We thought moving my mother in law in with us would help her out but it's been a challenge for us and a strain in our marriage. My mother in law promised to quit smoking in order to move in and improve her health, and because I have severe allergies, but she still smokes 14 month later! She helps as much as she can like laundry, but she is not clean. She showers every other day or two days and as a smoker she should shower nightly. We have noticed that she follows my husband like a lost puppy. In fact my husband cannot even turn around without her bumping into him and he can't seem to have a moment alone without her being right up under him. Is there something more going on with her that we are not seeing? Should we talk with her doctor about this. So far her doctor says her mind is good, but I'm starting to question things like the following bit. My husband has tried asking her to give him some space, but the next day when he gets home the following starts all over! We are just not quite sure what to do, and it's driving my husband crazy. Other than with us and my family, she has no social life. We have tried to get her to stay with family that wants her to visit but she hasn't done this yet. I think her eye sight is worse than she let's on some days. She did have to give up driving July 2014, and she just doesn't go far because I think she's afraid something may happen to us or she's out of her comfort zone because of her eyesight. We've thought of assisted living but I don't think she would agree to that right now.

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Sunnygirl1 she has tried electronic cigs and vapors. She liked it but i guess with her poor eyesight she somehow damaged them. Besides she still wanted the real cigs and using both was just too costly because i really dont think she was trying to quit. So when the last one broke we did not replace it. I ordered a a set that is put up for vacation because my parents are going too and my mom has the same sensitivities that i do. We choke up, cough, sneeze, and itchy eyes when around perfumes, and smoke smells on people. Its in our genes, we cannot help it even with allergy meds! So she knows in December she cannot have real cigs while we are on our family vacation.

How would i talk to her doctor without her there? I wanted to be there last time but my husband took her instead. She has routine exams like colonoscopy coming up so that may be stressing her out. She's a stressed out kid when going to the doctors! She never went until moving in with us and i have to take her now.
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You MIL sounds like she does have more going on than normal age related decline. Perhaps her doctor doesn't know the entire story about her behavior. The following, gullible behavior, lying, etc. can be symptoms. Also, dementia can increase anxiety and the anxiety may increase her urge to smoke. And she may forget that she's trying to stop smoking. I would discuss the issues with her doctor if possible, so he knows what is going one with her.

If that is what it is, her behavior will likely progress and become even more challenging. I would consider that and the options before I remodeled my house.

Has she tried electronic cigarettes?
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"Its sad really that she wants to be chained to a cigarette."

I'd say it is really sad that she is chained to a cigarette. What she "wants" is probably very complex.
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Thanks for getting back with us and your comprehensive update. I imagine that it felt good to type all of that out at the end of the day!

I was very glad to hear that you and your husband talk a lot to keep yourselves a team and that " we put her out of our minds and focus on us" Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the paragraphs! They make reading much smoother!

Take care and keep in touch!
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Thank you both for such positive answers. As far as a support group is concerned, there are not any near us that i have found and we do live in a very rural area. My parents have shared their stories as to how they quit smoking with my mother in law and we have offered to help in any way we can. She does only smoke outside and tries not to smoke whe we run errands. However, she says she wants to quit and asks the doctors for advice and says ok i will try the patch, but tells us shes tried the patch and gum and it doesnt work. With the contradictions she makes i think she doesnt really want to quit. She started taking an anxiety medicine about three months ago but she is still smoking half a pack a day. Both her retina specialist and her primary doctors have really advised her to quit smoking because of her high blood pressure and aged macular degeneration! As far as her cleanliness, it is a lot better compared to 6 months ago because it used to be that she would only shower 1-2 times a week and wear/sleep in the same clothes, but my allergies cannot take the smoke odors that would collect in her hair and clothes from not washing hands or changing. She was sleeping in her clothes too causing her room to stink. Like i said things have gotten better once we talked to her and asked about depression. Even though she said she was not depressed the meds have helped her so much and with her hygiene. She is wanting to be a little more active lately too. She does have 2 other sons that live close by but we have to push her to stay in contact more and vice versa. Its strange, they just are not very close and you would think she would want to see grandkids more often too. They may only see her about once every one to two months. We've even tried getting everyone together but it falls through. I do realize she has been through a lot in the past year with losing driving priveledges, and we have to manage her money and bills, and she probably feels like her independence is gone but its not. We've tried to get her to reach out to spend time with other family and friends but it seems like a lost cause. If they invite her she loves that they think of her but she doesnt want to put anyone out or be a burden unless we are with her it seems. Its been a long hard year with many adjustments for all of us. We have been remodeling and may consider fixing up our half basement for her in order to have pricacy for everyone and she likes the idea too.

As far as the shadowing is concerned, i do know she likes to be nosey and follows people around but its more than that because she was not this bad when she was independent and came to visit. She stays with my sister (who is a good bit older than i am)from time to time for the weekend and ive been asked by my nieces why does she follow people around? So unless she fears being alone...its just hard to explain.

Anytime we have time alone, we take advantage of our time together and talk things out. once we talk about issues that may arise or has happened with my mother in law recently, we put her out of our minds and focus on us with what little alone time we do have together now.

On a different note, what can we do to help her realize there is more out there than to worry about us and that shes not trapped? We do have a little transportation system in our county and any time she needs money all she has to do is ask. We do limit her money because she is gullable in helping the wrong people! About 6 months before moving in with us, she bailed a girl out of jail busted for a DUIor drugs but in order to do that she pawned the title to her car and could not pay it off. This was not a close friend or family just an aquaintance, but she wanted to be "a help" to this girl. Not long after she moved in with us, and we found out about the title pawn since she needed to go pay it...she owed too much to pay it off and the car was in such bad shape that it wasnt even worth $300!! She told us to let it get reposessed since she owed too much on it and my husband couldn't sell it for a profit so we did. Thankfully we manage her money because before we took over her finances, she had overdrafted about $1000 between a 6 month period! Anytime she needs anything we get it for her,,or give her a little money so she can get a few things on her own when we go shopping or i will write a check for her. Its the best way to make sure she has enough money for her needs and wants. However, if she wants visit family and friends, we are not going to send her empty handed, we just may have to give the money to them since she cannot see the numbers on the bills very well but her sight may be improving with her blood pressure in more control now. Other than vision challenges she gets around well, and seems in better spirits. Sorry for such a long response, i was just trying to give more insight about our circumstances and what her demeanor is like. She is a great person, and of course we want to watch out for her, but sometimes it does seem like she could careless about her health and smoking. But i also can tell she enjoys it and thats one of her few enjoyments left since she cannot drive now. We just wish we could get her into a senior group at a center or church to make friends. However, i think her smoking is keeping her from reaching out since you cannot smoke in most places now unless in a bar or your car. Its sad really that she wants to be chained to a cigarette.
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Have either of you told the doctor in private your observations about your mom.?

Elderly parents sometimes put forth extra effort to come across as healthier than they really are so very often when going to see the doctor.

I hope your husband have medical and durable POA for her?

I he her only child?

The smoking does need to stop and they want let her smoke inside an assisted living or nursing home.

She may need an anti-anxiety med to help calm her down.

I"m clueless about the shadowing thing. Is she aware of who she is shadowing or does she think she's following maybe a reminder of her husband?

Could it be that she's regressed some to seeing her grown son as her little boy who need his mommy to shadow him? Was she overly protective of him as a child?

Does your husband in any way remind her of his dad? Has she ever shadowed anyone before coming to your house.

I'm just asking these questions as they come to mind. There must be an explanation for the shadowing behavior!

Yes, as jeannegibbs said above, act as a team in all of this without any unilateral decisions that cuts someone out of the process. This alone will help your marriage greatly.

You would be applaud at those who have a parent at home by a unilateral decision and have cut their spouse out of the whole thing entirely. Some of these spouses are too patient as their marriage declines to a room mate level of intimacy (and I'm not talking about sex).

It's a proven fact that two adult women under the same roof creates unhealthy triangles with the wife often left in the middle wondering if her husband is her man or her MIIL's little boy. It's that simple. The husband in turn often finds himself torn between trying to please two very important women in his life at the same time under the same roof.

The geographical closeness makes the emotional dynamics more intense. I would think this would be true even in the best of situations. I know it would be an impossibility for either of us here at home.

You know while I miss having the boys at home in some ways, in other ways it's nice to have an empty nest with the whole house just for me and my wife!!!!! Shoot, I even wrote a very positive poem and shared it with my wife about how much I was looking forward to our empty nest with just the two of us like we use to be before having babies!

So, I understand your need for privacy. That's one or the very nice things about an empty nest! You definitely need your privacy.

Take care, Do keep in touch and let us know how things are going.

Love, prayers and cyber hugs
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Having a parent move in can really put a strain on a marriage. I think that is the first thing you need to protect. Do the two of you talk opening (and privately) about your caregiving concerns? Do you share your feelings, and try to work out solutions?

About the smoking -- it would be better for MIL's health if she stops smoking. I would be better for your allergies if she stops smoking. But as I understand it that can be an extremely difficult addiction to overcome, especially in circumstances of stress, which surely Age-related Macular Degeneration must be! Have you compromised with limiting where she can smoke? Have you looked into program she could join to help her stop? I think that you have a right to a smoke-free environment, and I do hope you can at least keep her smoking out of your home. This is a difficult issue. You expected one thing when you agreed to her moving in, and are getting something different.

It is great that she helps as much as she can. It might be good for her self-esteem and your patience if you can come up with additional things she can do with her vision problems. Tell her often how much you appreciate her contributions to running the household.

As for her personal cleanliness, I'm thinking you may need to re-think your standards. Every-other day or every-third day showering may be adequate. Yes, because she smokes it would be great if she showered nightly, but is that a battle worth fighting? Is she clean in other ways? Doesn't wear the same clothes over and over without washing them, washes her hands each time she toilets, doesn't leave wet towels on the hardwood floor, etc.? If you read through posts here you will see how very many people struggle with loved ones who have no notion of basic hygiene anymore. They'd be happy with a shower a week and no urine-stained clothes.

Caregiving a parent is stressful! I hope that both you and your husband attend a caregivers support group. If you haven't done that yet, find one in your area. Knowing that you are not alone, and how other people handle it can be reassuring.

Is your husband following through consistently with the shadowing problem? She's OK when he talks to her about it and then the next day it starts all over. Does he then say, "Mom, it is so nice that we can spend time together now, but I also need some private time. In about an hour I'll come and find you and we can play a quick rummy of rummy before bedtime." If her memory is starting to slip, she may need daily reminders.

What would have to change for MIL's presence in your home would be comfortable for all of you?
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