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My husband (been married 4 years) moved his parents near us to help take care of them in July without fully discussing this with me. I live 1 1/2 away from my family. His father passed away recently & his mother has advanced dementia and is residing in the house alone. My husband feels likes she needs to be checked on daily which is true, probably more often. He has been doing this but has been highly stressed & irritable & is looking to hire an in-home caregiver 3 days a week for part of the day. He also asked me tonight if I can check on her the other 2 days if he has to go out of town for business. He also stated that he needed to get a caregiver so he can travel for his hobbies over the summer. I am recently retired (after 22 yrs) but still employed as well and will be 50. I had been looking forward to retirement & the flexibility my new job allows.
I know if I say that I do not want to “stick my head in” & check on her as he puts it every time he goes out of town I will have a massive fight on my hands. (when we discussed them moving here he stated if pushed he’d pick them over me). I feel like if she needs daily supervision she needs 24/7 care or to be in a LTC facility for her own safety. She has been unable to cook for herself, cannot drive, does not recall basic info, sometimes does not lock doors, & recently flooded the kitchen. I feel extremely selfish saying I do not want to take this caregiver role on even for short durations. I also realize if I express this it may jeopardize our marriage. Am I being selfish & should I just suck it up & see how it goes or encourage him to get more care/LTC? does anyone have a similar experience & have any advice?
Thank you for any advice & guidance to help navigate this journey!

Update- Thank you all so much! The conversation went well & we are going to be looking into memory care facilities. He said he knows it’s what is needed but hated to admit it because she’ll be so upset & angry with him. I am going to stand my ground for everybody’s sake & thank you all again for your support!
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AlvaDeer Nov 15, 2022
0what great news. Always best to sit calmly when there is no current disaster afoot, to simply calmly say that this isn't working for you.
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Personal story here - I have been married to my husband for 30 years. We sort of "fell" into sharing caregiving duties with his sister and her husband (they live with FIL for their own reasons, and are primary and we are backup/assisting)

If I knew then what I know now....I would have screamed to the high heavens to have them do ANYTHING but what they did. When they moved in, they needed a roof over their heads in an emergency. It was supposed to be temporary. Very temporary. They have now been there for more than 5 years.

FIL NEVER had a plan for his "golden" years. Well...that's not true. He did. First it was that MIL would care for him. Then it was that DH and SIL would care for him. He never had a plan to take care of himself by moving to somewhere with paid caregivers. Once SIL and BIL moved in - everything that he was doing for himself...he just STOPPED. Within 18 months he went from being mostly independent (we occasionally had to drive the nearly one hour to help him with something) to being COMPLETELY DEPENDENT and nearly bedridden now.

Why did I bring up the 30 years married? Because I was practically a kid when we got married. DH and I both were in our early 20s. For all intents and purposes I "grew up" with FIL in my life. So I'm "invested" I guess is my point.. You've had 4 years of marriage to your husband. You guys are still in the early years of your own marriage and now you are taking on caregiving responsibilities - and without him even discussing it with you? You didn't even get a say in this and he is expecting you to just accept it?

We have learned things about my FIL that didn't come out until we started caregiving. It is HARD and there are days that I would love nothing more than to pack SIL and BIL up and move them to anywhere but there so that we can pack FIL up and move him somewhere that someone else can take care of him 24/7. There are some extenuating circumstances but sufficed to say - he demands much more than is necessary of his caregivers and if you give an inch he will take that mile and more.

I say all of that to say this - you are not selfish. You find yourself in an uncomfortable position. But your husband put you there and didn't even talk to you first. He loves his parents. I get that. He has also expressed to you that if you don't play along he will pick them over you....I'm sorry but that's some bullying right there. He chose to marry you. He CHOSE YOU. If he had these feelings he should have expressed them BEFORE he married you. Because his vow to you was in sickness and in health - what happens if you get sick and you need him - is he going to leave you to take care of his parents. His first duty is to you and your marriage. That doesn't mean he can't take care of his parents - but it means he has a duty to you first - which includes considering you in his choices.

I hate to say it this way - but as others have mentioned - just a quick stop....that may be the first couple of times. But then something will need to be attended to. And then she will have a laundry list of things completed. And then before you know it even when the caregivers are there you are getting phone calls everyday. And then they don't like the caregivers and they are sending them home. And you phone is ringing off the hook needing help. And he's out of town and calling you to help because the new caregiver didn't show up.

You are still working. Does your new job offer THAT much flexibility? He hasn't considered you at all in this? He thinks it is so easy for you to just "run by" but that's not the reality. Even he doesn't understand that yet. He has NO idea what he's getting him and you into. The more he commits to the MORE he will be committing to - until you will be fully committed. And back here asking if you should quit your job and take care of his parents full time because you can't keep caregivers - or worse - if you should move them into your home because keeping two houses is too much work
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ventingisback Nov 16, 2022
GREAT warnings!
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1st off, you NEVER ask a demented senior if they want to go into care. It's like asking a naughty child if they want a spanking. Obvious answer, NO!

Unfortunately, when dementia is present there are no easy answers. The person needs to be kept safe and taken care of. That is the only consideration. Even against their wishes, you have to ensure their safety and living alone with people checking in WILL NOT accomplish her safety.

Your husband is actually dancing with elder neglect chargers by not seeing that she isn't okay to live alone. This would be a bigger deal for me, as his spouse, this will directly effect you should something happen to her and he gets arrested for not ensuring her safety. Legal fees for criminal charges are really expensive. Not to mention, mommy will become a ward of the state and he may not even know where she is or how she is doing.

Caregivers are mandated reporters, so this will not end well for him if he doesn't pull his head outta...the sand.

As far as him giving you an ultimatum, well, in my book, you lose as soon as you go there. He has shown you who and what he is, believe him.

Best of luck, this is just a crummy situation for you no matter what happens.
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AlvaDeer Nov 15, 2022
I so agree with every word here. I would add that I would be the one giving the ultimatum in this situation. I would sit down and gently tell my husband that I would have to move on if this situation continues or if there is any attempt for moving his Mom in. She is currently in danger and I think that's clear. And moving her in would go beyond my own personal limitations. This could mean the end of a marriage, but then that is the choice the husband would have to make. I would not participate in this "caregiving model" and I would not have the MIL (or anyone else) moved in. Would that mean I rent a room to live in somewhere? Perhaps. But the choice of others often leaves us with not very many choices of our own.
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Demented victims require memory care and should not involve you. Please do not get trapped into this type of care.
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TouchMatters Nov 21, 2022
Thank you for your support of this writer / DIL.
She needs her calvary now. Us.
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NO. (Repeat until internalized).

This is NOT a viable solution EVEN WHEN MARRIED PARTNERS ARE IN AGREEMENT.

You have NO REASON to feel SELFISH. You are expressing your honest reaction to doing something that you know you CANNOT assume responsibility for.

You do not have to wait to “see how it goes”. Dementia is progressive and untreatable. If your husband has been “highly stressed and irritable” NOW, he is certainly NOT seeing “the big picture”.

FOR YOURSELF, get a legal opinion, if you haven’t already, on potential outcomes for this already untenable situation, then congratulate yourself for your good sense.
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Almost50 Nov 15, 2022
I think you hit the nail on the head- I don’t want the responsibility of trying to care for her. I’ve already played the scenarios through in my head of the things that can & could go wrong trying to check on her.
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I find it extremely irritating that your DH wants YOU to 'poke your head in' on HIS mother while HE is out pursuing HIS hobbies! What? Not for nuthin', but many many MEN tend to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to educating themselves about dementia and what-all it involves and means for the elder suffering from it. That mother should NEVER be alone for 5 minutes b/c hey, she can 'flood the kitchen' or leave the door unlocked and invite a robber in to kill her! Or mix ammonia and bleach together to do some Spring cleaning and asphyxiate herself. That's just a small sample of things his mom can do to harm herself, and doesn't include wandering off at 2 am in the dead of night.

You, having no experience with dementia, poking your head in to check on his mother, isn't going to accomplish a hill of beans, in reality, b/c mom needs to be placed in Memory Care Assisted Living which is locked down and staffed with caregivers who ARE familiar with dementia and can care for the woman 24/7. Your husband is NEGLIGENT with his behavior and attitude towards his mother, and laying her care & his ignorance of it all at YOUR feet. Sorry/not sorry, but this isn't your problem, my friend. It's his, which he's shirking off in favor of pursuing hobbies and leaving her care in your hands. Ridiculous. And to top it all off, you say "when we discussed them moving here he stated if pushed he’d pick them over me." Now might be a good time to discuss THAT little issue in a bit more detail. If sonny boy is going to pick mother over you, perhaps he should be the one to move in with HER and leave you to your life unfettered by the demands he wants to place on you. You need to come first, as any wife should, b/c you're worth it.

All that said, in response to Barb's request, I suggest you read this 33 page booklet ( a free download) which has THE best information ever about managing dementia and what to expect with an elder who's been diagnosed with it.

Understanding the Dementia Experience, by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/210580

Jennifer is a nurse who worked for many years as an educator and counsellor for people with dementia and their families, as well as others in caring roles. She addresses the emotional and grief issues in the contexts in which they arise for families living with dementia.

The full copy of her book is available here:
https://www.amazon.com/Thoughtful-Dementia-Care-Understanding-Experience/dp/B09WN439CC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2E7WWE9X5UFXR&keywords=jennifer+ghent+fuller+books&qid=1657468364&sprefix=jennifer+ghent%2Caps%2C631&sr=8-2

She also has published a workbook entitled, “It Isn’t Common Sense: Interacting with People Who Have Memory Loss Due to Dementia.”

https://www.amazon.com/Isnt-Common-Sense-Interacting-Dementia/dp/1481995995/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2E7WWE9X5UFXR&keywords=jennifer+ghent+fuller+books&qid=1657468655&sprefix=jennifer+ghent%2Caps%2C631&sr=8-4

I suggest your husband read the pamphlet and open his eyes to what is going on with his mother, so she can be placed appropriately, or, so she can get 24/7 caregivers coming into her home to properly care for her. "Poking your head in" on his mother is not going to accomplish the gargantuan task that's required to keep the poor woman safe.

Wishing you the best of luck with the issues you have on your hands. I hope you can get through to DH and not wind up devoting your retirement years to HIS mother.
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BarbBrooklyn Nov 15, 2022
Thanks, Lea!
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If you step in, you will be stuck. Happens over and over again with people on this site. Stay out of it completely. This is not your problem.

You married home after he told you he would pick them over you?!

You are already stuck. Time to figure out how to get out.
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Almost50 Nov 14, 2022
Thank you so much for responding. No, we were already married when he said that, it occurred this summer & led to a large fight. He said he didn’t mean it but I know he did.
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Ohhhh no no no. Haiiiilll no.

There is no such thing as "sticking your head in to check" on someone with this level of dementia. He's selling this 'just check in when I'm out of town for hobbies' like it's just stopping by for five minutes to say hi.

He either doesn't understand (or does not want to accept the reality) the shape she is in, or thinks you'll just pick up where he wants to leave off. And I'd wager his 'hobbies' would render him out of town for several days. What a lovely escape!

He already said he'll pick Mommy over you. He'll get mad if you say no, huh? Fine. Let him be mad. He loves Mommy more, and that's not your fault. You can go on about your life and he can take care of Mommy.

Unless husband has a huge mental turnaround, this is going to end in one of two ways: Him making your life hell about what mean selfish wife you are, or you leave him. Not saying you should divorce him immediately and never return. More like a trial separation. Move to an apartment. If he finally gets a clue and realizes how in the wrong he is, then I'm sure things could be quickly patched up.

You are not being selfish and it's sad your husband is implying such. Hold your ground.

The only other angle is you encourage LTC (which she definitely needs). That he'd worry a lot less knowing she was getting 24/7 care. Because even if you really wanted to look after her, you can't. No one, or two, people can. She needs more than you both can do for her. Frame it as the most loving and safest thing for her... would be giving her the real help she needs to be safe.
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Almost50 Nov 15, 2022
Thank you for the being so blunt & I am pretty sure that is how it would go. Luckily I own the house we are in & property (with prenup) so I’m good for living arrangements. Yes, his business & hobbies is always days or weeks. I go out of town too but all the responsibilities (animals) go with me.
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Would we ever read about a female being concerned about still being able to go out of town for her hobbies? I bet he'll be going out town more and more.

Did he marry you to be a nurse (caregiver for mil) and a purse (you own the house)? What is his financial situation? Does he have assets, or is he depending on an inheritance from his mother?

What if Mama doesn't like and doesn't want caregivers in her house? And even if she accepts them, what happens when he's away hobbying or for work, and the aide doesn't show up or is sick? YOU will be the default caregiver.
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XenaJada Nov 20, 2022
Came here to say all of this! ^^^
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He moved his parents with no discussion and now wants to you provide care to his mother so he can go away for his hobbies?

Ah, NO.

I would be rethinking the marriage. He has already told you, you are not number one.
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