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She moved in with us a year ago after her husband passed away. She had surgery that left her unable to walk without a walker prior to that, and is mostly able to care for herself but doesn’t go shopping or anywhere but church and physical therapy (which I take her to). I meal prep for her, because if I don’t she’ll complain of felling weak or shaky which she refuses to attribute to not eating enough. She constantly has to go to the doctor because she is constipated or her eye itches or she has too much wax in her ear or her legs just aren’t working right (all actual reasons that she has insisted on going to the doctor). I recently quit my job to be able to help her more, and specifically to help her sell her house that she hasn’t lived in for over a year. I am quite sure that our lives would be completely different if she hadn’t moved in with us, we wanted to downsize but now we can’t because we want to provide a safe space for her as well. There’s not a day that goes by that we are not doing multiple things for her, so her saying that we only make decisions that will benefit us is extremely hurtful and untrue.


I have gotten to the point where I constantly feel like I am having a panic attack (I am the least anxious person typically) and every night when I go to sleep I half hope that I won’t wake up in the morning. I don’t know how much longer I can do this, especially if she doesn’t even appreciate it at all.


How do people deal with this?

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I'd hope you would be making decisions that only benefit yourselves and any children you may have. You owe her nothing.

If she says it again smile and cheerfully agree.

Get her out of your house and stop killing yourself for her sake.
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OK, so then make the right decision that benefits you and your husband, let her move back home or place her in AL. She can hire a service to visit her and take her where she needs to go, or use a taxi or Uber.

I can't imagine giving up my job and my life for my MIL, let alone sacrifice my mental and physical health for someone with that attitude.

This is your husbands problem, put the ball in his court. In the meantime go back to work, it will help you, just getting away from her will be a bonus. Don't jeopardize your future, your retirement for her.
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If you two were making decisions that only benefited you two, then she would not be there which really isn't a bad idea since you two want to downsize.

The burden your MIL has become to you which sounds like at the tipping point for burnout.

What is your husband doing? She's his mom. Does he have durable and medical POA for her? Have you two discussed what the next steps need to be? Have any of her doctors said what kind of care she needs presently. She sounds like someone who is playing more helpless than she really is.

I think that your husband needs to tell his mom, look we tried this and it is just not working out. Thus, we are going to have to find you somewhere else to live.

It doesn't matter what childhood promised she made him make because things have changed and this is not working.

Since you are going to bed each night with a death wish, I strongly support the idea of going to see a therapist and given your anxiety level ask your doctor for some medicine for that.

You and your husband really need to have a heart to heart, get it all out on the table discussion about this, come up with a plan and do it as a team with him leading since she is his mom.

I wish you two the best and I hope you can have a Merry Christmas to some degree.

One more thing. Read this thread that I've linked below. It's time to surrender and make changes for your own care.

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/when-is-it-okay-to-surrender-454361.htm
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Elegia Dec 2019
My husband is working. Her house is multiple states away, so I brought her here to take care of things so that she could have the things she wants and the rest won’t just rot away.

He has power of attorney (Financial) but not medical. She won’t address it. She doesn’t like to talk about anything serious or do anything slightly uncomfortable. She’s always been like this, always telling a “funny little story.” It used to be sweet. I’ve always seen her as a nice, independent lady. Now, we do want to have more serious conversations with her to get her input and make sure her voice is heard, but she just wants to change the subject.

Her doctors are not concerned with her living where she is. I’m starting to see memory issues, but it’s rare and not apparent unless you know her.

If we do find her somewhere else to live, she’s going to fight for it to be near the home she shared with her husband. People would visit her at first, but that would taper off and we would be 15 hours away which would make her feel so isolated. I know she will insist on not going somewhere near where we live, and will blame us for moving her away from her home.

She’s such a different person now. Aging is terrible. The future we imagine as children is a lie.

Thank you for the thread.
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This isn’t working and you know it in your gut. Please discuss this situation with your husband and tell him honestly how you are feeling.

Where do you feel she should be? Assisted living? Nursing home? Start touring facilities. Speak to a social worker and hear suggestions about what is available. Do an internet search and read up on places. Start being proactive in making other living arrangements for her.

You are burning out. I suspect you are having anxiety and depression. You want to follow through with plans to downsize. You want to live your lives for yourselves. That is not selfish.

Sometimes children don’t fully realize the responsibility that it is having a parent live in their homes. It only gets worse from here on out. It becomes harder as the days, weeks, months and years go by. Please don’t let this go on for too much longer.

You can oversee that she is in a suitable place and this will allow you to spend time visiting with her and going back home alone versus her living with you and catering to her continual needs. She will be cared for and you get your life back.

I wish you and your family well. Hugs.
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Most caregivers burnout and some die before the person for whom they are caring; therefore, the answer to your question "How do people deal with this?" is poorly.

"...I recently quit my job to be able to help her more..." If you left on good terms with your former employer, go back and see if your old job is still available or if a new position is opening and would consider you for the job. Your MIL's needs are only going to increase and you have your own financial future to worry about. And having money to hire help for yourself and your MIL is a good start.
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NoTryDoYoda Dec 2019
I've heard that around 35% of caregivers die before the person they are taking care of.
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You and your husband SHOULD be making decisions that benefit you! Please, please....your husband is your future, and you are his. If you and/or husband have significant health problems, financial problems, marital problems, going forward from having the stress of her there, where does that leave you?

I have damaged the last 10 years of my life with elder care for my two parents. They did not live with me, but rather 3 houses away. Dad died a month ago, and mom was placed in a care home this week. I have no siblings as peer-family members to journey forward in life. My husband is my future and I have made it absolutely clear that HE is my priority, NOT my mom. I will make sure she's cared for but my decisions will be made for my best interest (and husband's). After a decade, I have had enough of elder care (canceled vacations, freaking out when the phone rings at any hour, getting calls from neighbors that an ambulance is in their driveway AGAIN, being late on work assignments, saying NO to friends often, feeling like sh*t and smoking cigarettes every time I am backed into a corner - I know, my fault on that one, LOL).

Based on my rants and ramblings, you can see what this situation can do to you over time :D
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Elegia Dec 2019
“saying NO to friends often” ... Yeah, this happens all the time.
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You know what? Half hoping that you won't wake up in the morning is NO WAY to live! Please have a Come to Jesus meeting with your husband and find a nice Assisted Living community to place your MIL in. Right away. Sell her house & there will be plenty of money to fund her new housing situation. She can complain to THEM until the cows come home, that's what they're being paid for. You've done enough; take your life back, my friend.

My mother has been in AL since 2014 and now Memory Care since June. She loved AL.......made friends, did tons of activities, had 3 meals a day, sat around and gossiped all day long with the ladies..........it was a win-win situation for all involved. Go out and tour a few places in town (I recommend privately owned vs. corporately owned) and narrow it down to two. Then take her & let her pick one she likes best. Don't ask her.....TELL her. You and DH can go visit as often as you like and you can resume your role as daughter in law & son again instead of tired and panic-striken care givers who are under appreciated.

Quitting YOUR job will only affect you in an even WORSE way than you're already being affected by all of this nonsense! What about YOUR future and YOUR retirement? Enough is enough

Good luck!
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Just sorting out the timeline in my head...

So. MIL had surgery (what for?). After the surgery she became less mobile. Any pain involved, still? Then a year ago, after her husband had died (was this your husband's father, or a stepdad?), she moved in with you.

I don't mean this sarcastically, but what did her husband die of and did she depend on him for her own support?

Your MIL made this bitter remark that you and your husband are self-serving. Well, she didn't say that out of the blue: what were you and she discussing at the time, and was your husband present?

If MIL, with your help, has now sold her house she must have a nice little nest-egg in the bank. That will come in very handy when you help her look for her own apartment, in a facility or a community that offers the right level of support services for her. Then you and DH can get back to your own downsizing and pre-retirement plans. No?
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Elegia Dec 2019
She had surgery for lung cancer. Prior to that she was a normal functioning human being. She had no mobility issues.

Her husband (my husband’s step dad) had abdominal pain while she was in the hospital, so he left her one night to try to get some sleep. He ended up taking himself to the emergency room that night and they checked him in. They scheduled surgery to remove a mass three days later, but the night before surgery he aspirated and died in the hospital. She was too sick at the time to go to the funeral. She was bedridden and couldn’t sit up. She did make it to his wake, my husband had to carry her from the bed into a wheelchair and we dressed her. It was terrible. I felt so awful for her. the morning of the funeral they were transferring her to a bigger hospital where she could be better cared for.

I know it’s hard being here, the house holds a lot of memories. She doesn’t want to sell it really. She’d rather go back to the way things used to be when her husband was alive, but things have changed. I am mindful of the things she is going through, and always approach her with positivity. She doesn’t like to to talk about anything serious, and will change the subject if you try to have a real conversation with her. She mainly likes to tell funny stories that she heard and then go back to her reading. She brought up that she didn’t want to sell the house, and previous conversations we have had about us moving into a house outside the city (where we live now). She asked if there was somewhere else that we could move besides the area we have discussed, and I was trying to find out where she was thinking. She wanted to change the subject, so she did... with this hurtful comment. Also, later she brought it up again, not to say sorry but instead to tell me not to tell my husband and to make sure I hadn’t already.
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Sound like to me that all of your choices have been made to benefit her....Sorry, I don't mean to sound flippant but I'm tired of older people trying to take over other people lives. I would try to adjust your living situation. Fear, guilt, and obligation are hard to live with....Best of luck to you!
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Elegia Dec 2019
Thank you! I don’t want to abandon her if we can help. I honestly think that AL would be a better situation for her because there would be people around, she’d have medical staff if she needed, there would be people her own age, or she could just read in her room like she often does now. She is so against it. She says she doesn’t want to spend our money. I always tell her it’s her money.
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You need to talk this over with your husband, and explain to him, you cannot deal with her anymore, and  you will be looking to return to work.  He can help look for assisted living if she can afford that, or senior housing.
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