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After a year of marriage, my husband and I allowed my mom to move in with us. She is 63 and has dementia. This is a fairly new diagnosis. It's been about three weeks and we have been struggling to find alone time together. She gets upset when we go places alone or when I go to pick him up from work and leave her. I cannot control where she goes and what she does. As seriously as I take the reality of the pandemic, I can see she is a Covid case/asymptomatic carrier waiting to happen. Any advice? We both work, so she is alone during the day. She is okay enough that she finds things to do while we are gone, but gets manipulative when we try and leave her to go on a date. Do other couples struggle with this? How do you handle it? I don't want to feel guilty about leaving her, but at the same time, I don't want my marriage to suffer either.

It's called setting boundaries. Thankfully she's only been with you for three weeks, so you still have time to sit down with her and explain that since she is now living in your house, she will be abiding by your house rules and that does include the fact that you and your husband will be going on "date nights", and you will not tolerate any negativity or manipulation from her when you do.
You have to remember that she is now living in YOUR house, and you and your husband need quality time together away from mom, to sustain and nourish your new marriage. Being a caregiver is hard and it can be especially hard on a marriage if you don't take the steps now to make sure your marriage stays on track. Best wishes.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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Yes, I went through it too. My mom lived with us. She has Parkinson’s disease. Don’t feel guilty.

As your mom progresses she will need someone with her.

My mom was okay being left when she first moved in, as she worsened I contacted Council on Aging for assistance to be with her. Mom enjoyed their company.

Is your mom lonely or has she always been controlling? Is she afraid?

Tell us a bit more about her personality.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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JLew2019 Nov 15, 2020
She has always been a bit controlling and never really enjoyed being left alone. She lost her husband, who she was a full time caregiver for due to cancer, in 2014 and then moved in with my grandma(her mom) and myself. I was grandma's full time caregiver. She also had dementia. When mom moved in, it freed me up to date and have friends. I met my husband, got married, and moved out last year. She hated that I was leaving her at home with grandma to see my boyfriend at the time, once a week. She wanted to go everywhere with me. So, this isn't different behavior. The manipulation isn't new either. Both have gotten worse though. I have explained to her that my day with her is Saturdays and my day with Josh is Sundays. The rest of the week he and I end up staying up until midnight in order to spend some alone time together. Thanks for the encouragement.
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My mother is almost 94 and has dementia. Your mother can easily live another 30 years, but will your new marriage MAKE it much longer if, after 3 weeks, you're 'struggling' to find alone time together? If it were me, I'd find alternate living arrangements for your mother because, as you probably already know, things only get worse & worse with dementia. The irritating behaviors exhibited now will advance to the point of being totally insufferable in a matter of time, and how will your husband react to that? A controlling, manipulative person becomes way more controlling and manipulative as her dementia progresses. I know, I have one of those mother's myself. She, however, lives in a Memory Care ALF and gets excellent care & attention there from a full time staff of people who see to her every need and want. Otherwise, she'd be expecting ME to be her entertainment committee and that ain't happenin.

Remember that your marriage needs to come first. Otherwise, your mother will likely seep into every aspect of your life to the point where you will have NO life except for looking after her.

Look into alternative living arrangements for her so that Plan B can be utilized if/when the time comes.

Don't automatically poo-poo that idea away. Make sure you prioritize your marriage and keep it fun and alive. Whatever it takes. If that means going away for long weekends while you still CAN, before your mother requires you to be home 24/7, then do it! We have one gal who posts here who has created a sex closet (literally) to escape her mother's prying eyes and ears. That's the only place she and her hubby can go for privacy. Like I said, things can go south in a hurry when dementia is involved!

Wishing you the very best of luck and inventiveness when it comes to keeping your marriage alive and your mother in line with lots of boundaries! Set them down NOW~~~while she's still cognizant enough to understand them!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Sometimes, when hubby and I go out, dad wants to go out too. It just takes him time to get ready. And sometimes, dad wants to go, but his feet hurt or something. So he sits at home.

Hubby and I go anyway when we need to. At first, it's like, we don't want to upset him. But over time, we learn, we need to do what we need to do. Yes, we hear it later. But at least we accomplished something.
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Reply to Lvnsm1826
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Could be anxiety?

My Mother does not like to be alone. Anxious +++++ calls out if Dad is in another room. Always been anxious & never has lived alone, taken a trip alone etc. But now, with aging & other issues I think it's a survival thing. She knows she needs others around.

Talk with her & her Doctor about this. Maybe some mild meds may work?

But also, for the longer term view, maybe a move into assisted living may be considered as a solution? She has company. You get a marriage.
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Reply to Beatty
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What happened to grandma?

Moms Dementia will progress to the point you cannot leave her. Dementia is an unpredictable desease. In early stages, one day they seem normal, next day not so much. With my Mom her decline was monthly but she was in her late 80s too.

I would not approach Mom with "my house my rules". But I would try to make her understand that you need alone time with ur husband. This maybe hard, the ability to reason is one of the first things to go. As is being able to process what is being said. They become like small children. Setting boundries may eventually be hard because of short-term loss. And since Mom has always been this way, it will be hard to change her. So u change you.

Just like a child, you say "DH and I are going out on a date. We should be back about 9 pm. Will see you then." then walk out the door. Don't try to placate her. Just walk out the door. As time goes on, u may have to hire a sitter.

You have taken on a big responsibility for anyone more so because u are newly weds. You may want to start looking into resources. If Mom has money, then an AL. She will need more and more care. If u don't have it, get POA while she understands what she is doing.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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ToniFromRVA Nov 20, 2020
Not just POA, but Durable POA, Advanced Directives, future plans, & will (if not already done).
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Hi! Me and my husband live with my grandfather who has dementia. We struggled as well whenever we first moved in with alone time. Never feel guilty about leaving her. I would recommend if you or you husband has family to see if they would maybe take your mom for the night or come over for the night to give her some company while you and your husband get away. It is okay to remind her that you have a husband you need to spend time with as well. We are still trying to find that balance but all in all it is honestly okay to tell your mom you want to spend some alone time with your husband. Also maybe make a schedule for your mom and on what nights you and your husband spend time with her and what night you and your husband spend time. I always tell my grandfather where I am going whether he wants to go or not. If I want him to go with my I always ask. If I do not want him to go I simply tell him I am going here be back soon and leave. Hope this helps and I hop everything gets better <3

EDIT*** I also recommend looking into a security system because as it progresses you will learn about sun downing and My grandfather has walked out of the house at night before and we have found him down the road, just a tip
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Reply to Jbailey0601
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this is a very common problem. My Mother in law pulled this crap all the time. My wife always fell for it. We finally ended in divorce.

You are probably going to have to find someone to come sit with her while you guys have a break. Check with your church they often have volunteers for this. Also check the local Senior support resources they often have people willing to help. BUT you may end up paying some one.

Caregivers need breaks, that is all their is to it. If you cant get her to cooperate than she is just going to have to have her fits.

At some point you will have to decide what is your priority your Mother or your Marriage. If after you just read this line you hesitated about your Marriage. I can tell you the Marriage is lost.
My wife strung me along for years and I was stupid enough to take it. Now im 64 and by myself. She should have been truthful with me and ended it 15 years ago. And I should of not kept wanting to believe her.

Your Mother is not going to suddenly get better and say "oh I'm fine you guys don't worry about me" So if you have not, you need to start planning now for how your going to move her to the next stage which is most likely a facility
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Reply to lacyisland
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I think consistency helps. My husband and I get out and run or walk the dogs every night. And our daughter (who is 16) know she’s watching the grandmas when we go. It’s good for us to get the air and exercise and has improved our communication immensely. We can work out so much in 10 minutes on a run versus all day at home. My mother and grandmother have gotten used to the routine. Be consistent and get a helper.
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Reply to Homecare123
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One poster said:

"Just like a child, you say "DH and I are going out on a date. We should be back about 9 pm. Will see you then." then walk out the door. Don't try to placate her. Just walk out the door. As time goes on, u may have to hire a sitter."

I totally agree.

My 90 yo Mom doesn't have dementia, but she's skilled at manipulation and guilt. My hubby and I have been married 25 years. We moved away after our honeymoon. Blessed peace and controlled exposure due to the distance except for 2 years Mom moved to be near us about 3 years into our marriage. She didn't like Texas, so she moved back to Georgia. Peace again. She had a stroke July 2019 and moved in with us permanently that October. It was in our face again, except worse due to all that comes with losing functionality and independence.

My advice to you is live with this new situation with EYES WIDE OPEN. We can't deny the ugliness of parental habits. Be honest with yourself, your hubby and your Mom. You don't have to be mean about it, just matter of fact, like the quoted post.

What helped us overcome Mom's demands is setting boundaries, not jumping to, making her wait - even 5 minutes - to condition her to the fact that my family comes first, and making the most of the opportunities daily to include her in our lives with nightly dinner together at the table ( which I recommend for you and hubby anyway), weekly (and sometimes multiple nights) movie nights on WEEKDAYS, sitting outside with her on occasion after dinner, and just working her into the rhythm of YOUR life in general, not the other way around. The weekends are OURS! We let her know if we plan to go out (dementia may require a calendar note and reminders). My mom can't be left alone in the house right now because she's a fall risk. Fortunately, we still have adult sons living here that help out when needed. BUT I've insisted to them and up front with Mom that they're lives are their own. Between myself, hubby and the boys, we make no assumptions on anyone's time, esp when it comes to dealing with Mom.

Since we've developed a routine of including Mom in our daily lives, even if it's just sit down dinner, she's gotten better at accepting that my hubby and I go do things without her, and that her grandsons go do their thing. I can tell by her tongue clicks and sighs that she disapproves or whatever, but she now resigns herself for the most part; for the other part, you have to ignore the tantrums. Walk away and don't feel guilty. Stop responding to the negative behavior. Totally, and I mean totally, ignore it like you didn't even hear it. Encourage her also to stay in touch with friends and take interest in her our pursuits to occupy her time. Since you and hubby both work, maybe you two can get away for a lunch date once a week.

I also have started to take my own life back by doing things I used to do for myself - time out of the house, be it a meeting, appts, a walk (or hiding outside), lunch with a friend, etc. As the poster said, you're dealing with a child mentally. My own parenthood experience prepared me for this. You don't ask, you tell.

Dealing with my Mom, is a combination of parenting skills and Pavlov's Dog conditioning techniques. Sometimes a frank talk with Mom is required and repeated too. My mom conveniently forgets what she doesn't like to hear. Doctors say no dementia at all. So. it's her attitude. I accept that and act accordingly.

This is hard work. I've had to be creative and resourceful. This is the choice we made. Stay strong. Put you and your marriage first. Remember the little things with hubby are priceless.
Pray.
Live your life.
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Reply to babziellia
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I agree expectations need to be made clear and communication needs to be open. But I did run into situations with my LO where if she *knew* I had plans or tickets to something on a particular night, she would start staging a crisis earlier in the day such that I would doubt whether I should leave her. Every moment of every day was a judgment call for me in caring for her, but she got predictable if she knew that my priority that day was anything but her. I started noticing signs that the attention seeking was ramping up and I got better at not telling her in advance that I would be leaving and there was a lot less drama. This was a woman who lived alone for years, so it wasn't really just being by herself for a few hours. It was that she didn't want me to have any freedom/happiness that she couldn't also have due to her multiple comorbidities. There was a thread a while back that didn't directly address the couplehood issues OP speaks of, but it spoke volumes about attention-seeking elders who manipulate people and there were some very good points made. I think it had to do with elders faking injuries - "fake falls" is coming to mind.
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Reply to Mysteryshopper
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MaryBee Nov 19, 2020
I really identify with what you wrote. My MIL would get so worked up and antsy when we had plans and someone came to stay with her. I don’t know if it was manipulation or just anxiety at not having her regular caregiver (me) but the stress was real!
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It may be time to arrange for her to have "visitors" - sitters - while you go out. Please ask family members, friends, members of community of faith, or get paid help to "visit" so while you enjoy "couple time". If you can pitch it as the "visitors"
are for her enjoyment while you do some "tasks she would not be interested it," She may come to look forward to your date nights rather than be sullen that you are not taking her with you.
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Reply to Taarna
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Most couples struggle with this but why did you allow her to move in with you in the first place? If it was because of the dementia, surely her PCP told you that it only gets worse. If you can not control where she goes and what she does now, you are exposing yourself and your husband to possible infection of Covid-19. And I hope you realize there will come a time when she cannot be left alone. Have you developed plans to cope with that? For right now, does she have friends she can FaceTime with? The pandemic has closed the usual places one can go to meet and greet but get her on the list for senior citizen centers, and groups in churches, synagogues, temples, etc. Does she have hobbies or things that she has always wanted to get involved with -- art, photography, etc.?
Long range... (which, given the nature of dementia progress may be longer or shorter than we imagine) you need to start looking at alternatives for getting her the best care possible. If you can set boundaries at your home (which she may start to forget or ignore as time progresses) you may wish to consider the possibility and related costs, of in home care. She may have assets or possibly qualify for some Medicaid assistance but keep in mind that Medicaid, funded by taxpayers can always change their qualifications as time passes. You may also wish to consider a senior living arrangement for her. Difficult to make any visits during the pandemic but you can start your search online. For longevity, the best environments are CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) because a person can move through the different levels of care while being in the same environment. Unfortunately, they are usually the most expensive requiring a significant entry fee. Failing that you can find an AL (Assisted Living) with a memory care unit for future needs. Unfortunately, ALs generally have very limited Medicaid qualified beds and private pay can get expensive.
I just think for your own piece of mind you need to attempt to set boundaries while she is living with you so that your marriage doesn't disintegrate but you need to think towards the future also. At 63, she is quite young and obviously quite manipulative and perhaps a little lonely and jealous. Good Luck in your endeavors
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Reply to geddyupgo
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I can relate on a few of what you mentioned. I had both parents move in about 5 years ago. My father started to show signs of forgetfulness and my mother is paralyzed on the right side of her body due to a stroke years ago. Anyway, I saw the writing on the wall and started looking for an apartment for them, since then my father has dementia and has to be watched 24/7. Since he requires so much attention now my mother has started peeing on herself for attention not a good situation. So, I’m saying all this to say look in the future for yourself and your marriage.
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Reply to malsings07
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Imho, you may want to hire someone to sit with her when you and your husband go out on dates. Prayers sent.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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She has a new diagnosis of dementia, you cannot control where she goes, you both work all day, and then want time to yourselves to leave her alone in the evenings. Something IS going to happen.

You are not really 'caring' for her, she is just living in the house with you. I'm sure she gets manipulative - think about it - she stayed home all day (or wandered who k nows where) and then you/hubby leave her alone after work. Of course she would like to manipulate the situation where she is included. Your marriage may not suffer, but it is definitely different simply because someone is in the home with you and sort of needs the kind of attention you would give your child.

You need someone coming in to check on her and to be with her if you go out in the evenings. You moved someone in who needs tending to. This is not the adult child who came home. You might want to look at an elderly apartment community or assisted living type facility. She would be around other people during the day, watched by staff, activities to do and safe. Caregiving can be selfish from the outside because others in your life are not really front and center for attention.
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Reply to my2cents
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so I am guessing you have only been married for one year and then moved your mother in with you......that was a lot to take on.  Does she still drive? maybe you and hubby should discuss about taking away the car and/or both the keys that way she can't at least go somewhere and get lost or not protect herself around others.  Can you get someone to come in when you and hubby want to go out alone?  Would she be careful around a stove? if not, then you need to find someone to stay with her.  she could be living with you a long long time so either find someone to come in when you want to go out or some counseling to see how to work around things. wishing you luck.
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Reply to wolflover451
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Sorry, but talk to mom and let her know it is important that you and your husband need some alone time.

Give mom some attention and then have yourself some ME time.
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Reply to haileybug
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Unfortunately this should have been a discussion that you & hubby should have had before she moved in. You need to make your marriage a priority & keep mom safe. Use her resources to find someone to stay with her while you both go out on a regular basis (family, friends, or paid help). Have the discussion soon about future living situations-keep her with you with help for the short term-live in help when needed-look for memory care places for her to go & send her when the time is right. You have taken on the task of keeping her safe. How can you do that when you both work? One day she may decide to go & look for you & get lost. She may use the stovetop & cause a fire. She may open the front door & get assaulted, robbed, or hurt. I think that you get what I'm trying to say. You might want to place cameras in your house to check on her while you're out (work or pleasure) just to make sure that she's safe. Have someone or several people check in on her to make sure she's okay. You may consider contacting your senior aging center, police or Alzheimer's Association about a tracking device. AA is a great resource for assistance & join one of their support groups. Invaluable help!
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