My husband is burned out with caregiving for MIL. Any advice?


Four years of difficulties. Frustration level has peaked - my husband is burned out and just can't get his peace of mind back. My 84 year old mother with macula degeneration and borderline dementia has gone too far. He can't stand to SEE her now - needs a break - but for the long hall who can we consult to help us work through this anger and learn coping skills for caregiving? My mother resists every and any requests for her safety or our cat's. It is a 4-5 hour beseeching, conjoling, begging episode for her to use her cane, chair lift, rollator, not over feed our pre-diabetic cat (per the vet). She continues to sneak around walking up the stairs when we're in bed, hiding food for cat in closets to go back to, not using her cane outside to walk, not using tops of cups - she has macula degeneration and is shakey and spills or breaks everything she touches. We have gotten EVERYTHING she needs and will continue to but now it's my HUS BAND who is having problems - he is simply sick of this and burned out. We are getting help through agencies and have just begun the search but would like to know the best approach for caregivers? He is searching for work and doesn't want a psychiatrist on his record cause of the stigma - is there a good professional approach or 'counselor' we could contact? We have name of coping group that meets, We are having her retested - she was borderline dementia a few years ago - she is OBSTINATE - lies, sneaks to do whatever she wants to REGARDLESS of who she would hurt. This is not my mother and I can't keep apologizing enough - after a while it just doesn't matter - you get into survival mode. We are having a life coach come, we have talked to our minister - but we need some real information to move forward. At this point I'm more concerned about my HUSBAND who has had double knee replacement and a blood disorder treating for 1 1/2 years...I've had gall bladder surgery, shoulder surgery, have chronic IBS and now had heart ablation (I think it's the stress). She has fallen 7 times - in situations where I have continually asked her not to do something (i.e., take bags out of the car - I say 'just get yourself in the house safely') She grabbed bags around the other side of the car and then fell FLAT on her face on the sidewalk. She HATES her chair lift because it beeps and wants to 'sneak' down to overfeed the cat - we have spent HOURS and HOURS telling her to use the chair and my husband ever called in he repairman to TELL HER (cause she won't listen to us). When she has a gastro attack (in teh kitchen all over shoes, pants floor - we asked if she's OK - we smelled it but she doesn't smell anymore - and she says, 'yes I'm fine - nothing's wrong'. My husband says 'it's a matter of the safety and cleanliness of everyone in this house you need to be HONEST with us'. We have talked about this for years now - she cries and says it's embarrassing - she has feces on her SHOE and didn't even know it when I went into the kitchen she still tried to lie to my face!!!!! I am dumbfounded at her obstinance. She ONLY does things out of ANGER and SPITE. She went with the rollator out back which my mason husband has totally turned into a beautiful and safe senior walking area - yet TOOK OFF to the Dollar Store without telling us. We hopped in the car and tracked her for 2 hours so she could have her walk cause she's a couch potato. I had surgery and she wasn't getting 100% attention. She has hit my husband saying he has me hostage in our room when I was recovering. He has been taking care of her and me for 2 months since my surgery - she doesn't have to lift a finger. She is spoiled and has always had everything she wants since my Dad died early (54) I have lived with her and/or taken care of her. My husband and I married late in our 40's and I think she's jealous of him and it is a terrible emotion. She is a minister's wife and my husband says he can no longer respect her with this behavior. She has put her hand on the Bible saying she will change crying and sobbing and doesn't change anything ever. Thanks for all who can share what HELP they have identified that has been successful.

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Oh, Cmor, its not borderline anymore. When you say "this is not my mother" you are telling us that she is doing things and causing problems she never would have caused before things got this bad. She has no judgement any more and can't remember or understand why she should not just do whatever she feels like doing. It's magical thinking - she doesn't WANT to be unable to do things she used to, therefore she can do them. She would never have pooped on her shoes or thorwn up on the floor, so she didn't; in her mind, there has to be some other explanation. It's not making sense because she can't make sense any more, can't reason through it. At any given moment she may be heartbroken to realize she had hurt you and can't go on doing the same thing, but at the next she is just doing whatever is in her head to do. She can't be "honest" with you because she can't be "honest" with herself when she does not perceive reality accurately - dementia plus denial of the sad truth that she is losing her faculties. Don't lose all respect for her - she can't be reasonable because her reason has gone through no fault of her own - but DO get whatever kind of help - in-home, facility, day-service, any combination just to give yourselves respite from the never ending struggle to keep her safe and clean, over all her resistance, protests, and rationalizations and regain and preserve your own well-being.

If seeing a counselor or psychiatrist seems like overkill to your husband, consider just talking with a social worker with a geriatric program, maybe as part of a full evaluation for your mom, or even a support group of some kind. Do you have a senior services program aka "longevity center" or anything like that available?
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cmor1954, think of it this way, you are working 3 separate shifts each and every day caring for your Mother.... anyone would be stressed to the max. Time for Mom to go into a nice continuing care facility where there are professionally trained people who know exactly what to do in all types of situations.

Plus, remember this, 1 out of every 3 Caregiver dies leaving behind their love one for someone else to do the Caregiving. What if your husband wasn't there to help you, or you there to help him care for your Mom? Could you handle it all by yourself? Could he?

Stigma of seeing a psychiatrist? That is so old school. There has been a major shift regarding people seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist, it is now viewed as very positive. I've been to a psychiatrist to deal with having a major illness (cancer) and how to deal with my aging parents, and have no qualms in letting others know.
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You say your mom falls and she took off to the Dollar Store without telling you. If she did it once, believe me, she will do it again. I know you love your mom but enough is enough. It's time to think about placement for mom. You say you are looking for a break for your husband. It's time. It's time. It's time. Your house is in constant turmoil and your relationship with husband is suffering. I'm thinking most of mom's acting out is dementia. She needs to be where she can be closely monitored and taken care of. It's best for all 3 of you. You can do this.
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Why are you putting yourself and your husband through these untenable circumstances?? What do you need to happen to you, your husband or your mom before you finally come to the conclusion that she isn't safe in your home? And that you may not be either? It's time for mom to go. Period.

You say your husband is looking for a job. Do you have any idea how stressful that is for someone? Pretty much in the top three of life stressers. And here you all are letting a woman with dementia run your lives. Enough!

If your mom were in her right mind, she would be absolutely mortified by her behavior. It's time for you to use YOUR right mind and take action to get your mom into a facility that can keep her safe, keep her clean, and not jeopardize other people with her quirky behavior.

I know I'm coming off as blunt. And I'm a caregiver for my mom myself. I'm an only. Love mom to absolute death. But when she begins to jeopardize my very life (which would also mean driving my significant other absolutely crazy), that's when I will decisively make other arrangements. And I would do that without one little smidgeon of guilt. My "real mom" wouldn't want me to do anything else.

Neither would yours.
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Either she has some serious behavior problems, control issues, anger management and redirection problems (channeling frustration and anger at her declining condition) or she's suffering from dementia. Perhaps it's a combination of all of them.

As I read the frustration, concern, despair and other emotions in your plea I think it's time that you look for a placement for her as she's just not going to cooperate with you and your health is going to be ruined.

Project this scenario forward a few years. Do you think either of you will be able to physically and/or mentally deal with this any longer? If not, then it's time to think of alternatives.

I'm assuming she has no physical assets and probably few if any financial as well. Have you thought about qualifying her for Medicaid so she can be in a facility with full time, professional care?

I think this is the crook in the road. If you don't find relief, you're both jeopardizing your lives. You've given it your best but she doesn't cooperate. Enough is enough.

If you need confirmation, talk to county social workers, or if you can get her to a geriatrician, try that.

There's no reason to allow this woman to ruin your lives.
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