My boyfriend and I have 3 kids. 2 are mine and 1 I jointly ours ages 6,5 & 3. OUR 3 year old is a special needs child. Well my 34 year old boyfriends grandmother passed away and she was his mother's care giver. His family wanted to throw her into a VA home and she's only 55 & he refused and decided we would take over her care. She has extreme paranoia labeled as schizophrenia. She is officially moving in with us today, as I write this she is getting off the plane. I really don't know what to expect and I am nervous. My family keeps telling me "a kitchen isn't big enough for 2 women." When we unloaded the trailer with her stuff I had a complete meltdown. She is a hoarder of junk, clothes and nicknacks. We told her to only load what was needed. But upon unloading the trailer she brought the whole house trashcans included, which sent me into a complete mental meltdown as I am very OCD & particular about my home. After the melt down I went back to being ok, but as the day has arrived I am freaking out! I don't think I can take on her weekly VA visits as well as my job & my youngest sons health care needs. I'm afraid this is going to be an end all to my boyfriend and I as we both are very into our privacy and don't do well when guests stay at our home for more than a day or 2. I'm afraid my kids will feel the stress and the change won't be good for anyone. (I did tell him if she doesn't stay on her meds it's a 3 strike and she or I am out rule & he agreed as our kids come before anything else.) I can't change the situation as she has no one else who will care for her. And I understand that. But I honestly don't know what to do, or how I will handle it. I expressed my concerns to my boyfriend & he told me to just not worry about it and that everything will work out. I need solid advice! I am only 24 years old and didn't see our life going in this direction so soon!

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So it's HIS mom, and you get to take her to weekly Dr, and do all the other stuff you already do,, while you will be dealing with her wanting HER stuff to be placed all over YOUR house, ( and she will want her stuff to be prominant and used). No wonder he thinks it will "all work out".. he's not planning any changes to his routine from the sounds of it. Oh yes, and you are both private.. kiss that goodbye. It sounds like she will be underfoot 24 x 7. I really am not trying to sound mean,, but read around on this site, and get ready for some big changes. My prayers are with you all.. and keep that job sista!
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You are living together and have children together, where I come from that makes him your common law spouse. I'm not usually into giving ultimatums, but in this case I think it is fair to say "either her or me". The fact that he would do this to you in the first place doesn't make me hopeful he will choose to put you and his children first, and that says in all.
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It's ironic that so many people seem to take on caregiving for a loved one, when they don't know much about the person's condition or needs. And when they are not the person doing the caregiving. It's sad that your boyfriend didn't learn much about what he was taking on and that he didn't honor your thoughts on it. I think that I would insist on getting all of her medical records in order to find out what you are dealing with. I know you say his mom suffers with paranoia and schizophrenia. Is your boyfriend her Durable Power of Attorney or appointed guardian? If not, how will he exercise any control over her if she becomes noncompliant or unmanageable?

Handling a relatively young person who is disabled with mental illness is not a casual thing, especially, if she suffers from delusions or hallucinations or resist medication. I'd ensure my children's safety above all else. It seems off that your boyfriend won't consider this. I would think that this type of undertaking would be done with full disclosure, planning, preparation and the assistance of professionals.

Who owns the house you live in with your boyfriend? While I understand that your options might be limited if he owns the house, I'd have to better understand the situation before I would feel comfortable caregiving his mother full time, plus, caring for my own 3 children. It sound unrealistic to me. Since you also have issues with OCD, I think I would consult with a mental health professional.
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If he is POA and Guardian, it is HIS responsibility to go with MD appointments with her. Not yours. Be very alert to how this affects your children; if you see outbursts of behavior or withdrawal of any kind by the kids, that's a danger sign. Let him manage the meds, that's a huge responsibility too. It could be a point of contention in his family and you do not need that drama.
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It is just a start, but hurry, pack up anything that you don't want or won't fit in her room. Call movers to take it to a storage unit, boyfriend will pay, but do't ask, advance the money to open it. Looks like some people can be swayed no by compassion, instead by an inheritance.

Then, you can start looking for a place of your own that can be a peaceful respite for you and special needs child, and your other children. Don't doubt your need for this. It is not unusual.

Then, you might want to consider learning to avoid dysfunctional relationships-perhaps a support group.
Helpful Answer (5)

He owns the house, so you're living with him in his house, taking care of the children, and pretty soon his mother? This has "failure" written all over it.

Listen to the others, read the thread FF recommended as well as other threads on this same topic. Others have tried this and wrote of their frustrating, depressing, loss of control, work horse experience.

I also think you need to think very seriously about the environment into which you've brought your children. They'll grow up perhaps believing it's acceptable for their parents to just live together, but they shouldn't grow up being subordinated to the needs of a parent of a live-in father.
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One of the least considered here is his mother. Schizophrenia is a serious disease of the brain and it needs professional care. People with this illness suffer severely when their symptoms are active. No, you can't do this by you yourself and you will need support.
Let's just say you have decided to give it a go. First call your county mental health center and get info on any day programs that she can go to several times a week.
It is really a good thing to take her to her VA psych visits and get to know her providers. The more you know them, the more comfortable you will be asking for help.
Look for an organization named NAMI ( The National Allience for the Mentally ill).
This is a national group devoted to advocacy and education about mental illness. They have education groups as well as support groups. They do a lot of family education.
There are people out there who will help you. Schizophrenia is a complicate illness tha t destroys lives, and it is not the the sick person's fault. There is no cure but medications can help control symptoms.
Having compassion for her suffering does not mean you have to give up your life.Use resources, keep friendships, ask for help. And if you need to, save yourself and leave the situation. You are a young woman, and deserve to have control over your life, and you deserve happiness.
PS. I have been a psychiatric nurse for forty years.
Helpful Answer (5)

sundaisey, I would never say multi-generational households can't work out. I have sure seen where they have been rewarding. One woman in my support group cared for both her husband and her mother with dementia, in her home. It was hard, of course, but it was very successful.

And I am glad to know that your own situation is rewarding. Do you have young children, including step-children and a special needs child?

What I am very afaid won't work out in this situation is the very thing you pointed out -- no evidence of good communication between the couple. And mental illness issues beyond dementia complicate things emenously.

"This won't work out" is not a knee-jerk reaction for me. Considering all the elements that have been described it really doesn't sound like one of the cases where everyone's life is enriched.
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Okay... I'm speaking here as someone who grew up with a mom who has schizophrenia AND cared for her in our home for five years after she had two strokes resulting in vascular dementia & aphasia. Additionally, i have three special needs adult siblings-in-law (autism, bi-polar disorder, development delays...). I'm laying that out there as foundation for my response to H3KIDS.

First... I wish I could scoop you up and give the tightest hug right now and then have you in for coffee. You sound like an amazing, insightful woman and at the tender age of 24 no less.

My big sisterly advise to you is this. This situation doesn't have to be an either/or. Like anything in life, what happens today doesn't mean it happens tomorrow. The current reality is you mil is enroute and will be moving in. I agree with the others that given your your life circumstances it will be an upheaval for sure. Accept that transitions are messy, especially for those with the limitations mental illness can bring. Or NOT. You won't know until she is there and things shake out a bit. No one know why things work and why they don't in this world sometimes, in spite of all the evidence. Mental illness/schizophrenia is not a one size fits all situation and folks who react to it like it is, have either zero idea what they are talking about or are basing their perceptions on limited personal experience or hearing worst case scenarios in the media. Mentally ill people land on a continuum like we ALL do, and just because someone is different does not necessarily equate to bad/broken/mean/toxic... The most loving person I know in this world has a mental illness. My mom is the kindest, smartest, thoughtful person ever. She however has a burden to carry but that in no way compromises who she is as a person. Could this be a completely unworkable situation? Hell yes it could be, but you already know that. If her illness is unmanageable then, duh! She needs to be in a place that can meet her needs. Could it also work out to be a household with a quirky bonded tight knit family tribe 'with differences' that is spilling over with love. Absolutely. Could it start out one way and morph into the other. Of course. You need to find out if this situation is workable for you and your collective family's happiness and wellbeing. So here you are.

Reality: she's coming, too late to put genie back in the bottle.

Reality: you and your boyfriend need to build a support team with doctors, social workers, the VA, spiritual advisor, etc and develop plans A,B & C. Having plans in place will allow you as a family make decisions that will be in the best interest of everyone concerned. The children's needs are priority over mil, but should not be considered in a vacuum imho. Kids join the tribe and not the other way around imho.

REALITY: get yourselves into a family counseling to help you navigate this. It is not a luxury. We did this because of our family members, but I realize it enriched us beyond any expectation regardless of our family. If you cannot afford one, find one that charges on a sliding scale or through a work trade... anything. Dump your cable and something else for it. A good therapist is worth their weight in gold. He/she will keep you from getting polarized and is best qualified to help you navigate things in real time, will know the players first hand and will provide the scaffolding and support you and you entire family will need and keep you on track with self-care. They also will have experience helping families. We here on this site as amazing as we all are, are mostly all in the sharp end of the stick ourselves. Great for commiseration, support and love, but do not bring objectivity and experience a good professional can provide. (Recommend interviewing at least three. Find someone you both respect.)

I'm going to avoid trotting out the word boundaries, as it is so overused and really doesn't help when in the nitty gritty of family stuff. I prefer the word limits. What is your limit for her hoarding. What is the limits for disruption for your kids. What is the limit for number of times you and spouse are at odds. What is the limit on your boyfriend putting mom's need in front of yours or the kids. (Easy for some to say never on that one, but that's unrealistic thinking. Family needs ebb and flow even in the healthiest families). Discuss, share and plan. Together!!! Believe in yourselves and prepare for your lives facing reality, not away from it using kindness, smarts, & compassion and solid decision making.

Lastly, I have known several friends & neighbors with 'normal' families that have waaay more drama than has happened in our collective unorthidox tribe, which is not to say we haven't had drama. It usually surfaces from our 'normal' family members... lol.

Much love to you on this week celebrating family. XOXOXO

: prepare plan b,c & d with your spouse.
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You both need to go the mother's doctor appointments together. You need to know what to expect and to be kept in the loop. It would not be fair to you if he doesn't go with you.
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