I am a woman that is married to another woman.
Father-in-law (87) is/has been in at home hospice since February this year. FIL has Vascular Dementia + Alzheimer's, he is bed-bound and incontinent etc. He must be turned every 2 hours (from 7 a.m. to 7p.m.) to prevent bedsores. MIL is his full time 24/7 caregiver. MIL’s helpers are Aunt D, my wife and myself, and 9 hours a week free help from the VA. I am so tired of doing this. MIL is not a nice person, but I have been able to tolerate her for all these years because I didn’t spend much time with her. In the last few years since all this began, I have found out just how mean she really is. I have also found out just how enabling the whole family is towards her. No one will tell her no. No one stands up to her. Everyone is doubly terrified of her now because she talks about how she wants to die, to die before her husband dies because she can’t take this! And now the 'enablers' all fear that if they/we insist on getting more outside help, as in paid help, she will drop dead of a heart attack and it'll be our fault for pushing her over the edge. Almost every time one of us goes over there to help MIL turn him, it turns into changing diapers, fixing the tv, fixing the phone, etc etc.... I told my wife I am not going over there 3 and 4 times a day anymore. I can't do this. I didn't put up with this behavior from my own Mother. Much anger and arguing ensued. I feel bad. So now it is just my wife and Aunt D. helping. I need advice, support, anything. I am at my wits' end.
Thank you all in advance.

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For petes sake bring in more help. I can bet MIL won't die and if she does it won't be anyone's fault. Based on what you have said about her, her dying would be a relief. But dont worry she will probably live a long, long time to burden and make her families lives a living hell.
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Reply to sp19690

You took the first correct step. You can only hope others will follow. Beatty is right, MIL knows how to get her own way. You are lucky to not be so invested in her that you can say NO. I posted a discussion on another thread as to why setting and maintaining boundaries are so hard. My grandmother was like this. My father was so afraid of telling her NO or upsetting her. She will get mad! And? She doesn't seem to care about getting you mad so why is everyone so afraid of upsetting her? That is the part I could never understand. What power does she hold over everyone?
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Reply to lkdrymom
Sammy64 Sep 19, 2022
I have been following your thread, reading every day. I am grateful that you posted it. That thread is what helped me to post my question.
Yeah it sounds like you need to set some boundaries. don’t feel guilty about that when you need to you need to. Do get some paid help; it’ll save everybody’s sanity it’ll be worth it. You don’t have to leave the house when they’re there either, which is what I recommend, just be the manager While they are there.

I was a live in caregiving manager, 24/7, staff at six that included myself, and cared for this couple seven years.

My Mrs. had a mean streak, and what I did to manage my sanity with her was to treat her like a child and reprimand her and scold her when she misbehaved. People don’t understand, a bully is a bully, and when you stand up to them it helps your sanity. I never had to be mean back to my Mrs., but I did call her on her bullsh*t. And sometimes she cooperated afterwards and sometimes she didn’t. It is what it is. But I kept my sanity by sticking up for myself. Job is still hard no doubt. Good luck.
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Reply to Lizhappens

You’ve already taken exactly the right step by backing away. Now you must accept that you can’t do anything to bring change in your spouses family dynamics with MIL. They’ve been in place a long time and aren’t likely to change. I hope you won’t return to the toxic stew. If money is an issue and you’re financially able, you can offer to hire help for a number of shifts per week. My dad’s hospice agency kept a list of workers, not employees of theirs, but people familiar to them who did exactly this type of work. I hired a couple of them and they proved to be invaluable during such a hard time. But I had a family who was fine with it. If you don’t get cooperation, continue to keep your wise boundaries and resist discussing the topic again at all with your spouse. No use have a discussion that leads only to more contention. Being able to accept help is not a defeat, it’s admitting we’re human. I hope the family will see this soon
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Reply to Daughterof1930

This is quite the handful! Your MIL sounds like a real piece of work.

It's horrible how no one will stand up to her. Kudos to you for standing up for YOU by saying no more of this for you.

Sad how the family is so enabling of her. Since MIL is talking about wanting to die cuz she can't take this - sound to me like she's burnt out and who could blame her. No one is cut out for 24/7 caregiving. She needs paid help and she needs it NOW. She isn't going to drop dead of a heart attack due to getting paid help. That's pretty ridiculous, IMHO. Sorry, I do understand that the kids are scared but come on.

I would tell your spouse that on top of you not doing it anymore, you strongly suggest that she back off as well. This is not healthy. MIL obviously needs outside help. Whether she likes it or not. Or FIL should really be placed somewhere.

Not to be unfeeling, but is the end seemingly near for him? Been on hospice for 7 months or so, so just wondering approximately how much longer MIL and the rest of the family are expecting to keep this up. It is just NOT sustainable.

Good luck.
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Reply to againx100

'but I have been able to tolerate her for all these years because I didn’t spend much time with her. In the last few years since all this began, I have found out just how mean she really is.'

It's a common theme in this situation for many families. Characteristics that people could ignore or let go because of distance are shown to be just the tip of the iceberg, once the situation intensifies.
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Reply to anytown

I have a bit of a different take on all this. My advice is from the heart and not meant to be taken in any way but a positive one.

Your wife is stuck in the middle of this horribly manipulative relationship with her mother, feeling obliged to pander to her for fear she really WILL drop dead if she goes against her wishes. Knowing full well she WON'T drop dead, and that it's just more of mother's FOG (fear obligation & guilt) cards she's playing, as usual, but she doesn't know what to do right now b/c her father is dying & she can't risk it. She's scared about that, and mother is playing her trump card to the HILT as a result, while others are fawning all over her. She's eating it up with a spoon, loving every moment of this attention, too, b/c that's what her game is all about: ATTENTION. And getting help with everything without ASKING for it (that was my own mother's MO with everything: I never ASKED you for anything, so don't blame ME.....) Now is not the time to take a strong stand against this behavior from your MIL b/c her husband is dying, meaning your wife's father is dying. What your wife needs right now is support from YOU more than anything else in the world b/c she's a lost little girl, not knowing where to turn or what TH to do. You leaving her high & dry right now is a mistake, in my opinion, b/c she needs you more than she's ever needed you at this moment.

Once her father dies, THEN you can make a stand (TOGETHER) about what you will and will not put up with with her mother's behavior. You can have a real heart to heart talk then and discuss how mean MIL is and how neither one of you should be putting up with that sort of behavior, and what you want to do about it. Of course, then she'll be playing The Grieving Widow Card to the hilt, but you'll cross that bridge when you get to it. For now, just be there to help your wife and not leave her alone to tread water. I know you disagree with how she's handling her mother, I do too, and so does everyone else, but it's just not the right time to start WWIII with the woman at this moment.

In the meantime, set aside some time just for you & your wife to spend together. Have a nice dinner together, just some alone time where you can be a comfort to her. She needs that. When my parents were dying, my husband was my rock and w/o him, I think I would have fallen apart. I was so scared, dealing with hospice, and watching them die, I was just a basket case in general. He held me up. You need to hold HER up right now, not put your foot down with your demands.

I am sorry you are both going through such a trying time, and I pray that God comes to take your FIL soon, and without pain or anymore suffering. Dementia & Alzheimer's are dreadful conditions to be dealing with, and I watched my own mother succumb in February, with hospice care on board too, thankfully. Sending you a hug and prayer for a good resolution here, however it all plays out.
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Reply to lealonnie1

Likely your MIL is grieving, angry, depressed and scared — not to mention emotionally and physically exhausted. And this has been going on since February… that’s a lot. Especially if she’s a diva and losing the only person who indulges her.

Can you pity the miserable old bat and block out MIL’s bad attitude with “I do this for my wife”?

Can you turn the table and say to MIL, “It’s obvious you’re unhappy with my help, so I’ll leave now” and walk? Or “Clearly I’m upsetting you. I’ll come back tomorrow.” Can you say “I am taking a 2 week vacation from this to give myself a chance to recalibrate?”

Can you get Aunt Di on board to get FIL into a hospice facility where there’s 24/7 care and you all get to be the grieving family - not the exhausted help?

Can you reply with what she should be saying: “You mean, thank you for helping your FIL. I appreciate how you interrupt your life to help me” and “You’re welcome” for changing his diaper when MIL harps? (A friend gave herself 6 compliments in response to a criticizing parent before said parent got the point.)

Can you label MIL “Bad Attitude” and journal the crazy? Then share it with your wife so she sees it through your eyes and without the argument? Can you turn Bad Attitude into farce and make her laughable?

I think the resentment comes from a litany of Bad Attitude instead of gratitude. And your wife seems equally expectant instead of enormously grateful when it’s really her monkey, her circus.

So while your wife needs your support, what support is she giving you when her mother is messes with your head? What happens after FIL dies and MIL needs emotional/practical support and plays the diva and suicide card? Do you run and fetch indefinitely? Or become the audience so she can continue playing the diva?

Can you and spouse create an environment to talk about the what ifs and what’s next and boundaries? Or is she also angry, tired, grieving and caught by family history and expectations? In which case, can she get therapy? Or you? (A psychiatrist relative once confided that spouses often come for therapy to deal with the spouse who needs therapy but won’t come.)

I think you and your wife need a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C so Bad Attitude diva can’t destroy your marriage (which could bring her daughter to heel as the FIL replacement — divas need an attending audience).

I leave you the wisdom of a friend: “The more enlightened you are, the greater your responsibility to take the high road.” And my belief that it’s self-empowering to own greater enlightenment but it has to be tempered with self care.
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Reply to Erikka

The forum is very consistent in saying ‘Beware of Mummy’s Boys’. The same advice applies to Mummy’s Girls. Sure, this could break up your marriage, but it can also ruin your life. So yes, you ought to refuse to go over three or four times a day for lengthy care visits. And ‘we insist on getting more outside help, as in paid help, she will drop dead of a heart attack and it'll be our fault for pushing her over the edge’ sounds like a perfectly reasonable plan.

The fewer people are enabling this, the sooner it’s going to be too much for the one person left standing. Then things will change. Can you leave for a couple of weeks, without a big bust-up? Think of a reason.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

You all have given a MASSIVE gift of care over a LONG time.

But time passes, needs increase, so each person must re-assess - if they can continue the at the same level, or at all.

Even most gift cards have an expiry date!

So you are out.
This will force the remainders to re-assess.
Then as the next one steps back, more re-assessing. It's probably well time for MIL to finds an alternative plan...
Without the *team* MIL will come to realises that *family only* is no longer working. That *NON-family* is needed.
Or even that *in-home* hospice is no longer working & *in-care* hospice is next.

Boundaries ARE hard.
But by withdrawing your hand from play, a fresh round begins.

PS MIL will "drop dead of a heart attack"?

This is MIL just trying to get her way. Her manipulation card. She will continue to use this if it keeps working for her. (Some even pull out the suicide threat card - beware of that!)
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Reply to Beatty

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