I live in Mexico with my significant other and here, families tend to live together unlike in the state's where every sibling has their own house. We've been living together for almost a year with his family (aunts/uncles) occupying the back section of the property. Now my SO has a grandmother who is suffering from cancer. Before, she was staying here in our section of the house to be with the family, while we were living elsewhere. They moved her to be with her son and she was there for about 6 or 7 months. This is when my SO decided to come back home and we moved in the house together. About a week ago, the uncle, I guess, got tired of taking care of her and without communication, without saying anything to us or the other members of the family, left the grandmother here in the house on the floor, without her bed, without her things, uncovered, just left her there. We were not here at the time, and the aunt's heard her screaming and crying, and of course entered the house to see what was going on and found her laying there unattended and crying. Now this was very stressful.for us. Especially the fact that there was no communication about what was going on. but there is another dynamic that for me hurts. His family expects us, or more especially me, to do all the tending and all the caregiving. Now, we are the youngest, being in our 20s, and the most poor of the family, both of us out of work for a period of this time, and third, the daughter live here! 10 steps away and there are 3 of them! They have expressed multiple times that I should be the one providing care all day and we are the ones that need to provide food when sometimes we don't even have any for ourselves! my SO insists that it is not my responsibility, and doesn't want me to tend to her demands, for she is quite demanding. We gave her our bed, our house, we moved into the kitchen and are sleeping on the floor, we alway have something prepared for her, even if its just rice and beans. I.guess my question here is of ethics. I am an in law, living in the same house as an elderly person with needs. Obviously, the direct family isn't able, or refuses to help. I mean, they do provide but it is the bare minimum of their time...and here I am pretty much in the house with her and I feel I could sit with her or bring her food, or be human with her, but I did not know her before, this is the first meeting, I am not a direct sibling, my partner has expressed multiple times that I am not to provide service, yet I cook and prepare something for her everyday, indirectly. Is that ok? Am I a bad person to be here so close and yet not provide anything? Or if she is calling for something or Someone and no one hears her but I because the others don't listen? when my partner is at work and she yells for him do I respond? Am I immoral? What is the best thing I can do in this situation? My partner and I have discused contracting a nurse to help, but we are unable to pay for these services ourselves and must be a decision made by the family was a whole. Any sugguestions?

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Thanks, SueC. That helps.

Ziggurat13, GM is 97 and has cancer. What is her prognosis? Is there a hospice program in Mexico, that could provide some help?

Would it help to establish a consistent pattern to your help? For example, you provide meals every day, since you are cooking for you anyway? Or you'll provide meals 6 days a week because you and hubby like to eat out once a week. You'll help with bathing once a week; if she needs more than that, someone else will need to help. You'll buy food, but you can't afford other things she needs. If you spell out clearly what you are doing to help, would the family respect that, and take on the rest?

Thank you for all your suggestions! I know all this sounds a bit more harsh than the reality. The grandmother needs all things done for her, she's around 97 and unable to walk. Bathing, changing clothes, bathroom, pull administration is done by my partner and his aunt's, usually twice a day. We provide food and company. When I am asked I'll do basic need care, usually making the food, cleaning, shopping, washing...

I know there is a big difference in mexican and American culture, I've been living here since 2012 and do plan to atleast have a residency. As for my work, yes, it is quite difficult for Americans to find jobs, the Mexicans work harder and cheaper, and usually there just isn't anything available, so I am working on some independent projects.

We plan on moving out as soon as a can, in fact we did the first day when she arrived, but were drawn back when we saw how grave the situation was and that there would be absolutely no assistance of we werent there. But we still plan to move out for the time being when we can do so, hopefully by the end of the month.
Thank you for your support and suggestions, it is nice to know that there are others who have similar experiences. Thank you. And the family has been better about there presence and assistance, but of course I am still just, 'la muchacha'

SueC, excellent advice and insight into the cultural aspects dominating the relationship and the care of elders.

Just to clarify a couple of things;

It would be great if Ziggurat got a job but they are practically non-existant for "gringos" (Americans/Canadians/Europeans-anybody "white"). I know from personal experience.
No Mexican company would hire an American if a Mexican could do the job. In that sense it is not at all like home (USA). I tried for 3 years and I found work for 6 months at a gallery that catered to American and Canadian tourists. Season changed-job stopped. Wasn't hired back the next tourist season due to closing one of his galleries. I worked for a Canadian company for a season too. We were friends. She sold it and moved back to Canada.
Unless you can provide a service a Mexican can't, you need to open your own business. That's a bit tricky too. You'll need a Permanent Resident Visa and jump through many hoops (red tape).

About citizenship;
I've been looking into this and unfortunately, the laws have just changed (2018). It used to be that you could study from 100 questions on Mexican history, cuisine, geography and the like, you'd be given 5 out of the 100 to answer. Most people got it.
Not so now. As of this year, the whole format has changed. Not one person I've heard of has passed. And there is no way to study for the exams. You also have to know 4 out of the 7 stanzas of their national anthem and be able to speak Spanish with the judge for 1/2 an hour. There are 5 different exams and they rotate them. Mexican citizens haven't been able to pass them! Guess they don't want any more of us becoming citizens. I was just getting good at the 100 questions, darn it. I'll probably just keep my Permanent Resident card and leave it at that.

I know this situation sounds hard but you can't help who you fall in love with. Hubs and I had a "long distance" relationship for 2 years until I couldn't stand it anymore. I didn't like my job at the time, I had a huge "menopause moment" and said, "I'm outta' here." Been in Mexico ever since (not without some sacrifice but I'm glad I did it). I married the most considerate man in the world.

Even though Mexico is a Catholic country and it's portrayed as a religious country, MANY (most) couples aren't legally married. It's common, if you live together, to call the partner your wife or husband. So you'd think they're married but they're not. You are treated as an "in-law" by the family if you are living with their family member, (to the point of calling them MIL, FIL, SIL, BIL, etc.) It's been that way in every Mexican state I've visited. Living together is the norm, getting married is the exception. My husband's parents weren't married until he was around 18 and then only so mom could collect her husband's Social Security when he passed away.

There are so many differences besides the language and food that, at times, it can be mind boggling. Not only the manners and customs but the physical way you live.
I love my native country (USA) and will always be an American but I love my adopted country too (Mexico).

Hola Ziggurat13,
I'm an American lady living in Mexico for 9 years, 3 years in Puerto Vallarta and the last 6 in Tijuana. I commute across the border for my job in San Diego, California. Hubby works from home.

What I've learned about Mexican culture is that family is the most important thing in life. However, that doesn't make all families loving and completely functional. (God knows, my husband's family aren't worth bothering with.)

I know that the only caregivers in this "macho" society are women. The "macho" attitude is worse in the small towns and ranch areas than in the big cities. (Thankfully hubby grew up in the LA area so he's not macho. That wouldn't work with this assertive American woman.) So one of you women will always be doing the caregiving, mostly the one who isn't working (young mothers or single women at home=You).
I'm assuming that your novio (BF) doesn't want you to do it because;
1. You guys have already given up your room and bed for her and you sleep on the kitchen floor. (Huge sacrifice but expected in the culture).
2. She is no relation to you, so therefore you have no responsibility to her.
3. You guys are barely making it financially and he thinks she's taking food off your table.
4. His sister and 2 others live close and aren't helping.
5. Abuelita (little grandma) is a demanding old lady that may be pushing too many peoples' buttons. Maybe this is his way of controlling her demands.

However, you are caught between a rock and a hard place. I'm sure you'd move out if you could.
I know you don't want to ignore her if she has valid requests (food, BR, etc.)
Your SO needs to call a "junta" (meeting) with his family to have them divide granny's care among those who can help and pay for her needs. If each family member, including the jack ass uncle, gave 100 pesos a month ($6. US) for her maintenance, things would work out better for everyone.

Everyone needs to share in granny's care. I, personally, could not deprive an elderly, sick person food, drink or bathroom use. BUT you don't need to be catering to her every whim either.

If you find that his sisters aren't responding, open your front door and holler, "Abue necisita algo" (grandma needs something). It may shame them into coming over to help.

I hate to mention that in some towns there are
"Asilos" (asylums for the elderly with no family) that would be a last resort. It is frowned upon
to place your parent in a care facility. She'd probably get better care there but it's a moral issue, especially since she's a grandmother.

It's a strange dichotomy in Mexico. The Virgin Guadalupe and all mothers are loved and treasured however women are often treated as second class citizens and no one is interested in their "rights". Thankfully this is changing but you'll still find it in the pueblos.

I would tell your "amor" (love) that you can not eat and watch her go hungry. You will help her with BASIC needs but HE needs to get his family together to manage her care.

It can be challenging living here and it took me many years to understand the customs. I'd be happy to help you in any way I could. 
Buena Suerte,

You are not married to your SO, or you would have used those words. My advice is to leave and take care of yourself. If your SO decides to follow, good for him! Culturally, your uncle was able to uproot himself from this mess. You can too - you are simply and "in- law" if even that. You may be seen as less since you are not married.

"My partner and I have discused contracting a nurse to help, but we are unable to pay for these services ourselves and must be a decision made by the family was a whole. Any sugguestions?" A decision made by the family to hire a nurse? I assume this is the same regardless of what care arrangements are made. I am then also assuming that the family decided you would be the caregiver. Did you or SO, initially, have any input into this? Are you sure you want to remain living with this culture? I would be gone in a heartbeat.

I am glad that your SO is on your side, and doesn't want you to be Granny's sole caretaker. BUT talk is cheap...he needs to move both of you out of this abusive situation. He's not the one around when you are there with Granny during the day, right?

Can you support yourself? Can you get a job and move out?

Obviously the uncle doesn't care what his family expects. He was done!

You are in a foreign (to you) culture. You are living in a household with different expectations than you grew up with. If that is your choice, you are going to have to figure out how much of a compromise you are willing to make to fit into the household harmoniously.

It must be stressful for you to have your SO tell you "Don't be Grandmother's caregiver!" and to have other family members tell you that you must take care of Grandmother. You

Some things to think about:
1) if you hadn't moved in a few months before the son brought Grandma back and left her so unceremoniously on the floor, who would be taking care of her now?

2) What is the contribution to the household that your and SO make? Do you pay rent? Do some of the household maintenance and cleaning? Shop? What do you do to earn your keep? Who decided this?

3) Grandma has cancer. Is she expected to recover? How old is she?

4) What kind of help does she need? Meal preparation. Help to use the bathroom? To bathe? Does she take pills? Need help dressing? Just what are the tasks you are being expected to perform?

5) Based on her son's reaction, I take it that she isn't a real cooperative patient. Would you say that is the case? Is she unpleasant to be around?

6) I am glad that SO is working again. How about you? Are you actively looking for work?

7) Do you view this relationship as permanent? Do you expect to always live in Mexico? For example, are you planning to become a citizen?

Lots of think to think about and talk with SO about.

I don't see this as a moral or ethical issue. It is about cultural practices and personal choice.

You're being exploited and abused. It is not your sole obligation; the other family members need to pitch in, but it seems as though they've arbitrarily decided you're to be the caregiver.

I think your husband and you need to confront the other relatives and advise them that this either has to be a completely equitably shared situation, or that they need to pitch in and hire help.

Stand your ground; you're being abused and exploited.

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