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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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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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Well. Firstly ask yourself with an open heart if there could be some truth to this statement
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FloridaDD Dec 2019
Oh please, the MIL would not be living with OP if they only did things that benefited them.  OP needs to talk to DH, this is not working.
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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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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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Not trying to answer this OP because this situation has had recommendations over and over to so many others who have had similar problems with their own families. People, please realize that you and your family of choice (your spouse and kids) should come before your stubborn, demented, addicted, mean parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. Figure out why you feel obligated to take of care these destructive people. No, actually don't bother to figure out why. Just stop hurting yourself and those you should be caring for and find a way to shed the toxic circumstances that have been imposed on you. You can't be taken advantage of unless you allow it. Get out of it. Money, or the lack of it shouldn't be seen as the barrier. Become aware of the publicly funded options, such as Medicaid or subsidized housing, Adult Protective Services, code enforcement agencies, etc. Take the actions necessary to raise and experience your own healthy family of choice. And while you're at it, think about what political and social norms we should be changing to provide health care and housing and free or affordable advanced education and child/elder care for our whole country. We can do better as a society ( other countries already do) so what's holding us back from making such important societal changes? That answer doesn't need to come in this post, but what we should be doing now is at least not keep allowing ourselves to be crushed by those in our lives who bring post after new post about how those stubborn, mean, demented, addicted persons are damaging us. Change what you are doing or putting up with in your life that is making you so unhappy. Cast off your chains.
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After I just posted I started to read other new posts and I felt like what I just wrote here would apply to so many different posts. So for now, on all those other threads, refer to my earlier post here, then Rinse and Repeat.
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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 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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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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Oh my! You my dear, are at the end of your rope {{{hugs}}}

It sounds a lot like where I was after MIL had her stroke - only your situation is so much worse! I'd dropped down to working only 2 days a week, and spending three at her home (10 hours sitting on couch, making sure she ate and took meds, didn't fall or do anything stupid), plus at least one day on the weekend too. I took her to appointments and out for groceries when she was strong enough.

And she whined, complained and fussed over everything I did. It wasn't good enough, it wasn't at the right time, I was selfish, on and on it went. My favorite would be when she would say "You wouldn't treat your own mother this way!" (ie. I wouldn't let her carry in groceries, I was carrying them all in for her -- she was on a walker and unsteady) My reply: "Yes, I do. The only difference is, my mom appreciates the help and says Thank You" She'd mumble some cruddy put down under her breath and go on.

After less than a year, my doctor sent ME for the big neurological memory test! ME, not her. And what was the problem -- STRESS from caring for her, having three kids at home to keep up with (teens, needed rides to jobs and practices, etc.), a job I was trying to cram into two days, not 4, and a home I was trying to keep up with. My memory/brain was failing because I was spending all my energy on her and it caused too much stress in my body.

Your body is telling you that this isn't working. Trust me, it will continue to try to get your attention and the symptoms will escalate! I'm afraid you need to sit down with Hubby and have a heart to heart. This isn't working. As capable as she still is, assisted living is a great option. They will be able to get her to appointments too -- freeing you up!

She will be mad, she will guilt you, she will play dirty to get what she wants. But please, do what's right for you and your family -- you are important and she/her needs are not MORE important. Best of luck, it's a tough spot you are in.

Come back here and check in for encouragement. It will be hard, but you are worth it, your family is worth it!!
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rovana Dec 2019
Very true - an elder's needs are not more important than anyone else's needs. Simple fairness.
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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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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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Dear Elegia,

There is no simple or black and white, right or wrong answer or solution to this issue. I have taken care of several family members and this is what I’ve learned. Yes, you do have to do what’s right for you while you’re doing the best for them-there are varying shades of gray. When it became glaringly apparent my biological father could no longer live alone and he lived 25 mi away, I continued to go see him every couple of days after work for a year until I lost my job (it was a crummy job anyway) I continued to help him for a few years after that. He was mean, called me names, and was overall verbally abusive, but it is also true he had no one else. So I made the commitment to myself to continue to help but also decided to psychologically “protect” myself from his “crazy” and just told myself that he wasn’t in his right mind and didn’t understand the impact of what he was saying, which was true. Nothing he said to me, about me, was true and I knew it. It was very stressful, eventually I broke my leg and the decision of him moving to an assisted living facility was forced upon us. When he realized I couldn’t help him any more he moved willingly to a residential home for memory care patients just a couple of miles from where I lived which made everything much easier for both him and I. I found it through a caregiving support group I attended.
When my mom had 2 strokes and it was time for her to be discharged from rehab she had to come stay with my husband and I. She was bed ridden, she needed 24hr care and her husband has Alzheimers and while he was able to manage on his own he couldn’t take care of her and a lot had to be done at her home before she could move back. She lived with us for 4mos.

I understand that your MIL says things that are hurtful, but it’s been my experience that you’re most likely correct: that she has the beginnings of some form of dementia, plus the passing of her husband and losing her independence I’m sure she is upset, confused and angry herself so she is lashing out at the most available person: you. Although its hard to do, try to separate your feelings from her words and KNOW she is just as upset at her new circumstances as you are. Don’t look to her for appreciation, that well is dry. Just know you’re doing your best.

To be honest, it was far easier when my mom lived with us in many ways than when she moved back home. At least when she was at our house, so was I. I got to sleep in my own bed with my husband. When she moved home, even though she had 24-hr care I still had to be there a lot, mostly every single day so I had much less freedom with her at home. It was exhausting but I had a good caregiver support group. It was not an easy situation to be certain, and no two situations are alike—I’m just trying to say that dementia sneaks up on the elderly and initially presents itself in many different ways. Your MIL probably does have the beginnings of dementia, compounded by the anger, fear and resentment of losing her husband, her home and her independence in one fell swoop. Her son isn’t as accessible as you are so you are the one taking the brunt of her anger and upset. Again, I would suggest you work hard to separate yourself emotionally from her hurtful words, knowing in your heart of hearts that they’re not true, that you’re doing the best you can and that she’s coming from her own overwhelming feelings of grief, fear and resentment of the situation she now finds herself in and is unfortunately, lashing out at you. Focusing on feelings of compassion for both your MIL and for yourself will help you through. Find a caregiver support group near you and GO to the meetings. Start researching assisted living near you. After looking after my stepfather for a year and a half after my mom passed, it took me another 6 months to find the right memory care facility for my stepdad to move to. Hang in there, get support, things will eventually change & get better.
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Elegia Dec 2019
You sound like an angel. ♥️
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Elegia,

You suffer from extreme guiltitis! I had it too. I felt guilty about everything!

Find a way to lose the guilt. It will cloud your vision.

Please listen to the wise advice posted here. They were here for me when I couldn’t see straight.
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How does your husband feel? Does he agree that her moving in is not working for both of you? Frankly I think it would have been better to get her into assisted living - I certainly would not quit my job, not in this economy, and if she needs you to do that, then she is ready to transition into assisted living. Can you and he talk, plan and present a united front? She just might like the broader socialization that she could get, rather than being in your home.
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So true in every way.

Besides, you are already being accused of selfishness, couldn't get worse.
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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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Elegia, other commenters on this thread have asked you what your husband has to say about all of this. You have not answered. This information is part of the equation, so please: if you want good insights, you need to provide all pertinent info.
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Elegia Dec 2019
She pushes his buttons and he pushes hers. When she said that she wanted to move in with us his answer was of course, but now he deeply regrets that decision. Nothing he does is good enough for her & she doesn’t see any fault in her actions, only others. He’s frustrated and his health is suffering, probably worse than mine.
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Elegia, aging is a terrible thing. I remember my grandmother saying to my mother “don’t ever get old.” My Mother’s reply at the time, I hope I die young!!! I feel the same way. I hope I die young rather than old.
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"Hope I die before I get old..."

So sang Roger Daltrey in 1965 (Talking 'Bout My Generation). Seeing as he's 75 now one can only hope he's changed his mind.
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Last things first: the sooner your mother in law moves to her own place (the right, carefully chosen place), the better.

All she's been through - her own illness, losing her husband - has given her quite a kicking.

So there she was, bruised and battered, and looking for options. Move in with beloved son and his lovely wife, perhaps that will help. Son agrees: let's look after mother and make everything okay. But it hasn't helped, and you can't make it okay. She's still aging, she's still lost her husband, she doesn't feel better. She isn't okay, and in some ways she is never going to be (but in other ways she could be, only you can't do it for her).

Continue as is, and before long she will have wrecked her relationship with her beloved son too. He will feel terrible about that - and so will she. On top of the existing hurts, she will also feel rejected and (the ultimate nightmare for a functioning elder) a burden. And she will be a burden! - you won't even be able to reassure her about that. She will be unwelcome, and unwelcome in the place she calls home. It would be awful.

So: research. First, think through what kind of facility would suit her - I'm keen on continuing care, because then you can bump up the service level as and when she needs more support; but look at her as an individual and of course you have to look at financing too. Next, location. This will be tricky. She wants to move back to the "area" where she was happy, but actually she wants to move back to the time before, when everything was all right. So try to keep the focus on the present and future, and the practicalities. Yes, you and DH make decisions that suit you! Of course! That's how you make it possible to do what's important to you - which you both hope will include giving time and love to his mother.

You've sold her house, it's gone? But so she does have the money?

Shortlist some specific options and then - go and have a look. If possible, go and have a look taking MIL with you, but go and have a look anyway. It is nicer and easier to think about what you are going to do next (e.g. move to a lovely new place where there was a bridge club and a rose garden) than to think about what you're leaving behind. The general idea is to shift her thoughts away from all the loss and grief and on to positive change, at least a chance that things will eventually feel better for her.

My favourite AgingCare maxim is "it's okay not to be okay." MIL has reasons to be unhappy. The key thing for you is to recognise her sadness and sympathise with her WITHOUT feeling responsible for curing it.

About the ingratitude. You worked your nether off to get her house sorted and sold. And was she grateful? Not a bit of it! Humph! But she didn't want to sell her house, she didn't want any of this to be happening at all. She couldn't be thankful. Once you accept that you can't solve the real, fundamental problem, it will be less hurtful that all of the efforts you make don't get the warm response you'd expect otherwise.

About freelancing from home - great, but not while MIL is in the house. The last time I tried it took me six hours to complete what should have been a simple one hour job. The interruptions, the stress, the awareness of her presence when you're trying to concentrate: it just doesn't work. Not unless you've got a home-office in a separate building, maybe?
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