Can a Caregiver do too much?

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My father in law is 80, lives alone, a mile from my husband and I. My sister in law lives 185 miles away. Shes insist on being the emergency number, the person the doctor calls etc.. She'll come up and stay and week at a time then go home. But, she gets upset about having to stay and wants him to move down there with her. He won't. When she is here, she "babies" him. Makes his food, brings it to him, gets his RX, tucks his dishtowel under his chin etc.. stuff his wife used to do for him. He still drives very well, goes to town, mows the lawn all that. He recently had a minor heart attack, and now she is freaking out. It's like she thinks she is the only one that can take care of her. We go over there everyday, we live a mile away. I take food to him, I get his meds ready if he needs it. But, I think he depends on her to much. He wouldn't go get his bld checked where he should, until he talked to her, because he didn't believe us, that it was the right place. She writes everything down the doctor says, but won't confront the doctor with questions (I do that) I feel like saying "Ok, you want complete control, I'm out" I just don't think it's good for him, that she is doing everything for him. Or am I wrong? He loves it, but he was used to his wife doing it for so many years until 3 years ago, when he lost her. He is lonely, but I want to take him to the Senior center, or where all the older men met for breakfast. I've mentioned it her, she just says yeah, that's a good idea. Worse is, she is a nervous wreak. What to do? Stay out of? Husband is no help, he stays out of it!

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yep, that's what I figured. I just don't understand how SHE can't see how it's going to be harder on him. My husband came home and told me about him calling her hon. It just shocked him. Even my kids, (17 and 23) they were here when he told me, said the only person papa ever said that to was mama. I'm still thinking it's guilt that is keeping her here for so long. So, if that eases her guilt, at his expense, I guess more power to her. It's funny, my 17 year old said "You can't make up for the past, you can only move foreward towards to future, how is Aunt*** making up for 3 years she wasn't around? They have forgiven her already mom" I sure raised a smart kid :)
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Sweetness, if you're feeling less stressed then that's great. Really, it's the main thing. You can offer, you can help, and goodness knows you're certainly entitled to have your own opinion of how your husband's family handles things, but in the end it's up to them. You're doing the right thing.
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I've stepped back and let my sil take over, like she wanted. She has been here for over 5 weeks now. Her husband is sick, his oxygen is at 82 percent and he had to have a CAT scan, but she thought she was needed up here. Several nurses and doctors thought she was my fil's wife. Now that he is in rehab, she goes there at 9:00 am and leaves at 9:00 p.m. She kidding around called my fil "hubby" at the hospital. My fil was not the type to show affection, words or otherwise. My husband said yesterday he responded to my sil with "ok hon" He only called his wife hon. She said she was only staying till he got comfortable being there at rehab, then she would go home. He ended up going back to the hospital for 2 pints of blood yesterday. The reason I'm telling you all this because I think she is hurting him, not helping by being around him so much. Someone mentioned on here that her being around and doing so much probably reminds him of good times with his wife. Well, it sounds like he is getting confused now. She has given up her husband, kids and grandkids to hang out in the hospital. which I would admire, if he were seriously ill. But, he was just getting blood, and they were waiting for his INR to go up. So, they were taking it slow. It just seems so messed up. I found an article on line about signs of enabling an elderly parent. It gave 20 questions, I only got to ten, and answered yes to those. It's just so frustrating that she may be making herself feel better by staying, but when she leaves, in the long run, it will hurt him. He is going to miss that constant companionship. My husband agrees, but he thinks she'll see in the long run, but with my fil paying the price. I really don't want to give an opinion anymore, seems I get accused of being pushy or I get lied to. I think I'll do what I'm doing now, just go visit and leave it at that. If she wants to be caregiver she has my blessings. And, I no longer enable my husband. I pass messages on to my husband, but I don't put my 2 cents in anymore. When I did, he would just defend his sister eg. "she doesn't realize how she sounds." " Her memory isn't that good, so she depends on you to ask the questions etc." I'm not as stressed now at least.
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Make it clear to all concerned that you are happy to help, they have only to ask. Then step away and give a little sigh of relief. Your FIL has children whose problem he can be, so don't make him yours.

Your husband wants you to stay on top of it? Naughty. If he wants to be involved in his father's care, he can involve himself and not volunteer you for the job.

One other point (bit of a tender one with me at the moment): DO continue to include your FIL in your family goings-on - celebrations, activities, anything that's practical for him. Don't let him end up out of sight, out of mind.

You are a lovely girl to have your FIL's best interests at heart.
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Unfortunately, as the SIL you will almost always be viewed as an outsider come decision time, regardless of your good intentions. Although it may hurt your heart, time to give yourself a break, step back, and hopefully, when the time comes, your input will be asked for, at which time you can put your good sense to some use. Been there, after 20 years of marriage, the family is till torn apart. I feel for you, I felt for my MIL, she did not go well, nor how she wanted, all due to family pressure. Good luck.
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I started a new question, but I think it really belongs here: Well, it happened, sil and I bickered, and if was in front of my fil at the hospital, I really regret it too. We had gone to visit the rehab options. I like A and B was the one all the nurses were advising (found out the hospital just began a contract with them) A and B both came and talked to him and us. But, B came back 3 more times just to "check" on him. To me it felt pushy, like a salesmen. The director of it even called to "update" me on his health since I wasn't there.
B notified us that discharge nurse said fil had picked them. None of us knew about that! Next day I went to visit and of course sil is there too. (several doctors and nurses thought she was his wife, since she is there 25/7) My husband and I wanted to know why he picked B. He said because he talked them and liked them. SIL said "I didn't see any difference in them." I replied "Really? I did." she said "Really, you did, like what?". So, I started pointing out the differences. Bigger rooms, separate dining hall, menu a la carte, more visiting rooms, homier decor etc.. She rolled her eyes and said I thought they were the same. I said I didn't think so. She said "Well, we know you are pushing A." I said "You asked me what the differences were so I was telling you." she said Tell him, I was getting huffy, it didn't matter to her where he went etc.. I just replied "You asked me what I saw was different." My fil said "Hey, stop this, it's about me" and was starting at me, so I got up and left.
My husband talked to him! I couldn't believe it. Told him he should have heard both options, otherwise, why did we tour them. Fil said I was trying to push A, hubby said no, she wanted to make sure you knew there was options. Said he thought sil was hovering to much and for 3 years we did fine taking care of them and now sil is acting like she is the only one that can. Fil said yes, but your wife doesn't get up until 9 or 10:00. Hubby said no she gets up at 5:30 with me. Hubby that just shows, he want and is loving the company of sil being there all the time. But, he asked him what are you going to do when she goes home dad? When your in rehab and she isn't there all the time? Sil has manipulated him into believing only she can take care of him, denies that she cared if the doctor called her or not, when that was upsetting her so much, when they called me. I want to see fil, but not sure if I'm even wanted around, seeing how they fil and sil believe I am being pushy. If anything, I've been walking on eggshells. Like my husband says, once she leaves, we are still here. I don't want to go visit and check on him, but I do. By the way she lives another state has husband, daughters and grandchildren and has been up here for 4 weeks straight. Never once going home. Is that not smothering? It's not like he is terminal. They are trying to get INR straightened out before the transfer him. I feel like cutting everyone off and stopping my stress before I go crazy. If she wants to deal with everything, fine let her.
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akdaughter, That is how I'm thinking. It's getting to stressful for me and I can't seem to get my husband to say anything. My sil and I visited both rehabs and of course I favor one and she the other. Seems the one the hospital is suggesting, but don't tell anyone, per the nurses, has just signed up with that hospital with a contract or something. The director of the rehab has stopped by twice, once when nobody was there. She told us today " Your father choice us" That was the first any of us heard about it. I tried explaining to my husband why I liked the other better, his response was, I don't know, I wasn't there. So, I'm not going to say anything and going to leave it up to her. As for us being the emergency number of contact number, you would think so wouldn't you. But, she took our name and number off the doctor info and put hers, and she lives in another state. I asked my husband, if your father goes into one of these rehabs you are going to insist we are named contact aren't you. He said...probably. I just give up. To frustrating dealing with her and my husband.
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That is kind of how I feel akdaughter, about stepping back. My husband keeps asking me not to though. I wonder if she does feel like I'm over stepping, even is she says she doesn't. The other son, as far as me and my husband are concerned has no say in his fathers decisions. He has never been there for him, before or after. Why now he coming around, makes me wonder. My husband did tell my sil he and I would look at the rehab centers and she didn't say anything negative. We were always the emergency contact number. His daughter and we are listed on hippa forms. She changed the ec to her. I asked her why, since we are 1 mile down the road from him, she said she just wanted to make sure she got called. You would think we would be the logical number to contact and they were calling us. She got very upset that they weren't calling her in the other state. Now they do. When the hospital did a follow up call, when he was released after the first stay, they called me. She asked me why did they call you? I know he is competent, but he relies on her to much too. Like I said previous: When he had to go have INR done, at the local hospital, he didn't believe me or my husband, he insisted it was the hospital 20 miles away. He had to call my sil to make sure we were right. I told her that is not a good thing, and she just smiled and said, well he went. She gets nervous and anxious, but it's like she thrives on it. She is very ocd, She writes everything down, which is good, but she doesn't ask the questions that need asked to the doctors, nurses etc.. She has said I'm not good with the medical aspect of it. I'm just confused. I really do feel like backing off, but is so frustrating when I see things not getting done. I've been married for 35 years, so he feels like my father : ) I just wish my husband would speak up and say "Hey, I'm up with him, I have the ability to sign his checks (she has his check book) I have taken care of him prior to you, we need to discuss and get things straightened out and done." But, I don't see that happening, and I can't make it happen. They trusted him, they left him everything in the will, they made him a second signature on the check book, apparently they trust him. Why can't he speak up for his dad then????
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You might be wise to step back for a while. It seems like there are some family dynamics at work here that are causing stress. The daughter and the other son might feel that you are overstepping your role as the DIL. It sounds like you have good intentions, and maybe more experience in elder care issues, but maybe you could try to work "behind the scenes" a little. For example, you could visit the rehab centers that you are considering, and then report back to your husband and his siblings about the pros and cons of each. Let your husband discuss the choice with his siblings. As the local child, your husband (and you, if you are like most couples) would be the logical choice to be contact person for the medical providers, but since this usually falls to the daughter, she may feel that you are taking on her role. Does anyone have medical POA? Has your FIL signed a form for the medical providers to speak with either of you? This decision would be up to him as long as he is competent.

As time goes by and your FIL requires more help, your SIL will come to appreciate your involvement.
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I agree with you eyerishlass, She quit speaking to her parents for 3 years, and I do think that plays a big part in it. When I called the rehab place, I was explaining to her, the problems we are having. She said they could help us with that. Sit down and discuss it. I so agree my husbands needs to step in. I've tried telling him that. He was always literally, the perfect child. He is the one everyone calls on,goes to. Need help? Need errands ran?Take someone to ER? Anything anytime..call Jay. He doesn't complain, he doesn't like confrontation. I told him he needs to step up. Problem is he is a functioning alcoholic too. Which means, when she is out of state, and calls HIM, she should know on a weekend, HE CAN NOT go to his dads. It would be me. I feel so caught in the middle, they are so in denial about my husband, because he has always been the "perfect" child. Now that the wayward son is up(his wife and him stopped talking to be and our kids, she blocked all of us on fb) I can't abide being around him which keeps me away from my fil, which I know is childish. Just so many hurt feelings from the past. Sil and bil stopped talking to all us for three years. They said sorry to in laws and hubby, but not to me and our kids. Sorry things that have nothing to do with topic. Definitely need a family meeting.
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