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My MIL , who is 90 years old has been living with us for the past 5 years.


She is in good mental and physical health considering her age, so I consider myself very fortunate.


Unfortunately we clash when it comes to living space, and my lounge in particular. She has literally taken it over - watching National Geographic Wild all day and knitting. Although I have put a small unit next to her to store her wool etc she still leaves it all lying around.


Although it has cost us extra for a subscription, I have a set up a couch and paid television in her room so that she could spend time in there but she hasn't done so once.


Her son doesn't seem to be bothered by this intrusion.


It has now got to the stage that I very seldom spend time in the lounge and usually shut myself up in my sewing room.


How do I get her to start spending time in her bedroom as I feel that this will help with her gradual transition to the the time when she becomes bedridden. I am her primary caregiver and already I am battling to prevent bedsores and oedema in her ankles. She is wearing diapers now as she is becoming more incontinent.


I really do not wish to have my lounge turned into a sick room.


Although I have spoken to her and my husband regularly about this problem nothing changes.

Been there and it was my Mom.

I live in a split level. Moms room was in the lower level. Easy excess out of the house. She had a twin bed, dresser and a small bath with a shower tv, and lounge chair. Mom had been a reader. No hobbies, didn't care for games or puzzles. So her days were TV since she no longer could read a book. She couldn't do steps which I have 3 sets. I spend my days in a Den on the third floor. I do not watch daytime TV. My husband would ask why I didn't bring Mom up with me. Because, I cannot stand TV on all day and without it Mom had nothing to keep her busy. Conversations? She no longer could follow one. She made no sense when she did talk. Brain was all over the place. I can't read with background noise. Plus, caring 24/7 I needed time to myself. I had retired 3 yrs before. Yes, I felt bad but I am not an entertainer.

Maybe you could go sit in her room.😊
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shazzaw Nov 29, 2018
Oh wow - thank you! You understand where I am coming from. Hugs xxx
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Shazzaw I hope you didn't think I was unsympathetic to how you must be feeling.

No, it is not remotely "nasty" of you to want your lounge back. But the difficulty is that it is incompatible with your MIL's freedom of action in the context of family life.

You are also wise to have an eye on how things will be in a year or two's time if they are already becoming burdensome now.

I read what you say about your MIL's resenting help/interference (!) but wouldn't it be wise to start bringing in more outside support so that you can all make a gradual adjustment?

Btw, her seeming to be lazy is almost certainly not laziness, but increasing physical fatigue. My mother used to reproach herself for "feeling so lazy today" when further investigation revealed that her heart function was dire. I assume you're keeping a close eye on this kind of thing?

Best wishes to you. It may be a burden you are carrying willingly but all the same it must be getting rather heavy.
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Thank you to everyone for your responses. You have given me a lot to think about.
I am sorry that a lot of you think that I have reached the end of my tether. That is not the case.
I regret even more that most of you feel that I am trying to confine MIL to a life of solitude. Nothing could be further from the truth as my reply to rocketjcat explains.
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Yikes. “I feel that this will help with her gradual transition to the the time when she becomes bedridden”. I think you may have an unrealistic view of what the future might look like in your house. If she’s in relatively good health, she may be sitting and knitting in your living room for a few more years. There’s another thread going on this forum regarding a daughter who absolutely resents her moms presence in her house. Her disdain for her mom, saying her need for conversation annoys and creeps her out, and it seems you’re going to go down the same path soon. How would you like to be an annoyance and encouraged to stay in your room all day? She needs to get up and move about and have some socialization. Try to get her into a day care situation where she can visit with people, a knitting club, a volunteer organization where she could donate her knitting? A church group? If you don’t want to pursue physical and mental activities for her, maybe it’s time to investigate assisted living.
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shazzaw Nov 27, 2018
Hi rocketjcat
Thank you for your comments. I do not want to confine her to her room all day and I am sorry that I have given that impression. I do sit and chat to her but find that her conversations are becoming more and more of an effort.
I walk her every half hour (I have an alarm to remind me). I take her to the Seniors Meetings twice a week, and Bingo on Fridays. I take her shopping for little things she wants. I do my regular shop at a different time as she would not be able to cope. I also take her to the hairdresser once a week and for a manicure and pedicure once a month. She does donate her knitting to the church.
I put on music and 'dance' with her. She always loved dancing.
All this while still maintaining a home and garden and continuing with my own hobbies.
My husband is a retired musician and his music is now confined to another room because the lounge has become her TV lounge.
I tried to explain in my original letter, it is not that I want her locked away in her room. I would just like to feel as though she is living with us, not the other way round. If hubby and I want to have a private conversation we are confined to the patio as she will turn the telly sound down to hear what we are talking about.
She was very independent and being Italian, was the matriarch in the family. As a result she is very stubborn and resents any form of help or request. No matter what I ask her to do, she will ignore me.
Unfortunately she has become very 'lazy', using her age as an excuse for us to wait on her hand and foot, to the extent that she will sit and ask for something to drink. This kind of defeats the object of moving off her butt.
My concern was that if she and my hubby are not phased by her presence there all the time, what will it be like when she does become demented and seriously incontinent, which is gradually happening now, and her routine is then confined to her bedroom. Hence the installation of the television etc in her room.
I do not watch a lot of television but would like to chill on the couch once in a while without her around. Am I really being that nasty in wanting my lounge back?
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Great responses here, but oddly I don't read anything about your husband's actions to caring for his mother. You're the woman of the house and your husband should be trying to fix the issue. He needs to be front and center in figuring out how to care for his mother, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
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Countrymouse Nov 26, 2018
The trouble is there isn't a lot of actual, hands-on care to be done, and the behaviours that are making the poor OP grind her teeth simply don't bother him.

Husband will probably wonder why she can't "just" "not let it get to her." Which means that what he'll have to fix is his own ability to grasp in what way this is placing intolerable pressure on his wife.

HUSBAND DEVELOPS EMPATHY. Could make quite a front page headline, eh?
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She should stay in her room alone to make it easier to transition to being bedridden? Seriously? I can confidently tell you that at my mom's nursing home NOBODY was bedridden, everyone was got up in their wheelchairs for the day and down to the dining room for meals. It might be so much easier for you to dump MIL in bed and go about your day except for the occasional glance but it would certainly not be the best for her. I'm in agreement with CM, if that is your plan then please look at having her placed in a care home.
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shazzaw Nov 27, 2018
Hi cwillie,
Please read my response to rocketjcat.

I fought with her family to NOT put her in a home. I love my MIL and I could not bear the thought that she would be dumped in a home and cared for by strangers.
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Send her to her room? Like a six year old who's been naughty?

MIL has been living in this home as part of the family. She has outstayed her welcome, is the fact of it. If you can't tolerate a person in your house unless she confines herself to her own bedroom, then you've reached the end of this particular tether.

Get her out of the house, to a day centre, several times a week.
Refit your sewing room to become a really comfortable den for yourself.
Cancel the expensive additional tv subscription, because the waste of money is just irritating you.

Or, sit DH down and tell him truthfully that you can't take any more and it's time to rethink the care plan. What you feel cannot ever be wrong or mistaken, it simply is what you feel. Your being a normal adult woman who needs her home to be inviolate is not wrong, and your feelings are not an accusation directed at MIL.

If there's a stone in your shoe it isn't the stone's fault that you're uncomfortable - but you don't feel guilty about removing it.
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I wonder what would happen if you actually made it happen the way you want, rather than talking about it in general terms. Pick up the knitting stuff, put it in the little unit, and move the unit into her own room. When she is watching National Geographic in the living room, turn on the TV in her own room, say ‘please could you go and watch it in your room now?'), and turn off the living room TV. This will be difficult to ignore, which is what DH and MIL are doing now. It might change her habits after a few times. It might also prompt a difficult conversation, but that is better than allowing resentment to build up to a level that you just can’t deal with.
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Um. The first thing that strikes me is that confining her to her room is not going to do the pressure sore risk or the oedema any good. This lady should ideally be moving around as much as she can be persuaded to.

Your lounge turned into a sick room... Really? In what way? The choice of t.v. channel, the knitting wool (here I am glancing guiltily at my own sofa - messy? Moi?), and the fact that an occupant is wearing diapers: these do not constitute a sick room. And it should be comparatively straightforward to keep personal care and nursing items in the bedroom or bathroom, where they belong. So not really a sick room, then.

But the fact remains that your MIL is beginning... do I mean beginning? Or well on the way there... to get on your nerves.

And you've already been coping with her intrusion, albeit a benign intrusion, for five years.

You'll forgive me for what will sound like a bit of a jump, but I think this smells like burn-out, the first singeing stages.

What support do you have in caring for your MIL? What respite do you have from her constant company?

It is very important to recognise your own completely legitimate needs for privacy and living space while not blaming your MIL for her perfectly reasonable behaviour. She's not doing anything really wrong. But she is in your space, and it is causing a problem.

You're not worrying about nothing. It's a question of finding answers to the problem that are kind to everyone involved.
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shazzaw Nov 27, 2018
Hi Countrymouse,
Please read my response to rocketjcat.
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