My 65 yr old MIL lives with us, and she has been in depression for 7 years ever since being diagnosed for stage 1 cancer. At the same time, my FIL had Alzheimer's and deteriorated overtime. Both have lived with us for the past 11 years. Her depression has worsened ever since we moved my FIL into a memory care unit 3 months ago. She cries, worries about her husband, and says she does not know what to do with her life.

My wife & I are very frustrated. Even our 3 young kids don't really want to be with her. She has always been overly dependent, slow to adapt (if at all), and stuck in her ways. Depression makes it all worse of course. We've recently changed her medication without significant improvement.

I am not optimistic, but she is family and we are not ready to give up just yet.

What I want to know is, what are the possible outcomes for somebody like her? If she will remain this way long term, then I must protect my wife/kids from further stress and move her out. People might view this as abandonment, but I will do what is necessary to protect my family. Living with them all these years were tough and a big mistake.

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How awful it is when we're "stuck".
This seems to be a constant thread among caregivers.

"Stuck" in a black cloud of depression because of a situation we cannot change (either them or us).

"Stuck" living with and caring for someone we don't want to because it brings out the worst in us and it's hard.

"Stuck" watching the undignified decline of those we love,

"Stuck" in OUR bodies that have many more (painful) problems than they had 20 years ago,

"Stuck" living with the attitudes of others who just don't seem to "get" what it means to be a caregiver.

"Stuck" facing our own mortality and wondering how we can bypass what our parents or spouses have done to us-with our kids.

I used to be a control freak, wanting to plan down to the last detail the way I wanted it. I was upset (to say the least) when the control was no longer mine. I've learned that we have very little that we can control. That has been a huge and bitter pill to swallow. Things happen and there's nothing we can do about it. It's sometimes "forced acceptance". I often gag on it.
We can change our choices in living situations, (to move out or in) but the problem looms overhead whether you are physically there or not.
I "get" the giving up control thing now. I just try to "go with the flow". Like they say in AA "How important is it?"
But I'm still having a hard time with the being "stuck" and
"forced acceptance", as I think many of us are.

So I pray the serenity prayer;
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change,(being "stuck" with what it is and "forced acceptance" of the situation),
the courage to change the things I can, (move my parent to AL so my family won't fall apart and I won't loose my mind)
And the wisdom to know the difference. (I need to make the best choices for EVERYONE involved.)

This life is tough. God help us all.
Helpful Answer (1)

Thank you jeannegibbs. I see a bit of improvement with the med adjustment. I've recently found a therapist for her and the 1st appt. is next week.

I'm learning about depression, and I appreciate Scaredtaker's comment about depression not earning as much compassion.

I am trying to put myself in her shoes to be more understanding, but my relationship with her had long soured before her depression & my FIL's alz. I am pretty intolerant of her needy, dependent, and self-focused nature. She's not a bad person, but she falls short of what I'd expect from an adult who should be able to do simple things without asking somebody. Now that she has depression, it's worse and it's impossible to distinguish the behaviors that are due to depression and those that are inherent.

My periodic eruption of temper can't be good for her either. It's been miserable for all.
Helpful Answer (2)

Possible outcomes? Crystal balls are in short supply around here, but POSSIBLE outcomes might include
1) She gets even more severely depressed when her husband dies, and goes on crying and wondering what she is going to do with her life for another 30 years.
2) She tries several different treatment plans until one finally clicks. She is still a fairly negative personality, but she is able to function day-to-day.
3) She moves to a suitable facility (assisted living?) and stays on a good treatment plan. She complains a lot about it, but she participates in a lot of the activities and makes friends with a woman whose husband also has dementia. She is reasonably content.

And hundreds of variation of the above.

I agree with Scaredtaker; Depression and diabetes are both just illnesses. Neither is curable, and both are treatable. I have both. One difference is that depression often suppresses initiative. That makes it harder for a person with depression to seek treatment and to follow a treatment plan. Family support can be very valuable for that.

Another difference is that depression (or other mental health problems) can adversely impact other people. No matter how much you love someone, you need to protect other loved ones from being harmed by them. If this can be done by helping with the depression treatment plan, awesome! But if that isn't working, you can't just go on accepting the harm.

Try getting the treatment plan adjusted. Accept that you may need to take more drastic measures.

BTW, how recently was MIL's medication adjusted? They can take 6 to 8 weeks to become fully effective.
Helpful Answer (4)

Depression is an illness the same way diabetes and CVD is. But it does not enjoy the same reception of compassion as do the other diseases.
Helpful Answer (2)

Thank you all for your input. Her psychiatrist isn't specialized in geriatrics, so I'm gonna start searching for one.
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I'll be 61 in January. Egads, am I thought of as geriatric in age?
Oh poop, I thought I was still a (fairly) young whippersnapper! Hahaha
(That phrase shows my age!)
Guess I forgot about the back pain, arthritis in my neck, loss of stamina......but I'm not giving up yet. Darn it, I want to RETIRE at 65 then BOOGIE!
Well, my body might be geriatric but my mind isn't. So there.
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Interesting thought, Barb. Stop this bus, right now, I want off! I am not that far away.

And I imagine a Geri doc would be good for the familiarity down the road.
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So, Glad, I thought about whether Hi should add " geriatric" before I typed it, so, yes. I think it's an important qualification, even though this lady is only a year older than I!

She is dealing with a husband with dementia and apparently has a long history of dependence and depression. I think it's going to take someone with "the long view" of her mental health and adjustment to help her. Someone is already prescribing her antidepressants, and has not worked out an effective treatment plan yet, clearly.

I think the body starts to process meds differently as early as one's 60s.
Helpful Answer (3)

Barb. A Geriatric psych for MIL? I would not even think of that as I get closer to mid-60's. I am not questioning your suggestion, just would not think of that for myself. At what age do geriatric doc's come into play? Is there a rule of thumb?
Helpful Answer (1)

You’ve answered your own question.

You stated that you must protect you’re wife and kids and that living with them all these years was a big mistake.

You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty. Now it’s time to put your familys needs first.
Helpful Answer (8)

Joe, is MIL being seen by a geriatric psychiatrist? Depression is a very real illness and needs to be treated by a doctor who specializes in its treatment. If her meds aren't working ( if she's still having symptoms) then consider getting a second opinion.

The other question is, is this a good arrangement for your family. Balancing the ongoing needs of you, your wife and children and your MIL is difficult.

Arranging for her care elsewhere is NOT abandonment.
Helpful Answer (8)

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