Is it natural to feel as though I’m being used in this caregiver position? She is my mother-in-law and never really thought much of me but now I’ve changed my whole lifestyle to accommodate her moving in with us and it feels like nothing suits her. I’m a horrible person for even thinking about the way I’ve been treated in the past instead of focusing on her needs now.

You are in the right place, and it sounds like you've been put in a position that you perhaps didn't have much of a say in.
It's really not fair that your husband now expects you to keep his mother entertained and cared for while he is at work, especially knowing that his mother never really thought much of you.
Perhaps it's time to tell him that he needs to hire some outside help to come in(with moms money of course)to assist you and give you some much needed breaks, so you can go and do whatever you want, as you are not his mothers keeper.
Or better yet, tell him that you will go to work and he can stay home and take care of his mother. I would venture to guess that he would either have hired help in ASAP, or would even consider having her placed in the appropriate facility.
Use your voice to share your concerns with your husband sooner than later, or you will start to harbor ill feelings towards him as well.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to funkygrandma59

Why did this happen if you were against MIL moving into your home?? Did you have no say in the matter? You're obviously not a 'horrible person' for having feelings on the matter! Not to mention, the woman is 81 years old and can easily live another 15 years! My mother is 94.5 and going strong, with more issues than Newsweek, including advanced dementia, CHF, pulmonary hypertension, depression, AFIB, and is wheelchair bound with bad neuropathy and living in a Memory Care Assisted Living residence 4 miles away from me. Had she been living with me since moving here in 2011, I'd have shot myself by now. If that makes me a 'horrible person' for saying so, then so be it. There should be only ONE woman running a household, in my opinion. Two's a crowd.

Speak to your husband about moving his mother out of your home and into senior living of some kind so you can go back to your previous lifestyle.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to lealonnie1
Santalynn Sep 25, 2021
"more issues than Newsweek" it; good on you and spot on reply!
There are people here with lived experience of similar care journeys. Each differs of course & you will find many stories, opinions & advice.

If it helps you to read others' stories or ask questions please stay for as long as you need!

Some write just to vent, others want practical steps towards change. Sometimes a new point of view can be illuminating.

When I asked my own questions I remember just staring at the replies & feelings less alone, amazed strangers would reply. I read the common sense replies & suddenly 'saw' how I needed to stand up for myself. Since then I have read so many stories of people stepping in to care from obligation/sense of duty & then working it out as they went.

It's can becomes a complicated tale - especially when a 2nd Queen joins the Castle! That clash of respect - is the householder still in charge? Or now the elder? And the mere Man must sometimes choose who to bow to first, Wife or Mother...

Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Beatty

When we moved in with mom, I found I was quickly becoming co-dependent and trying to save her from herself because self care was absent. My mom was becoming a dependent. Getting all of the care from us and resisting us, pouting, and not complying with what the doctor said to do. So my husband wrote up an agreement. That agreement stated what we would do and what she needed to do. 1. We schedule her appointments and get her scripts filled and she takes the medications and goes to the appointment and does what the doctor says. 2. Eat balanced meals. We will shop and provide 2 sit down meals morning and evening and she will have a minimum of ensure at lunch or sandwich/soup. 3 We will have her favorite teas/beverages for her and she will drink 32 oz minimum each day. 4. We will assist her with laundry and cleaning of the home. She will shower 1 time a week minimum and change her clothes 1 time a week minimum. 5. We will do our part and she will do her part. NOTE: The alternative is to call the county and have them evaluate her for living by herself. Since the doctor said she could not live alone and she has had asked for help we have been willing to step in. In order for us to continue to help in this way, we need to have responsibilities and then evaluate how it is going. It is important that all of us are content, since we are a family unit. My husband presented it and we all agreed. We gave her a copy and she read it a lot because her short term memory is really short! Eventually, 8 months later, we needed to take a trip and mom said “leave me here”. I went to and searched the free search in our zip code and found a place that was perfect for mom and she could afford it. Prayfully we presented it to mom and she agreed to try it since we would have to call social services/APS for their input. She could not afford 24 hour care while we were gone. She looked at the first one and fell in love with it. It was a 1 bedroom apartment, no roommate and she place was clean, bright and smelled good. They had a special for a 3 month stay and 1 month was free. She has been there 11 months and loves her privacy and her independence. It took her about 6 weeks to call it her apartment consistently. She has never asked to leave. I guess living with us was hard on her too!
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Tandemfun4us
JoAnn29 Sep 25, 2021
Your husbands idea was great! Thats what we all should do when moving in to help someone. Lay it on the line, I will do for you but you have to do for me in return. I hope you know how lucky you are that Mom ended up loving her new place.
Please don’t think of yourself as “horrible” for being merely human! You are of course in the right place with people who can empathize with your situation. Glad you reached out.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Maidenkaz

You are not horrible, most would feel exactly as you do. Unfortunately, you are the only one that can change it and it takes courage, perseverance and resilience.

It is great that you are here you will find the support you need. Also search to see if there are in person support grounded s for caregivers near you.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to gladimhere

Does her mobility issues keep her from doing for herself? It really isn't fair that DH is not there to help with her. I would make sure he took over on weekends.

😊 Sorry, I would not get up early to get her breakfast. Me, I am up late so I get up about 9am. I did get up earlier when Mom did, she got up about 8. And lunch, if you need to go out, then leave her something. You deserve to have a life. You do not need to entertain her. If your invited to go out to lunch then go. Visit with a friend, go. As long as she doesn't have Dementia you can keep as normal a life as you need to. Just make sure she has everything she needs. Get her to the potty before you leave.

You need to set Boundries for you. What you are willing and not willing to do. Maybe she would enjoy a Adult daycare or a Senior Center. That would give you some time to yourself.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to JoAnn29

I think caregiving can be a process of change, initially, and ongoing.    I see the dialectical process in action:    initial reactions, counter reactions and a compromise (if one is able to achieve it).

You're now in the stage of the counter reaction, realizing how demanding (and more) that it can be.   This is the time to assess your lifestyle changes, identify modifications that don't compromise your own lifestyle or goals, and then move forward.

Easier said than done?  Right!    Absolutely!  Spend some time identifying all the areas of change, how they can be modified, and importantly, how your husband can pitch in and help.   After all, he should definitely be involved as well.   If he's not, that puts the whole situation in a different perspective, and you'll have to establish some rules for him as he absolutely should be involved as well.   And this could cause friction if he sees you in the Cinderella role. 

You might want to consider that, how he specifically can help.  And dismiss the concept that you're a horrible person; that's a big step down the path to loss of self confidence and self esteem.

Good luck, and don't let this new arrangement compromise your self image.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to GardenArtist

You took on a burden of caring for someone with physical and mental problems and you find out the terrible effects it is having on you and your life. That does not mean you are horrible - you made a mistake in taking her in. People like this are extremely difficult to deal with and can cause havoc and hell for the caretakers. Once they are there, nothing works and YOU feel guilty and you are not - they are the problems. YOU immediately set down boundaries and rules which she must abide by - or else. If nothing works, then you must place her to save yourself. Do not tolerate this behavior from anyone ever - no matter why.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Riley2166

Yes, it is natural to feel used if you were not whole hearted into the lifestyle changes you made. You probably feel like you have "lost" pieces of yourself.

Evaluate with your spouse -and any other family that lives with you - about what parts of family lifestyle need to be "recaptured" and which are OK to let go.

Also, make sure that every person in the home is having his/her needs met - not just MIL.

Lastly, make sure that you - and rest of family - come up with ways to handle your MIL's problem behavior. I like the books by Townsend and Cloud about "boundaries" to guide the boundary-setting plans.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Taarna

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter