My first question of this forum, which has been of great help to me. Background: my mother in law moved in with my wife and I 11 months ago. Very short notice. She has Parkinsons and fell twice in 2 days. So, overnight, we went from total freedom to practically none. Some days I handle it fine, some days not so much. My wife and I hardly do anything or go anywhere together anymore. Our marriage has definitely suffered and numerous friends have told me that neither of us are the same person anymore. But I think I'm actually handling things better than my wife. In the past few months, I find her constantly losing her temper with her mom and was even swearing at her yesterday. That's NOT my wife. I resent that this is what she's turning into, and that I'm doing 99% of the work around the house, which my wife even admits to. We have a caregiver coming for a couple hours in the morning when we are both working, and one during most of the night since my MIL can be up 3-4 times to go to the bathroom. The money to pay for care comes out of her bank account. Her SS payment doesn't cover all her expenses and her savings will run out in about a year and a half. My wife thinks we should pay her expenses with part of my pension, and I say I didn't work all those years to pay for that, and this coming from someone who has always been very unselfish. Honestly, I've said to myself that I will give this living arrangement another 2 years. Then my wife will need to make a decision. Either me or her mom. I hate to think that, but I feel I/we have given enough. I'm not happy and she's not happy. Myself, I can handle, but seeing her this way really bothers me. I've highly suggested counseling to construct a long term plan but she wasn't too keen on the idea. Help!

Find Care & Housing
Get your wife on board to file for Medicaid to pay for her mother to live in a Skilled Nursing Facility or Assisted Living that accepts Medicaid. Right away. Not in 2 years, when there will be nothing left of your marriage or maybe, of your wife's mind!! My grandmother (mom's mother) lived with us and they fought like cats and dogs..........everyone thought they were doing The Right Thing by taking her in, but guess what? Relationships were destroyed in the process, and everyone suffered. I'm 62 years old now and still suffering the consequences of that hateful environment I grew up in.

Get your MIL out of your house and save your marriage, your pension, your life, and your wife's life. It's that important. If she's swearing NOW, just think where things are headed! Not to mention, without your pension, your own retirement years will be wrecked! DO NOT let this happen. Please.

Best of luck!!!
Helpful Answer (19)
Reply to lealonnie1
NeedHelpWithMom Sep 29, 2019
Amen! I second that!
Have you told your wife that it is breaking your heart to see her losing herself in the attempt to care for her mom?

I recommend taking her for dinner, maybe a lovely picnic in a tranquil place and tell her that you guys gave it a good shot, but it's not sustainable to care for her mom at home. Mom needs a village at this point and you are not it. Mom needs peers to interact with and she needs to be in a facility that has the expertise to care for her condition.

You aren't abandoning her, you will visit and advocate for her and be her loving daughter and not her frustrated caregiver. It is okay that she doesn't want to go, you don't want to send her, but needs must.

Your wife isn't any happier than you are having her mom in her home, she needs encouragement and validation that she is still a good daughter even though she puts her mom in a facility. It is a terrible situation to be in, you don't want to be a disappointment to your parent, but you don't want to give up your life so they don't have to do anything they don't want to. It is a breeding ground for resentment and you see that manifesting in her actions.

Call the area on aging in your area and get a needs assessment done so you know what level of care she requires, this way you can start helping your wife find the appropriate facility for now and future needs. Gently, lovingly guide her to placing mom in the village she needs.
Helpful Answer (19)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
NeedHelpWithMom Sep 29, 2019
Well said.
Please don't take any money out of your retirement investments, very bad decision. Your MIL can go on Medicaid when her money runs out, start investigating this now.

Your wife has a choice to make, and it is hers alone to make. Give her your plan, your boundaries now, then the ball is in her court. It appears that she cannot see the forest thru the trees.

You cannot fix her, she has to fix herself.
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to DollyMe
katiekat2009 Oct 1, 2019
And keep in mind,too, if you divorce, you wife will get 50% of your pension (as well as other assets) which she will then use to take care of her mother - to the detriment of her own retirement. Tread carefully when you talk to her. Do research ahead of time so you have facts.
bmillerhanna, I am so glad you asked this question. Here is one thing to tell your wife..... that up to 40% of family caregivers die leaving behind the parent they were caring for.... then what? Just be up front with your wife about that because those are terrible odds. And tell her that you can tell that she is going to crash and burn before too long. And you don't want to lose her.

Your Mom-in-law now needs a village to take care of her such as Assisted Living or a Nursing Home. In fact, Mom-in-law might like being around people of her own age group :)

And "no" you should not be paying for your Mom-in-law's care, unless you are multi-millionaires. It's expensive getting old, and you both need the money for when those rainy days do come and turn into nasty thunders storms.... [sigh].
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to freqflyer

Hi, I certainly feel for you and your wife. My mom lived with my husband and I for nearly 15 years. She recently moved out.

Thank you for being honest and saying that having a parent living in your home definitely effects your marriage. My marriage took a hit as well. Everyone has friction in this situation. My husband and I love each other but the situation was stressful.

It’s true that we become different people because everything changes in the relationship. It changes the husband/wife relationship and it changes the parent/adult child relationship too.

For the husband and wife, privacy is gone, essentially freedom to be a couple is gone because the elderly parent becomes a priority due to their needs.

Resentment naturally builds. Your wife isn’t a horrible person. You know this. Her behavior changed because of the circumstances. You aren’t a horrible person for wanting to have your wife to yourself again.

For the parent, they still see the adult child as their ‘child.’ They resent losing their independence which is a tough adjustment and sometimes they express exerting control towards their ‘adult’ child, which is not only unfair to the ‘adult’ child in their own home but extremely frustrating to them.

So the vicious cycles continue. At least this is what we experienced. I would say it is fairly common among multi generational relationships.

Then there are criticisms from outsiders, siblings, well meaning friends, etc. who don’t have a clue what is going on. This adds to the stress.

I made a rapid emotional choice to move mom in because she was homeless after Hurricane Katrina. Looking back I wish I would have had the insight for her stay with us to be temporary.

I burned out! My sweet husband tried to tell me. My daughters tried to tell me. Friends tried to tell me. People on this forum tried to tell me. Why didn’t I hear? Because I wasn’t ready to hear. I felt that I would be failing mom. I foolishly thought I could do everything on my own. I was blind to reality.

Mom stirred things up with siblings by expressing a strong disapproval of me when I started setting boundaries in place. My siblings didn’t even bother to hear my side. They just saw a frail 93 year old with Parkinson’s disease and felt that she was right and I was wrong. I couldn’t take anymore and told them to take mom if they felt they could do better. Mind you, for nearly 15 years they barely lifted a finger to help me. It was not a ‘fairytale’ ending.

Please don’t reach the point that I did. I felt that I had to be strong by holding on but sometimes real strength comes from knowing our limitations and simply letting go. I sense from your posting that you already know this but your wife isn’t quite sure about it and is in an awkward place. It’s hard as a daughter. I had to step away to fully see the chaos. It becomes a complicated mess. I sincerely hope you find a viable solution.

My mom will be staying temporarily with my brother and his wife until they collect veterans benefits to help pay for assisted living and if she doesn’t qualify for assisted living then she will have to apply for Medicaid to enter a nursing home.

Assisted living is privately paid and a nursing home is covered by Medicaid.

Start looking at facilities that are appropriate for her. You can contact a social worker to help. Or simply start a conversation with her primary care doctor and she can lead you in the right direction.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

Your wife may be reluctant to place her mom in AL or Memory Care because "good, thoughtful kids" care for their parents, it's "expected".
We all know that is not true. Her mom will get good, professional care in a facility where she is safe and will better manage as she declines.

Why not suggest a Vacation to your wife, find an Assisted Living facility that meets your expectations (suggest selecting a facility that also has Memory Care and will keep mom if she has to go on Medicaid.) Place mom/MIL there for respite and go away for a week, 2 would be better.
I think you both could relax and your wife will find that placing mom in AL is not abandoning her mom. There is something about being able to be a caring daughter again and not a caregiver. She can enjoy time with her mom and not have to worry about laundry, changing beds, and all the rest of the stress that goes with caregiving.
Talk to an Eldercare Attorney get your affairs as well as MIL's in order.
Begin Medicaid applications if that is what is going to be necessary down the road.
And don't give ultimatums unless you are ready to follow through.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to Grandma1954
TXGirl82 Oct 1, 2019
Love this idea!
See 1 more reply
You and your wife need to get on the same page about a lot of things. Were you consulted when the decision was made about having MIL move in? I know you probably agreed out of the goodness of your heart and your wife most likely felt obligated to take her mother in.

In your mind, you’ve decided to give this arrangement 2 years. Then you will drop the bomb on your wife that if she continues to care for her mother, you’re gone. Don’t you think you should let her know about this plan? I’d say from your wife’s demeanor she’s wishing she never made the decision to care for her mother but she most likely is dealing with what we call FOG, Fear, Obligation and Guilt. She may have been told by her parents years ago that it would be up to her to care for them in their old age and she felt she had to agree.

Its ok to have an honest conversation with her and tell her this is not working out. You don’t like what this arrangement is doing to your marriage or to the both of you. Do not threaten her with divorce. Offer your support to help find other living arrangements for MIL like a facility. Under no circumstances should you be asked to foot the bill for MIL’s care. When it gets to that point, put on your Man Pants and tell your wife you are filing for Medicaid for MIL.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to Ahmijoy
bmillerhanna Sep 30, 2019
You're correct. I would imagine I'd pay for the threatening stance one way or another for the rest of my life. I guess I need to approach the subject when my frustration level is low at the time. Thanks for the slap in the face answer. I needed that.
See 1 more reply
Things are different today than when we could take our elders into our homes and keep them until death. We can be the only child or have others spread out around the country so there is no shared responsibility. People are living so much longer now because of scientific advances - good or bad.

This is as much an area that has to change as our technology.

Could you do a little research about some assisted living living facilities near by? You want to check them out first lest her first view is a bad one.

Ask her to just be be open minded about it and go with you to learn about options. There is nothing to say that one of you won’t need a facility one day. While you are there, describe your current setup and ask for guidance.

Getting your MIL’s doctors on board to recommend to your wife may also help. Have them explain to her that she will give out, she will get sick, and then who will be overseeing the best care for MIL.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to WifeNeedingHelp

I have a much better relationship with my mother, since she is in a LTC facility. I did not realize how few happy interactions we had when I was caring for her. It has been great for us both that we can again be mother and daughter, and enjoy being together. There is guilt, at times,that I am not caring for her, but most of the staff has been more patient with her than I was toward the end.
Do not delay, the resentment may make it you lose your wife, for good. I understood, you feel you already lost her. Let her know that, and you want her back. As a caregiver, I realize how caught up you can get in care giving.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to fantasmagorical

You owe each other devotion first. Can you search what resources there would be to place your MIL. This situation will not improve and your relationship will suffer. In general I don't think the elderly should be living with their adult children unless all signs prove that to be positive which is understandably not your situation. I think your first focus needs to be that. My husband and I have and had to place both our mothers. We remained proactive with them but we never considered having them live with us. If you could try your best to figure out how you might make that possible your other problems may subside. Therapy right now will not change that reality. I believe in it but it is clear that your MIL requires too much care to remain at home. Your pension is meant for your lives. I understand money can run out but at that point you can determine another plan. This is akin to placing bandages on a broken bone. You only need to read here to realize how many have to deal with this. It is not easy to place a parent when the time comes but many do it and those parents do survive it. I hope you might make this your main focus.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Riverdale

See All Answers

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter