Mother-in-law in hospital, how is all this happening at the same time?


My profile says I take care of my Mom, but June 28 my sweet FIL passed away unexpectedly at age 89. The man was still very mentally sharp and a very safe driver. He even still mowed his 2 Acres of land. We’ve been helping my dear MIL with all the legal stuff. Well, right this minute I’m at the hospital with her. Her sodium level is critically low, and she hasn’t been sick or dehydrated. I just made the mistake of googling “critically low sodium”. Before I came to the hospital I was at my Mom’s taking care of some legal stuff because she is out of money and her house is being sold tomorrow. My husband is here but doesn’t realize how bad this might be. How is all this happening at the same time?????

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Try to stay off Google. Trust the doctors to tell you what’s what. Also, remember that you have to ask them the questions. They might not offer explanations without prompting, as they are busy with many other patients.
This is happening “all at the same time” because your in-laws are elderly. It happens more than you know, that one spouse gets seriously ill/dies within a year of the other one dying.
I’m sorry to hear about your FIL’s passing and the legal stuff happening with your Mom. You must be overwhelmed. Try taking a walk outside the hospital or even go home and let your hubby sit with his mom.
Helpful Answer (16)
Reply to Ceecee65

Try to breathe and take care not to run yourself into the ground.

Two weeks ago I flew to my uncles funeral and family get-together.
Last week my brother-in-law died. We went to his home, then to funeral home, then service at church.
Now, my B-I-L's elderly father fell, hit his head, has a blood clot in his brain and is on his way to surgery. The prognosis is not good.

Have you heard that bad news comes in 3's? It's true for us.

Make sure YOU eat all meals and drink plenty of water in the heat. Try to sleep a normal night's sleep. If you get run down, you won't be able to help those who need you.

I'm sorry all this is happening at the same time.
Helpful Answer (16)
Reply to SueC1957
GrannieAnnie Aug 12, 2018
Good advice.  Meanwhile, I am so sorry you are going through all this at the same time.  Big Hugs to you and toCeecee.
Like many here, my wife and I had four parents to take care of in the last 3-4 years, and no siblings or relatives who could help. Three were in AL or memory care, and these three passed with four months of each other. During this time my daughter had a psychotic break and was involuntarily committed. This while my developmentally disabled son moved out and needed help. The one elder left alive is my very spoiled mother, and she is definitely as stress producing as the other three elders put together.
In the last three years I exchanged healthy living for self medicating with alcohol and badly neglecting my own health (I am in my sixties). I ended up in the ER a month ago and still have some issues. I had to retire.
I forgot the first rule of caregiving - take care of yourself first. Stress is the worst killer. Take breaks, have hobbies, be a little selfish with your time. You cannot help others if you are not healthy.
Helpful Answer (16)
Reply to enderby

People get sick when a loved one dies--especially elderly people.  My Mom's 83 yr old brother died in March 2017; a month later, my Mom's 91 yr old sister died in April 2017; and a week after that, my Mom complained of back pain and wanted to go to the ER Dept.  Mom was admitted to the hospital, stayed for 2 weeks and then in May 2017, was transferred to the nursing home for physical and occupational Rehab therapy.  Within 48 hours of being admitted to the hospital, Mom changed from a social, talkative person who could get herself dressed, feed herself, walk with a walker, etc. to a person who did not talk, would/could not dress herself feed herself, walk, etc.  She is now on the Memory Care Unit with diagnosis of Major Depression with Delusions and Mild Dementia.  Mom stated that it was "her time to die" (since her brother and sister had died).

The elderly are more susceptible to "dying of a broken heart".   Our local nursing home had an incident where a husband and wife lived together in the same room at the NH.  She died on Christmas Eve (before midnight) and he died on Christmas Day (after midnight) while they were holding each other's hand. ; An article about how someone's emotions can impact their physical health.

I agree that you need to stay off "Google" and let the doctors take care of your Mother-in-Law.  You need to take care of yourself and your family and your own Mother (they have lost a loved one also.)  If you or your husband feel that you can't leave the hospital, go to the hospital chapel and sit--just sit--let whatever thoughts or prayers or songs or hymns or whatever come to your mind.

I am sorry that you are having to bear so much sorrow at this time.  God Bless.   {{{Hugs}}}
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to DeeAnna

How? How is this happening? It is life. This is how life happens. We have very little control over the forces of nature, life, or death.

Almost everyone on this site has been in your shoes. Multiple people needing caring care and attention at the same time. For me, it is my mother and my husband, both of whom spend about 21 hours a day in bed and are pretty out-of-it when up. It is a lot to take care of.

You are strong. You can handle this. And remember: it is all temporary.

Big hug and good luck!
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Salisbury

I hear you. Your mom is going through a very tough time. I assume they were married for many decades? Now she has lost her husband, and is losing her home. Hopefully, she will negotiate "the eye of the needle" and get through this challenge (and you too!). I was a caregiver for my mom and dad. One time, during the Christmas season, my mom and dad were in rehab simultaneously. As I helped them both, their needs weren't usually in sync with one another so often felt pulled in separate directions. One lousy month in 2014 saw me at the doctor's office with mom and dad twice, at the emergency room with dad twice (hospital acquired infection and broken pelvis), at a major medical center to have dad's g-tube removed, 7 trips to take mom to a long-term acute care hospital to visit dad 80 miles away and hospital visits at a closer facility before that. At the same time, I re-enrolled them for supplemental insurance (mom accidentally allowed to it lapse) and applied the two of them to Medicaid, met with the veteran's agent to start application for home and attendance, and supervised a largish repair at their house. Dad passed away last year and three weeks after his funeral, mom fell and fractured her hip. There we were in the emergency room before we could even take a breath. Rehab complicated with orthostatic hypotension, low sodium nausea and seizures, and sadly steady decline, loss of mobility, ability to sit up, and aspiration pneumonias led to mom's passing last spring. As she experienced her decline, I just tried to work with what she had left to help her days be a interesting as possible and let her know she was loved. I stayed positive, so she could. Seriously, looking back, I don't know how I did it, but what I can say is this. Be flexible in your thinking. Accept each stage as it comes and just work with it. Learn from others but don't compare yourself to them. You'll do whatever you are able to do whatever that is. Don't be afraid to ask for help. And when all is said and done, you will know that you did your best at that time.
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Reply to lynina2

I am very sorry to hear how things are compiling and just want to say that I (and many here) can relate. My dad passed when I was 10 and my mother married many years later. My mother (age 76 and beautiful) was placed on hospice care last May and we encouraged my step father to have his leg checked as it had been bothering him while we cared for her since he devoted much of his time to caring for her. He had what was described as a minor non invasive procedure done and died without much explanation of what went wrong. This was September 11, 2017 of all days. He was someone we expected to live long as he was active as well (swimming, mowed the yard etc at age 76). One of the hardest things I've had to do is let mom know he wasn't coming home for her. My siblings who lived locally were not willing to provide the needed care and we live in another state so I moved her in with me and we were led to believe she had a good amount of time yet and was under longer term palliative care. She took a very sudden turn and my promise to take time off from work during the summer was not able to be granted. I miss her dearly and would give anything to have another day even as I was exhausted on many days. The pain and emotion from the loss has left me more tired than any day of caring for her. I wish you all God's love and that none will take a minute fore granted.
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Reply to CarolynsSon

You are strong, and no matter what life throws at you, you will prevail. I am no superwoman. But in a 15 month period I: lost 7 family members starting with my dear MIL and ending with my beloved father (both of them due to cancer); suffered a 100% loss of the department I ran at a huge hospital--thousands of square feet to rebuild and every stitch of fixtures and supplies to replace, plus my home flooded in the same storm; provided support and comfort to my grieving mother and FIL; became estranged from my sister (her decision); had to put down my 17yo pet. All my paid time off was quickly exhausted, but I qualified for FMLA to keep my position and paid my health premiums from savings. To you and anyone in your shoes, I would say to not allow hospitals or other care facilities to heap responsibilities on you alone--it is easy to spot the more responsible family members of patients and rely on them solely for communicating, performing tasks, making arrangements for patient care, etc. Keep your spouse and all family informed, keep info complete but no long-winded stories. My husband and his brother and their father were so lost in dealing with my MIL's terminal illness and rapid decline--but home hospice was ordered, thank goodness, and was a godsend for ALL of us. I highly recommend hospice be consulted when the timing is right, and I don't mean when a patient is just days or a few weeks away from death. You may have to initiate the conversation about hospice with the doctor and your spouse (again, when the time is right as she may not be approaching end of life yet), as it has been my experience that you cannot rely on doctors to bring up this valuable option. Give yourself permission to keep doing things for yourself whether it is going to the hair salon, getting a manicure, attending Bible study, playing bridge. If you are struggling to find sitters but have bonded with some nurses or other caregivers, ask them if they know any good private duty sitters that you can consider hiring to help with your MIL. Make sure hospitals have more than just your phone number, as you should be sharing responsibilities at least with your spouse if not with your and his siblings. Things will settle down for you, but we know caregiving for elderly parents is full of ups and downs. I wish you strength and great resources to help you.
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Reply to cbrb2017

I understand your main concern is that everyone's world seems to be collapsing around you. We are all sympathetic, and many people have been able to offer support. I am a former medical librarian (and before that, a behavioral psychologist; I changed careers), and I want to make a suggestion about looking for medical information, which you mentioned also as a problem. If you very much want to look for medial information, I strongly agree with those who have told you to stay off of Google; Google is not a reliable source of medical information. Two much better sources I would suggest are and The first, MedlinePlus, is from the National Library of Medicine, and is the consumer health version of the major professional health sciences database, Medline. The second is from the Mayo Clinic. The condition you're describing is hyponatremia. Both sources will give you good, reliable information. I hope this helps you a little!
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Reply to caroli1

2018 has been a crazy year for a lot of people and my husband and I are at witts end being caregivers to my 90 year old mom and 103 aunt, pastoring a church, rental properties, farm, 5 month old lab puppy and 16 grandchildren. Farm equipment has failed, aunt has fallen, lots of legal name it. We pray Phil 4:7 daily that God will give us peace that surpasses understanding. Praying the same for u...
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Reply to Lin1958

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