My 90-year-old mother-in-law is moving in, and I know our marriage will change greatly. Any advice?

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My mother in law will be moving in the first of the new year and I cannot cope with the idea knowing a lot of her care will be on me. While she has her physical and mental wits about her for the most part, she is in beginning stages of Alzheimer's or Dimentia (have yet to diagnose). I am in a constant panic, depression and anxiety and not sure what will be ahead. My husband works and he has no idea what to expect either. I guess long story short is I am scared to death even if she is pretty self reliant, however, know that this will not always be the case. Our lives are going to be turned upside down and we have had so many goals. And now we have to alter our home for her safety. Thats fine, but its so much change too!!! I know I sound selfish, but I know we will be strongly effected in a way in which we cannot manage. I know our marriage will change greatly. I feel like my world is over and I will caring for a child who has a big mouth, strong opinions, dislikes and personality. Basically worse than me. No jokes. We have many pets (6), 3 that love barking and the other that get under foot.

I am so sorry to air out and ask what I should do at the same time. I feel like my life is simply going to be taken over until she passes. I hate saying that. But am I alone in this. I feel like a horrible selfish person for thinking about myself and husband.

The other issue is my 11 year old nephew. I practically live with my sister and he during the summertime, literally. I am only home for a couple of days a week. And I cannot go without that time with him in my life. I am spiraling! I am sorry.

I feel so trapped already. Keep in mind, I have never had any children just animals and an nephew who is practically mine. But never have had a person depend on her activities and other needs she may have.

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Why on earth would you do this? She requires professional care. And SHE deserves a caring, calm, non chaotic environment.
"I sound selfish, but I know we will be strongly effected in a way in which we cannot manage. I know our marriage will change greatly. I feel like my world is over and I will caring for a child who has a big mouth, strong opinions, dislikes and personality."

First of all you are not selfish and you are right about the other things.

Second, did your husband even discuss this with you or did he just do it?

Third, does he need reminding that as a married man, you come before his mother?

Fourth, have you discovered that he is one of those mom enmeshed men?

Fifth, why, pray tell, did he bring her home? Was this the only option or was it the option that would save the most money for him to inherit?

Sixth, given her state of mind, where does her doctor say she should live?

Seventh, get mom diagnosed and husband educated about her diagnosis.

Eighth, tell him she is his mom, deal with her yourself for I'm not her free help.
It looks like you have a little time to figure out other arrangements. Please for the sake of your sanity do not allow her to move into your home. There must be another way to have someone take care of her. She will need much more than you will be able to provide! Please, please seek out other avenues!
Mia, you indicate your husband has no idea what to expect. I would ask as CMagnum has whether or not this was ever discussed, and whose decision it was to move her in. This is critical in my opinion.

If your husband made the decision w/o discussing or consulting with you, that's a big, large, massive red flag demanding attention now before she actually does move in.

Something you can do to move out of the anxiety/panic stage is address this potential proactively.

Make checklists of ALL the changes that will have to be made to accommodate her - assistive devices, cost of a Medic Alert, private duty care (and funding since this is self pay care), respite care, transportation, meal prep....every single thing.

Don't forget contingencies - someone will need to be with her when you're not there, know her strengths and weaknesses, call EMS in an emergency, etc.

Is she on oxygen? Then you'll need to consider what happens if there's a power outage in your area. Will you get a generator or find temporary respite housing? Having gone through this, I can warn you how difficult I found it to get that respite housing.

How many doctors does she see? Someone will have to find a new set of doctors, handle appointments, medical records and transportation.

Can she eat regular meals? Someone will have to cook and serve them.
Then identify sources (NOT YOU!) to provide meal service and get estimates. E.g., get an estimate for MOW, since you won't be available to cook. Get private duty estimates for personal care for her, with moderate levels of cleaning of the area in which she stays.

Present the list to your husband, and ask how he plans to pay for them. Emphasize in whatever way you know best in terms of your husband's potential response that you will NOT be changing your lifestyle or plans to become a full time caregiver.

Be sure to research Alzheimers stages, changes that occur at each stage, and methods to accommodate those changes. If, for example, you want to send her to Adult Day Care, estimate transportation costs, day care costs, etc.

You might want to contact the Alzheimer's Assn; I've found them invaluable for reference, even for people who don't have dementia. I've gotten good source lists for private duty, palliative care and other care provision issues.

Your husband needs to have a full budget and care plan so he understands the scope of what he expects you to do, and also to determine how he's going to pay for all these additional expenses. (E.g., does he plan to get a second job, cutting his leisure time activities, etc.?

Not knowing the relationship between you and your husband, you'll have to gauge how to effectively deal with resistance if that's his response.

You might also want to search this site for others who've dealt with this challenge. Here are a few starters: for MIL with dementia

Some of these search hits may include the same posts, but you'll find that there are a lot of women dealing with this issue.
Amen cmagnum, especially point #8
"tell him she is his mom, deal with her yourself for I'm not her free help".
I have to wonder - whose brilliant idea was this?

You and your husband have up to three months to come up with a better plan. I recommend you put your husband on to this forum: he's the one with the responsibility, he's the one who seems to need a bit of a wake-up call.
How many years have you been married?
Do you have kids or are you planning on having children?
Do you work outside of the house?

You have time to figure out what your life is going to look like on January 1 because she is not your mother. If your husband made this huge decision without you and is trying to force you to accept it, you have insight into what your married life will be like as long as your MIL is alive. And remember that there always are challenges in life and therefore in marriage. It is how a married couple come together to solve problems that determines whether or not their marriage is successful.

What about your family besides your sister and nephew? Where are your parents? Do they need your time and attention?

It will be best for everyone involved - you, your husband, and his mother - to be proactive and put a plan together with the help of a geriatric care manager this month. You can help your husband by finding a geriatric care manager but then he needs to take responsibility for his mother and for his marriage. Caregiving must work for everybody involved. And that includes you. If your husband doesn't see it like that, then you have a much, much bigger problem to solve.
Mia; Sometimes folks think "The Social Worker/Doctor/Someone in Authority says my mother can no longer live alone. therefore, it must be up to me to take her home with US".

Nothing could be further from the truth, but your husband won't know that unless he asks the right questions of the right people.

Where is MIL now? Why is this change taking place in three months time? There are ALOT of other options out there, but you have to first decide that you want to explore them and not end up like lots of folks on this board who say "I HAD to take my mother into my home and now she's miserable and I'm miserable, what do I do?".

You don't HAVE to be an unpaid caregiver in your home. You first of all need a professional assessment of her needs. You can call up the Area Agency on Aging in her area and get the ball rolling on that, or perhaps her doctor can order a home health agency (Like Visiting Nurse Service) to do an assessment.

This will arm you with the FACTS about what someone else says she needs. Then you sit down with your husband and figure out where these are going to be provided and how MIL (not you) is going to pay for them.

What is her income (SS, pension, VA benefits, savings)? You may need to go to an Eldercare attorney to get her qualified for Medicaid if she needs to access that for care.

Good luck!
Barb, that's excellent insight and analysis, and I thank you sincerely for sharing that observation. It's soooooo true.

Mia, that can happen when neither the patient or family are consulted. I've read numerous times on this forum that a doctor or someone else told the family the patient can't live alone. In my experience, this often seems to be automatic, w/o even asking the family what resources are available for increased support.

At one ER visit either last year or the year before, one of the staff in the ER decided Dad couldn't go home alone. He wasn't dressed in medical garb; I'm not even sure if he was a medical professional or a social worker or what. For all I know he might have been a scout for an AL facility.

And I just happened to overhear him telling another staffer that he was starting to look for a placement for my father, WITHOUT ever having discussed this with Dad or me. Of course, I was livid, but kept my control and let him waste his time until he came in Dad's ER room later, when I set him straight.

I'm not saying that everyone can stay at home; what I'm saying is that it's a joint decision with family input mandatory. Doctors make decisions, expect the family to implement them, but often don't probe into financial or other critical issues.

And husbands can make decisions w/o consulting the wife, who often gets stuck with caring for the husband's parents.
You suffer with anxiety and depression.....that could really be problematic when living in the house with someone who has dementia. I'd discuss your plans with your doctor and see what he thinks. Have you or your husband read much about how dementia presents itself? It's very involved and not just forgetting things. It's quite encompassing. I'd explore just how much so and discuss the details with your husband. Like, if she's up all night wandering around the house, who would stay up and supervise her? And if she becomes incontinent, which is likely, who will change her diapers and clean her up? I'd make sure that you and husband have a clear understanding of what the duties will progress to and who will perform them.

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