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My husband and I agreed to rent a home with my MIL, who has alzheimer's. Her previous living situation living with her retired sister didn't work out, partly because my MIL called daily to "come home" (house sold though) and maybe also because her sister and husband realized it was too much (I'm short on details there).


Anyway, its been a few months and I've rather quickly become depressed and resentful, realizing what this life change has meant. My husband works 7 days a week, so my weekends are spent with mom. I work from home several days a week and, again, its with her. Managing the house comes with all sorts of extra work because she has compulsions that lead her to do things like put a load of dirty dishes in the cupboards, or empty garbage into the compost bin, etc. In the evening when my husband is still working, she calls him incessantly or asks me where he is over and over. She is mean to her grandchildren (the disease, not her). She refuses to eat certain things for dinner so my husband whips out the pots and pans when he is totally tired. In my ignorance of her disease I have tried to work with my husband to contain these things so that our daily choices don't pander to only her disease, but its simply unreasonable given that she can't control herself or her mind. My personal boundaries have therefore slipped away, and home feels like a prison. When I visit the office, I now stay as late as possible because I enjoy the perception of freedom.


All of this has been discussed with my husband, and he, eventually, after many fights, suggested we leave when the year is over, but not without a lot of duress on his part. The main kicker: we have a baby coming. I put it all together and thought: I am definitly not mortgaging the first 10 or 15 years of our child's life for the last years of my MIL's. I imagine all our decisions revolving around the dementia of my MIL since we can always tell a kid "no, we need to go home to grandma" and we can't say no to a vulnerable woman who absolutely needs the care of others. I am also sad that my maternity leave will be spent with her at home needing care as well. I wish it had been different.


But this has brought up a lot of moral questions for me, and questions of duty, and I don't know what is right. I feel a certain liberty as a non-relative to say that I tried, but now that I see what this catering requires, I will not give up my (and my child's) next decade for her. But I am married to her son, and therein lies the rub. I fear the impending discussions with the rest of the family about our (my) unwillingness to care for her. Her alzheimer's could certainly be worse, and I can say that her care is nowhere near as burdensome as a lot of other peoples' stories here, so I am indeed throwing in the towel early compared to those stronger and more willing than I. It almost feels like a crossroads where I need to decide _now_ how the next 10 or 15 years look for my growing family, like a canary in the cave for our well-being. My husband is heart broken over his mother's condition, and he would not take this path without my push.


So is this ok to do? I would like to hear honest opinions, partly because I need to prepared for the rest of the family and understand how others' feel. I know what those who don't care for elders think ("oh yeah get out") but what is our/my responsibility to my MIL? How much is reasonable to contract my willingness to care for her, and during early motherhood?

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"I am definitly not mortgaging the first 10 or 15 years of our child's life for the last years of my MIL's. "

There's your answer. Yes, it is ok. Why isn't your husband looking for assisted living or a nursing home for his mother. She's his mother after all.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to cmagnum
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Yes, it's ok. Your motives were good in moving in with your MIL but you had no idea what it would be like and now that you've experienced it it's ok to to step back and make other arrangements for her.

Having a baby is a glorious thing and those early days, weeks, and months are amazing. A time of bonding and family and happiness. You will be robbed of those experiences if you are also caring for your MIL and I can't see how you can care for your MIL while also caring for a newborn. No one's needs will get met, including your husband's and yours.

If your husband's family has a problem with your decision to reevaluate your MIL's living situation let one of them take care of her.
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Reply to Eyerishlass
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I will go a step further than other posters. I think it could be dangerous to have an infant in the same home with a dementia patient. You're not talking about a visit where everyone is alert and focused. In our homes, we put the baby down for a nap and try to grab some sleep too. What happens if MIL decides to go for a walk, takes the baby with her and then sets the baby down and continues walking? Or hands the baby a piece of solid food too soon? Applies hot rub instead of baby lotion? Or leaves some plastic wrapping on the floor and the baby chokes on it?

People with dementia do surprising nonsensical things. My father, at a point in his dementia journey where he could still sound very sensible, put enough pool chlorine in the drinking well to poison anyone who consumed it. My mother knew something was wrong from the smell and because the chlorine level was high enough to burn her hands when she started hand washing dishes. My father was horrified when he realized what he had done.

Infants and toddlers cannot not defend themselves from adults with dementia. No care giver can be watchful 100% of the time. Just too much risk for your child.
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Reply to TNtechie
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Ahmijoy Aug 3, 2018
T, you said exactly what I was thinking. I would never feel comfortable in that situation. You just never know. The OP seems concerned she will incur the wrath of her husband’s family if she renounces her caregiving duties. Her concern is commendable, but perhaps not all that wise. New Baby will become secondary to MIL. That’s not right. That’s not fair. I lived like this for years when my husband insisted we be at the beck and call of his parents whenever his mentally challenged sister needed babysitting or to be entertained. It took me a long while to develop the intestinal, fortitude to say “No more!”

My SIL was jealous and could be violent as well. I would NEVER have trusted her with a baby or a child. While my husband was interested only in not angering his family, I was the voice of reason. Thanks for saying what I was thinking!
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For someone in your situation, it’s ok to be self-centered. You should not be charged with caring 24/7 for your MIL. She’s already struck out once living with someone and now she’s got strike two with you. You need to grow a healthy baby which means being healthy yourself. Right now, you’re heading down an unhealthy path. Personally, seeing what I’ve seen of people with dementia, I would not try to raise a baby in a house with someone of compromised mental capacity.

You and your husband need to “launch” and move out on your own. If you need to, rent until you can afford to buy. You don’t need a $400,000 home. Until your baby is 3-4 years old, you can live quite comfortably in a smallish apartment you can afford. Speak with your husband’s family and tell them you are no longer in a position to be a caregiver for their mother. They need to make other arrangements. Hubby needs to realize his future is with you and your child. He needs to be a husband and dad now.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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Yes, it's OK to decide not to care for an elder. You sound like a great wife, mother and daughter in law and I am impressed at the level of thought you put into things. You owe it first to yourself and children to have a healthy home emotionally and physically. Elders with dementia put that at huge risk. I think children need to have a home offering freedom and safety. I also think your home should not become a prison. You shouldn't mortgage your life for an elder parent. You can offer care and oversight without living under the same roof.
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Reply to GingerMay
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Yes, Mom needs an AL. If she can't afford it then a nice nursing home on Medicaid. You and the baby should be husbands priority. Mom will worsen as time goes on needing care you can't give her. Your husbands responsibility is making sure Mom is clean, fed and safe. If a NH fits then that is the way to go.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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