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So my MIL has been living with my husband, me and our 2 teenage girls for a year now. We have been together almost 24/7 that whole time. Well, we did have an extended weekend of camping with just us (MIL stayed home —but we did bring her out to the campsite one whole day).


Anyway, my SIL came today and took her to stay with her in a cabin about 45 minutes from our house. I already feel so much more relaxed and happier. I feel like I can be myself, I feel less on edge. I feel like I can breathe! I knew it was stressful having another adult in the house, but I didn’t realize how much different it would feel when she’s gone. Now I’m wanting to move her out ASAP. Is it terrible for me to want my house back? Is it selfish of me to want my daughters to have their own rooms again (they had to share when Oma moved in and took the youngest’s room). The problem I’m having is that I’m a Christian and believe we are supposed to take care of the widows, but this is such a mental/emotional strain on us, I’m not sure it’s the best solution. But we have limited options because she has only a small SSI check each month. I’m conflicted about how much exactly we’re supposed to be caring for her, and what that looks like.


I’m definitely going to enjoy this week off of caregiving, but am dreading the return of all the stress.


Any suggestions/comment would be appreciated. I don’t want to be selfish or whiny but I really miss our nuclear family the way it was!

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If somebody asked you just to carry their suitcase home, because you were going that way anyway so it's no extra trouble, and you found after a few hundred yards that it banged into your legs and cut into your hand and seemed to weigh more with each corner you turned... would you feel evil if somebody offered to carry it part of the way? And wouldn't you feel reluctant to take it back again?

Your MIL, love her and bless her, although I'm sure she has no more wish to be a burden than you have to admit that she is one, IS a burden on the household.

Also - she's not your mother. God knows (and will forgive me, I trust) that living with your own mother is no picnic, but at least it's more likely that your thoughts and habits will be closely aligned; there aren't the same fault lines in the everyday routine.

Apart from the SIL who's whisked her off to the cabin, what other children does your MIL have?
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Bethanym Nov 25, 2019
Not really helpful...
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" Husband and his brother and his sister don’t agree. They feel her memory is too poor. She has had evaluations and there is no evidence of dementia/Alzheimer’s. They just didn’t like the idea of her living alone in Florida (we’re in Michigan, the Brother is in NYC, Sister is in Boston) and since my husband and I have the grandkids and the most stable life, everyone thought we were the perfect choice. I was okay with it because I thought we’d be doing it short term and finding her own place."

So your husband agreed to her living with you. Did he think it would be short-term, also? How does he feel about her living with you?

Why don't the siblings take turns housing her? What's unstable about the slblings' lives? That's a cop-out, really.

There must be a way for her to qualify for Medicaid -- research the Miller Trust or whatever it's called in different states.
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Bethanym Nov 25, 2019
Yes, husband thought it would be short term also. He is stressed about her living with us too, but wants to make sure she is taken care of and in the safest environment.

as far as sibling help—I asked them if they would consider taking her for a few weeks at a time but brother doesn’t even have his own house-he is subletting a studio apartment and doesn’t know where he’ll be living 2 months from now. Sister has a “high pressure” job and “a busy schedule” so “won’t have time to take care of her” never mind that husband and I both work and have kids with school/church events — our schedules and lives are apparently not as full or important as the other siblings.

weve really been trying to get her approved for Medicaid! Like any government agency things are slow, not user friendly and ridiculous with number of hoops to jump through. I want to bang my head against the wall every time I talk to someone from the agency.
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First, your two daughters are blessed to be sharing a room. Not having separate rooms is not a sacrifice. Learning to share a space and be considerate of another person makes a better, stronger, more caring individual. In this day and age, it also makes a safer teen because it's a lot harder to conceal online chatting and sexting from your roommate. Just a couple of generations back, multiple siblings shared a bedroom and the entire family usually shared one bath; resulting in individuals with less sense of entitlement and better coping and interpersonal skills.

Second, Christianity teaches the church as a whole body needs to provide support for widows and orphans although our culture has mostly given that responsibility over to the government and only focuses on the widows or orphans in our own congregations. You need to help your MIL, not by necessarily bringing her into your home on any permanent basis.

Third, your stress from having another adult in your house is apparently mostly self-generated. Somehow you have allowed yourself to step into a "child" role seeking approval from the "parent". When she is absent, you feel the same relief and freedom we did as teenagers when we got out from under the eyes of the adults in our life. Does MIL have behaviors that emphasize these roles or communication framing? Step into the "this is my house" role and you may be able to shed a lot of the self generated stress. After all most people find having teenagers in the household to be major stresses. Are you trying to treat MIL as a permanent guest where you are responsible for entertaining her and including her in all the family activities? My mother lived with me for several years as an independent person; she was a member of my household but just one member who lived her own life while the kids and their friends filled the house. If the kids and I were headed out to an event or movie, I asked Mom if she wanted to come along but we were going regardless. I considered and met her needs but she had to fit into my life and my household. After she became dependent 24/7 on my help, things had to change as I stepped into full time care giving.

Fourth, since MIL's children (your husband and his siblings) do not want their mother living alone, they are the ones that need to step up and figure out a solution. In the short term, that could mean Mom rotates living with her other children for some period of the year giving you and your family more respite weeks. Is there a senior center or adult day care MIL could attend to start finding her own friends? Longer term, it may mean engaging SWs from the Area Agency on Aging to find other options. With only an SSI income, MIL should qualify for Medicaid and senior apartment placement for 30% of income which along with other programs like SNAP and perhaps Medicaid in home care hours would allow her to live on her own. Your husband may still need to help his mother with medication management and possibly handling finances, but she could probably make it on her own. If she qualifies for a Medicaid waiver for AL that could be an ideal solution.

Life is about change and all change is stressful. I can understand why the family felt MIL moving in with you was a good solution. It might have been, particularly if she was a recent widow. I agree it's much better that she lives closer to her children as she ages and needs help with basic tasks of living. It would only be selfish to want your home "back" regardless of what happens to MIL or how your husband is effected and that sure doesn't seem to be you at all. It's going to take some months to arrange and transition MIL to another living situation. Consider determining how much of your stress is self inflicted and how much you are capable of adjusting your world view to reduce your stress. I have found the way we view some things creates more stress than the actual situation. God bless you for being such a caring person.
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NYDaughterInLaw Nov 25, 2019
I enjoyed reading your thoughtful response and it gave me food for thought in my own situation with my FIL.
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I don’t pretend to know Michigan law but I believe you should consult a lawyer that specializes in elder law. They can advise you if there are ways to modify the estate and finances in a legal way that would allow her to qualify for Medicaid. Generally, consultations are anywhere from $0 to $250. Retaining them and services, of course, is a different story but I would love for you to be able to have the peace of mind to know you have exhausted all possibilities. I had to do this for my mother. She did not qualify when we applied but the lawyer was able to make it happen.

No matter what you do, I hope you enjoy your brief respite and I pray you and your family find peace and answers.
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Bethanym Nov 25, 2019
Thanks for the idea of consulting a lawyer to help find out how she can qualify for Medicaid. The things we’ve done haven’t seems to get us anywhere! This may be the ticket to getting her the support she needs and place to live! I will check into this today!!
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Does your state have a Miller Trust/polled income trust program? Have you spoken to the Area Agency on Aging?
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Someone needs to apply for Medicaid for her. Then she can be placed in a Christian based home.

Taking care of your widows doesn't mean that they have to live with you, this is your interpretation, not the written word. You have a double whammy working against you, Christian beliefs that have been passed onto you and healthcare, which people who work in any field such as that are known for enabling.

Time to give your children their lives back, if you don't, they may resent you in the future, your immediate family must come first.
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Bethanym Nov 25, 2019
@gladimhere
We have tried to get her Medicaid. Her monthly income ($1300.00)is too high in our state. Trust me, I have been on the phone for hours, on line for hours—we even had Medicaid waiver people come to the home and do an assessment. We have given them all her financials and still she doesn’t qualify! It is maddening!!
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Why does she not qualify for Medicaid? She has no assets. On what basis is she being refused?
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Bethanym Nov 25, 2019
See my answer above
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CTTN55 raised some very valid questions. Without knowing the extent of care your MIL requires, and without any insight into her personality, I can't offer much in the way of suggestions. But with the limited information you posted, I'll address how you feel at the moment.

There's no shame in feeling relief when you get some respite. Enjoy the week, but while you're at it, talk with your husband about the situation (how does he feel about it, by the way?) and research/discuss options for your MIL's future care. For whatever reasons, it sounds to me like your family structure isn't compatible with elder care, and you need to either make other arrangements or figure out a way to deal with the situation as it is.

One observation: If you took MIL in only as a moral obligation, as opposed to out of love and dedication, you started off on the wrong foot, and it's not going to get any better.
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How old is MIL? And what is her health status, and how much do you have to do for her? What is the long-term plan for when she needs more help?

How did your H end up being the one to take her in? How many siblings does he have besides his sister?
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Bethanym Nov 25, 2019
MIL is 83. She is relatively healthy. We do help her with meds and transportation. She doesn’t cook except for cold lunches and microwave type things. I work in healthcare and feel like she would do fine in her own apartment with support. Husband and his brother and his sister don’t agree. They feel her memory is too poor. She has had evaluations and there is no evidence of dementia/Alzheimer’s. They just didn’t like the idea of her living alone in Florida (we’re in Michigan, the Brother is in NYC, Sister is in Boston) and since my husband and I have the grandkids and the most stable life, everyone thought we were the perfect choice. I was okay with it because I thought we’d be doing it short term and finding her own place. Money is a problem though. She doesn’t qualify for Medicaid or the Medicaid waiver, but has no retirement or savings of any kind and only gets about $1000 /month in SSI-not enough to pay for an apartment, food, utilizes and transportation, etc. 😟
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And why is her small SSI check YOUR family's issue?

My mother begrudgingly took her widowed mother in to live with us when I was a baby. It was, after all the "Christian" thing to do. The stress was so bad for these women, that MY childhood was ruined as a result. My mother was a nervous wreck, my grandmother never created a new life for herself, and everybody suffered from the dysfunctional dynamics in the house. I was never able to form a close relationship with my mother to this day, something I'll always regret at 62 years old.

Think about what you owe yourself and your children, and not about some misguided obligation you have for your MIL. She's a grown woman who's capable of carving out a life of her own without living in your home.

Get her out and take your home and your family back. THAT is the right thing to do
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Bethanym Nov 25, 2019
Lealonnie1 that is exactly what I am most stressed about and feel guilty about. I don’t want my kids childhood to be ruined because of this situation. I don’t want them to resent me or their Oma!! But I feel like we are stuck because of the money situation. There really needs to be more housing options for low income seniors!!!
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No, you are not terrible to be relieved she is gone for a week. You need a break. There are many on this site that have been relieved when mom passes. I was one. They drain us, our lives are no longer our own.

Yes you need to get her out of your home. You deserve your life, as do your girls. There is housing that she sounds like she would qualify for. Time to explore those options.
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You can help widows without having them live with you!

If your Christianity is a source of problems, then really think about your faith and why you think/act this way. Jesus said he came to earth so we would have life abundantly. And He sure didn’t create us to be fearful and guilty... especially when it comes to YOUR OWN HOME! Your family comes first; I hope your husband agrees.

Stand up for your own home and for your girls! It isn’t fair to expect them to sacrifice their own spaces so you don’t feel guilty (and why feel guilty at all when you’ve done no wrong?). They didn’t have a choice in the matter, did they? Do you want to teach your girls by example that it’s okay to put yourself dead last (I mean, waaaayyyy past the putting yourself after God, like one step above dirt)? That they have no voice? That their opinions, feelings and need for space are unimportant? Because evidently they’re not that important to you. You’re setting these girls up for problems down the road... they’ll enter marriage as mama showed them. All it’ll take is a man with even a slight unkind streak and they’ll be the doormats.
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