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My husband and I have been married 10 years. 11 years ago I made the decision to help take care of his elderly father. I moved him out of an impoverished room he was renting and paid for his living expenses for almost 10 years while managing his medical appointments and medications. A year and a half ago we bought a house and had to move him in with us because we couldn't afford to pay for him outright anymore. Once he moved in it became increasingly apparent how toxic the relationship between him and my husband is. My husband developed severe anxiety and depression that manifested physically with extreme fatigue, panic attacks, and vomiting. He has vomited 1-2x a week for over a year. Then 6 months ago we got an aggressive, threatening, accusatory phone call from my husband's cousin. My father in law had been speaking to him and telling lies about the care we were providing, making it sound like we were mistreating him, which couldn't be further from the truth. Even after speaking with my father in law and explaining how hurtful it was he continued to be in contact with the cousin and we continued to be harassed. My husband's mental health has continued to decline and we were on the brink of divorce. We also have 2 small children, ages 6 and 3 who were starting to be affected by the turmoil. So, we moved his father into a senior apartment, sold our house, my husband went on medical disability, got on meds, started therapy, and we tried to start fresh. But, the senior apartment is independent living, but my father in law is not very independent - he has an indwelling catheter and limited mobility due to compression fractures, as well as what we think is early dementia, anxiety, and paranoia. We have submitted application for assisted living or skilled nursing and have been waiting for months for a formal psych evaluation through the VA in order to determine the level of care he needs (assisted living vs. skilled nursing) so the application can move forward. In order to protect myself emotionally I have stepped out of dealing with my father in law directly and have been helping manage paperwork, appointments, and medical care in the background. For the past 2 months my husband, while on medical leave has been taking his father to appointments, cleaning his apartment, taking him shopping, and doing his best to care for him. But every time he sees his father, which is 2-3 times a week, he is set back significantly in his treatment for depression and anxiety. Today he spent the entire day with his father at the VA and took him out to lunch, only to witness a phone call from the accusing cousin and his father proceed to tell him that my husband isn't taking care of him properly. My husband returned home to have a full emotional meltdown, and it was almost like he hasn't been on meds and in therapy for months. Another huge setback. So, we are desperate to find a solution to this. For the sake and health of our family we need to find a way out of this, but I don't know how. Can it somehow be determined that my husband is incapable of caring for his father (which is completely true)? I just don't know what to do anymore, my husband's health is in a crisis trying to care for his father.

Even if your husband (and you) were fully capable and trained and had time available to care for your FIL, you both have NO OBLIGATION to do the caring first-hand. You don't have to prove anything to be able to stop caring directly (or at all) for him. If you live in a state with child fiduciary laws you MIGHT have some financial responsibility, but nowhere are you required to take your parent to medical appointments, for example.

I think the way you have detached from this situation is very appropriate. Now hubby has to do the same thing. Since it is his father the situation is murky with feelings of guilt and obligation. Your dear husband deserves all the support he can get. He must keep up his therapy and meds. He MUST withdraw from frequent contact with his father. Since his father obviously depends on him, I'm sure neither of you would be comfortable just walking away from the situation. But your efforts should be towards finding other support for FIL, not doing it yourself.

The cousin who is so concerned about his uncle -- is he willing to take over the care tasks? What does he threaten you with when he is belligerent? Reporting you? Perhaps you could beat him to the punch. Report to APS that you both have been helping this vulnerable man but that you can longer continue this. You wish him well, but cannot personally provide care anymore. He is awaiting decisions from the VA, but in the meanwhile he is living alone and unable to manage his medications and medical appointments. They will investigate.

Others here have experience with the VA, and with APS. I hope some of them will chime in.

After FIL is settled in to long-term-care, I hope his son can resume a cordial (but not care-giving) relationship, visiting him at a frequency and duration that works for him. But for now, DETACH! I'll be his therapist can help him with that.
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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Jenny, yes, it sounds like you are on the right track. My goodness, you and your young children need your husband to recover his health, so this situation just cannot continue. I vote for your husband stopping all involvement now. I mean, how bad does it have to get?

What would happen to FIL if your son wasn't in the picture? Contact the Area Agency on Aging in your county, or perhaps even APS. But I think you and your family have done enough.

Again, how bad does it have to get?
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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Wow. You and your H have done SO MUCH for this man! You've paid for his living expenses for the past 11 years???

In a very small way, I understand how your H feels after being around his father. If I'm around my mother for any length of time, I start feeling very anxious. I am "forced" to drive her around, but I have set very severe limits on that for my sanity.

Who's taking care of the catheter?
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Reply to CTTN55
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Sounds as if it will save your husband, and your young family, to get him to let go. Why does he even talk to the cousin? I agree about being proactive and reporting the unsafe senior (forget how they say that) to APS; discuss it with your husband's therapist first, though, so they are willing to back you up that husband can not manage it because of his own health now.
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Reply to mally1
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Yes, a lifetime of a toxic relationship with a parent plus the caregiver role and abuse can make your husband very sick. It’s weird because apparently the person has physical illness because they are repressing their emotional distress.

Apparently this has happened to me. I couldn’t eat or swallow for two months. I saw a gastrointestinal specialist, had MRIs, scopes and he said he found no physical reason for my sickness. I lost 45 pounds over the two months. So I’m eating now finally and gained some weight. Strength is coming back.

All I can think of is my father, who is a narcissist, causes my episodes. So my hubby insisted I not see my dad until I recover.

I don’t know if a therapist would help. My hubby has been a tender loving nurse over these months. I really got lucky finding him!
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Reply to HolidayEnd
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