Relationship problems and caregiving. My partner of 5 years is a in-home caretaker for his mother. Any advice?

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His mother has lived with him for 20 plus years and he is now doing in home caretaking. She is in good health for her age but suffering from some low level dementia. We have been together for 5 years. I have my own home and was a caretaker for my mother who passed away from cancer. I know the issues around caretaking. He lives about 1 mile from my home yet we never get to spend anytime together due to the caretaking he does for his mother. Her schedule is so erratic. She sleeps until four in the afternoon, insists that he make dinner for her at 9:00pm, says she cannot heat up her own food and insists he serves her. I am a retired nurse RN and suggested he prepare meals ahead of time once a week or make a healthy sandwhich, soup and bowl of fruit for an occasional dinner so we can have time together. She will not do it and insists he prepare all her meals.I thought I could handle this but it is working on my nerves. I am allowing her schedule to run my life. Please I do not want to seem selfish. I lost my 27 year old daughter 4 years ago from a drowning accident and have my own grief issues with this. I run a small ranch by myself and have had 2 heart attacks and recently a pacemaker implanted. I do not help with the care taking as she only wants her son to participate. I have pleaded to get away together for awhile but she refuses to have anyone stay with her other than her son. I need some professional suggestions. My life is being stunted. We don't go anywhere, see anyone..HELP!

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I tried to help another woman I saw post this morning...dealing with the same issue I had. You ladies were a lot of help to me. I began seeing things so different. Have not broke up with him..but have detached very much. My family has become concerned I am over working myself here. Sons uncle wants to move back to Cali. His sister Suzi (great gal) is dying of bone cancer and lives about 40 miles from my ranch. Told him he could stay here while he visits with her and helps her out. He in turn said he would help me with heavy ranch chores needed..painting barn, roofing barn, much needed weeding for fire control...this list of heavy work goes on and on. My son is livid right now about boyfriend situation. He wants to offer his uncle free board in exchange for ranch work. I told boyfriend Hank was coming to stay with me for a few weeks to see sister who was ill...he had a fit and said we may have to break up? LOL! is not comfortable with a man being here in the house with me? yet yesterday I worked in the heat all day and was not feeling well. He of course went back to moms to serve her dinner..called me at 9:30 hoping I was feeling better? and made me a hamburger he will bring over today? but not here if I dropped dead from heart attack..this is more than funny...it is insane! love you girls!
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I am having a discussion with him tomorrow about all of this. You ladies have been so much help to me and I want to thank you. I will stay on this website as I have been a caretaker and know how difficult it can be..hopefully I will be able to help you guys out!
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Personally, I am a hopeless romantic. I think Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" is gospel. I know it falls short of that, but ...
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I'm a kind of expert on dating, since I didn't get married until age 44. In my experience, men will tell you what you need to know if you listen. The guy who ended up not marrying me after 7 years? At the party where we met, when I moved across the hall to stand closer to him, he backed up. He waited three weeks to call me. The guy who married me offered to let me move in with him a month after we started dating! He went away for two weeks and sent me three postcards. Not saying to judge only on early impressions, but If he's not willing to move forward, believe what he's telling you. Give him a chance by letting him know it's a deal-breaker if he's not willing to (fill in blank with small step) within a month.

As an older woman myself, I understand that you might decide that you'd rather have him than no one. In that case, you need to accept on a deep level that this is all he will ever give you. I suspect that you can do better, but I'm not in your shoes.
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rayanddee, what were you getting out of this relationship five years ago, when it first started? What did you hope it would develop into? What are you getting out of it now? Is it worth it? I think those are the questions you have to look at closely, and only you can come up with the answers.

A person who sacrifices to take care of a parent has many fine qualities. Compassion, caring, and loyalty among others. But that doesn't mean they are perfect and not subject to other character flaws or personality quirks.

My other always told us seven kids when we told her what we wanted, "You don't always get what you want in this world." Did you hear that growing up? But your friend's Mama wants a full home-cooked meal every night. She gets it, every night. She doesn't want anyone but Sonny to take care of her. Only Sonny takes care of her. He can't tell her, "You can't always have what you want, Mama." Hmmm...

But he clearly can tell you that you can't have the things you reasonably want from a relationship. Why is that? I don't hear you demanding that he give up being a caregiver. You are asking him to pay a reasonable amount of attention to his relationship with you.

So I ask again: what are you getting out of this relationship? Is it enough for what you are putting up with?

Here is what I'm afraid of. By hanging on to this quasi relationship you are not getting on with your life, meeting new people, developing other relationships. You deserve a chance at new beginnings and happiness. Think long and hard about whether this relationship contributes to that or hold you back.
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rayanddee, I don't know a lot about your relationship, but the more you tell us, the more I'm inclined to say maybe it would be good to be a helpful friend to this one. It would be mighty nice if you had a partner who could wake up with you and help you work the ranch. It would be sad if the right one is out there and you missed him while waiting for someone who will be able to make some time for you on a weekend night, and then only if you go pick him up. I have a romantic notion of the perfect cowboy with a good work truck and lots of time to spend with his partner, as well as helping with animals and mending fences. My instincts say that you should leave your options open.
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I am new to this site and wish I knew about this site when I was caring for my wonderful mother. Thank you JessieBelle, you may be on to something because I have thought about that as well. Thank you horserider..( I am a horsewoman also!LOL) you also have hit on what I think may be happening. I just talked to him after a heated argument this weekend and suggested we chose a day to be together and stick to it. Of course realizing doctors appointments etc. may come up and we get together the next day. He said that would work if he could get home to fix her dinner. I asked what about a night when we can sleep together and hold each other, since his mom is only a mile away. He said on the weekends but he wants time alone. Problem with that is my son and grandsons come down and my deceased little girl comes on the weekends. I said Yes, that would work on the weekends they are not here to visit. I got the mopey voice saying I guess that would work. He would prefer to come over and have a visit (in all ways) but I am not into that. He lives to close and I feel we need time for he and I to get away from his house and mine. Living rural and tending the ranch for me can get pretty lonely and isolated. That is why my family is coming up so often now..to see me and enjoy the ranch. The other problem is ( I am new to opening up) is they have no vehicle. I drive him to town for errands, drive him to the big town for grocery shopping ( 1 hour drive) because I put myself in their shoes and ask what I would have felt like or done if I was in that situation when I was taking care of my mother. And finances are a problem. He pays for all of the essential things needed for he and his mom out of his paycheck he gets for providing. Utilities, food, dog food, cat food etc. When I suggested we go to the VFW once a week for breakfast, my answer was I can't afford it. I don't know..when I took care of my mom I had a heart attack when she was in surgery for her cancer. I was in the same hospital! but I came home and took care of her the very best of my ability. She used to tell me to get out, get away from home for awhile, she would be fine with someone coming over to tend to her for a day. She was a gracious, strong woman and I miss her so. Funny...when I was care giving I was so full of despair and grief knowing my mom was terminal, yet I wanted her to live her life to the very fullest by allowing her pride and dignity..allowing her to do the things she thought she could do on her own. She passed to soon and little did I know my daughter would pass just 4 months later. I am so full of grief at times that I feel I just want to run down my dirt road and get away from all problems! sorry for rattling on.
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I think it is more likely she is manipulating to make sure he is "available" to her (she may in fact want to get rid of you, or she may have no opinion about that but only see her own world -- the ability to consider others can evaporate with dementia AND plain old old age). Your partner is the only one who can make the decision though. It's hard to be both loving, kind and firm with an elder, especially one who pulls the "but I NEEEED you" card. We do all like the idea of being needed at some point.
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If she has early dementia, she really shouldn't need much help unless she has other health problems. One thing I wondered was if he might be using his mother as an excuse to keep from committing to you. Living with him for 20+ years and now letting her control his life are red flags to me. If his mother is in the early stages of dementia, she'll be with him for many more years. You'll have to decide if it is worth spending the rest of your available years waiting for him. Of course, you know more about your relationship with him, so you know if you should go or stay. Hope you find happiness with all you've been through. ((Hugs))
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