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My wife moved in with her elderly parent’s late November 2019, and we are nearing May 2020.
My mother in law is 91 and can communicate normally, but she is a rather simple person. She can’t walk, and needs help with everything. Can’t make meals, bathe, get in and out of bed. I think she could do more for herself, but as long as my wife will do it…
My father in law is 94, and in the late stage of dementia. He is bed ridden. My wife has siblings but they are not helping other than calling and "checking in". The only way my wife can get out is if I sit with them. I am doing this for my wife, not my in-laws. I hate it. I am not mentally equipped to care for him the way I should, but I do.
My mother in law has refused hospice for reasons unknown to me. In my eyes, my father in law is suffering needlessly. She actually makes lite of his hallucinations, and confusion. Haha. My wife is abiding by her mother’s wishes, as she believes a daughter should, but it’s causing a horrible amount of stress that I feel she is internalizing. It’s been a strain on our relationship. Though our marriage is strong, and I don’t have fear of it dissolving, I feel strongly that we/she are being taken advantage of, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep my personal feelings hidden.
They have their end of life affairs in order, but dying at home is becoming a major issue. Throw in the Covid lockdown, and I feel a crushing amount of stress. I work 10 to 12 hours a day, take care of our home, and then relieve her at her parents as much as possible so she can get out. I’ve put a limit on the amount of time she can be away while I take over the care of them, and I feel guilty about it. Summer is approaching and we’ll add yard work to my list of things to do.
My mother in law has placed an undue amount of stress on my wife and I, yet my wife refuses to discuss my feelings with her mother or me for that matter. She feels she is doing the right thing. Am I selfish?
One thing I have learned from this experience is that I will never be a burden to my family.

"Why can't the professionals draw a line in the sand?" Because it's not their job to draw the line; it's your wife's job because she has chosen to take on the role of primary caregiver to her parents.

Your wife won't do it, and so it's up to you to draw the line. She has been out of the house since November and there is no end in sight. As long as you continue to relieve your wife, nothing will change. That may sound harsh but you already are dreading summer and all the work that comes with it. If you stay quiet and do the yard word, nothing will change.

That said, now seems like the perfect time for you to sit down with your wife with a list of things *you* are willing to do and what *you* are not willing to do. And you have to stick to it. You have propped up your wife long enough and it's her turn to act like an adult with her mother. If her father is suffering then he deserves hospice.

It is unacceptable that your wife refuses to have a discussion with you about this. She is avoiding having to deal with her feelings and yours. Many on this forum, myself included, have had "the conversation" with our caregiving spouses.

Writing a letter is also a good way to start the conversation. Or, if the letter is angry, not sending it at least gets the feelings out.

And no, you are not selfish.
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LossingHope Apr 22, 2020
Thank you for the slap in the face. I needed that, and I agree.
I have actually made the statement. Using the example of what if I get sick? What's the plan then? Who is my back-up ?
However, she is my wife, and I made a promise 30 years ago to the effect of, for better, or for worse. Leaving her hang feels wrong to me, but then again, the whole situation is wrong. I know in my heart that somehow, no matter how hard I try, I'll be the bad guy in the end.
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Well everybody... It is happening. I am so proud of my little buddy. She said this morning that she is meeting with the nurse today! She has figured out how many hours she needs off, and building a schedule. She found her big girl pants. Her words not mine.
Thank you all so much for giving me the confidence to hurt somebody enough to help them.
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Daughterof1930 Apr 26, 2020
LH, I have been following since your first post. What a champion you’re being for your wife! So glad you’ve had the courage to step up and make her see that she needs rescue from this. This is exactly what marriage is, finding a way to help when one is losing their sight. Your wife is blessed to have you helping her in changing this dynamic
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Your wife, in an effort to 'do the right thing' for her parents, is 'doing the wrong thing' for herself, for her father, and more importantly, for YOU. Why is it that only one person's feelings is being taken into consideration here: her mothers'?

The one to draw a line in the sand here is YOU, my friend. Let your wife know your innermost feelings and then set down some boundaries. It's not okay that she's moved in with her folks. It's not okay that you've taken the weight of the world on your shoulders as a result. It's not okay that you've lost your wife who now has a hero complex the size of Detroit and can no longer see The Big Picture. The Big Picture is that dad needs hospice and comfort care; that mom is minimizing dad's pain & discomfort because she's in deep denial about how sick he REALLY is and what help he TRULY needs. My mother said my father was 'faking' his pain right up until the moment he died 5 years ago. But she's not faking HER pain or misery 5 years later. She, by the way, lives in a Memory Care home where she belongs, catered to by a staff who waits on her hand and foot, so her daughter (me) and her son-in-law isn't suffering that incredible load.

Another part of the Big Picture for your wife is placement for both of her parents, or at least in home care for them so she can get back to HER life with YOU. If she refuses to see reality here, then you may have to refuse to give her respite any longer. If you want a break, hire someone honey, I've got way too much on my plate already!

Dying at home is a selfish desire, and one that's reliant on others to be realized. You and your wife BOTH have to be willing to accommodate your in-law's desires here in order for them to be able to die at home. That's NOT always possible or even prudent, depending on how sick they get. Your MIL is making believe SHE'S not sick, which isn't the case EITHER! Hospice is always a wonderful idea so there's a qualified set of eyes and hands available to help out when the going gets tough, which it always does. Whether MIL wants their involvement or not isn't as important as what's NEEDED here. She's asking your wife to put herself in a TERRIBLE situation, willingly, and for no good reason, either! Her father deserves a peaceful and pain free end to his life, as any rational person would agree.

Your wife is in too deep now and can't see the forest through the trees. Talk turkey to her NOW. You deserve to take your life back and so does SHE!

Wishing you the best of luck.
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Lets go back to the beginning here.

Your wife is single handedly taking care of two elderly people, one who is entirely bedridden and one who feels entitled to ask for the moon?

Your wife may well die before her parents.

Why is there no outside help coming in? Not hospice, regular home health aides, paid for with the elder's respurces?
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Beatty Apr 24, 2020
F.O.G
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Losing, I am very sad to hear about your wife's disordered thinking.

She is fighting some sort of childhood battle that exists in her head. She is attempting to gain "best child" status from her parents. It's beyond disturbing.

Grownups who are mentally healthy don't abandon their lives when elderly mom calls with an emergency. They may fly there initially, prop things up and then arrange the proper level of care so that life can go on. They don't abandon their own ship.

Was the dislocated shoulder treated? Did mother go to rehab to get strong before she went home?

Many, many years ago, my grandmother broke her hip. Had surgery, but was bed bound. Told all her friends "I'mgoing to be an invalid; my daughters will care for me".

My aunt worked full time with 3 school aged kids. My mom had 3 of us, including a 2 year old, at home.

Grandma was told in kind but certain terms that she was going to rehab to learn to walk again. She pouted. She wailed. She went.

She never really forgave my mom. My mom's attitude was "we got her what she needed, not what she wanted or demanded". There was no way that mom or Aunt was going to be turned into gma's nursemaid.

Which is what your wife has become. Very sad situation.
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LH- Wow! I just read that you told your wife that you reached the end of your ability to help and that she needed to talk to her mother about getting the professional to come and assist. Bravo!

I'm curious though, about your wife's response to what you told her. I really hope she will eventually see that what she's doing is unsustainable, and detrimental to her marriage, and will take steps to rectify the situation both for her parents and for you & her.

So glad you found this forum. I stumbled on this site couple of years ago when I was under so much stress taking care of my Alz. mother. The people here are amazing.

Your wife could really really benefit from joining this forum. Many people here have been there, done that, and know the ropes and are willing to help others.
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LossingHope Apr 24, 2020
Polarbear, Thanks.
Her response was that I, and our dog could move over there. I declined without laughing.
We have a home that I bought, a yard that needs mowed, and a dog that loves his sleeping spot. It is the home that her and I spent our lives in together. I'm not the one that chose to abandon that world for the good of her parents lives.
At this point I've been given a list of things she needs for her new living arrangement, which I will reluctantly provide.
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Another thought, sorry! (btw I am kind of living in a similar version of this..)

I must do all the care.
I can arrange all the care.

Only two words differ but it's a big mental leap.

I will do what Mother wants because I love her.

I will do what Mother needs because I love her.

Just one word differs.
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Lossinghope, WOW! Your wife is being ordered about by a 94 year old mom that has had a stroke, which causes mental decline, had a broken shoulder and hospitalization which causes mental decline. She is showing 2 siblings that have mental health issues that she is stronger than them. She is not calling in hospice for a dying bed bound dad.

My 1st question for her, please ask her and tell me what she says. Why do you hate your dad so much that you would let him needlessly suffer?

2nd question. Why are you listening to a woman that finds his suffering a source of humor? Has your mom always felt that others hurting is funny?

3rd question. Do you really think that your siblings will see you as stronger? Are you sure they are not laughing at you and saying look how stupid she is, she is ruining her health, her life, her marriage and we get a bigger inheritance for her destroying herself, she thinks she is smarter, stronger and look what she has done because we refuse to be sucked in?

Being stronger doesn't mean being a martyr. It means being able to do what is required, regardless of the kick back from anyone. Being stronger isn't required to be proved, it shows up in the very actions that she is not doing. She is being weak because she is letting her mom, who is not capable, make life altering decisions. If she was truly strong she would put her foot down and insist that hospice be brought in to help her dad. If she was strong she would put her foot down and tell her mother that she will have someone in everyday to help or she will go to a facility. Whine, moan, groan and resist all you want mommy dearest, but you have 2, that's all, 2 choices: a paid care giver for 4 to 8 hours a day or a facility.

This isn't about not helping them. She will still be there everyday, but she will have time to have a life for herself and not have to ask you to step in. You two could go have lunch or take walks, talk, whatever, just spend some time together. She could step back enough to really assess the situation daily.

I am very concerned that she has had a stroke herself, her behavior is not the behavior of a sound minded person. Her decisions and motivations are not logical. She is not seeing the reality.

I am not judging her, I am serious about her having a medical crisis of her own. The things that you have said are very concerning to see when you are not sitting in the middle of them.

One thing that you could do for her, that might change the situation. You call and schedule the in home health care for daily aids, you do the interviews and read the contracts and make the decision which one is the best deal.

You call and schedule hospice, non-profits tend to be kinder, you meet with them when they come out to do the assessment, you read all the paperwork.

You write your wife a letter and explain what you felt about hospice and how you can now see the truth.

Everyone blames hospice for overdosing their loved ones, but you don't have to let anyone give the meds, she can be the only one that administers the medication. Not even the nurses need to be administering the medication. She doesn't have to give up control.

Hospice would send out a chaplain that could help your wife understand that she is losing her parents and help her cope with that fact. It may not be for years, but she does need some coping skills.

When you say that you work 10-12 hours everyday and hours on the weekends, do you realize that your wife probably doesn't feel like you are really connected as a couple. That's a lot of hours and doesn't leave much time for anything else, including her. Perhaps she figures you won't miss her anyway. Or maybe you will only miss her being your personal "assistant". Not saying you ignore her, but it's something that you should really look at and be honest with yourself about what it is you really miss and what it is that she has to miss about her home life and marriage.
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I read in this thread that you are thinking it’s best to bring them into your home; that this will somehow improve the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. You already describe your situation, at least the way I’d describe it, as standing in front of the gates to hell. Bringing them to your home is akin to popping open the latch and heading straight in. Please don’t do that. There are many, many better options for all, as others have described. Scrap that plan now.
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LossingHope Apr 24, 2020
I agree, and thanks for your input , that was just silly talk. :)
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Once again I really want to thank everyone here for allowing me to vent, and air my thoughts. This forum has been a life changer/saver for me.

Here's where we are.
The in-laws doctor visited yesterday along with a nurse or social worker. I'm not sure which. The conversation was started. The doctor spoke to my wife in private about the need for hospice for both in-laws. My wife explained to them that she agreed, but that MIL must make the decision. They spoke with the MIL, and after they left my wife and her mother continued the conversation.
I don't have details yet, but I will see her this afternoon and get filled in. It does sound like my MIL has agreed that they need to make a change. I believe my initial step back from this situation, which in turn, led to my wife leaving her mom to care for FIL woke up my MIL to his condition. She frankly says that she didn't realize how bad he was until she was left in charge.
I'll update again later tonight.
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NYDaughterInLaw May 31, 2020
LossingHope - you and I have a lot in common. Nothing changed until I removed myself from the equation and stopped enabling my inlaws to pretend being independent.
I helped my husband to stop allowing his parents to treat him like a child and establish healthy boundaries.
I found my inlaws their indy living residence, toured it without anyone knowing and came home with the brochure.
I called reinforcements (the other brothers) and told them we needed a family conference call about their parents.
I found this forum and read books and articles about all things aging.

At this point, I feel like I've completed a PhD in caregiving specializing in stubborn old people.
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