My husband and I have “lost” so many items because my MIL collects anything that is attractive, valuable, and colorful. She picks them up and then eventually hides the item, if it is of significance. If the door to our bedroom is unlocked; she will walk in and want to shop around. ( I think that our bedroom should be ours without my MIL coming in and helping herself to things) . She is at the stage where she can’t hold a conversation and can’t complete her sentences. Also her sundowns is stressful on us; as well as her. We do have help a few times a week; but, since Covid; it has just been me and my husband. However, there should be boundaries, right? She will come into our room and take whatever she fancies. If we try to get the item; she will go to any lengths to keep it away from us. Not just in our room. She has taken keys and phones from caregivers, also. Just yesterday, I couldn’t find my wedding watch that my husband gave me last year. We looked everywhere. Finally I found it under her pillow as she was sleeping. I wasn’t happy; but, my husband thought it was hilarious. (Of course when his wallet disappeared for hours and I found it stuffed behind the sofa; he wasn’t amused) So, please give me some insight on how to handle this. Do we just need to lock our door all the time? This behavior isn’t new - my MIL has coming into our room since we moved in 5 years ago. I wasn’t thrilled; but; she wanted the company and at the time she was more aware of everything. I think that my husband and I deserve to have our own space. Am I being unreasonable in expecting this? Thank you Oh, any advice on getting her to take a bath? She often refuses to bathe and it often takes both me and my husband to get her into the tub. She often yells for help; suddenly became exhausted - seems like a behavior because she doesn’t want to bathe; insists we call the police… sometimes it takes me 40 minutes to convince her to get in the tub. Thank you for any suggestions.

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Go away for a bit and let your H deal with it fulltime, so he can better appreciate what it's like for you. Does H work during the day? If so, then it seems like YOU are the one who's had to put your life on hold, not him. Do you sleep during the day when MIL is sleeping, so that you are able to be up with her at night? Does H help with his mother at night?

Why is he set on having her live with you? Does he have siblings? Is she paying anything?

How old is she?
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CrushedLove18 Aug 2020
My MIL is 77. During the entire Covid pandemic, my H has been home and I really appreciate his help. He definitely helps at night. That is something we have been is a strong team when it comes to her. Although I do resent the feeling of being tied down. He has no siblings. Family is very important to us and I do understand about making her care a priority. However, the decision is set and won’t change unless something serious happens. Currently she sleeps most of the day. On occasion she will wonder the house at night. We have locks on the inside of all doors and cameras. We have been lucky - as of now - that she hasn’t been attracted to the stove. In the past 5 years, that is one thing that hasn’t changed. (Knock on wood) My H does, normally, work a lot and I am here more. I have even been let go of a couple of jobs because I kept having to leave and come home because of my MIL.
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Thank you for the info. I am coming into this with very little experience. I think a big part is that I feel like my life has been taken over with my Mother In Law. I want to work full time and get another degree; however, I can’t because of her. I really feel terrible saying this. I am overwhelmed with responsibility.

She does sleep most of the day - sometimes the entire day. When she is up, she is anxious and trying to leave the house. We have locks on the inside of all doors. So she isn’t able to leave at night. I understand what you are saying in regards to having her fold laundry. Her attention span is short and often she has no interest in manual projects. She does eat frequently, and “pack”. Bringing down a load of items to “go home”.

My husband is set on having her live with us. And I support him; although, I think he is in denial about her actual abilities.

Thank you, again for your input. I do appreciate it
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Beatty Aug 2020
If you have a weekend away with friends or your own relatives & your DH is the sole carer for that time, you may find he loses some denial by your return.

My out of town sister gained a lot more insight when having to drive, transfer & assist our relative herself (without me). Went from *no problem here* to *that's way too hard*. Nothing like getting your hands dirty...
Are you upset with your MIL or your DH or maybe both?

Boundaries are always important in every relationship.

It sounds like at your MIL’s current stage, keeping boundaries will mostly be on you.

Keeping valuables put away (in perhaps a small safe), keeping the bedroom door locked and watching your MIL more closely are probably your best remedy.

Cameras can be useful. Decluttering her space in order to easier locate items might also help.

It won’t be helpful to think she can be counseled or lectured into leaving others things alone. “Oh, that way madness lies”.

One thing to keep in mind. Dementia progresses. This behavior will stop and another begin. I know it may not seem like it now but this will pass.

About the locks. The little hook and eye type latches are effective, inexpensive and leave access easy to go in and out for you. Place them up high where she won’t notice and hopefully can’t reach.
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CrushedLove18 Aug 2020
Thank you.
We have cameras and locks. Each door going outside has a, sliding, combination, locks.

I guess I really need to see a psychologist.
Think of your MIL as a toddler, because that is pretty much how they get. Make your house "MIL safe". I would put a lock on my bedroom door. We did it for my youngest. Had a toddler living here and she didn't want him in her room. No amount of keeping her out is going to work. Her short term memory loss keeps her from remembering what you have told her.

Find a nice high place to put your purse, DHs wallet ect. Anything of value, pack up for now. Put behind lock and key. She can't take it if its not in plain site. No longer can you reason with her or she comprehended or process. Those abilities are gone.

Here is another post concerning how to get someone to bathe.
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CrushedLove18 Aug 2020
Thank you. I have tried bribery and giving 2 choices - bath or go back to bed. As soon as she gets up I try to bring her in the bathroom, without saying the word bath. We go in and I calmly tell her it is bath time. She will ask her usual questions: “Who”, Where’d they go”, where’s P. ? (her son and husband - who died many years ago) Or start yelling “help” and “call the police”. This will go on for 40 minutes.
Trying to 'set boundaries' for a woman with Alzheimer's is totally unrealistic, unfortunately, as is expecting your bedroom to be off limits to her. She has a brain disorder that makes her unable to understand basic reasoning, basic language, basics in general all go flying out the window. The best thing you can do is to educate yourself about dementia & Alzheimer's by reading and listening to Teepa Snow videos on YouTube for helpful tips, including using the 'hand under hand' technique to comfort her and encourage her to bathe & be cooperative with you in general. Once a week is plenty for such a situation, so I wouldn't push for any more than that if it were me.

Check out the Alzheimer's website for tips and for an 800 number to call for help, along with a chart showing you the stages of the disease & what to expect during each:

You might want to install locks on the doors you don't want your MIL to rummage through *rummaging and 'stealing' are a big feature of dementia/Alz and very common*......put the locks on the outside of the doors and up high where SHE can't reach them but where you can. That way, she stays out of your bedroom and out of your belongings.

Another good idea is to place colorful items and empty wallets and things around the house where she is 'allowed' to take them and to squirrel them away in her room. It makes her happy, so that's the goal, right? The idea is to stop her from taking things you need like keys or valuable jewelry, so those things are locked away where she can't get to them. But other things that are of no value but hold interest for HER you can strew around the house. It'll be like a treasure hunt for her that way.

Give her things to do; folding towels is something to occupy her time that isn't difficult to do or to understand. Dementia/Alz sufferers love repetitive motion; folding towels is repetitive.

When the care givers come to help, let them know about her 'borrowing' things, and have them put their belongings in your bedroom or behind another locked door to eliminate that issue. YOU have to work around HER, because SHE is incapable of working around YOU. She is like a small child or someone with even less understanding, so keep that in mind as you are learning about Alz/dementia and what it entails.

You are also in for a lot more issues as the disease progresses; have you looked into Memory Care Assisted Living yet? You may want to do that for if/when the time comes that you can no longer manage her care at home. This is very common for most family members in your situation and why these places are popping up on every corner. As elders are living longer, their issues are getting greater and greater and harder to deal with, so they need 24/7 care as they begin trying to leave the home in the middle of the night and various other dangerous activities.

Wishing you the best of luck!
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