Mother-in-law is trapped caring for too many people. How can we help without over-committing? - AgingCare.com

Mother-in-law is trapped caring for too many people. How can we help without over-committing?

Follow
Share

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?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
22

Answers

Show:
1 2 3
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.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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...
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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. 
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

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.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

1 2 3
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions