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Hello, my MIL takes care of her 95yo very controlling and whining grandmother and a husband after a stroke. She also babysits our 1,5 yo daughter 2 times per week. Every time we mention taking off the last task and sending our girl to a day-care, she has tears in her eyes. Apparently this is what breaks the mundane and depressing routine in their house. My husband and I both have full-time jobs and we cannot offer much help apart from weekends. Anyway any help that is more than delivering grocery or giving a lift is dismissed. MIL lives in a big house and running it overwhelms her even more with every year. She has two brothers living nearby, who visit every now and then for a cup of tea, but in fact they keep themselves in a safe distance from their mother and their sister does all the everyday struggle by herself. Also my FIL has three brothers, but they never were close, and since he lost his speaking ability almost entirely, it is awkward to relatives to be in touch with him. My husband's brother, lives in the same city, but due to his therapy he cut himself off completely. So basically this all down to the two of us. My MIL is not the kind of person who would speak openly about what her needs. Also she does not want to bother anyone. We do not want to push her to admit she needs help and that she should take care of herself more, because we realize we cannot be around on a regular basis, without loosing in other important areas (like job or us-time for example). We wonder about two things: how to be more effective in offering help, without being pushy and second: how to maintain balance without feeling guilty. Any advice?

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I agree with the others that suggest it's time to look for a placement for the 95 year old grandmother, if at all possible, if not, then perhaps it's time to be more creative and helpful on your part! Husband is of course included since these are his parents. Since you all have to eat (even if you do work FT), how about going to their house for dinner on the 2 days MIL is watching your child BUT you and hubby either make the dinner or bring take-out and have a nice FAMILY dinner that MIL doesn't have to make. This way 2 dinners a week will be made for her ( you need to eat anyway). After dinner have hubby help with HIS father by getting him showered or bathed, if possible, and into his PJ's along with your little one...meanwhile MIL can take a break while you clean up the kitchen....Does this sound daunting? But think of how much you all would be helping your MIL and making family memories. It is doable and it can be fun and it doesn;t require hiring anyone at this point. Dinner can be pizza, KFC or an easy to make ahead casserole so that all can enjoy it....This is just one of many options on how to help MIL, if you really want to.....Blessings LindaZ.
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your question seems to answer itself. if she is over-committed and there is no one else to help, why can you not join the over-committed party? us-time? indeed! full-time jobs? poor things. do you know some people work three jobs and still do other things. i myself lost my excellent job from taking care of my mom at home. if you really cared you would just go over there and help clean the house and tend the yard and so forth without asking. maybe go make dinner and sit and eat as a whole family couple fo days a week. i bet that would make your mother in law smile even more. the fact that you started bringing your daughter there shows that you didn't think she was overtaxed at the time, why worry about it now? you think you want to care, but you want to care from a distance, like people who just throw their parents into a home and visit once in a while, not knowing what is going on there when they are not visiting. i know i sound a little crass, but i do have siblings who could help or just be a little more present, as it is they hardly ever call and yet say they care when they're finally around to say anything, so i am speaking from experience and a bit of anger when i smell crocodile tears. everything you said sounds like excuses. get off your butts and be real people. either commit to helping or just go on the way you are.
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Maybe as a thanks for the childcare, propose using the money you save to pay for a personal care aide a couple days a week. If you do the initial legwork to set it up it may be easier for her accept. She is in a marathon situation where she needs to have regular breaks. If she says that spending time with your child is rewarding for her it's okay to respect that but look for other ways to lessen her burden. It is important to pick your battles and this is one I would push on. Ask her to humor you on trying out an aide for a month trial. Most caregivers I know don't realize how much a relief it can be until they experience it for themselves.
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Great suggestions already, I like the fresh flowers idea for sometimes. I also think maybe, if you use a house cleaning help service - you might reflect on some way of suggesting that they are looking for more work, and might they try helping your MIL?

She's more likely to say yes, if she thinks she's helping someone else, and might find after a house clean that she likes the clean space, especially if you know others who hire cleaning help. That way, she can do the tasks she loves, the caregiving, yet not feel her home is suffering slow deterioration, because she doesn't have energy to do everything. Any service would have to work closely to see what she wants help with and wants left alone - but sometimes it helps a caregiver to have help in their own weaker areas, especially as they age.
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Try calling the local city hall and see what elder resources there might be...she might be more receptive to a service she has paid for with her tax dollars that wouldn't take over, just be a little bit of help to lighten her load...
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I would be transparent with what you see, while being honest about your own time (the once-a-month visit by "97yroldmom" sounds good if that feels good to you).
Offer to hire a housekeeper 1x/week for her. Someone to assist her the mundane. It's so she can focus on caregiving and babysitting.
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It can be overwhelming being a caregiver for one person let alone two. I would suggest taking your MIL out with you and your daughter and having girls day out. She needs to get out of the house. Could you husband take care of his grandmother and his father? Caregiving can be very lonely. I took care of my 96 year old father who had dementia. We didn't have many visitors. It's sad when the only person who came to the house was the refrigerator repair man and that was the high point of the week. 
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I am assuming MIL is in her 60s. I was 65 when I agreed to babysit my infant grandson. When he was 20 months I had to take Mom in because of her dementia. I had her and the baby for two weeks till my daughter found a daycare. It was like having two 2yr olds. Your MIL is from a generation who is told God only gives you what you can handle. She is going to burn out. Then she won't have the energy to care for anyone. She needs to put Mom in a home. She has a good excuse, the care of her husband. At five ur daughter probably is really no problem and gives MIL something to look forward to. She will be going to school fulltime so let MIL enjoy her. I agree that maybe some time could be set aside. Someone probably needs to be with GMom and Dad so maybe you could sit with them while husband takes his Mom out to lunch with your daughter. A movie or shoppng. Just get her out. And really, have her seriously think about putting Gmom somewhere else. I am suggesting a nursing home because a lot will be taken off her shoulders. She will get 3 meals a day, laundry washed, if on Medicaid no bills to contend with, hairdresser, doctors, dentist and foot doctor. All MIL will do is visit when she can. An AL is quite different. Some have doctors who are affiliated. Moms didn't so I still had to take her to the doctors. I also provided all personal needs. Toiletries, toilet paper, depends, etc. A nursing home provides these.
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Provide PRACTICAL help in the form of laundry, housecleaning, fixing things around the house, cooking, doing the dishes, etc. That alone will unburden her a little, and then gradually phase in a part-time caregiver who can come in a couple of afternoons a week so she can get out to spend quality time with the grand kids which she obviously enjoys. Find a caregiver and make a list of CLEAR expectations of them - no cell phone is one of them, list of chores to be done, interacting with your FIL, etc. Finding a caregiver is easy, but finding a great caregiver is hard but doable. Let them know you appreciate them, but do not let them walk all over you either by sticking to your list of expectations.
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I love the suggestions from 97yroldmom. Those are some of the things I was thinking. I take care of my mom with Alzheimer's.

I am blessed to have my grandchildren come often, sometimes to be "watched" and sometimes just to hang with Gram. That is my break so I understand where your MIL is coming from. Everyone is different, but I am a kid person and begin to whither when I don't get enough time with them.

Maybe bring dinner and eat there once a week... You could do it one of the days your daughter stays there. It can be a set thing. Two of my daughters do this every Wednesday with their husbands and children. We eat on paper plates, quick clean up.

Offer to stay with GMA and dad while mom takes granddaughter out...I love the zoo or science center or a movie... My daughters do this for me.

Choose one weekend day a month and go help with house/yard work...be consistent. Clean bathrooms, or floors, or windows, mow grass, sweep walkways, etc.

I love fresh flowers, they just bring joy into the house. Bring a bouquet of wild flowers once a week.

You don't have to give up all of your "together time" but spending some of that time in service of others will bond you together.
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Wow! That is a lot of responsibility for anyone let alone someone whom I would assume to be about 70-75? Being a grandmother myself, and raising him (He is 13 now), I also have several more grandchildren that, thankfully, are cared for by their mother and father (my oldest daughter and her husband). But, I can certainly understand how your MIL would feel. To her, taking the grandchildren away from her those 2 glorious days, would be like taking everything she looks forward to, and an is left with only misery, pain, exhaustion, unappreciatveness, and just one dark day after another. I am quite sure that your children/her grandchildren are her sunlight and happiness. the children aremakes her happy. It sounds much more reasonable to find a caring facility to place 95 year old grumpy pants. That's where here burn out is coming from. I hope you find an answer for your and your MIL dilemma.
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This kind of hits me where I live--the difference is, nobody in my life realizes I'm overwhelmed!! I also don't say much, as I LOVE the 13 grandkids and seeing/tending them as much as possible--but I also have a cantankerous husband who, altho still working, is planning to retire soon and has ZERO plans for retirement other than shutting himself in the den and watching TV and sleeping. If he is home, he is asleep. I also care PT for my 88 yo mother, but that is on my terms and my schedule.

You need to be aware that "we" feel that anything we say to indicated we're tired, is often looked upon as complaining, and we're not comfortable with that. We want to be "superwomen" in out hearts, but also know we are over-extending ourselves.

Have a sit down with MIL. Ask her what she really WANTS. I bet that the 18 month old is the bright spot in her life but she'd probably enjoy a break from FIL. Maybe it's time for the 95 yo grandma to be placed in a NH. That's just too much care for anyone to give! You need to talk to her and be honest--I doubt she'd give up the baby, but be happy for a break from FIL and grandma.

Until you talk to her, don't expect her to just open up with ideas for help. If she's like me, it took all my courage to ask my extremely competent girls to help me with family dinners. They were more than happy to help--it just had not occurred to them that I might be tired. We tend to look at our "elders" and think "oh, they've got this" and go on our merry way. PLEASE show a lot of gratitude for the hours of tending she gives you!! The ONE THING that stick with me is the lack of "thanks" I get for working so hard.

AND YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would never say no to help with heavy cleaning--yet no one offers and if I ever bring it up, the kids all say "Hire somebody".
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Lots of great suggestions from other caregivers! I care for my 84 year old ill Mom and a large home, acreage, 2 dogs and 2 cats. I would love for my kids and grandkids to visit weekly. Unfortunately, they live 8 hours away so I see them only twice a year. If my kids were to ask me what I need I would say help with yard work and window washing.
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Maybe your MIL feels she must care for her mother and husband to be a good daughter/wife. She may truly love being a grandmother and that helps her survive. But, if she is overwhelmed and in denial about the toll taken by caregiving, she cannot make the best decisions for their collective health. I've been in medicine over 30 years as n aide, nurse practioner and family doc. Yet, I did not realize I'd built a wall of denial trying to protect both parents, a widowed uncle with no family, and my husband and myself. The situation for us was "reasonable" with 1-person issues rotating for about 6 years. Then, both parents and my uncle began a more rapid decline at the same time. I could not see the reality because of the daily demands. When my health was affecting my function I called a distant sister to insist a visit for a few days. She told me, in tears, that she was afraid of losing me. This was an unsustainable situation where all could not be "saved". At first I sort of laughed inside at her dramatic presentation; but, then I saw my sister in true distress. I started looking at my world as if I was advising another daughter/niece/wife patient. I was extremely organized and my OCD had protected me for a while, but I was overwhelmed. It was really hard to find time to fill out papers for POA, wills/trusts, etc. A hospice consult was invaluable because they came to my home and helped fill out medical papers. Palliative care and social workers can help if that is preferred. It was harder to deal with my sense of failure for letting my parents down and not caring for them until the end. But, it turns out that they had been really worried about me too. They told the visiting nurse they did not know how to help me!
I'd say your concerns are right on and your MIL is lucky to have you and husband and child. Tell her you all need to make a healthy plan together so she can grow old with you and kids too. She is not a failure. She is a great mom/wife/daughter even if she gets home assistance or assisted living or memory care. If dad is a veteran, check out home-based primary care. The team includes SW, doc, NP or PA, and physical therapy. The VA does not tell you about this, you have to ask.
I hope this helps.
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On weekends, both parents take the child and spend one or both days there helping MIL. While she plays with the kid, you and hubby take care of the rest.
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I am my disabled and non-mobile husband's sole caregiver. I am an only child and my husband is estranged from his family. I have two grown children, but one works seven days a week and has two young children with special needs and the other's spouse doesn't like me. Although I am very unhappy and would much rather have a life like those retired people we see in the cellular phone commercials, I won't be a burden to my children. Before they went to school full time, I babysat for my grandchildren at least twice a week all their lives. It was truly my sanity. When hubby wound up in hospital and in rehab, we were given a few months of therapy and health aides. They came once a week. It was ok, but the rest of the week, I was on my own.

I obviously don't know you or your in-law family, but I can tell you that when those aides and nurses came to our house, I began to see it as more of an invasion than anything else. I had to clean, make sure hubby was changed, bathed and dressed on their schedule, not our's and I had to lock up our large, antisocial dog.

Has MIL made any remarks about help? If she doesn't want to inconvenience you and your husband, maybe look for help for grandma's care. Divide and conquer, more or less. Start small. Bring a meal over. Next time, take her out for lunch. The time after that, have your hubby go over and watch a ballgame with his dad. If it's a babysitting day, when you come to pick them up, bring a pizza. Small steps! Good luck. I know how she feels.
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I suspect this women needs more help than she realises. My sis used to drop her two young boys off on my mom and dad when they were in their early eighties. My mom could hardly get out of her chair much less chase two little boys around.

I had huge fights with my sis over this but mom insisted she was fine with it. She was clearly overwhelmed.

A daily visit would have been fine. Not daily 6 hour childcare by elderly folks. But my folks loved those boys and would have never said they couldn't handle it.

So I handled it. I had a nuclear cometojesus chat with sis and BIL. They slacked off on my folks. My folks complained they didn't see the grandkids enough but they were clearly more rested and at ease with out this daily burden.
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Choose one weekend of the month and be faithful about it. Perhaps bring a cooked meal over. Sit with GGM and visit with her. Ask your husband to watch a ball game with his dad or take him for a ride or whatever he is able to do and might enjoy. Start small if it seems hard to do. Spend a couple of hours each visit. Slowly you will see how you can lend a hand by just being there. Your husband might help his dad with his shower or to change his clothes. Maybe he needs a new pair of shoes and your husband could take him out to get them. Maybe he needs a hair cut. Or his nails trimmed.
Some 95 yr olds can be difficult and not want the baby or anyone around to take the spot light off of them or to take MILs attention. Others really enjoy a baby. Play with the baby with GGM if she enjoys it. Then you are able to spend time with the baby and also GGM gets attention. Entertaining GGM for MIL would probably really be appreciated. Read a story to the baby that GGM might also enjoy. Teach the baby her colors with bright stacking cones or cards. By playing with the baby in front of GGM you take care of both of them for MIL.
Something my aunt (90) really enjoys is fresh flowers. She used to love to work in her garden but doesn't any longer. I pick her up fresh flowers often and she just loves them. All three of your elders might enjoy flowers.
A nice visit where you aren't rushing out the door could probably really make MIL feel better. Maybe not so alone in her chores with her loved ones.Something all six of you could enjoy.
These suggestions may not work but you can customize for your family.
One of my greatest regrets in caring for my elders is the loss of time with my grandchildren. MIL getting to have the baby two days a week is a great thing and having multi generations in her daily life builds a strong family base for your daughter. I hope you can work it out so the visits can continue.
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..but she needs more help. I take care of one person and my mom is 81 with Alzheimer's and dementia and I'm a RN and it's getting so I can't take care of her . I know she gets upset by your baby going to day care but she could have a heart attack or stroke herself ..can she get a PCA , a caregiver to help her ? I have a caregiver for mom when I work at the hospital..but the other 4 days I go it alone ..and it's tough ...hugs to your dear MIL she has a heart of gold ...I'm sending prayers your way....keep us posted ok
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What sort of help do you think would benefit your MIL?
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This is what is keeping your mother in law happy , contrary to your belief that she is not happy.
Some people just need to be busy all the time.
How is your mother in law??
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If she is refusing help, then you have to leave it in her judgement.

Unless you feel she is not competent to make this call, then leave the situation alone.
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