We moved my FIL to AL in November. My MIL passed away January 2018 and it was after that we realized things were...”off.” We were living with them throughout my MIL’s illness, but she was the focus at the time. We continued to stay there after her death and in April 2018 he was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia. We were it, all other sibs live out of state. After finally getting the oldest’s attention (he’s POA in the estate paperwork), the decision was made to move him. The dilemma now is that he compartmentalizes everyone- everyone has a job. Unfortunately I drew the short straw and he sees me as the problem solver. So as soon as I get there he unloads a ton of problems, most aren’t real problems; they’re his perception of things and his perception is terribly skewed. So now I’m constantly barraged with the things he can’t find or that the center doesn’t feed him when the weather is bad or they’re shorting him on his “pay” (they earn bucks for participating in activities). When he can’t find things, he accuses people of stealing when he actually hid the items but doesn’t remember doing it, much less where.

It’s wearing me out. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t want to visit anymore. I know what I said above doesn’t seem like much but that’s the tip of the iceberg. And if the answer I give isn’t to his liking he starts raising his voice at me. I try very hard not to argue with him and divert, but it doesn’t always work.

I've been 2 1/2 years in fight or flight between him and her and I’m exhausted. I don’t care to be around anyone, most days I just want to be left alone (impossible because I’m a teacher). My husband and I are at each other’s throats because I’m so stressed with it all. He’s not home much because he drives a truck.

What can I do to move past this? I’m in such a slump. My husband and I just went on a cruise at the beginning of March- and it was amazing. But the day before we left FIL fell and had to be brought to the ER, then 2 days after we returned he fell and it was another ER trip along with getting orders from his doctor, meeting with staff, etc. So the relaxation from the trip didn’t last long. And in order for us to go anywhere, we have to coordinate with our-of-state family to come to town in case something happens. And when they come in to “help” it’s 6,000 texts and phone calls about what to do, so it’s not really a break. The cruise was great because there was no phone service, but I can’t live on a cruise ship.

Thanks for all all the lovely advice everyone gives!

You are doing good Ruthie
wow that’s a loaded day for Easter.
There is a saying. “we teach people how to treat us”
It will take time, more for some than others, to get the message.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to 97yroldmom
mommaruthie Apr 16, 2019
Just told DH last night that it’s a “me” problem. I allowed it to happen by picking up and doing when no one else was paying attention to what was going on. I also told him if I continue to allow it to happen then shame on me. My heart can’t take much more. I’m tired of being hurt and frankly, just plain tired. New me, coming right up ;-)
“when you’re fight or flight for so long you don’t just come down”
This is so true.
Except when you come down so hard it’s difficult to remember what is worth the fight or flight to get back up. Sometimes we can’t get back up. You were headed there.
Caretaking is best when the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in either direction. That’s ideal and we know that we aren’t always in an ideal situation. So we have to self correct.
Good for you for taking care of yourself Ruthie and sometimes a good constructive argument is needed to get it all out.
I hope you have a great week. Don’t forget to breathe and keep yourself on your calendar.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to 97yroldmom
mommaruthie Apr 15, 2019
I do need to remember to keep myself on my calendar. DH and I talked today while he was on his way in. I think he’s frustrated as well judging from the convo. Everyone wants from us, and they’re accustomed
ed to us dropping everything to help out. Problem is that now that we need help there’s no one around. His birthday is Easter Sunday and the daughter that thinks the world should revolve around her pretty much told me today she’s baking a cake and expects us there. But it’s also our anniversary and I really don’t want to spend my anniversary with his ex. I was trying to get an overnight trip together for he and I but won’t know if that’s feasible until Thursday. He doesn’t really want to go either because he gets that we need a break from all of it. That said, we are working on the logistics.

This is whole situation has left me feeling like no one cares. About FIL or us.

I had had lunch with my 2nd grade team today and went to Home Depot and craft stores. Did nothing. Fed my lawn and my soul. FIL survived. And so will we.

thank you everyone for your kind words and defending me and my decisions. Only the people that have been through it get it. {{hugs}}
So things came to a head last night. I can’t say that it was necessarily productive, but a lot got aired.
As I was cleaning out the fridge and putting things down the disposal (specifically boneless pork chops I didn’t get a chance to cook and smelled really bad), the pipe from the disposal to the J trap broke loose. Hubby was about 3 hours away. The cabinet filled with sludge before it ran out on the floor, under the cabinet and dishwasher. Most putrid vile smell ever. I had no choice but to set about cleaning it up. After I got as much cleaned up as possible, I took to trying to repair the pipe knowing how much DH hates plumbing work. I usually end up taking over anyway. He can fix everything else. I called him as soon as it happened, and then went about cleaning and reattaching. 3 hours later I check the app to see where he is, expecting him any minute. Nope. He was at the same truck stop he was at when I called. I. Was. Livid. I get it, I’ve not exactly been pleasant to deal with, this house is a lot of stress because we are playing catch-up on 2 1/2 years of neglect in addition to a gutted kitchen. The only cabinet still in the kitchen is the sink cabinet.

So so we have words and he heads home. When he gets home he asks about going to eat, I told him I didn’t see the point. He insisted, so I showered and we left. And the sh*t hit the fan. I ended up turning the car around and going back home. He has ALWAYS taken care of me in the sense that, if something is wrong, he tries to make it better. This time he didn’t. On top of everything else. I felt extraordinarily betrayed, that he sat there rather than come home, again, VERY uncharacteristic of him.

I told him him I was empty. I’ve nothing left to give anymore. His daughter (whom we raised) was crying to me last weekend because we don’t have a relationship with her son- basically we don’t run after them as she perceives we should. I’ve got his dad, my job (which the day before a student threw a book across the room because he was angry), I’m rehabbing a shoulder injury (injures by a student a few years ago), his siblings, this house, his dad’s house, etc., etc. Emotionally I’m done. I had no summer the last 2 summers and all my other breaks are taken up with his mom and/or dad (except the one I’m on now because I vowed to make it a no grandpa break). Every waking moment is taken by something.

So after much tension, arguing, discussion, etc. he has agreed to give me some space and respect when I say I’ve had enough. I’m limiting visits, and will be from now on. FIL will have what he needs and in and emergency I’ll be there. But for now I need a break from it. I have no friends left except co-workers because either they’ve found other things to do because I’m not around or they’re grandpa-fatigued.

A co-worker said she read that when you’re fight or flight for so long you don’t just come down. It takes time. I’m going to end up sick or dead if I don’t change something (by dead I mean run ragged or a heart attack- I’m not considering self-inflicted harm). So today I sewed. All day. I ate out, I went to the store. And had ice cream. Operation Restoration in progress...
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to mommaruthie

Ruthie, that is great that your husband found a better job with more pay, unfortunate that it places all of this on you and not his siblings, because they are abusing your kind generous heart.

Time for boundaries and different plans, one thing is, if siblings don't help, they don't get any say. Calling to biotch about what dad wants. Sorry, you can deal with it 1st hand sister/brother I am not dancing to your calls any longer. Stick to it and cut them off everytime, this will be the only way you get any peace from their demands.

It will be hard at 1st, but you do enough without them trying to micromanage from the sidelines, either they step up or shut up, those are the options, period.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

Ruthie, you will find this thread a fascinating read (warning -- it's very long -- 7600+ posts so far!). I am finding a lot of similarities between you and Dorker!
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to CTTN55
mommaruthie Apr 13, 2019
Holy cow! I was overwhelmed looking at it- I tried to start at the beginning but got lost. From what I could tell there were a lot of similarities, but none of the siblings come in and do things like Dorker’s SIL does. What they do is call and text for us to do it.
FIL kept saying he was flipping out backwards out of his chair. It didn’t add up, so we put a camera. Meanwhile, he wanted the chairs and table gone. In his mind they were the problem. The real problem was that he was falling asleep and falling out of the chairs or falling asleep standing up, knocking the chairs over. So we leave and head to Florida for our cruise. SIL texts that “dad really wants the table and chairs gone. Maybe we could take the ones from the house and swap them out.” DH told her that the pick up truck was in the drive and if she wanted them moved, she could move them. A week later, still there. Apparently no one but is is capable...
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To be fair to my husband: he used to be home most nights, and absolutely pitched in at every turn. In the middle of this- last summer- my son had to have surgery to repair a hole in his eardrum from a welding accident, he stayed with us at FIL’s house for post-op care. The following week my husband had hip replacement surgery. 3 weeks later he went to return to his job and they laid him off. Talk about a terrible summer. But DH does as much as he can when he’s home. Before this job he washed dishes, mopped floors, etc. But this job pays almost double and frankly I deserve financial security.

AL only calls for emergencies. I love the facility and the people. A coworker today suggested the note taking/list and throw it out on the way out, which I think I’ll implement. AL is also bringing a doctor to the facility in the near future so there will be no need to leave for doctor visits. He’s not sleeping at night and his primary is unwilling to prescribe something to help, even though lack of sleep has caused falls. I spoke with them today and I think we are going to move forward with that plan.

I spoke to the oldest today today as well (the POA) and apprised him of recent events as well as told him I was going to back off on visits because of the situation. He readily agreed that FIL’s problems will never be “solved” and all it’s doing is upsetting everyone. We all know how the story is going to end and we need to work on comfort care. AL nurse agreed he’s in the late stages of dementia (he spends his days in memory care there) and understand my frustration and regularly say I go above and beyond for being a DIL.

Also spoke to DH today (he’s on the road) and filled him in. He gets it. He doesn’t like seeing me unhappy and stressed.

Did I mention we started a kitchen renovation before all this started and my kitchen is down to the studs- and has been for two years. So when we came home, we have that to deal with as well, but haven’t been able to address it because squirrels caused damage to the exterior of the house while we’re gone and homeowners said they’d drop us if it wasn’t repaired.

As as I write all of this, I wonder how I’m not on medication myself. I never gave it much thought- just kept plowing forward. To see it in writing is quite eye opening!
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to mommaruthie
NYDaughterInLaw Apr 12, 2019
"To see it in writing is quite eye opening!" So true!
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My FIL does this to my husband regularly. My husband walks into his dad's apartment at indy living and gets barraged with mail, phone problems, computer problems, questions, many of which are repetitive because FIL has mild dementia.

Hubby and I have cut down on the frequency and duration of visits but that does not stop FIL from wanting to use our time together on fixing imaginary problems.

My husband does not tell his father about the real problems he solves for him every month because it's beyond his comprehension and agitates him.

Dementia progresses slowly - it's insidious - and he's lost his wife, who most likely covered for him and helped him hide his deficits as did my MIL. After my MIL died, that's when FIL's full personality and deficits were laid bare.

Your FIL has frontotemporal and vascular dementia, which seems many degrees worse than what my FIL has. We also go through the drop-everything-and-take-me-to-the-ER-now routine. FIL will confuse a stomach ache for a heart attack and demands to go to the ER. He has refused an ambulance because he wants to go to the ER one town over. My husband takes him even though if his dad really was having a heart attack EMS would have taken him to the nearest hospital.

You have my sympathy in dealing with your FIL. Because you're tired of being his problem solver, stop visiting so often. Tell his other children that you are stepping back for a while and they need to step up. You do not need to explain yourself to his children about what you will be doing with that time. All you have to do is give them notification that you will be far less available to solve their father's problems real or imaginary.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw

Are you frustrated with your FIL or his abusive children?

Just because you listen and help doesn't mean that they all get a free ride. I don't personally agree with the view point that you can walk away because he is not your blood relative. That's just ignorance in my opinion. You obviously love this man and want a solution to being able to help him.

I am concerned that he needs more care than AL can provide. I am also curious to know if he is on any anxiety medication. I am not a big fan of head shrinkers, no offense, or medication, but I believe there is a time when it is necessary. He has made a habit of chewing on you. Some meds that help him relax and some behavior modification for you will probably make it more enjoyable for both of you.

Until you feel more balanced dealing with him a couple visits a month is okay. You are in control of your contact with him. Hold the facility responsible for what they are being paid for. My dads facility tried calling me with every little thing and I asked them, if I have to deal with all this what am I paying you for? They started taking care of the day to day life issues. Obviously you want to be notified if he takes a fall and is being transported to the hospital, but you don't need to run to the hospital. Especially if they are just following protocol.

Also, stop taking all of the calls from the facility. Let them know that you have a job and you are not always available. Use their professional skills and deal with their client.

You can do this and you will find the program that works for you. Take control and it will be so much easier.

Hugs, you are and have been a huge blessing to your in-laws. They are obviously your family.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
mommaruthie Apr 14, 2019
They only call if there’s a major problem, like a fall. And I think I’m frustrated in general. I get it, they live far away and have lives. But we are the only ones with fulltime (plus some) jobs.
I have no friends left, my own family rarely speaks to me because we’ve been tied up with his family. My husband really does do a lot, but last night I was telling him that I’ve not had a real break since this started 2 1/2 years ago. Sure, we get a week here or there but it’s right back to the chaos. Every school break has been consumed with his issues and before him, her.
I do love him. I loved them both immensely. They were wonderful people: kind, giving, accepted me like their own. But I don’t know him anymore. I miss him. I miss his wit and dry humor and gentleness.
The doctor won’t prescribe anything. So I’m hoping that with bringing a doctor on board at AL that will change. I like the facility and they take good care of him.
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I don't know if this is too simplistic, but it's an idea - take a shorthand reporter's notebook with you and solemnly write down all the points FIL brings up. This would be instead of discussing them or trying to explain; you'd be noting them item by item and just saying "we'll get right on to that" "yup, I think I have all the details." Obviously, some of this is shameless play acting; but on the other hand you might also find there are one or two points you *can* clear up without difficulty, and that would be a little ray of sunshine - like finding an odd sock to match the lonely one that's been in your laundry room cupboard for eighteen months.

And cut back on the weekly number of visits. It won't impair the benefit your FIL gets from your support, and it will free up the time you save for active relaxation.

Assuming you're satisfied with the AL and have confidence in them, you shouldn't need to co-ordinate much back-up for when you're away beyond letting people know. Always leave YOUR phone behind. And DH can use a one word reply to anything that isn't a bona fide emergency, namely: "cope."

And if all else fails... you can't live on a cruise ship? Crikey, I think I could, given the chance!
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Countrymouse

Wonderful answers here already. I understand how you feel. While living with and caring for my mom she once caused me so much distress with her complaints and demands that I decided I could go back to my house and live in the garage, since my son and grandson were living in my house at the time. I wanted to never see or speak to my mom again. For two days I tried to make my garage livable, then realized I was acting crazier than my mom was being. Was I willing to be a homeless person because my mom was being mean to me? You can sort of imagine the looks my son and grandson were giving me. At that point I started getting more help and most importantly building an imaginary wall around myself, so she couldn't hurt me with her accusations. Your father-in-law is not well and what you solve for him will not ever really be solved, since they aren't problems in the first place. He has activities where he is and interactions. He's fine. Take a rest and pretend you are on a cruise. And by the way, my mom is very happy now in assisted living. I hope your father-in-law gets there too.
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Reply to ArtistDaughter

OK, I'm not getting why anyone has be on hand to dance attendance when he is living in a facility - isn't that what your are paying them for? (Even falls and trips to the ER shouldn't necessarily need family on site, there is very little these days that can't be handled through the phone and internet.) If this facility can't handle every detail of his life without direction from the family then perhaps it is not suitable and you should be investigating a place that does.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to cwillie

OP said at the bottom of her reply to Margaret that she is visiting 2-3 times/week.

This is NOT your problem but you have made it yours. And everyone is more than willing to let you continue with it. No one is racing down there to save you.......why? Because you have proven (with MIL and now FIL) that you’ll do it and do a good job too. So, why would they inconvenience themselves when Ruthie will handle it for them? (Really!)

As of today, you need to straighten up your backbone, grit your teeth and set boundaries for yourself and the family.

You will no longer be the “go-to” person for FIL. YOU are not a blood relative. Stop acting like one. Tell the AL facility that your name and number for contact are cancelled (except for real emergencies). Have a conference call or send an email to all siblings and tell them so. Ask who wants to be the contact person. It does NOT have to default to you just because you are the closest. (What if you were immobile or you guys lived in another state?)
Next, take a breather from visiting. Don’t go for as long as it takes for you to calm down and feel better. (I got to the point where I had to take an anti anxiety pill before I saw my mother, so I feel your “pain”.) Block FIL’s number from your phone. Tell him you’re going out of town for a teachers symposium.
Do something for yourself that you haven’t been doing (manicure, massage, lunch with girlfriends, visit museums, a movie in the theater all alone), whatever floats your boat.
Once you have separated from the situation, and taken the pressure off by delagating responsibility where it belongs and then paying attention to yourself again, you will feel better. IF you want, you can resume your visits BUT on your terms and NOT out of guilt! Once a week is fine-never is also fine.

Notify every sibling that you are no longer available to handle everything that comes up with THEIR dad. An emergency is different IF you don’t mind . Throw in a few tears to show how overstressed you are. Since your husband is “on the road” so much, he has (conviently) had you do everything. Tell him that has stopped and ask him what plans he will put in place (talking to sibs, hiring a caregiver to handle complaints, etc.) Do NOT let him emotionally bully you into your old “role”. Mention what a strain it is on you and you are emotionally incapable of doing it anymore. Tell him it’s affecting your marriage and that has to come first. Then STOP doing it.

I have a saying, “Your problem can’t be more important to me than it is to you.” Live by that. It has helped me immensely.

You just need to put your foot down. You can’t control what others do but you sure as heck can control what YOU do.
Please let us know how things turn out. ((((Hugs)))) 🤗
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to SueC1957

My SIL once said, she deals with her parents, BIL deals with his. DH gets to "get away". Its not fair that you have to deal with FIL. If FIL has a phone "lose it". Or take battery out of it and tell him its broke.

You can't reason with him. He is entering his own little world.

Working full time I don't know how you visit every day. I would cut down on my visits. Like 2 or 3x a week. And if u don't want to go, don't. Let the staff handle him, he pays big bucks to live there. Nothing you can do about his problems. Just say you will talk to someone. Eventually, he will enter another stage. Maybe tell him you will tell his son and see what he can do. When DH is home, let him do the visiting alone. Give yourself a break.
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Reply to JoAnn29
mommaruthie Apr 11, 2019
Fortunately no phone. While we were still at his house, the house was struck by lightening. ATT sent a new router and that was supposed to fix the phone. It didn’t. And I told BIL we needed to leave it disconnected because I had caught FIL giving his CC number over the phone once. When he moved to AL, after much discussion we decided to NOT have a phone.

After a couple led falls we installed a camera and we discovered he was up at all hours; his days and nights mixed up. He would stand still too long, fall asleep and fall over. At that point they decided he would spend his days in MC but maintain his room in AL (it’s one building). He faked it a long time, but the AL is finally seeing what we were seeing at home.

Im just tired. And I can’t overcome it. I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I thought all of this would pass once we got back home and he was there, but apparently I was dead wrong.
Hi mommaruthie
A cruise sounds wonderful. Dh and I used to do that long ago. Maybe again one day. BIG SIGH
I think you are toast. You are going to have to call it quits on FIL visits. You’ve let it go too long. It will take awhile to recover.
Falls are one thing but the busy work has to stop. Tell the POA he’s going to have to hire a helper. Someone to come in say a couple of hours a week to help him chase his rabbits.
If he’s a caller, he can call some of the out of state people or they can call him.
He doesn’t get to assign chores. You get to choose what you do. Decide if you want to visit once a week or once a month or not at all.
How often are you going?
Set strong limits on yourself.
Visit a therapist. You sound depressed but so worn out that it’s hard to know.
You count to.
If the other family complains it may be time for them to find an ALF near them. He may need to relocate to where there are family members to take care of him if he needs more than he can get where he is.
You’ve done your part.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to 97yroldmom

I’m a bit puzzled by ‘everyone has a job’. OK eldest brother does the estate paperwork, but what does anyone else do? If FIL is in AL, he shouldn’t require any visits at all – some residents have no-one available anyway. So you only have to go when you wish, and dropping down would be a good move to save your marriage and your sanity. There are many answers to posters who recommend cutting visits short when a difficult parent gets angry or complains a lot - ‘I’ll come back when you feel better’. Can you tell FIL that you are NOT his problem solver, he needs to sort it out with the AL people, and then leave if he keeps on at you? Of course the hope is that FIL will stop that behaviour because cutting the visit short is not what he wants. But even if he doesn’t, you shouldn’t be waiting to get complaints or be shouted at. What is happening now isn’t good for you, for your marriage or even for FIL.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MargaretMcKen
mommaruthie Apr 11, 2019
Let me clarify “everyone has a job”: in his state of dementia, in his mind we each have a job. I’m the problem solver, my husband is the fixer, oldest pays bills, 2nd oldest is “the lawyer.” etc. so when everyone else visits, they get the thing he associates with them. Lucky me, I’m the problem solver. And I know that’s because we lived there and I handled everything.
The oldest lives about 600 miles away and his wife has inoperable brain tumors, so his ability to be here limited. The next one lives about 70 miles away, but travels A LOT, and apparently is not willing to give up the lifestyle. Under him is one that lived about 5 miles from them and did NOTHING, ever. We lived 30 miles from them and before we moved in, I drove there every night and cooked dinner, drove home, went to work the next day and started the cycle over. The next child is about 500 miles north and the last one, the daughter, is about 1200 miles north.
Naturally everyone was shocked when I told them their mother was dying, but I was going to the doctor visits with her. The oldest even came to town to go to the doctor with us once to “fact check” me and once he realized I wasn’t exaggerating I was left to continue care.

And I realize there are people in this world with way more on their plate than me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to care for them both, but I spent my entire summer last year tied to the house because he couldn’t be left alone. Spring break was spent on the hospital with him last year because he passed out (double took BP meds and brain scans revealed the dementia which explained A LOT). We bought a new car in January 2017 so his mom could get in and out easily- it has 52,000 miles on it now. It was less than a year old when she came home on hospice and he backed into it and through the garage and into her car that was parked in the garage. After he moved to AL, DH insisted we bring him home for Christmas for a few days. Worst. Mistake. Ever. Everyone left including DH who had to work and FIL had the meltdown of the century.
I feel like at this point it’s all take and when he starts in on me it just sucks the life out of me, leaves me in a bad mood for days because I’m trying to solve problems that are moving targets. Constantly extinguishing fires.

I told old my husband I was backing off. I can’t anymore. I was going 2-3 times/week. But I don’t think it matters if I go at this point.

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