My husband and I are on different pages regarding his Dad. I am burnt out after 2.5 years and I say it’s time for his dad to live in a senior home. My husband says he will feel like we are abandoning his Dad and I am being selfish for even thinking about it. I feel like I have reached my limit with no end in sight. What should I do? Has anyone else had this conflict and how did you handle it? Thanks for your reply in advance.

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Seriously. Go visit a friend or a cousin for a couple of weeks when Dad comes home. There’s a saying that I had to memorize when my angry MIL would pitch a fit about my not hopping to when she said ‘jump.’ “Pay attention when people react with anger and hostility to your boundaries. You have found the edge where their respect for you ends.” You have a better understanding of the needs of your FIL than your husband or his siblings. Sibs, by the way, have already told you that they will not support you, so stop asking them to. Stop calling them to discuss care options. Until they’re willing to glove up and dig in, they don’t get a say. Your husband needs a supportive wife, of course, but not an enabling wife — that does him no good. Take a vacation. Let hubs and his dad figure out a new normal before you get back. I kept telling my husband I needed help caring for his parents as well as our six kids, all of whom we were homeschooling at the time. Bless his heart, I think he tried to understand. But he went to work all day, every day and left all the details to be handled by his very capable wife. It wasn’t until I had to serve a week on a sequestered jury that he finally ‘got it.’ Aside from the gruesome trial details, I enjoyed my respite! Sound minded adults to talk to, a clean hotel room with a bed all to myself, three cooked meals a day plus snacks. It was bliss! I came home at the end of the week to a very tired and frazzled husband. After we’d put the kids to bed, we sat on the couch. He turned to me and very earnestly said, “We need to get you some help! I don’t know how you’ve been doing all of this!” A lot of things changed that day.
Helpful Answer (3)

I would be so very tempted to lay the guilt trip of all time on your inlaws, they are out of control, doing nothing, contributing nothing, yet have the gaul to say you and hubby will speed his death if you get him in a facility that can provide the care he needs. Since when do any of us decide how many days a person has, they are saying you have the power of God in your hands. That is nothing but manipulation.

You and hubby had an agreement and someone has gotten to him, but that is not your problem. He can do what ever he can do. Bring dad home, fine, solo flight buddy. Just because he chooses to wimp out on your agreement doesn't obligate you to step back in to caregiving. Let him do everything his dad requires, don't say anything about it, just let him carry the load he has picked up. That will take discipline and determination, but he won't be able to sustain it and he will find telling daddy that times they are a changing will be far easier then what he alone is doing.

He needs to shake those sibling off his back side and be a man, he married you and made lots of vows, he needs to look at reality that this is killing you, you have had serious accidents and illnesses and that is because you are overwhelmed and exhausted. Could he stand up if you ended up in the hospital? They don't have any say, period. If you do nothing you don't get a vote or a voice.

I pray you find a solution and take care of you during this difficult time.
Helpful Answer (4)

No, no, no. And no.

I don’t have time to write all I would like to encourage you tonight... I will try to add something more useful to this tomorrow.

For now, make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that you WILL NOT be providing care if DH decides to allow FIL to return to your home. Calmly, no tears, guilt or fighting. Stick to your script and don’t let him manipulate you. It sounds like he (and his siblings, apparently) know that if they can make you feel like crap, you will cave. Right at this moment, it seems he is counting on that, even if only subconsciously.

Language you can use...

“Well, DH, looks like we are at an impasse. You can do whatever you like. However, one thing needs to be very clear. This is your choice, and at this point, he is entirely your responsibility. I am done. I have done more than anyone could be reasonably expected to do.

We made a plan that you are now backing away from. Fine. But actions have consequences. The consequence of you declining to have the hard conversation and instead allowing him back into our home is that he needs care and that you are accepting responsibility to give it to him. Because you know he needs the care.

I, your wife, have been clear that I am done. You don’t seem able to hear that. No worries. That is relatively common in situations where parents are pushing buttons they installed in their children to control them.

Honey, I can’t fight those buttons. I can love you, but I can’t make you see that this has nothing to do with making you choose between anyone. This has nothing to do with anyone’s imagined “selfishness” on my part. That is a crap copout. It’s hurtful and false and manipulative. But that is another topic for another day.

THIS day you need to decide how YOU are going to get up 4 times a night for your Dad and do x, y and z for him. The only thing I am willing to do at this point is to show love as I would if I were visiting a family member. I will smile at him and be kind and listen to his stories. Give him a hug now and again as I head out to do all of the things I have put on hold for the past few years. And that is the extent of it. No”honey, could you just...”. Nothing.

We had a solution. I would have stood by you through all of the ugly of his reaction and your siblings ignorant and childish responses to this. But I can’t stand by you when you won’t take the first step.”

I know this is hard. My DH worked to push through the family mind games/dynamics that came into play over the many years we have taken care of his parents. He had to get to this point because there was a lot of that power structure in the family. It was frustrating at times, but I watched him consistently work his azz off and do the hard inner work to protect our marriage and our family. That is how I know it can be done:)

And if ANYONE ever called me selfish after I have years of my life and cared for his parents better than any of their kids, or if anyone tried to guilt me into doing more... heads would roll. And he is the youngest.

You owe no one anything. You have given sacrificially straight from your soft heart. He should be protecting that NOT taking advantage of it. FIL and sibs should be thanking you and helping you get out of this.

But you are going to have to be strong here. And guard yourself from the fear that they are all living under. FOG is powerful. But if you stay centered, you can at least make your boundaries clear. No doubt it will suck for a while, but it is the only way. If not for your heart, then for your health.
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Another update:
I thought DH and I were on the same page when he said he agreed FIL needed to go to AL but he wanted to handle it very carefully, thoughtfully and slowly. He said the best way would be when his dad had the next health crisis/issue to begin to help his Dad understand how much care he needs and how tired we are. Putting aside the sibling issue as a non-starter. We began research and visited a few AL and also checked into finances and VA etc. Narrowed down to the one we liked best and thought fit FIL closest. Then we wait. In only a few weeks , sure enough, the health crisis happened. FIL is currently in rehab and we were told today he can be discharged on Saturday this week. The PT and caseworker were very forceful in their approach that we must take FIL home and have PT, OT at home and then outpatient afterwards and telling us all the things we need to assist FIL with too. They kept saying FIL can do everything himself need to blah blah blah. I told them we cannot get up 4 times a night to assist with bathroom and they said oh he can do that himself with the walker but may need to be reminded how to use it. What????
Meanwhile, I am waiting for DH to start resetting his dads expectations and also apply to AL. The AL place we chose has a short stay rehab on the premises so the thinking was FIL could go there for further PT ( after the current PT ended) and then make the transition to AL a bit easier. When I realized DH wasn’t doing any of that I ask what’s up and his reply....well it’s really not time yet....let’s wait and see what happens with rehab. So now we know the caseworker will not recommend further short stay PT and I am basically back at square one only this time there is even more care giving to do and also many more appointments to make and lots of door answering in my future. I feel this happened because my DH really does not want to tell his Dad he needs to live separate from us and he has no intention of making it happen....ever. Not only do I feel used but I also feel as if I have been played. So much for being on the same page. I am disheartened by this day.
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golden23 Mar 2019
Oh my. I gather you do most of the caregiving normally, Your hub's sibs are very unhelpful and unrealistic. Since they refuse to help I suggest that they do not have any say in fil's care or placement, Can you and your hub go for counselling to sort this out? His priorities are out of whack. Your needs are important.
Tonight we had a THIRD conference call with my husband’s brother and sister. It was the worst one yet...they said they are hurt , disappointed and angry at us....They told us if we “put their Dad out” ( their exact words) then he will die from the shock, pain and broken heart it will cause! They asked us how we could even consider doing that to him. They want us to hire in home care givers and said we have not done enough to get help for ourselves. My husband asked them to come to help us when we tell FIL he will be moving into assisted living to support us and him but they said No Way....they said you decided to do this and we don’t agree with you so you can tell him yourself and deal with it. I feel like I am the cause of hurting this family because I am the one insisting FIL can no longer live in our home. By putting my foot down I have made my husband choose me over his Dad ( which doesn’t feel very loving on my part) and now there’s a possibility I could cause his Dad to die on top of it all???? I feel so tormented by it all!!!! People say I am being used but it’s not that simple. I actually invited my husbands parents to live with us a few years ago and I intended to be their caregiver....lots has happened since then....and I feel like I can no longer manage doing it in my home. I can hardly put it into words and certainly cannot justify it to the angry siblings who feel as if I am going back on my word and will be putting their Dad out.
Thanks for listening...again!
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Chole18 Feb 2019
My heart goes out to you. I truly feel your pain. I’m in a similar situation. I’m the one taking care of my father with Dementia, its only been about 8 months and I am so stressed out I can not see straight. I have lots of guilt from not helping my older sister as much as I should have with my mom. Hearing my mother wanting me to stay with her longer... but I had to get home because my husband wanted me home... When my Mother was dying.. ( we are no longer together) fast forward 12 years.. My father lives with and my new husband. We are both retired, but we live in a tri-plex so we do have stairs. I also have siblings, I try to educate them on Dementia, I send then articles and videos but they wont read them or watch them. they have there opinions and tell me what I should do and say.. nothing pertaining to the care of Dementia. My dad has sun downing really bad, up at night and sleeps most of the days. Somtimes my dad does not want to change his cloths, he is not able to do this by himself. I cook 3 squares meals for him every day, we all eat the same thing, but he is diabetic and also has congested heart failure, he is on a low sodium diet. My guilt comes from not doing this for my mother, I can not explain it. My husband has been a godsend, but to say this is not effecting my marriage. I would be lying. It’s really really hard when my sisters send out textes they are going on a cruise, going to a party,to the movies, or out to eat with friends. My dad is way too slow to go anywhere. He wears depends, does not always make it to the restroom. Our life’s belong to my dad 24/7. Do my brothers show up or my sister come over to help? One sister every once in awhile for a few hours.. and if we are not back in time she will text and ask when we are coming back? REALLY!
I now have a health aid that comes Tuesday and Thursday for a couple of hours. It’s still not a long enough reprieve.
I too struggle and cry about putting my dad in a home, I recently contacted a counselor and I plan on getting on anti depressants ( I know this about myself) crying too much,too many thoughts swimgimg in my head.
I go back and forth on sending my dad to a home. Will this make him die sooner or will he thrive there? I say this because with me he does not really talk much,but when the aids come, he stays awake and talks to them. So there is some life in him, I just don’t get to see it like i used to. Will the home take good care of him? I pray when the time comes they will.
When the time comes for me to truly make this decision it will be in the best interest of me and my husband and my dad. My family can balk all they want. If they do not want him to go to a NH they are more than welcome to take him. I too offered to help and take care of my dad but over the months we went from going out and about to depends, to mini heart attack, hallucinations, having him crying at night, calming him down, sun downing, taking him to the dr’s every day for a foot ulcer for more than 8weeks, cutting up his food, taking almost everything out of the cabinets and fridge so he would not eat the wrong thing, cleaning up after the messes in the bathroom. It’s 24/7 I know my husband is feeling left out, bark at him, I have to step back and thank him for his help. You are not putting their dad out. You are putting him in a care facility if it was so easy they could offer to take over, but they wont neither will my siblings. They can be mad all they want. I believe your husband is on the same page with you and realizes how hard this is on BOTH of you. I wish you peace and love and many many hugs.
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Actually getting the flu was a blessing in this situation. It showed your DH how much adds to be done to keep the ship on course. If siblings do not want him in a facility, then you can ask, ok, which of you wants him there and when are you sending plane fare?

Peeps from afar think all kinds of foolish things until they are pressed to take the reins. As previously stated, you are being used.

I hope you are feeling better. I hope you have gotten strength from reading other posts and good on you,you have done so. So,many here have been on this road. And this forum is an absolute wealth of knowledge gained by years of experience.
This is some rough stuff we are all going through. You have a kind heart. Best to you and hope you feel better.
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Here is an update:
I have been reading many posts on this forum and lots of folks make reference to the journey of caregiving. I am beginning to understand now what that means. We all go down this path at our unique settings and circumstances don’t we???
With all the helpful advice people gave me my head was absolutely spinning but once it sank in I realized I now have tangible tools to get this train wreck back on track. First, DH and I compared our individual assessments of ADL’s for his dad. That was an eye opener because my hubs thinks his dad can do waaaay more than he actually can. DH wasn’t realizing how many things he actually helps dad with until I showed him all the details. DH has agreed its time to talk with his siblings -out of state- so we have had 2 conference calls which ( not surprisingly ) did not go well. They are pushing back HARD for us to keep FIL in our home. But neither of them are willing to come and visit / give respite care/ contribute money etc. I felt bad for my husband for him to hear them say they can’t help. The family has asked us to take dad for an evaluation from a geriatric doctor so they can have a professional opinion If he is as bad as we say he is. Ok we will do that. In the meantime DH and I get the idea the sibs are out so we are actively searching for AL as close to us as we can find. Also, I got the flu! The worst kind and most contagious so stayed in my room for 5 days per doctors suggestion. DH had to do everything...even care for me. Once he forgot to bring me food and I started to cry but it showed him how he puts his father first much of the time....a silver lining. We have not talked with FIL about any of this yet because we want to have all our ducks in a row first. We will have 2 choices for him. It’s going be the hardest/worst/painful conversation but we are determined to help him see how much we love him through it all. I feel much calmer now that we are working together DH and I and I feel more capable thanks to all of you on this forum who so willingly share your thoughts!! I am so grateful. Thanks for listening.
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97yroldmom Jan 2019
Hi Bluestar

Thank you for the update. So sorry you have had the flu. I hope you are much better.

Your poor husband has been through the mill as well and tough days still ahead.

I think your in laws had a lot of nerve wanting you to check with a doctor to see if you were mistaken about how much care you were actually providing for FIL. But a geriatric primary is a good doctor to have on board.

My wish for you is that you and your husband find the words to help your FIL embrace this next chapter of his life. It’s so good that you and husband are supporting one another. I wouldn’t tell FIL too far ahead of time that he is moving as he might just worry about it. You can find many threads on this site for that topic as well. Keep is posted.
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Very respectfully, Blueststar Mom, you need to decide what you want. You’ve told us you are at the point of burning out and want your FIL placed in Senior Living, an apartment. Assisted !iving...wherever. But then you tell us in so many words, that even though Hubby’s family is “kind and loving”, they are no help beyond a few phone calls. Of course they will support whatever you want to do as long as YOU do it. Hubs family are truly sitting in the proverbial catbird seat.

Of course you love FIL and Hubs. But that doesn’t mean you will never get to the point of burnout. And, truly, when you call someone “selfish”, that is, as I tell my Preschool,students, “not very nice”. Hubby needs to apologize and take your feelings into consideration.

How long you let this go on is up to you. First, you do need to get off the fence and realize that, to a certain extent you are being used. And, sweet lady, you are being very nice about it.
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Thank you so much! I need to hear this and take action instead of sitting on the fence as you say....sitting on the fence is a cop out and I have been avoiding the confrontation. Not fair to any of the party’s involved here and I have not been honest with myself nor the family by doing so. Especially our loved one. Exactly why this forum is so important!
Just for variety let me throw out an often overlooked option.

Extra Help.

You haven’t given us any information as to what you are doing for your FIL but whatever it is, you will be doing more as time goes by.

In business there is a phrase often used, the 30,000 ft view. It reminds us that we have to elevate our view in order to see the larger picture.

Often we are so deep into the day to day struggle that we can’t see that larger picture.

Sometimes our family members are so far removed they can’t even tell a problem is on the map.

There is a sweet spot where we can see that while we have fought the good fight for today, we won’t be able to sustain this pace and that strategic planning is called for.

Rather than trying to decide that your FIL needs to go to alternate housing, elevate your thinking to the level that allows you to tweak your living conditions so that they are manageable for all of the family, not just FIL.

Take care of the emotional needs of all three of you, not just your husband.

If that leads to a decision of ALF or a NH, then so be it but see what you can do today in your own home to make life more manageable and allow DH to see what it will take to continue on as is. Every layer of help you get takes a burden off of you.

So far you’ve told us that husband is resistant, that his siblings are sympathetic and that you are getting weary.

The siblings of your husband should be part of the discussion. Have them come and relieve you and DH so you can get away on a REGULAR basis. Monthly at least.

Even if you are able to slip the load off of your own back, it’s probably not much of an improvement to see your husband disappear under it.

However, he probably won’t be able to appreciate the load if he isn’t doing as much as possible, ditto FIL.

So many elders appear to move in and prop their feet up with time on their hands to direct everyone else’s activities.

So, let’s go back to your original question of “How do you know when it’s time...”
Well for many people it would have been time when a decision was made that he could no longer live on his own.
For some people it’s when they need help in the bathroom or with their hygiene.
Maybe it is when they are placed on hospice. For others it’s never.

It’s a custom design that only your family can decide on.

Now you can decide that you are done but what does that look like? That’s where Freq Flyer’s very good list comes into play.
Here is what is done for FIL. Here is what you do DH, here is what I do.
Start there perhaps. Make sure you and DH are united in finding a solution. Not you against him. If he isn’t supportive of you or you of him, then forget about FIL for a minute and work on your marriage.

Then there may be things that should be done.
Get out the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) list and see where he is. How many of the ADLs is he fully functioning on?
If there is a big disconnect between what he thinks he’s doing and what he is actually doing, maybe he needs a cognitive evaluation with a neurologist?

Does he have his paperwork in order? DNR? Will updated, POA medical and financial?
Does he have funds for private pay at a facility? Will he need to file for Medicaid?

Have you read “ Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande?
If not, please pick that up and give it a read and discuss it with FIL and DH.

One last thing. As our elders are aging, we are too. Caretaking takes an incredible toll on us.
We don’t even see it coming.

You are wise to question the plans for FILs future as it is central to your own life and future and relationships and finances and health...
Helpful Answer (3)
Thank you so very much for your have given me a lot to think about and process.....I think I will begin with the book reading and uniting with my husband for we do seem at odds and it will go a long way to have peace in our home if we work together. Regards 💞
BlueStarMom82, good idea that you are writing down everything that the both of you do for hubby's Dad. Make sure everything is on the list, as it is easy to forget something that has become routine. Then present the list to hubby. Ask hubby to be in charge with half of the items on the list, and that you will take the other half.

Otherwise, if you are doing the bulk of the caregiving you will crash and burn. It has been noted that up to 40% of family caregivers die leaving behind the love one they were caring. Those are terrible odds. Ask hubby what would he do for his Dad if you were no longer around.

My Dad, who was in his 90's, moved into first Independent Living then later into Assisted Living/Memory Care. He loved the place, it was built like a hotel. The food was great. And he enjoyed being around folks of his own generation. He said he could kick himself for not moving there years earlier. In fact, my Dad had more freedom to do what he wanted :)
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Thank you so much freqflyer...very helpful to me....I’m happy to know your Dad had a good experience in IL and AL! Thanks for sharing....I fell back in August and broke both wrists and hubby had to do everything while also packing to move! He did step up to the task and learned so many new skills .....including cooking, laundry, and changing his dads catheter bags! So much more to this story but I won’t bore you right now. Regards to you and thanks again. Will try to present info to hubs as best I can.
If your husband does not share the caregiving equally with you, go on a little getaway and leave Dad’s care entirely to him. Your husband should be showing you compassion and understanding instead of insulting you by calling you “selfish”. He is, in fact, choosing his father over you and that is not acceptable. He has obviously not realized how much care your father-in-law requires. And, in all honesty, it should not be up to you to be providing all that care. Does he have siblings?

You are a grown up and not subservient to your husband. Firmly tell him that this is it and Dad has to go. You need your life back. There are things you want to do and places you want to go. If he still disagrees, perhaps a counselor could help.
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Thank you for your comments...I love my hubs and also his dad so this situation just plain old stinks - as I am sure everyone here has felt at some point. What you said has me thinking though about my DH not understanding how much care we give to his Dad. I started writing down all the things/ways we help him 24/7 and it takes both of us to keep him going. DH does help but also is becoming tired and won’t admit it. He has a sister and brother who both live out of state. SIL takes care of grandchildren as a job and calls her Dad a few times a week. BIL lost his wife 3 years ago, working full time and is unable to help: he also calls Dad several times a week. Both siblings say they will support whatever decisions we need to make : I’m not sure what that means. This family is very kind, loving and good people but they just don’t know what it’s like to live the life. It feels bad to ask my spouse to choose between Me and his parent! Puts more pressure onto someone who is already stressed...even that seems selfish ( to me) on my part. Boundaries are so very difficult for me to put in place. My heart wants to never draw a line for what I can or will do for a loved one but reality is screaming in my ear!
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