Follow
Share

Hi, I'll try to be brief with my backstory: I have been living with my husband, Don, for 8 years and his father, Ron, has been living with us for 5 of them. Ron was in a nursing home for a couple of years before hubby pulled him out so "he wouldn't have to die in a home." Don and I only make around $15K a year combined, so you can imagine how nice of a (state-funded) nursing home it was. Five years later, Ron shows no sign of dying, and as Don works longer hours than I do, I end up taking on much of Ron's home care.

Ron is overweight, diabetic, and suffers from unpredictable drops in blood pressure which can cause him to fall or experience brief periods of time where he's "out of it." He has trouble feeling, which results in him knocking lots of things over and dropping lots of things without noticing he has done so. He won't wear his hearing aids or glasses. Diabetes has claimed many of his toes so he is none too steady on his feet, but he won't use his walker and frankly, there isn't really enough room in our 2nd-story walkup 900-square foot apartment to maneuver a walker or wheelchair. He has broken two toilets so far from sitting down on them too hard and rocking them back and forth as he gets up. I recently purchased a toilet aid with grab bars and a raised seat for him, but he finds it difficult to use due to his weight. No matter what I try, there is always a big mess in the bathroom and a quarter-inch of (water? urine?) on the floor waiting for me when I get home from work each day.

I wouldn't mind all of this and I wouldn't be complaining if Ron was someone I loved. But he's not a loved one. I don't even like him. But I'd like to. I think my job would be much easier if I could perceive him as a human being with a personality instead of an inconvenient lump of flesh. He just makes it so difficult. He spends all day and night in his room, watching TV or playing computer games with the door shut. He must be prodded to bathe or even wash his hands after going to the bathroom or before coming to the table. He resists getting haircuts and fingernail trims. Sometimes his undergarments fail and he wets the bed, and he never tells us when this happens. He offers very, very little to the conversation at the dinner table, even when asked conversational questions. He doesn't have any hobbies or seem to have any interests, aside from the occasional day out with his lady friend. He refuses most offers to take him somewhere, and when we do get him out of the apartment he doesn't seem like he's enjoying himself. It's like he just suffers through it and is grateful to get back to his room, never mentioning the outing again. I don't really think he's a danger to himself, as he is still doing fine mentally. He's left the coffee burner on a couple of times but heck, my 26-year-old sister has done it twice, too. He doesn't use the stove or anything.

I want to love my father-in-law, but I'd settle for just liking him. What can I do to change my attitude towards him? I'm having trouble seeing him as a human being; Don tells me stories about Ron's younger years and it's like hearing about a completely different person. Ron isn't stupid, I'm sure he realizes how I feel about him. I must sound like a broken record, "did you wash your hands," "did you have some trouble in the bathroom there, you know you really need to let me know when that happens," etc. Am I wrong in thinking we should be holding him to a higher standard, demanding more of an effort? Or is this just how it is, how it goes? Is it just an attitude problem on my part? On Ron's part? On both of our parts? And how do we air this? Don and I have had a few family discussions with Ron, but the problems are still happening just the same as they ever did, and I wonder if Ron feels like he's being ganged up on. How can we prevent that? We try to be as kind as we can be, but it seems to have had no effect.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
I know it's been awhile since I posted this; I wanted to thank everybody for their helpful suggestions. I do know Ron knows better where house manners are concerned--when he goes out with his lady friend he suddenly starts using tissues and napkins instead of the back of his hand and shirt sleeve, excusing himself when he burps, and often even takes a shower before a date instead of dumping on the cologne and talc. I did gently bring this point up with him, and I told him that it feels like he respects me less than her when he cleans himself up and minds his manners for her but not me. He continues this behavior even though he is aware it hurts my feelings.

In some cases, though, Ron is not aware of the trail of destruction he leaves behind him. A couple months ago, after using the toilet, he smeared feces on all the light switches, door knobs, and furniture as he made his way through the apartment to go out and smoke. Then, on Halloween, as my husband and I were about to leave for a party, Ron voided his bladder on the kitchen floor, shuffled through the mess, and sat down outside. He was wearing a diaper but I think he is just too obese and clumsy to put it on properly anymore--it has happened before. Again, I don't think his mind is going, he just can't see, hear, feel, smell, or move very well.

For some reason these last couple of incidents have really gotten across to my husband (maybe because he was present when they happened) and we are looking at nursing homes that will be better equipped to deal with Ron's physical needs. I know I, for one, have tried my best.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

You marry a husband, not his parents. He goes to work and you mop up pee. Not in the original vows, not fair, not reasonable and no longer doable. Ron needs a nursing home NOW. Hubby has to choose: you or dad. No other way.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

First, Ron is showing signs of dementia. You can ask him to do things but he will not remember. Since you do not have the finances, a larger home, and professional help, the best place for Ron is a nursing home. You are being made a nurse without training and your husband's idea of not "allowing his father to die in a nursing home" is without merit. It happens every day and will continue to happen. He will be surrounded by staff who will care for his needs in an appropriate manner, and you will not be left holding the bag. You should not allow your husband to dictate the rules and your should stand up for yourself. You do not have to like your father-in-law. You did not marry him. You are entitled to have your feelings about anyone and anything and do not allow anyone to tell you you should feel a certain way. Get Ron the professional help he needs and your husband can visit him anytime he is not working.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

OK, my bad, after having thought about it--I agree with everyone else. Ron needs professional care.

The whole notion of "I won't put him/her into a home" is antiquated. The homes are safe and professional. He will get food, meds, personal care, and be at peace.

THEN, you can visit once in a while, turn on the soaps, and play cards.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

I think it's too much to ask of yourself that you begin to care for your father-in-law. He's been living with you now for years and it hasn't happened yet and I think that as long as you have to mother him ("wash your hands", "where did this water come from?") you won't be able to see him as an equal and have respect and love for him.

I'm sure you take good care of him and don't let your personal feelings get in the way of caring for him but trying to hold him to a higher standard is just going to increase your resentment toward him.

But washing hands before dinner or after using the bathroom aren't higher standards. They're very basic standards that should be upheld and as a member of a household this man should see to his personal hygiene for as long as he can.

After 5 years of living with you, if you don't have loving feelings for Ron by now I don't think you're going to.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

This man is dying, just very slowly and miserably. He's lost his peripheral nervous system, his eyesight, his hearing, and has no energy. His memory may be going down he tubes too; there is an entity called diabetic encephalopathy which is microvascular disease of the brain, and occurs even if they are not having mini-stokes and vascular dementia. Most people underestimate diabetes and what it does to the body over time. I don't know if that helps to say that or not!

I would quit asking him "if" questions about the bowel and bladder accidents, and just either remind him what he is supposed to do instead, or supervise him more.
It is hard to say if trying to improve his diabetes management and diabetes related care will do much or him at this point either, but it might be worth a shot. If not, well, lower your expectations, and then lower them some more. He possibly hasn't got it in him to do a whole lot better beyond the very basics and at some point he won't even have that. Sitting and playing computer games is the easiest and most comfortable thing for him to do, so he does it as much as possible...it's not good for him, but there is a time for trying to change a person's behavior to something healthier and a time for letting things go. Not quite clear which this is for you guys!!

How old is Ron? Does he get any monthly check that could go towards a board and care? Does he have Medicaid? Is he by any chance a veteran?
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

I cannot believe that the situation Ron is in is best for him. It certainly isn't best for you. Does your husband care about what is best for you?

I hope that your husband and you together can find Ron a pleasant place to spend the rest of his life.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

The best place for Ron is a nursing home. It's not even a matter of if you like him or not. You are not equipped to handle all of these medical issues. It sounds as if he is a fall risk. This is over and beyond what is expected of you. He would probably assess as eligible for hospice care. This must be a huge strain on your marriage. The Bible says to HONOR your father and mother and at this point the best way you can honor him and show love for him is to get him into a facility that can give him the care he needs with the dignity he deserves as a human. God bless you.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

I am so sorry for what you are going through and I can (sort of; can we ever really?) imagine how this is. It is also hard for me to like certain people.

There are a lot of good suggestions above. But I would like to add a crazy suggestion: try making your time with him (at least part of that time) something that YOU enjoy. For me, that would mean reading aloud to him. the kind of books like: adventure, travel, etc. Or, do you like to play cards? to do jigsaw puzzles? draw? play board games? chess? backgammon? write letters to politicians (I am grasping at straws here..but that could be funny).

But you get the idea. I say this because i have had to change the way that I interact with my mom. I CANNOT STAND having conversations with her (all the repetition drives me over the edge). So, sitting and talking is out of the question. So, I DO things with her. Take a ride, play cards, go to exercise class, etc. These are the things she likes at the moment. They are "low conversational" and more bearable.

Might something like this be worth a try? Afternoons, turn on the soaps, play cards????
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

I might add: why are you doing all of the care taking duties?? You work and then you come home to clean up all of these messes?? What does your husband contribute to his dad's care? Put your foot down and put that man in a nursing home. It is the best thing for every one.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.