy ride!

Dorker, whatever happens, what's it to you?

If MIL returns, you'll decide for yourself what input if any you will have towards her continuing care, and you are now a practised boundary-setter. If she doesn't, you won't even be put to that trouble.

So... leave it be. The time and strain this is costing you is, I expect, force of habit but it is also completely pointless from a practical point of view, and positively harmful in terms of what it's doing to your blood pressure. Maybe the one thing you might usefully work on is letting it all go.


This, just a small sliver of what SIL doesn't see, because when she comes here, she is the one that scurries around to put the cereal bowl together for her mom and put it in front of her, and/or scramble an egg and make some toast. She's the one that gets the dog in and out, and feeds the dog, and administers his meds, .. she's the one that gets the pills out for her mom and hounds her relentlessly to take them.

Just one small sliver of what part of a day looks like, .. and how SIL hasn't even "seen", not really .. how it goes, her mom on her own, to do for herself.

Someone had suggested that when SIL gets her into her own residence, and then can witness some of this .. maybe she will have an epiphany of just how bad it all is. I don't hold out a lot of hope that will happen, simply because SIL .. who she is ... what she's about, .. she will scurry about doing for her mom constantly, as she always does.

Honorable? I suppose so, that she has a daughter that is so caring and attentive to her needs. Yes, indeed. But .. it also presents as a problem when one doesn't realize just bad things are, . and then doesn't take the steps to provide the extra help that is so obviously needed, when she isn't present here to do just as described above.

"The Plan" .. as I know it to be, though vague and not really openly talked about (these people don't talk to one another). She is to go to IL ... they'll stay there a few mos, .. then they'll all head this way .. stay here a few mos ... and back and forth it will go.

Doesn't sound like a "good and viable plan" to me. MIL .. and being jockeyed back and forth .. but .. my supposition of any "plan" gets nixed routinely, so I stay out of it.

I can envision a scenario upcoming where, .. A) MIL gets PT up that way . a good thing .. but that it will, at least in SIL's mind .. bring about what SIL finds in her (I would differ likely with that assessment) .. stronger now .. and .....B) now that she's stronger, and has been eating nutritiously and taking her meds routinely .. so forth,... she will be brought back an deposited in FL and SIL off to IL again, ..

I've seen it before. Too many times. SIL comes here, .. as I said, stays in attendance there, .. mom takes meds as she should, someone in attendance, she eats better .. someone there to sit with and socialize and visit with her, .. and cook a meal ... and SIL waltzes off again.

Yes, indeed what you see in that setting is an improved MIL. To the degree one can improve at her age. But that's precisely at the feet of someone there in attendance to do for her. SIL leaves, and there is no one to "do for her".

I won't borrow trouble for now ... just take it as it comes. And we'll see the plane depart here next week (hopefully) MIL on it, and what comes after that, we'll figure it out as we go.

(since these people won't make a firm commitment and talk about any plans)

DH's dad died in 2003, complications of a perforated colon, result of a colonoscopy. He also had CHF, result of a couple of heart attacks through the years. I remember his EF was at about 18%.

I do recall that he also would tire very easily ... and his mind .. not as sharp as one would hope. He did get up and get dressed every day. He also would set about, to accomplish something, in his day. Might take him all day to do what should only take a couple of hours for others, but he'd do that. He would stop and take frequent breaks to rest and nap in the afternoons.

So we all have some familiarity with what CHF looks like and how it progresses, we'd seen it before in their dad.

Him too, hospitalized at times, for fluid build up (not sure how that would've occurred as he was pretty med compliant).

In the end, .. I don't really know why he consented to a colonoscopy at his compromised state of being, but he .. very much .. as much as he was able to, on top of his meds, and his healthcare.

The colon perforated, .. and surgery to repair. It wasn't survivable by him.

I think of MIL and her state of being, .. of course, she has far more "other" issues than he had. He'd never had a stroke. He didn't have Diverticulitis (that we knew of), and the myriad of other "bothersome" conditions MIL has.

She is so much more far gone, as to any capacity to function than he ever got to. Yes he tired more easily .. for sure, that was evident in watching him piddle around to do things around the house and you'd see the frequent sitting to rest. Just as she does these days. Just traveling about the kitchen in the mornings, watching her, to put her cereal bowl together and her english muffin in the toaster .. just that .. and getting it set up for her to eat b'fast. Just that, .. she then sits .. out of breath and complains that she feels about like she's run a marathon and is exhausted. Has to stop now, .. and just regroup for a while, before even commencing to put the spoon in her hand and begin eating.

Everything she does, .. everything, is so laboriously slow .. because of her severe mobility issues. She moves slower than a sloth, I do believe. I know she can't help it, and I know it's a good thing she does, she'd fall otherwise.

And then it's on to the task of feeding her dog, which is another slow laborious process, made more complicated by the fact her dog has so many dietary considerations and meds he also takes.

All of this, .. literally ... I'm not exaggerating .. can take until almost noon .. even though she gets up in the mornings, generally about 7 or 7:30 AM. It's that slow the whole thing.

And somewhere in there, .. one hopes she manages to muddle through and take her meds, .. usually that too, can get put by the wayside.

If she has to get dressed for the day, to go somewhere (she generally does not, stays in PJ's most days, all day), if she has to get dressed. Now add that to the laboriously slow process of it all. And no wonder, .. that's more activity than she is really able to muster. She is so worn out, so completely spent by the time this is all accomplished, having stopped to rest several times .. and then she's ready to go climb back in bed.

I wish I'd of asked last week when we went to the cardio doc, what is her EF, I didn't think to ask.

I was asking DH if he's seen her let loose of her walker, has he witnessed that. I have. She can't stand on her own two feet .. she begins falling if she makes the mistake of letting loose of her walker. I've seen it happen, far too often, and caught her, and the walker, right there for her to grab it again. She will at times, let loose of the walker, but the cabinet is right behind her, so she'll lean back on that, not holding onto the walker, standing on her own two feet .. but then she begins slipping .. kinda like you'd see in a drunk person.

Oh well, today .. SIL arrives, ..

Dorker - My mom started this all off with the Afib too. That is how the CHF often starts, I think. She never told us that she even had CHF. Only "a little afib" she told everyone. Not until I physically took her records from her old doctor to the new one did I discover this. My sisters did not know either. Afib can cause strokes (my mom apparently had mini ones at some time too, as seen on scans) and it often starts the CHF process. Kind of goes hand in hand, I guess. CHF I learned, only progresses. The meds only slow the progression. It is a truly gut-wrenching disease. Everyone worries and knows about "heart attack", but not so much about CHF. My mother always worried about having a heart attack, when in truth, her heart was just slowly failing. :-(

But us three sisters did unite again as a front, as one by one we did reach an understanding of my mom, her neediness, our own lack of limits... We did reach an understanding. I am glad I did what I did the last three years. I feel kind of like I gave my sisters a gift. The gift of relief. By choice.

Dorker - when MIL goes to SIL's - it will almost feel like PTSD to you. The relief, yet the vigilance you have accumulated after so many years. And in the very end, the whole family is going to feel a really strange mix of emotions. Bitter sweet, for sure. I think that is how it is with very trying persons that we love. KNOW that you all deserve a medal and help SIL know this too. No guilt when she does what must be done at this point, however that turns out. (now DH - well, he's a man. haha Men tend to be such - uh - men. Dang! They can step over a pile of dog poop and not see it!)

Can't wait to see you enjoying your freedom sans the weight.

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