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My mother in law who has alzheimers and dementia (and her dog) moved in with my husband and I about 10 months ago. She was living with her longtime partner but he passed away.


It was either a NH or our home at that point. She is unable to cook or even remember to eat as well as keeping herself safe. When my sister in law came to us about moving ML in to our home, both my HB and I made the decision to have her move in. At this point, I had no idea how it would affect us.


ML has severe alzh and dementia, she needs 24/7 care. She needs help with everything except using the bathroom, and cannot be left alone. She recently started having BM accidents and chokes on her food sometimes. ML gets easily confused, asks the same questions or tells the same story over and over all day long. I am her main caregiver because I work from home. I take care of all of her needs (HB has started helping more on his days off but this just recently changed. She has in home care set up with her grand daughter who has been helpful. She helps her shower every other day and keeps her on Fridays for a few hours every week but also has a full time job so her ability to help during the week or weekends is limited). My SL also recently started taking ML during the day on weekends. We have ML Mon-Thurs full time and evenings/ nights the rest of the week.


I feel like my life has completely changed and is starting to affect my relationship with my HB.


MIL hates me. She doesn't hate me as much when my HB is at work or gone. When HB is home, she sticks to his side at all times. I cannot have a conversation with HB in front of ML because she gets agitated (if looks could kill, I'd be dead). She is rude to me and treats me like sh*t. She has cussed at me, tells me this is her house (she thinks we moved in with her) and has constantly told me to get the f**k out of her house. When my HB is not home, she can be sweet and is not as rude to me so I understand it is a jealousy thing.


We have had to watch what we do or say in front of her to avoid putting her in a bad mood. Little things that we use to do such as giving my HB a kiss goodbye when he leaves or comes home, sitting next to each other at the dinner table, watching a movie together in the living room, having a conversation are all things we can't do anymore because it makes ML angry. Being able to go to the grocery store or appts. for my self and kids without having someone watch ML are things I can't do anymore. I sound selfish but those are all things that are important to me and I feel like it is affecting our relationship.


I have talked with my HB several times about how I feel but last night, I told him I am done. I am mentally exhausted. I can't do it anymore. A couple of weeks ago she complained and criticized our dinner and said how s****y it was for the entire time that we ate because she knew I made dinner and my HB sat next to me. For 30 to 45 minutes I had to listen to how horrible my food was (even though she ate it all). I lost it! Got up and said "better than nursing home food" this went right over her head and she forgot I even said that 5 seconds later but I know it hurt my HB and I feel terrible about it (for him). This is not who I am or who I want to be. I usually just take her words and try to not let it bother me but lately I feel like I've had enough.


HB does not think ML is ready to be in a NH and thinks I need help. ML is helpless. He says I should block everything she says and let it go because she has a disease and this is temporary. He is not forcing me to keep taking care of her but he is definitely making me feel guilty for saying I can't do it anymore. His solution is to hire someone to come in and take care of her while he is at work. This would help but it wouldn't change the way she treats me or give us back our "normal life". Also, before ML moved in, we saw her no more than 1 or 2 times per year so I am a complete stranger to her and I never had a relationship with her. Please help.

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I’m an only child, male, and I did the same thing to my wife that you are doing to yours. Twice. Failed both times. I was naive as you are. I did everything to avoid that last fight with my mother. In the end it was ugly, nasty, and absolutely the right thing.

Your priorities are: 1. Your wife, 2. Your kids, 3. Your mother.

Your wife took no vows regarding your mother so get over any notion she is obligated to care for her. She is not.

Stand up for your wife to your mother, find a nice AL facility near by where you can visit her. Get the staff to give her a tour. Visit the actual room where she will be living. After the tour, back at home, tell her that was her room and it’s a done deal. Let the battle begin, listen to her but don’t weaken. This is for your wife, you can do it. Then move her to the facility and walk away for a week before you visit. When she tells you she won’t stay there, tell her she is free to go anywhere but your house. It’s what’s best for everybody. Just do it.
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jennys Nov 2, 2020
Best answer ever.
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Reading that she has actually resorted to physical violence is a deal breaker.

I don't care that her brain is broken, she DOES NOT get to bring abuse into the home any longer.

Your children DO NOT deserve the stress of watching their grandmother abuse their parents. Whether you want to face it or not, this is adversly affecting them and can scar them for life.

Man up dear husband and put her in a facility that can deal with her disease. That you would have more compassion for her then your wife and children is very disturbing. They, not her, are your 1st responsibilities.

That your sister basically lied to get you to agree to moving her in means that her opinion doesn't count. Either mom goes to her house or a facility, staying with you is no longer an option.

Open your eyes, this is destroying your wife. All for a person that you don't really like? You do love your wife, right? Then act like it.

Sorry if I sound harsh but, letting her abuse your wife, your children and yourself is beyond unacceptable and you are actually condoning the abuse by not protecting them.

NO EXCUSE FOR ABUSE, EVER!
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BarbBrooklyn Oct 29, 2020
Amen, Sister!
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To the husband of WITL2020,

Your wife has asked for us to respond to a message she posted here on the caregiver forum, and that she would show you the responses. So I thought I would cut out the "middleman" so to speak, and reply directly to you:

First and foremost: I am sure you are a loving husband and son who wants what's best for both wife and mother. I am sure you feel as though you are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, and that whatever your decision is, you will be in the wrong.

This is a dilemma that most (if not all) caregivers are forced to face every day. Live with LO's needing help or place in a facility. Hire help or do it all alone. Memory care v. nursing home. Seek life extending medical intervention or place in hospice. The list of choices is endless, and rarely is it a choice between good vs. bad. It's usually bad vs. worse. vs. worst. Unfortunately, this is now where you and your wife (and your mom) are at. Ignoring it, burying your head in the sand, expecting that this will magically get better will only compound the problems. None of us want to be in this position, but, for better or worse, that's where we are.

Your mom needs more help than you and your wife can give her at home. Even if mom and wife's relationship was rock solid, that would still be the fact. And the disease that she has will only progress further and further. The longer you put off finding some sort of outside help (preferably placement in a facility) the harder it will be to do eventually. And chances are you are going to need placement for her eventually. Very, very few people can keep a dementia/AZ patient at home until they pass. To be able to do that, you need absolutely 100% dependable help, care and support from everyone in the house, as well as outside help. Which you clearly do not have.

This doesn't make your wife a bad person. It doesn't make you a bad son. If your mom needed heart surgery, you would seek professional help, because you would know that you don't have the skills needed to do it yourself. Placing mom in a facility specializing in her illness is also a form of seeking skilled medical intervention for her. And placing her doesn't mean that your caregiving will stop - you can ask any number of people on this board who have LO's in a facility. It just means that your responsibilities will change and shift to other things she will need done.

Your wife has told you that she can't do it anymore. You need to take those words to heart. It's time to seek alternate help for mom. Mom needs it; your wife needs it; and so do you.

Good luck!
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NobodyGetsIt Oct 29, 2020
Dear "notgoodenough,"

Beautifully said and I like your approach to addressing her husband directly. Right after I finished reading it, in my email box was something from "A Place From Home," which is how I was originally directed to AgingCare four months ago. The subject line read: "How Much Care Does Your Parent Need?" and although I haven't even opened it up to read it and it may not talk about this issue directly, I still thought it was an apropos question.
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Please tell your hubby that you need a lot more than just a support group, (although they do serve a purpose and can be very helpful.) You need for your MIL to be put in a Memory Care unit, where she will have 24/7 care from people who are trained in the disease of Dementia/Alzheimer's, and where she can take out her anger on people used to that behavior.

You are burned out, and rightfully so. You nor your husband are equipped to be dealing with someone that far along in their disease. Your husband might feel he has to take care of mom out of some sort of misplaced guilt or something, but really enough is enough. Is having her in your house really worth risking yours and your husbands relationship over, or worse yet you losing your health over?

Maybe your husband should take a few weeks off of his job so he can stay with his mom 24/7 and you go take a little vacation, and let's see what he thinks about all this when you return. Wishing you the best.
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WITL2020 Oct 29, 2020
Thank you for your kind words. This has truly been the hardest thing for me to talk about with my husband. He was hoping that we could keep his mom living with us until she completely forgets her children.

I honestly do not think having her stay much longer is worth risking our relationship, this is why I am speaking up now VS keeping my mouth shut for months or years until I get to the point where I no longer want to be in my own home.

I like the idea of taking off for a few weeks, I would totally do that if I had the ability to.
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If my husband sat by while his mother called the food I cooked s****y, I would be out the door and off to a hotel until he got her placed.

Your KIDS are exposed to this behavior?

I agree that he should try being the solo caregiver for a few weeks while you take a break. If he finds that this works for him and mom, you have your answer as to where his priorities are.

If mother is starting to choke and had become incontinent, she needs placement. She needs specialized food and observation while eating.

1. Call the Area Agency on Aging and arrange for a needs assessment to determine what level of support is needed.

2. Get mom to a geriatric psychiatrist for meds to even out her moodiness, iritability and possibe paranoia.

3. Understand that being isolated in a single family home with no socialization is making MIL worse.
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Isthisrealyreal Oct 29, 2020
I think I would have taken the plate and said that I would not want her to have to eat anything that she finds s****y and give her a bowl of cereal.

Dementia is not an excuse for abuse.
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A lot of people have commented on you and husband. What about your kids? There is no way they should be exposed to the violence and bad language they are living with. If they could bring friends home, would they? You are modeling something very dysfunctional for your children. If you go away for a week or so, PLEASE take them with you. What is the lesson they are learning when Grandma cusses you out and it is OK because no adult stops it? They are learning that it is OK to cuss mom out and Dad doesn't care. When Grandma gets violent and hits their Dad , what are they learning about Domestic Violence? It is OK. Next time she gets violent call 911 and let them Baker Act her.
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cherokeegrrl54 Oct 29, 2020
Thank you, i just posted something along those same lines....
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Thank you everyone.

This has truly helped me realize that I should feel no guilt in making the decision to let my HB know that I am done.

I do not need therapy or counseling, I am not physically or mentally able to continue caring for my MIL at this point.

I had my HB read through the responses that were posted this morning and I will make sure to have him read through the rest, not to tell him that I was right or that I have the right to feel this way but to make him see the suggestions, advice coming from people who do not know me or him. This morning I felt like I was at fault for even telling him that I am done but reading all of your comments makes me feel like I did the right thing.
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He's right in that it's a disease and you can't take what she says seriously. That said, only trained caregivers with no real personal connection to someone can do that successfully.

Here's what your husband needs to understand -- his mother will receive far better care by professionals than the most well-intentioned care by the two of you. You need to be part of a team with professional caregivers at a nursing home to do the hard work while you and your husband's family just love on her.

What you're doing now is noble, but truly, isn't what's best for her. The choking alone will get worse because that happens with Alzheimers-- are you prepared and able to handle feeding her an all liquid diet? How about handling a severe choking episode? These are the issues you and your husband need to plan for, because it's better to do the work in advance than in a crisis.

No, you don't need therapy. You're doing a job that a staff of many do at my mother's memory care facility, and you're trying to work, too. It's untenable, so I hope your husband realizes it before it destroys your marriage.

Remind him that his job is to see is mother is safe and cared for, but that doesn't mean he or you are required to do it. His job is to do what's best for everyone, and clearly your present situation is not best for everyone.
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NobodyGetsIt Oct 29, 2020
Very well said "MJ1929!"
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Sounds EXACTLY what I went thru with my wife and her Mother for many years. We are now divorced.

First of all your Mothers In Laws situation IS NOT going to get better. She probably no longer has the mental capacity to change. And what ever capacity she has left she is getting great pleasure out of being devisive between you and your husband

In order for the marriage to survive there has to be one non negotiable agreement.
Both of you must (not should) agree the needs and health of your marriage come first. If you can not get that.. From my personal experience I know.. you don't have a marriage.

when I gave this ultimatim to my wife she sided with her Mother. Like you I had finally had enough of the abuse from my Mother in law. I was completly exausted and punch drunk. What AMPLIFIES this is when your spouse does not stand up for you. I know from tolerating it for many years. There is nothing more degrading, demorlizing than this envirnment. And it happens EVERY DAY.

This is your spouses responsibility to correct. The both of you needs to sit down with Mom and lay out clear ground rules. Let her know if she can not be respectful and supportive of you and the marriage you will be left with NO OTHER option but to move her to a home. This is YOUR house she has gotta live by your rules.

A big mistake we made was keeping my Mother in law in her house and moving in with her. We lost ALL leverage.

Based on the description you have given of your MIL condition it sounds like he time to be in some sort of full time care facility is way past due.

your spouse needs to decide who is his priority you his marriage or his Mother. Inthis kind of situation he cannot have it all. Letting this continue he is doing extreme damage to you and to your relationship. Candidly do not be suprised if he picks Mom. I am stunned at how many adult children pick the parent. In our case my wife demolished our whole family because of her obbsession with her Mother. This has deeply effected our adult chilren and the relationship they have with there Mother.

My Mother in law is in a home now. My wife lives alone in her Mothers home. I live alone. Our children only engage with their Mother when they absolutly have to. We have boys. They see this as adults and see their Mother completly abandoned their Father. This entire event has affected how they look at marriage, having children everything. The damage done when spouses do not put the needs of the marriage first are FAR reaching and last for generations.
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WITL2020 Oct 30, 2020
This is really sad. In the end, your wife doesn't have her mom or a husband. When I first approached my husband about this, I felt that there was a possibility of him telling me he was leaving or I was leaving but I was okay with it. I have been "done" for months but I kept going just because I wanted to avoid upsetting him. I was hoping that he would soon see how tired, beat up and frustrated I felt and make the decision on his own. Days, weeks and months go by and he even tells me to "get over it, don't let her get to you, act like you don't hear it" at this point, I am willing to lose everything except my kids.
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Your situation sounds exactly like mine was. My MIL came to live with us after her husband passed away. They were both living together in an assisted living facility. Like you we didn't live close to my husbands parents so we only saw them for a few hours at a time, maybe 10 times a year, holidays, birthdays, etc. I know for a fact that she loved me and my daughter, from a previous marriage, and always treated us like we were there from the beginning. I was the "daughter" she never had. That is until she came to live with us. She also started to see her son as her own husband. And I know that it didn't help that my husband does resemble his father very much. But every little thing we did together, washing dishes, holding hands, sitting on the couch watching tv, would set her off. I was the &*%$# trying to steal her husband. She would come into our bedroom at night, turn on the light and start saying filthy things to us and would slap at my husband. This went on for six months. Worsening all the time. I, like you, was the main caregiver, as my husband worked. It got to the point that the minute he came home from work, I was out of there. I didn't care where I had to go, my sisters home, walking down every aisle at Walmart, just staying away from my home until I knew she would be in the bed. I would at least have a hour or so with my husband alone. And that is all the time we had. And we are in our late 50's, kids grown, grandchildren. Before bringing MIL into our home, I kept my two small granddaughters. They at first loved grandma being there, but after seeing things, and the way she treated me, and the way she would talk to them, they were afraid of her. I couldn't even keep my babies anymore. No more sleepovers, because grandma still came into my bedroom in the middle of the night, turning on the light, wanting to know where her husband was and who were these kids, etc. I completely lost six months of my life. With Covid, of course we were stuck at home with each other 24 hours a day with no help and her alternately crying, or cussing me. I almost went crazy. My husband and I have been married 25 years and I had never considered leaving before, but I almost did. I just wanted to get in my car and drive anywhere and not come back. That's what did it. My husband could see what this was doing to me and we knew we had to make a change. We were very blessed to find a wonderful facility very close to us. The day we took her was an absolute horror. But the thing is I felt so relieved. It was like the first time in the past six months that I felt like I could breathe. That I was happy. But after some time, its still bothering me. Her treatment of us, the name calling, spitting on, general disposition of my MIL that we endured had made me not care if I see her or not. I still love her but I don't like her at all anymore. It changed my relationship tremendously with her and to be honest, it changed my relationship with my husband. While he knew how unhappy I was, I felt like it took too long for him to do something about it. He did take some of the load off of caring for her when he got home, but it still wasnt enough. WE still didn't have a life together. WE had no time or place for intimacy, physical or emotional. And that can take a toll on the best of marriages. I pray that you will come to the decision to place your MIL for the sake of your family.
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Takincare Oct 30, 2020
Also after mom leaves the home there is no guarantee that the damage to the marriage, children, and family dynamics will ever be the same or salvageable. Caretaking takes a very viable physical, emotional, and mental toll on all involved.
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