I am taking care of my MIL in our home. We also have small children. It is so frustrating, how can I cope with this?

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So this is my situation:
I am taking care of my mother in law in our home. We also have small children and homeschool one of them. My MIL knows how to follow instructions like go take a nap or come to the table for meals. But if she does not want to do something like take a nap she will get up every 10 min claiming she already napped.... She will mess around in her room putting on shoes, glasses, watch, make up her bed, anything but take a nap... I will ask her what she is suppose to be doing and will answer taking a nap. But in a different time she might not like what's on tv in her room and go take a nap. She's obsessed with ripping TP and shoving it in a drawer, things like that for starters... so frustrating. How can I cope with this? Any advice?

Thanks, Kim

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Kim, I think you have more on your plate than a person can realistically handle. How old is your MIL? How many years do you face having to cope with her in your home?

The idea of taking care of small children, AND homeschooling AND taking care of a demented elder in the home... What, no farm, no home business? Just kidding, but I personally wouldn't be able to do ALL of those things well.
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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I am sorry, but the way I see it is the kids are and should always be made a priority! When my mil acts like a child or worse, she is going to be treated like a child. But, maybe that's just my observation. You do what you have to! I'm with you all the way!
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Reply to Lostinthemix
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Thank you for so much positive supportive responses for those of you that truly understand!!!

And those that DON'T i said nothing about treating her like a child!!!!!!!
I was a caregiver and NEVER experienced this type of behaviour and was looking to you lovely people on how to cope with obsessive and child like behaviour!

So thank you all for the great advice. We do take her to a memory care facility once a week .....but she comes home and is soooo confused and acting so much worse and it takes 3 days to get back to normal. Plus she refuses to engage with anyone at the facility so for her not sure its worth it. I also have a cargiver coming in a couple times a week to sit with her when i have to leave. And as of 1 week ago she was taking really good naps.

To those that understand what we face day in day out i will pray for you in your journey thank you again for your gentle advice!
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Reply to Doylk4
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Doy - taking care of Alz mother is very difficult, but you also have to homeschool your kid and watch the younger kids. You really have 3 jobs. It is tough. I am in the same boat. I homeschool both my kids and take care of my Alz mother who lives with me.

My mother from morning till night keeps asking me every few minutes when and where I am going out so she can go with me. She wants to go everywhere I go. She follows me around the house, asking what I am doing, even when i'm in the bathroom. Ugh...

And when i teach my kids, she comes to stand next to us and starts asking random questions which she has asked hundreds of times before. I have to keep telling her to go back to her room so i can teach the kids.

I am sick of her. My kids are sick of her. I do take her out twice a day everyday. She looks to me solely for her entertainment. She would not agree to going to an adult day care where she can meet other seniors and talk to them. It is stressful for me because I have no me time except when she's asleep.  I recently hire someone to help me take her out two times a week, so that helps a little bit. Wish I could afford to pay that person to take her out more often.

I would be so happy if my mother could keep herself occupied like your MIL; even tearing and stuffing tp is better than constantly bugging me. If tp cost is a concern for you, buy cheap tp and let her enjoy. My mother goes to the bathroom at least 10 x a day. She alone uses more tp than the rest of us in the house. But that's just fine with me. As long as she can use the toilet and clean herself, I am grateful. I dread the day when she can no longer do that for herself.

Let her nap when she wants to. It is really not important. My mother sometimes refuses to take her meds. Nothing I can do. If I force the issue, she will get mad and toss the pills and water on the floor. So, I don't go there.

Will your MIL agree to go to adult day care? It would help her and you a lot. Look into it.
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Reply to polarbear
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jeannegibbs, thanks for pointing out that Doylk4's MIL is an adult with a lifetime of experience, opinions, and knowledge -- and a broken brain and that there is a difference between her MIL and her children.
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jeannegibbs May 5, 2018
When persons with dementia start acting like children it is tempting to fall into the trap of treating them like children.
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It sounds like she may be a good candidate for memory care if she has regressed to childlike behavior. It might be something for you and your husband to discuss to see if that would be doable.

I too recently brought my mom to live with my husband and I and our children, and it's been HARD. I realized I cannot do this long-term, and we are looking into home care for her at her house, or AL if that doesn't work out. It might take a little while, but I will be glad when I can just be able to have my space back.

I know how tired and stressed you must be, especially with small children and very little privacy. You and your husband should be able to focus on your little ones and each other.

I do know though that it's easier said than done and not always possible depending on the circumstances. If anything, maybe you could hire someone to come sit with MIL for a few hours or take her out somewhere so you could have some time to yourself.

Hugs to you, and take care of yourself too.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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Since you are doing homeschooling I take it you are able to look things up on the internet and you can tell reliable sources from snake oil.

I suggest you begin by educating yourself about dementia. There is plenty of good stuff on the internet, her doctor's office probably has booklets, and you could join a local support group. This won't change her annoying behavior, but it will help you cope with it.

MIL is not another child in your household. She is an adult with a lifetime of experience, opinions, and knowledge -- and a broken brain. She really can't help having obsessions and shoving tp in a drawer. You cannot teach her not to do this. She has very little capacity to learn at this point. You can make changes to minimize this behavior, such as never have more than one role of tp accessible in the bathroom at one time, or supervising her more closely. But those are things you need to do -- not things you assign her responsibility for.

MIL does not want to nap on the schedule you have established for her. Why should she? Most persons with dementia do well with a routine. You might establish 2:30 to 3:30 (or whenever) as quiet time. Whether she sleeps or tries on shoes and accessories or reads or listens to music -- so what? Why are you so keen on having her take a nap like a three-year-old?

There is a very significant difference between your MIL and your children. Your children are growing up. They are acquiring skills. They are getting better and better at reasoning and using logic. MIL is "unlearning" things she has known for ages. She is losing skills. She is losing her ability to reason or use logic. While your children are becoming less and less dependent on you, poor MIL will only become more and more dependent. And there is really nothing you can do to stop that. Dementia progresses, meaning it gets worse. Always.

Learning more about her disease may help you cope better with MIL. But it is also possible that being responsible for MIL is too much for you while you also are responsible for young children. In-home help and/or adult day care may lessen your frustration. Or perhaps it is time to consider placement in a care center where they understand how to deal with persons who have dementia.
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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When I first read your post, I wasn't sure if you were talking about your mother-in-law or your home-schooled child. I wouldn't worry if your Mom doesn't take a nap. Let her rummage around in her room during naptime. One of my friends told me that her mother's behavior (Alzheimer's) sometimes reminds her of her 5 year old child, only the child is inside an adult body. You need to treat your Mom like an adult even when she acts like a child.

Teepa Snow does good videos giving ideas how to deal with people with dementia/Alzheimer's.
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