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My mother-in-law had a stroke in February and is unable to care for herself. She has been in and out of the hospital and several facilities - mostly due to her own behavior and low income/no savings. She is unhappy wherever she is and complains constantly about everything. Nothing is ever good enough. I have busted my butt to find her places to go and take care of her but she treats me like I'm not doing anything and have abandoned her and left her to die. She expects everyone to drop everything and be at her back and call. When she doesn't get what she wants she starts to cry and accuses everyone of not caring, not loving her, and generally being horrible people. I am at a point (and everyone else in her family has been at this point for a long time) where I am ready to give up and not deal with her at all. This is negatively impacting my health due to all the stress she is causing me. I am at a total loss as to what to do. There is no where else for her to go at this point.

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Let your husband take care of her. It’s his Mother, not yours.
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JennaP Jun 23, 2020
I'm sorry but, how is that a helpful response? You don't know her entire situation, as none of us do. She's reaching out for advice. Whether her husband or she does it, the same stress and issues are there. We're all caregivers on this site looking for a place to vent or for some guidance in this journey.
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Where is your husband/wife in all this?

First, understand that this is normal behaviour in a person suffering from Dementia. You can no longer reason with them. They process much slower and can't comprehend. If she was this way before, Dementia tends to make it worse. Think of her as a small child. She can no longer appreciate or show empathy. Her brain is broken, as some members call it, me I say its dying. She will never be happy. Don't feed into her demands.

She doesn't have to go anywhere. You have already found she is not happy anywhere she is. So don't worry about moving her anywhere else until her Dementia gets to the point she needs more care than an AL can give or the money runs out. Then Medicaid can be applied for.

If MIL is in an AL, then I assume you haven't been able to visit. Some members have seen this as a blessing. Its given them time to take a breath. You may need to just step back. If your visits seem to get her going, then don't go. Does she have a phone? Are you the only one she calls? At this point, since no one can visit I wouldn't take it away since its her lifeline. But if the calls she makes are just to complain to everyone, I would lose it when the Facilities reopen. Make sure you tell the staff you took it. You can ignore her calls. Let them go to VM. I use "Do not Disturb" on my phone. Only way I can set it up to only allow calls and texts from my contact list. I would take MIL off my CL. The call will go to VM and you can deal with her when in the mood. Or block her and you don't know she even called. Then you call her maybe 1x a day to see how she is and what she needs. When she gets started, just tell her time to go and hang up. There is no more trying to "condition" them or make them understand.

YOU WILL NEVER MAKE HER HAPPY! You have to come to this conclusion and stop trying to. And that is OK. Its OK to say I can't do this any more. The ball is now in your court.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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One thing that I’ve learned since my mothers illness and death is that they’re not going to be happy with their situation. No matter what anyone does, it’s no fun getting old and unable to take care of theirselves. There’s no point in making yourself crazy with guilt about it.
My mom was a sweet woman who loved her independence, so it was devastating to her when she couldn’t do the things she was used to doing. Honestly, it was devastating to me as well. However, no matter what any of us did, it just wasn’t fixable.
Let yourselfoff the hook and walk away when you need to, your health and well-being is important too.
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Reply to AllOverNow
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Your profile says she's in Assisted Living. Let them assist with her living instead of doing it yourself. It's right there in the name. Just ignore her if she whinges or cries about trivial nonsense.
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Reply to ZippyZee
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Where is her son?

You are one good DIL to put up with this behavior.

I have a similar MIL (age 90) and until the last 5 years, her health has been pretty good. Last year she had a small stroke which lead to a fall--and about 8 weeks in the hospital and then a rehab center. Her usual 'not very nice' personality intensified to the point she simply screams at people when they aren't doing what she wants. DH and his sister insist she doesn't have any level of dementia, but I totally disagree. BUT, I am not considered part of the family, so my voice is not wanted nor heard.

Sadly, I have had to step away from ANY kind of care for her. She 'divorced me'--told me (screamed at me) to get OUT of her house and never ever come back. This was about 5-6 months ago--I have not seen nor spoken to her since, and don't plan to.

She is NOT your problem, kind as you are to care. You cannot fix someone so toxically ill, mentally. I tried for 43 years. And I never got through.

You should not be putting your own sense of well being in jeopardy for her, or for that matter, for anyone. I feel so much better, emotionally since the 'divorce'. DH is furious with me, but I don't get why. All I ever did was be nice to her and suffer her verbal abuse w/o lashing back or standing up for myself.

The next health scare will wind up with MIL being in a NH, something she has fought her kids on forever. I will not help her move and I will not go see her in the NH.

You aren't giving us enough info--like, where is her son in all this? Why do you feel so obligated to help someone who obviously doesn't care? IF this were a new behavior, yes, I'd chalk it up to aging and be much more compassionate--but if she has always been this way--she will not likely change.

Come back with more details--and take a break from her. Isn't she isolating right now due to COVID? There is ALWAYS a place for elderly folks to go. It just may not make her happy.
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Reply to Midkid58
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It is okay to tell her to stop, telling her that she is behaving inappropriately and unacceptably and to walk away or hang up if she doesn't stop being nasty.

Sometimes we just need to be verbally strong in our response to verbal abuse and manipulation.

Come back tomorrow and respond in the same way every single time that she gets ugly.

When you come back try behaving as though all is well and yesterday is forgotten. If she doesn't then you can say that you will be back later and hopefully she will think about what the truth really is. Maybe stay away a little longer to let her really see what she is destroying by being unreasonable.

What was the diagnosis of the stroke, did it destroy critical thinking areas, self control or emotional areas?

Sometimes love has to do and say very tough things, that is okay as long as you remember to give hugs and kisses and reaffirm your love for them.

She is blessed to have you as a friend and an in law.

Remember to take care of you and only give her what you can, not what she demands.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. I do understand as I am on a similar rollercoaster with my mom who has dementia and is declining rapidly. Sharing some thoughts and what I have learned along the way that may help you in some way.

Realize that the person who is being cared for cannot help themselves and so they are lashing out at you and the world. They are in significant physical and/or emotional pain and have endured SO many losses... of health, wellness, independence, loss of friends and family members, perhaps loss of living at home, and mainly the loss of the ability to be in control of their circumstances (independence), and SO much more.

Some have physical OR memory issues or other brain diseases and are acting out of how the disease has changed their bodily functions and their reactions to their circumstances.

And now they are angry and tired of it all. So they start lashing out at you and everyone and everything, without regard for your or others feelings (no filter). But, believe it or not, way down deep they are truly VERY fearful and frightened inwardly, regardless of what they say or how they act outwardly.

As caregivers, we cannot change them or how they feel. But we CAN change OUR perspective and how WE react and deal with them and the situation. It is a choice and a labor of love. It takes time and work to learn how to change our thinking and to KNOW and believe that we are doing the best that we can to protect not only them but also ourselves and our feelings, no matter how they react or what they say or do.

I am hopeful that you can find a qualified professional counselor or pastor to help you talk through all this and navigate through your feelings in the situation.

It is also helpful if you have a close friend or two you can meet with and go to lunch or dinner or just meet for coffee on occasion. Share stories, laugh, just talk about other things or shop, etc. just do something else for a while to get your mind off it all. It can help reduce some of your stress.

There is also a great book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend that is a handbook on how to set boundaries for yourself and others and learn how to think and react differently to protect yourself first so you can truly help others.

What has always helped me the most is to pray and read the Bible daily, to understand that God is in control and loved me AND my mom. He knows my struggles and I know He is working in this situation. I am learning to how to pray for my mother daily and truly love her as Christ loves me, no matter how she reacts or what she does. I look for the good He is doing regardless of what it looks like on the surface - the little “wins” every day.

Mom took care of me and raised me for all those years as I was growing and loved me when I was unlovely and difficult and rebellious as a child.

Mom also was a dedicated caregiver for her mom and dad, my dad’s mom and also my dad for over 25 years when they were all going through similar circumstances as they aged.

I know it is now my turn to learn how to love her unconditionally, despite of the disease that causes her to lash out, and to help her as best I can through this final phase of her life.

My prayer is that you will begin to find true peace and a different perspective to be able to best deal with the difficult days and times.
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Reply to Love-and-Hope
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sister46 Jun 23, 2020
Excellent, excellent response!
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Walk away. There is a reason other family members have walked and you should too.

You are not responsible for her.

If she is in your home, put her back into care.

Where is your husband in all this?
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Reply to Tothill
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You can apply for Medicaid & get MIL placed in a Skilled Nursing Facility asap. Some people can't be pleased no matter WHAT you do, so stop trying. Placing her in a SNF gets others to deal with her instead of you. You can go visit any time and bring her small gifts and a big smile. At this point, that's all you CAN do.

You can get all sorts of advice about praying, about doing for her what she did for your DH when he was little, about turning the other cheek, about this that and the other thing. But the bottom line is this: What will it take to make YOU happy and to take YOUR life back?

That is the question that needs addressing by both yourself and your MILs son. Then make your decision accordingly. Having a stroke and the associated cognitive decline that comes with it is no joke. Most people cannot handle in-home care with JUST that medical situation alone. Never mind the added behavioral difficulties she is exhibiting...........that makes it a horse of another color.

If Dh is against placing his mother in a SNF, ask him what he plans to do if/when YOU have a big health issue associated with the chronic stress you are suffering at the hands of his mother? Then what?

NOW is the time to make the hard decisions. Not when YOU are in the hospital suffering the repercussions of a selfish, narcissistic woman who should have been placed in a SNF back in February.

Good luck!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Think 'small child', not mother in law and treat the unreasonable demands, tantrums and lack of gratitude in the same way - firmly and kindly with as much patience that you can muster. It is awful when older people regress like this. Try not to take it personally and share the burden! Good luck!
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