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I have been taking care of my mother-in-law for 3 very long years. She is spiteful, narcissistic and passive-aggresive towards me. She has no mental illness and can move well with the aid of a walker. However, she will lie in her bed all day and expect me to do every for her - from carrying her food to wiping her backside to changing her tv's channels - literally. I can't and won't do it anymore! When she was deathly ill (the hospital kicked her out after a week because she refused to take her meds and would pull out her drips) it was understandable and I didn't mind, but she has been well for 2 years now yet she still expects it.


I wasn't given a choice to care for her. It was placed on my shoulders as the wife of her oldest son (the 2nd eldest child). We had to move into her house because she refused to leave and it was shortly after her youngest child's death. I have never felt at home here and most of our things are still boxed up in an outside room - also not by choice. She has also tried to cause trouble between my husband and myself numerous times, but thankfully he now sees through that.


My husband was diagnosed with PTSD this year and my son has Bi-Polar disorder. On top of all this I have to try and raise my two younger children in this negative environment and support my eldest in university. I have no help around the house or with her care (she has 2 daughters) and have lost connection with my friends and church because of taking care of her.


Lately I cringe at the sound of her voice and can't stand to look at her.


Between my mother-in-law, my husband and son's disorders and an isolated life I feel lost. I can't cope with even doing mundane tasks like washing dishes anymore. Most days I just want to be "away".


Sorry for the essay. I guess I ranted and rambled.

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You have reached burn out and I don't blame you, your situation is complicated by your need to try to protect your husband but in the long run maintaining the staus quo is not helping either of you. It has to start with you, you need to make your emancipation proclamation and start to set boundaries in what you will or will not do for MIL. Baby steps - for %#@& sake stop waiting on her hand and foot (wiping her backside - really?), if she won't get up and care for herself she can do without. Let her whine - close the door or buy headphones. She sounds fit enough to be left on her own so get out of the house every day while the kids are at school - go to the mall, walk through the park, read at the library or have coffee with a friend.
In the long run you need to figure out how to get her debt off your backs - IMO she needs to declare bankruptcy and find affordable housing and get out of your home. Someone mentally fit who can navigate with a walker does not need a caregiver, I see no reason she couldn't live in a rent controlled seniors apartment.
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TiredAndDone Sep 24, 2018
Would you please read my reply to rocketjcat?
I wanted to reply to both of you simultaneously, but didn't know how.
Just being able to communicate with someone that won't judge me and has experienced similar situations has already been a HUGE help.
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That all sounds very overwhelming and plain wrong. You and your family have many years of life ahead of you. I don't understand why her daughters are of no help other than they probably don't want the burden. I think you need to have her placed in a facility if monetarily possible or else have help for her in her home. Your life has been hijacked. I realize she has problems and sad events but you need to take back control of your life for your sake and the sakes of your family. It may not be to her satisfaction but then she does not sound as though she could ever be easily satisfied. Six years ago I placed my mother in AL. She hasn't always been pleased but she has adapted. There are many posts on this site about similar situations. You and your family should be your first priority. You will be rendered useless to all in my opinion if you don't find a solution for her care other than yourself. I truly hope you find that soon.
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Reply to Riverdale
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Start by dropping Mil off at her daughter's homes, because you need a break. Then leave her there for 1-2 weeks while you go on vacation.
Then, inform them you are no longer going to be the caregiving female in the family. They can place her if they want.
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CaregiverL Sep 23, 2018
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I am so upset for this situation you are in. It makes my blood boil when family takes such obvious advantage of a caregiver who got roped/bullied into a situation by virtue of their more caring personality. You said you can’t and won’t do it anymore...I hope you mean it. She is mobile, and you think she is capable. Insist she’s out of bed and at least sitting around in the living room during the day. She can sleep in the chair, but has to be out if bed. Maybe strip the bedding in the morning, and don’t make it again until bedtime. Insist she eat with the family, so you’re not toting her food around and she has more interactions. If she can feed herself, she’s capable of wiping her butt. Do not change her channels for her, hand her the remote. Let her rant. You need to take your life back. Tell your husband the new rules that your ongoing care will necessitate, not only for your wellbeing, but also for his Moms mental and physical health. You “think” your husband would choose you over her. This is how you will know.
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TiredAndDone Sep 24, 2018
I would like to thank everyone for their answers. They all have truly been helpful.
I spoke to MIL and told her she needs to move and use the toilet. When the rebellion came (as I knew it would) and she made a mess, I had her clean it up herself. By the third time she got the message and it is thankfully not happening anymore. Now she is just in terrible pain everytime she has to do something (wink) but I can handle that.
Also, I spoke to H about the situation and for the time being the status quo will remain. Because we are living in her house, can't afford to place her, etc.
Now I just need to work on myself. Thank you for taking an interest and the time to reply.
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Three years is too long, but better to stop this abuse now rather than let it continue. Unfortunately, the pattern has been established, but it CAN be changed!

Is your H afraid of her? What is his PTSD from? Does he help at all with her care? Does he think your slavery towards his mother is okay? If he had to choose between MIL and you, who would it be?

How old is MIL, and how old are you?

If H is intractable and won't consider an alternative living environment for his mother or at least insist on hired help, then you must decide whether you are better off with or without him.

One more question...what is MIL's financial picture? Could she afford in-home help or an Assisted Living facility?
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TiredAndDone Sep 23, 2018
H is not afraid of her, but guilt plays a big part. He has been burdened with protecting her and caring for her and his sisters since he was a small child. His father was very abusive (physically, verbally and emotionally) towards the whole family. This and his experiences in the army is the cause of his PTSD. I do think he would choose me over her though.
MIL is 78, and I am 42 years old.
She is receiving a state pension, but has a huge amount of debt thanks to the child that passed away. So her financial situation is bad, and we cannot afford to have her placed in a facility because we are already trying to cope with her debt as well.
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It definitely sounds like you are overextended and exhausted. I'd try to get some respite time immediately, so you can get some rest and focus on your own family. If husband is not able to assist you, I'd get assistance elsewhere. I'd treat it as an emergency. It's risky to be the hands on caregiver for a person that you are resentful of. It's not healthy for either of you. After you get rested and can sort through things, I'd discuss with husband your feelings and other options for the MIL's care. It sounds like it's not working out. Either that, or how to get some outside help to come in.

I'd also suggest that your MIL be checked for cognitive decline. Sometimes, people seem to be disagreeable, lazy, selfish, demanding, which is due to changes in their brain that we are not aware of. Something similar happened with my LO (she seemed physically fine, but, just stopped doing things for herself) and I was told by therapists that she was lazy and selfish, since she wanted to just lay in bed, with nothing wrong with her, but, later, it became clear it was dementia. I'm not saying that's what is the cause for your MIL, but, I would consider it as a possibility and try to avoid blame, until it's determined for sure. But, whatever the reason, I'd seek help. No one should be a caregiver when they don't want to do it.
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TiredAndDone Sep 23, 2018
Thank you for the advice. Firstly, let me just say that I would NEVER ever hurt anyone physically or emotionally in a deliberate way. Maybe that is why I ended up in this situation in the first place? I just tend to withdraw and avoid people.
I have also considered that it might be dementia, but shouldn't there be some mental signs as well?
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My heart aches for you--sounds kind of like my DH is "terrified" of his mother and will not stand up to her, for himself or for me. I have suffered verbal abuse at her hands for 42 years. Only last year did my DH actually HEAR HER run me down in front of the whole family (she's losing her filter!!) and he FINALLY believed me that she had been nasty to me all my married life. Too little too late, but it was finally "out there" and she looked a fool.

At present, sounds like you can't do much. Your first responsibility is to YOU...then to your hubby and kids. MIL is somewhere along the last.

Can you have a family meeting and discuss this with the other sibs? I know it's really hard, I bet everyone is just thrilled to have you carrying the bucket on this--but you will burn out, completely, and very soon if you don't get some help. Let them know that. There is no law or rule that says the oldest child is responsible for mom & dad----it should be equally spread out. If some of the other sibs can't physically help, then they need to be financially helping you by paying for a few days of in home care. Period.

I had an older brother who cleaned my parents out, financially and we're still living with the repercussions 20+ years later. Sadly, we see that a lot.

I hope you get some balance going--you certainly can't say anything on these boards that we haven't heard a lot of times. Please try to get family together and get some help. Nobody is well served if you fall apart.

{{{HUGS}}}
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Reply to Midkid58
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First, let me say that I am sorry for the position that you have been placed in. Depending on where you live there may be some things that you can do.
1) Start with finding a case manager that handles seniors. If you have 211, call and ask them for suggestions on an agency. Also, check with her health insurance and see if they have a case manager that can help. Case managers are a free service through non-profits and health insurance.
2) Consider filing bankruptcy. It will forgive all of her debts and free up cash that you might be able to then use to get her into an assisted living. Someone mentioned that she go into affordable housing. Depending on where you live, the waitlists can be up to 10 years. Also, if she owns her home she would not qualify.
3) Look into caregiver support groups. You have it coming at you from 3 directions and you will burnout. Support groups can not only empathize but also provide ideas for making your situation more bearable.
4) There are mental health organizations that provide sessions on how to more effectively handle people with mental conditions. Again, you can call 211 or your health insurance to see what is available in your area.
Hopefully these are a couple of ideas that will help.
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Reply to AlohaGrambi
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When she was in the hospital. you should’ve insisted she can’t go home & have help from Social Worker Dept to have her placed in a SNF.
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TiredAndDone Sep 23, 2018
Unfortunately it doesn't work that way where I stay (not in the USA).
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Thank you very much. My husband and I agree that she should be placed in a care facility, but unfortunately it would have to be her 3 kids that do it because they would have to share the expense. I know for sure that her daughters will not agree for her to go into a home yet, because she has shown improvement. Hopefully I am able to find a way to help myself become stronger and calmer. Just posting here already helped because it made me feel less alone. Thank you.
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CaregiverL Sep 23, 2018
She has 3 kids!?! Place her in facility & tell Social Worker Dept of their 3 addresses...that’s where they should send the bill.
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