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MIL (85) has been living with us since she was in an auto accident (not the 1st one) back in February. Some days she is good mood wise and others she is totally horrible and unbearable so much that we normally leave the house since she lives with us. She really does not have any friends left and since we refuse to get her another car since this last accident since she needs to get hearing aids and refuses (which is another story in itself) she goes into these mood swings which are totally crazy. We have 2 teenage kids and it is gotten to the point where it is not fair to them and they are actually embarrassed to have any friends over for fear of how she will act if she is having an off day. We take her the places she needs to go ( Dr., hairdresser, store, etc etc) and try to get her out of the house at least once a week but nothing seems to please her which has me at my wits end. She cannot afford to live on her own due to a lot of stupid $$$ mistakes made earlier in her life and cannot just put her out but now sure how to proceed. We do not want the kids to end up hating her but it is getting to that point since some days she is so rude to them and I can't blame them for being mad at her. She gets mad if we go places such as take the kids to a park or shopping etc. etc. and if she is in a good mood that day by the time we get back she is a bear again. The kids were actually happy to go back to school today to get away from her. Her son has spoken to Dr. about her moods and maybe some meds but she says she is just old and that is how old people act and does not see any need for any kind of meds?? Guess I just needed to vent because I know I cannot please everyone :(

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You can never, ever make everyone happy. Caregiving is a witch with a capital B. Try to keep your wits about you, do what you can and disregard the rest. I have been in this only 2-1/2 years and it feels like forever. I want to die young. God help me if I inflict this misery on my only daughter.
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Maine, I really feel for you. My sibs and I take turns caring for our 90-year-old parents in their own home, and I know what a trial it can be. Dad is pretty upbeat most of the time, but Mom loves to wallow in misery. When she gets this way I call her Miss Crab, and tell her to let me know when Miss Crab leaves and my sweet Mom is back. Then I try to leave her alone until she straightens up, which is usually when she wants/needs something. It's like sending a crabby child to her room.

You might try to find a doc who knows more about geriatrics. We found one who took an additional PhD in Psychology and specializes in dementia-related problems. If you MIL has not always behaved this way, it could be dementia. If she HAS always been this way, then good luck. I'd suggest assisted living, but I know what it costs, so I know it might not be an option.

One other thing we do when Mom is particularly difficult is offer to find a facility where she can live that provides 24/7 nursing care and won't care how nasty she is because she'll be paying for it. This is also effective at turning her attitude around.
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You're from Maine? Maine is the best! I have a house in Boothbay Harbor, where I don't get to go nearly often enough.

On the bright side, your MIL's presence has motivated your kids to look forward to going to school. That's super! Perhaps you can rent her out to other households where there are teenagers who lack motivation toward their school attendance. It would be a nice little side income for you, and your MIL would be able to spread her special magic to a grateful public.

But seriously, look into other housing options for her. Many towns have low- and moderate-income senior housing. Someone from your local office on aging may be able to help you.
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I'll be repetitive and once again tell you that it's not your job to make people happy. I don't think anyone can say this enough because many times, we feel like we should be doing more to make people happy and feel some guilt over it, regardless.

If this is some kind of dementia, or a UTI, or something else, then I hope the doctor is really looking into it. However, and while I don't agree with too easily just medicating someone, the comment that "it's just old age" makes me uncomfortable. At my mother's clinic, every doctor, every nurse, every social worker, every class -- they seem to stress that "it's just old age" is seldom an appropriate response to a problem. Sometimes, there's no medication for a problem, but it still has a name (vascular dementia, UTI, Alheimer's, etc...). So, you might want to think about the overall care MIL is getting.

As for being embarrassing to your teenagers, I kind of feel for them, but it really is how you handle it. My grandmother lived with us and she had severe dementia. We had friends over but had to kind of warn friends that grandma could be in any kind of a mood. They kind of got used to it, I guess. I suppose that those that couldn't deal with it probably didn't come over. Grandma was broke and, at the time, there were probably no programs to make things different, but we lived with it.

However, with that said, modern times bring changes. Could you look to see if she's eligible for any kind of aid? I've been looking into discounts and programs for my own mother and found lots of programs will gives "scholarships" or discounts to people in need. I got my own mom into a weekly program where she spends two hours in a mild memory care group. She does pay for the taxi ride ($3, each way) and it gets her out of the house for a few hours, which helps break that total dependence on being here, gives us a little break, etc... I think enforcing that separation helps us.

If there's senior transportation in your area, I'd tell MIL that she needs to use that. With my own Mom, I schedule the rides - she probably couldn't/wouldn't do that for herself, but the time I spend scheduling the rides in an investment into us not taking Mom absolutely everywhere. In my own mom's case, since she can't afford to live on her own, I told her that the proceeds of the sale of her car and what she saves in auto insurance and maintenance can go for paying those $3 cab rides. She could get the bus for free, but the routes are too confusing and the cab goes door-to-door -- that's the only reason it's so expensive. And, since we're doing her a service and doing an awful lot for her on a daily basis, this is really the least Mom can do for us - to cooperate on this.

I realize that each family makes different choices in how they handle these things, but I'm telling this story of how we're operating in case any of it is helpful. Some of it won't work for you, but by telling this, maybe one or two thoughts will help you find other ideas that might be helpful.

If you need a new doctor and you live in a larger area, look for an actual geriatric clinic over a single doctor and I'm finding this leads to better overall care. However, if that's not possible, look for an actual geriatrician and that might help you, too.
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Dear Maine127,
Having violent mood swings is definitely not part of normal aging. Consult her Dr. about this. Is it a new symptom or has she been this way most of her life? If she needs medication for some type of depression perhaps her Dr. should address this with her. I have learned that WHO makes the suggestion has a lot to do with HOW well it is accepted.
I also agree that it isn't fair to your children that they have to sacrifice everything they like, such as having friends over or going on family outings. However, how YOU respond will make a big difference in how they react. Make it clear that your MIL is probably not happy having to give up her independence so it may be one of the reasons she is upset. It's important that they learn empathy as well as responsibility. Knowing the reasons behind your MIL's moods will really help you plan ahead to know how to respond. Have you tried talking frankly to her about how she feels when she is upset? Maybe understanding things from her perspective would help. Maybe not but it's worth a try. There could be a problem that you're not aware of. Being on the same team to deal with this situation could be the missing piece of information.
Good luck and take care of yourself as well.
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Maine I agree with the idea of finding her a subsidized place of her own. She can be around other seniors and she won't have to depend on you and your kids for entertainment. I think it would do her (and your family) a world of good! Let her be social with others her own age. Your children are first priority for you and your husband (IMHO), so don't let Grandma ruin their teen years. That benefits no one.
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In terms of doctors to evaluate, a geriatric psychiatrist can most reliably evaluate depression and a geriatric neurologist can do a work up of her cognitive issues. Your mil's current doctor sounds inadequate. MIL sounds like a lifetime narcissist who is used to getting her own way. Look into subsidized senior apartments.
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Be sure that you keep doing all the normal things outside the home with your kids....sports games, movies, dinner out. Don't let her being mad stop you from this...it's her choice to be sour, your choice to be involved parents.
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Maine127, if your mother-in-law is asking every other day about getting another car, I bet that is just *nagging* and she feels eventually she will wear you down so that you will say yes to the car.

As for the teenage children having friends over, they can just say to their friends "oops, Grandma is on the warpath, tread lightly". Then the kids can decide whether to stay in the house or go other to another friend's house. Try to find some hidden humor in what is going on.
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Let go of notion of making everyone happy...that probably isn't in your future. BUT you can make things more tolerable for YOU and your family and that needs to take priority.

Check into senior living apts that are on sliding scale, most cities have them and although not luxurious, they Re livable, safe, and have elevators, services, transportation, etc for seniors. So she should be able to afford something. Is she spouse of veteran? There are housing assistance thru them too. Look into your options and get her her own place. You can be the daughter you need to be and have your safe harbor home back in harmony.
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Thanks for all the responses.......And I agree with so many of them. Yes it was her regular MD who indicated that she doesn't need any meds. We have spoken to her on 2 separate occasions and honestly if MIL even knew we did that she would probably really blow a gasket since she thinks it is none of our business which we told her well if you r living here it makes it our business. She gets mad and threatens to leave all the time but she never does nor do I think she ever will. Hubby agree and helps out as much as he can but he works 4 out of 5 days most weeks which leaves me and the kids with her. He is an only child so it is not like there is someplace else we can send her. She asks about every other day about her getting another car but of course as soon as we mention her getting hearing aids she wants no part of it. Honestly I don't think her old insurance company would even insure her anymore since she has had 3+ accidents in the past 3 years. I have been reading some other posts and am wondering if she has the early stages of dementia?? We are just sort of at a crossroads on how to proceed next............
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MIL will continue to play you until you're all as miserable as she is. Don't allow it. The old adage about misery loving company.....don't allow it.
She has had an 85 year opportunity to enjoy her life. If she has regrets it is not your doing nor is it your responsibility to kiss it and make it all better.
You, your husband and your children however have many years ahead of you we hope to make or break your own lives. Please don't allow caring for her and placating her to be one of your regrets.
Assuming she does not have some sort of Dementia: The "Get with the program" comment was so very appropriate. The old "As long as you are under my roof" would also be appropriate. Medicate if you need to for any depression she may have. We all get old - it's part of the process but not an excuse to make everyone around you miserable.
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Maine, as you say, you can't please everyone. But doesn't that line continue: "… so you have to please yourself"?

What would YOU like to happen?

This business about 'she has to live with us because she can't afford to live independently': well, unless the money issues included her gifting assets to her son, i.e. your family, those money issues are not your and your husband's problem. Ergo you cannot be obliged to house her in your home. You may still *choose* to, but if it is becoming clear that doing so is detrimental to your children's welfare, then maybe it's time for you and husband to review matters and take professional advice on alternatives?

Meanwhile, better counsellors than I am can explain about instituting new boundaries, especially setting out consequences along the lines of what happens when she behaves in an unacceptable way. MIL may be a holy terror when she doesn't get her way, but that doesn't put her in charge.
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Your first responsibility is to those kiddos. You can either get MIL in line with the program or get use to seeing their backsides as they prefer to spend time away from home. The only thing they are learning is Grandma rules the house.

Being cranky is no more part of getting older than it is at any age. It is a personal decision, unless she has mental issues. Find a doc that is more experiences with the elderly and get some good meds. Explain to MIL she will either take happy pill or learn to be happy in her room alone.

Playing games by making nice will only keep her more in control of the household situation. It isn't being mean but you have to set boundaries when you combine families. Making everyone happy is not your job but keeping one person from making everyone unhappy is you and your husband's responsibility. Good luck!
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You can't make everyone happy. It's not your job to make everyone happy.

I don't know how "all old people act" but you're trying to figure out a solution to your old person and the Dr. shutting down the idea of medication is ridiculous. My dad was the most optimistic, happiest, well-adjusted man I ever knew and as he aged his Dr. put him on an anti-depressant because my dad was feeling depressed about aging. I guess one could make the argument that we shouldn't be medicating our seniors but I think anything that helps as our loved ones age and realize that they're not who they used to be is worth trying. Was this Dr. your MIL's Dr.? Can you take her to your Dr.? Some Dr.'s just don't like prescribing medication but if your MIL is on meds for her physical ailments then her mental ailments need to be addressed as well especially if her mood swings and bad moods continue to effect the entire family. I think it says a lot that the kids couldn't wait to go back to school just to get away from her.

What does your husband have to say about this?
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I think it's wonderful when loved ones take care of family. And when that family is difficult? I think it's angel's work. When, however, you're taking care of someone like MIL at the expense of your children? Then you've got to make changes. And I don't necessarily mean putting her out.

We teach our kids plenty of lessons throughout their young lives. One of the lessons you're teaching yours is that problems are meant to be solved. That you try very hard not to give up on a loved one . . . no matter what.

Have you spoken with your kids about their gram? Explained that much of what she's doing she can't help? That their dad would be heartbroken if you all gave up on her? That she's mismanaged her life and can't afford to take care of herself? If you haven't, in a loving way, done so, now's the time.

What you absolutely CAN'T do is let MIL have a detrimental effect on your kids...such as interfering with your outings with them . . . not being comfortable having their friends over . . . you just can't. It's not fair.

I think when you're taking care of someone easy -- or someone difficult -- and you're committed to that care, then you try to solve each problem as it rears its ugly head. Personally, I think your kids will take their cue on how to react to gram from you and your husband.

If MIL doesn't have a bedroom/den to herself, I think you ought to try to give her that . . . with a nice personal-sized flat screen and comfy chair with a table alongside it along with her bed. Put a collapsible tray in there so she can take meals once in a while. Make it her space . . . personalized with photographs, any special knick-knacks she likes . . . anything you can think of. Let her pick out the bedspread and curtains and whatever else will make it a nice space that she MIGHT enjoy. And one that you can honestly say is loverly.

Then banish her to this lovely and personalized space when she puts on her pouty face . . . when the kids have friends over and she's a nuisance . . . when she's passive-aggressive after you get home from an outing.

It's probably not going to change her behavior, but it will limit your family's exposure to it.

Whether you know it or not, I think you're teaching your kids some valuable life lessons . . . we take care of family in this house.

Good luck. God bless. (Sorry this is so long.)
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