How to give loving care to someone who doesn't appreciate it?

Follow
Share

Oh, dear. I have lived with my fiancee for over two years in this situation. Somehow, I don't know how, I found myself taking over the role of caretaker. I don't even know quite how it became that way. He was well, we all lived together, it was a joy to bring him elaborate home cooked meals, please him, live my life with the love of my life, etc.
Then something will happen with my FIL's health. He won't listen to us, had horrible bouts of insomnia which led to falls, which led to long, extended periods of recovery where he would give us a daily, constant rundown of every ache and pain. EVERY sensation (example: oh, this feel strange on my tongue, oh, I don't like feeling heat on my body. We remove a blanket, then he complains because his legs are cold, and on and on.)
After a number of years of this, I begin to dread when he awakens because it invariably begins with complaints of the smallest things, a nasty, sort of bitter attitude, and then I find myself bringing him juice and fiancee making cereal and bringing it to him while he complains that there is either not enough or too much milk in the bowl.
The most hurtful thing is that he finds fault with almost every meal he is served in his chair. I would give anything to be able to lounge in a chair and have drinks, meals, snacks served and empty plates removed like he enjoys. Everything is a complaint.
"Too salty". "Too much". "WHAT is this?!".
You try to be nice, ask if he wants some dessert, and receive a curt, "I don't know. What do you have?"

AAAAAAHHHHHHHH. Oh, my goodness. The joy of care-taking is completely gone now. If we borrow a couple of sections of the Sunday paper and present him with the rest he barks, "This must be the SLIM edition."

If we leave for a few hours to see to my SO's previous son's karate belt test and come back after having told his father explicitly where we are going, why and how long, he attacks us by asking, "WHERE WERE YOU?". "WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG?"

I see so many of his dishes that are barely touched because he found something wrong with EVERYTHING. He claims he is unable to get his own drinks, including water at the sink, yet will readily raid the fridge and eat family ice-cream with a spoon straight out of the carton. I see him standing, hunched over in front of the TV, wolfing it down. But he can't get his own juice or water?
I have begun to hate serving him. He doesn't like anything anymore, finds fault with everything that is made by me with loving intentions and never, ever thanks or acknowledges the hours I spent in the kitchen to make a nice meal for him. It hurts.
Everything in our house now seems to revolve around his daily issues. When my husband was gone he approached me about picking his nose for him and cleaning it out so he could have better oxygen intake.
He just got fitted for a partial denture and hates it, even though it is a HUGE improvement (trust me). He claims that he can't put it in, doesn't like the fact that it might have to be cleaned and now wants us to put his teeth in for him every morning.
AAAAHHHHHHHH. NO.
In a moment of admitted frustration, I did tell my SO that I resented feeling like a Denny's server and that I dislike very much the very personal requests he specifically asks of me (picking his nose for him). I told SO that I feel the next step is being asked to wipe his dad's ass, and I feel bad for that, but I have, over the course of SOOOOOO long, been asked to do the most awful things and I don't understand why this is my responsibility. He is not my father. I faithfully and lovingly did things for years. We are in a position where we need much more space and privacy.
His dad is very catty and sarcastic now, lots and lots of bitterness. Not a nice man where he used to be an absolute angel. Sorry, but he used up my pity when he began to abuse me verbally.
I have asked him to think about hiring a personal caregiver to produce satisfactory meals for him and refill his drinks all of the time so he can sit in his chair. He looked at me like he was crazy and said, "Why? You are here."
Ummmmm....did I mention I have an infant and SO has an autistic son we watch over and care for during his visitation? I am sort of full up. The fact that he said that makes me feel TOTALLY taken for granted. I now really, really dread SO's father when I once loved him.

For these recent posts about spouses changing because of live-in care or general care taking, this is one thing I hope they consider.

Someone fell in love with you and imagined a life with you. I can't help, at this point, to say that it is VERY unfair to inject a parent into that mix knowing that they are going downhill and there are years of pain ahead for your spouse to deal with that they did NOT sign up for. The vows you take or have yet to take but feel in your heart are related to your spouse. NOT to your spouse's parent.
I wonder when my life will ever begin again. Maybe it won't. I didn't want this to be my new life.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
12

Answers

Show:
Wow reading this makes me realize my mother has the beginnings of dementia. She is exactly like this and getting worse. Even though she still lives alone, she exhibits some if not all of the narcissistic straits your fiancé 's dad is exhibiting.

I feel your pain. Mom is very hard to reason with. Her memory is getting strange. We all notice it. When the time comes and it could be soon, we will hire help or place her in assisted living.

Mom has always been difficult so this sort of sneaked up on us. Has your fiancé 's dad always been difficult?
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Dear Worried, How to give loving care to someone who doesn't appreciate it? You'll find out when your kids are teenagers! :D

You say you loved caring for this father-figure at first. It was a joy. And now it isn't. He has dementia. This is something he can't help anymore than your step-son can help being autistic. Learning more about dementia may help you not to take his unreasonableness so personally. A person losing his ability to reason cannot be won over by reason, and compromise is not meaningful to him.

Dad needs more care now than you should reasonably be expected to provide. This is Not His Fault. It is not something he can change. It just is.

And the situation has changed not just because his dementia is getting worse, but also because you have grown and developed new needs of your own. You describe very nicely your nesting needs. You need more than two rooms to call your own. That, too, is Not Your Fault. You need a place to raise and nurture your family.

Continue to love this old man. Continue (long with your SO) to see that he gets good care. But move out. Arrange for others to provide his care (at his expense, of course).

He is not Evil or even necessarily narcissistic. He is sick. But this is no situation in which to be raising a family including nurturing a special-needs child.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

We moved into his house to care for him.

Selfishly, I admit, I lost my home. The ability to call anything mine, we live in two rooms and the house, make no mistake, is on his terms. He is not an unreasonable guy. I LOVE him, the elderly father. But there comes a point where a woman wants something of her own to furnish for her family and children, to call her own, to be the so-called queen of the castle and have the lovely confidence (I miss this so much!) of having her own space that is safe and sacred and on her terms. It becomes a question, even in the best of circumstances, of compromise. And, yes, ideally compromise can be reached when people love each other. I suppose the problem comes when, after too long of a compromising situation, a grown adult who deserves and has worked for and is used to their own space realizes that the other spouses feelings of duty to their parent supersedes any hope of a future where they can love and give loving care and have a place to go back to at the end of the day that is not steeped in the ghosts of said person who owns the house.
Perhaps it is MUCH more productive (and better for the cared one, to boot!) to have a nice little, even tiny place to go back to that consists of just the family the spouse made with the love of their life. Just...I don't know...SOMETHING to remind that spouse that there is a part of their relationship that isn't ruled by anyone else on either side of the family. Just that space can be sacred, and mean the world to someone who otherwise spends their days occupied with making sure the elderly in-law has everything they need or want.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Let's step back for a moment.... let's put ourselves into our inlaw's or parent's shoes.... growing old isn't easy and let's throw in serious health issues on top of that.... let's move them out of their own home and into the grown children's home where they get a bedroom to call their own... yes, the parents will be bitter, grouchy, and down right scared. You, the Caregiver, become the scapegoat.

All of the above is good reason for parents to be living in a nice retirement community where they can have their own apartment to call their own, and enjoy what the community has to offer.

And why is it always the woman who has to be the caregiver for her husband's or S/O parents? Let hubby or boyfriend take time off from work or take charge on the weekends and spend that time caring for his parent(s).
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

That was a long comment and full of feeling. It must have taken a long time to write and I share your frustration and appreciate the response. I have begun reading all of the other threads about anger and frustration and it helps.

You know what? I think a lot of the children of elderly parents who need care feel as we do but don't dare admit it. It is far better to delegate the task and some (not all!) feel okay to pass blame if the loving spouse isn't quite up to snuff with making everything okay again. I certainly don't believe it for many, but for me it feels that way. And that is crazymaking.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

My inlaws moved in with us as mil was diagnosed with oral cancer. I lost my dad to cancer so am very aware of all the ups and downs and challenges that the entire family goes thru. But boy my mil is testing my patience and compassion. Father in law and spouse work fulltime so I too am the main caregiver for my mother in law. Have 2 lovely kids 9 and 11 as well. I have the housework in control no big issues there as i am a stay at home mom. Inlaws have their own room with attached bathroom and TV etc. My issue is similar to yours where my mil cant talk to me without being nasty, whatever is cooked is bad and god knows i have tried (ofcourse her taste buds are gone becoz of chemoradiation but that doesnt mean she should be mean to the person who is trying to help). she is well enough to do some housework but refuses to saying this is is ur house and i am ur guest and it is ur responsibility. I also have househelp who comes for a few hrs to whom she will talk down to or keep complaining about me to the extent even that lady wants to stop working at my home now. She will conjure up things and use my statements out of context to create wrong stories about me. She will find fault with the house and my kids even though i keep house in a very clean organised way better than she ever did. My daughter go for swim team coaching daily and she is against their swimming and implies i go there only becoz i get to hang out with my friends although thats not the case. My social life is at zero since they moved here as she is so unpredictable and rude id rather not do anything like invite a friend over or go out. First 2 months she was on Alprax due to anxiety related to radiation procedure and she was calmer but after stopping that she is forever mean. Father in law even works on Sat and i have requested him to do a 5 day work week but he has conveniently ignored that(i suspect he knows her true nature and so avoids being at home) . So my hubby babysits his mom on saturday as thats the day i go for spending time with my mom who lives an hr away. She keeps complaining to her daughter or anyone else that her son spends no time with her although he is always at home after work and on weekends. if i try to have even a simple conversation she ignores me it is so insulting. if i try to vent my issues by sharing with my hubby he gets mad at me becoz he feels stressed and knows i am speaking the truth.and since his mom is behaving irrationally and has always been like this she cant change. My husbands advice is to do my duty and stay out of her way, so i sit in my room and do my work (stocks/bills/etc) but she seems upset with that too. just the fact that everyone else has a life seems to bother her, it would be nice if she went out met people but she doesnt want to do anything, is she depressed? i fear i am becoming grumpy like her becoz of the constant criticism and dont want to lose myself. i want to be happy and at peace otherwise my kids suffer my irritation. Any advice.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Glad you are here. I've only been here a couple of days and it has really helped plus I can get good advice.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I love you all. This is such a wonderful board to receive advice, vent, etc.

I truly look to it for advice and a mindset to look forward with. It helps me greatly. Thank you all, and most of all those who established this community to begin with.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

If at all possible, you and fiancée should move out. Now I know Dad can't function alone, but this is the only way you will force him to realize he needs more care. There is no bargaining with dementia, and the behavior you describe is classic dementia. It will get progressively worse. You have a family to raise and two kids=a full time job. Dad needs three shifts of nurses and aides to manage his care.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

Maybe you should talk to your SO and let him know what your feeling, maybe he is feeling that too, but because its HIS dad,of course he will put up with more put downs. What does your SO other say when you mention a caregiver? You can try that first tell him, what about Adult Day Care or like Chicago said, maybe the NH would be good for him. I wish you and your family luck.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions