Younger sister made decision for 95-yr-old mother to move in with her & husband when she finally lost her sight. Pam and her husband are 12 yrs. younger than us, have always lived closer, and always jumped in to help and make decisions about her care without consulting us. Although we weren't able to be there physically, we often offered monetary help and did what we could from a distance. They act like they are saints and we're the goof-offs and yet they also indicate that they don't trust my husband to be capable of handling any decisions about his mother. If they had asked, we would have said she should be in a nursing home the year before she went completely blind, but nobody asked our opinion. So, they moved her in with them and it is a tension-filled situation now because in Pam's husband's words, "I would have never agreed to let that bXXX move in if I'd known she was going to live this long." So, they call us asking us to keep her for 3 weeks about every 6 months so they can have a vacation. My husband loves his mom, but hasn't enjoyed her company for many years before she was elderly. He has his own limitations due to age and a mild stroke, so all of the care taking (which is pretty equal to taking care of a toddler) of his mother falls on me. I feel bad to think negatively about it, but I'm no spring chicken and this is pretty taxing for me both physically and mentally, and I just keep coming back to the fact that they wouldn't need a vacation if they had placed her in a nursing home. Both of them talk about her being in their home as if they hate it, so their decision confuses me. All I can figure is that they want to be credited with being the martyrs who took her in. I feel like we can't refuse to keep her because we "haven't done our part enough all these years" and it's been "all on them", but also feel like if they'd asked our opinion they wouldn't need our help now. So. Here we are. I'm taking care of a husband who depends me to handle all the responsibilities of our household and also doing the care taking for their mother. Am I just being a selfish wench?

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Choosing to be martyrs is not the same thing as choosing to care for an elderly parent at home.

You could've given your opinion about placing mil in a nursing home and still that advice would not necessarily have been taken.

Its very difficult to do hands on care for an elder 24/7 which is not comparable to writing checks or "caregiving from a distance " which requires no hands on care at all.

If it's taxing for you physically and mentally to caregive for 3 weeks every 6 months to give your family respite, imagine how taxing it must be for them to do the hands on caring the other 46 weeks a year?

And you expect them to not need a vacation if they'd placed her in a nursing home to begin with, and to have a smile of joy on their faces 24/7 while doing all this backbreaking caregiving? There is still a TON TO DO for a loved one while they are in managed care. Its not as if they're dropped off with their luggage at the reception desk and abandoned until the funeral. I cared for 2 parents living in Assisted Living for 10+ years, alone, with no help from anyone as an only child, and let me tell you. .....dh and I sorely needed a vacation every year. And to turn our phones off for down time. And and and. The stress involved with ALL elder care is very real. But especially real for those in the trenches doing in home care 24/7.

You just neglect to understand the big picture here, I think. Don't help out with respite care for Pam if you don't want to, but recognize how ugly it is to call her a martyr and a saint for doing what she's doing.

The purpose of my comment is to get you to see the other side of the story here. The burn out side of long term caregiving and the dire need for respite for those exhausted people who've taken on the huge job of caring for a 95 y/o blind elder. Asking for help should not be met with such an attitude but with compassion instead of judgment.

Think about getting mil into an Assisted Living facility for 3 weeks every 6 months and look into Medicare paying for part of it, and you picking up the rest. Work something out, in other words, once you recognize there is a valid need for a break here. You all may decide, together, that AL is the best environment for her long term. Then the problem is solved.

Best of luck to you navigating this situation
Helpful Answer (20)
Reply to lealonnie1
notgoodenough May 27, 2023
I agree, Lea.

I have often seen here "you chose to be a caregiver, that's on you. Just put LO in a home, and then you get your freedom back."

My mom lived with me, and I became her caregiver when she started needing it. She was 85 at the time, and she passed when she was 86. But she lived with me and my family (in her own space, since I own a 2-family home) from the time she was 65. For 20 years she was an easy housemate, and we got along wonderfully well, my DH included. It was really great for my 2 kids, who had a loving, supportive grandmother living in the same house as them - something I didn't have as a child. So, my decision to keep mom at home while she declined had NOTHING at all to do with my wanting to be a martyr; I genuinely loved her and wanted to help, and, quite frankly, when I see comments like that in regard to the choice to keep elderly at home, it sort of chafes at me. Because the decision to keep her at home was difficult and sometimes, I got angry and frustrated with the situation. Just as I got angry and frustrated with my kids when they were babies/toddlers and needed that level of care and supervision. (And before people start stoning me, I know full well there is no comparison of the two, I'm just making the point that anger and frustration are valid, understandable, legitimate emotions for BOTH situations).

Now, there were several times that my mom was placed in rehab for after hospitalization therapy to get her strength back. And while I was alleviated of much of the "hands-on" care, the bulk of the responsibilities - mail, bills, laundry, doctors' visits/calls etc. - still fell on me to do. Not to mention getting up there pretty much every day to check on her. My sister had once commented on putting mom into a facility - because her MIL/FIL were in one, and since she and her DH lived far away, they never saw what DH's eldest sister had to STILL do while their parents were in AL/NH. When I told that to my sister, she was a little taken aback, because I could tell the thought that the things that would STILL need to be done for mom would STILL fall onto my shoulders, because 1) I was closest in distance and 2) I was retired.

OP - here is my advice, take it or leave it. If you can't physically take care of mom, that's one thing. If you can't mentally do it or you don't want to do it, that's another, and they are both ok. But if you want to maintain any sort of relationship with your sister after mom is gone, you might want to consider that your refusal to "step up" now may result in an unrepairable fracture with your relationship with your sister later. My other sister was what I like to call an "absentee landlord" when it came to anything at all to do with my mom, even when my mom was dying. I begged her to do anything - call, visit, etc., but she wouldn't even deign to do that. So now mom is gone, and my relationship with that sibling is as well. I don't hate her; I don't love her. I am completely and utterly apathetic to her and her life.

If that prospect doesn't bother you, then so be it. But if you hope to keep a friendly relationship with this sister, it might be better if you reach out and see how you could help besides bringing mom into your home if you are unable to do so.
DO NOT let them drop off your MIL at your place on the promise that you only need to keep her for 3 weeks. They might NEVER take her back, and you will be stuck with her in your house.

It's better for you to help them arrange for your MIL to move into a good nursing home.

Make it clear that moving into your home is NOT an option. Take that off the table. Tell them you and your husband are not physically able to take care of his mom. Repeat as many times as necessary for it to sink in.
Helpful Answer (17)
Reply to polarbear
Way2tired May 27, 2023
Polarbear has the perfect answer . You are not obligated to care for the mother . Offer to help sister in law find a facility that offers temporary respite care , or better yet permanent placement . You say you are not able to care for the woman anymore even on a temporary basis . The mother’s money should be used to pay for her care . If the mother has little to no money , Medicaid will pay for long term care .

And there is a risk they don’t pick her up after vacation, even if they have always picked her up before . I didn’t even think of that . But they could decide they have had enough and then you will be stuck getting her out of your home.
Your Sister has every right to make her own decisions. She has ZERO right to judge YOUR decisions. Make that clear to her.

You have no obligation to enable your sister's and her husband's poor decision making about what's best for mom. And in fact you should not do so.

Guilt is out of the question entirely. You didn't cause your mom's aging and infirmity and you cannot fix it. ,You are and always were powerless in her aging process. Guilt infers fault. It isn't your fault. Grief is another guestion and another g-word, the correct word for the hopelessness and helplessness we see in the aging process of those we love, and in ourselves as well.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to AlvaDeer

The phrase "chose to be martyrs" seemed unduly judgmental, if not outright cruel. When people have their elders move in with them, they can't really fathom all that care will encompass. They have been doing a tremendous amount of work and are asking for several weeks off. If you can't or won't do this, then offer to find a place that offers respite care, help arrange for it, and visit while the primary caregivers are away.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to Tynagh
lkdrymom May 27, 2023
The phrase "choose to be martyrs" is normally used when they find out that what they took on is more than they can humanly handle but refuse to make other arrangements. Instead they demand others step up and help they fulfill their misguided choices.
Offer to help find a facility for the mother either temporarily or permanently, if it is now too much for all to handle hands on care of Mom at home . If they refuse , you are not obligated to take care of the mother in your home . If you do take care of her this time , at least give notice that this is the last time. Then they will have time before their next vacation to make other plans for respite care .

These people can not assume or expect that you are in the position to care for this woman as you are older and have a husband who had a stroke and is having symptoms of depression.These people did not expect the mother to live this long when they took her in ( that happens ) , however that doesn’t change the fact that you don’t feel up to taking care of the Mom .

IF they continue to take care of the mother after admitting it’s become too much , and give you grief for “ not stepping “ , that is a martyr . Example , Pointing fingers putting the blame on you that they are suffering because of you not taking mother in . If the caregivers are not happy with the situation , they should acknowledge that , and they should be making other arrangements for the mother at a facility . You can help in that process and in other ways other than hands on care .

We had a situation with my father in law (FIL) where my husband and I felt FIL and his (second) wife needed assisted living. The wife had 3 adult children from her first marriage . One of them agreed with us . We and the step sibling that agreed with us were left out of any conversations about the old couples needs after that . The other two step siblings would not tell us what was going on . My FIL told us very little of what was going on during Covid when my husband would call him .

Then we were told by the step siblings ( that refused to give us information or discuss anything ) that the old couple kept firing the aides that were hired to go to the house. These children then started demanding we all step up and take turns flying to Florida for a month at a time to help them “remain independent” in their home . We all lived up North. The old woman ( with dementia ) refused to move back up north . After we went to see them in Florida , We tried telling the sibs again that they need assisted living and that the old woman was too far gone to making any decisions anymore.

The one step sibling absolutely refused to help , He said he wasn’t helping because he was left out of the conversation and any decision making ( as was my husband ) but was expected to help and do what they told him to do on a moments notice . No discussion , just given orders.

My husband went to help but it was not sustainable . We all still work .The two step sibs were still refusing to put the couple in assisted living . I don’t know what would have happened had this gone on much longer. The wife ended up dying so we took FIL by us and put him in assisted living .

The point is , you can’t leave some siblings out of the conversation but then turn around and give orders to them as to what they need to do to “ step up “. It needs to be a group conversation . If they choose to continue taking care of the woman at home that is their choice but they can’t blame you for their misery .
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to Way2tired
Odaat59 Jun 4, 2023
💯 my feelings, about the situation my parents created, with my 14 years younger sister, who is turning 50 in June, and I will be 64, in July. She lived with our parents her entire life, began enabling and doing for mom, when mom was fully capable, but had arthritis pain, and preferred to sit. Flash forward to now, and I am fully prepared to completely ignore any demands, cries, guilt trips over needing me to help, after my offers were ignored, for the past ten years. They have now timed out, and all caregiving will fall to the three younger sisters. I have helped them all, by bringing meals every other day, catered excellent food, all homemade by me, for three years, but have never been allowed to help and she will not even leave me alone in a room, with mom and dad. Her mental illness has her paranoid and she must have full power, and control. Our parents gave it to her, and she is the one who will answer for everything. I have had no say in any decisions, so I do hope she lasts until the end. The only help I will give is helping find a good home for them, if my younger sister dies, before mom and dad.

The third down sister is hateful, has cut ties with me, and many people, and only interested in telling the CG sister how wonderful she is, reeking of the vibe that she is so relieved the youngest is doing it, so she doesn’t have to, and the two oldest sisters are shunned, cause we were raised by young parents, who did not enable and protect us from everything. Our CG ‘er sister does owe mom and dad, for never leaving them to make her own home, and now that I’m older and my husband is almost 68, there will be no demands exerted on me.

I will do exactly as I please, but number one, I do it peacefully! I will never allow my two youngest sisters to treat me hatefully, bossily, disrespectfully anymore. Mostly, I just concentrate on mom and dad, who I love very much, but wish they had treated their daughters more equally. Less preferentially for the last two. Us oldest ones learned to fish, take care of ourselves and handled intensely serious issues, with our husbands, not relying on mom and dad to dig us out. So we are going to enjoy our 60’s and whatever time we got, just like mom and dad did. Their parents did not get to turn them into slaves, cause they left home, and were far away. So yea, when my youngest sister realizes it is all on her, and gets mad, we will have a quiet conversation about her choices, and I do not care if she is angry. She made her bed. Might seem harsh, but the way she has treated her older sisters has been rude, and disrespectful, so how she feels is not my concern.

Amazing I have not ripped her to shreds, but the truth is, I need her to complete her job. She is the only mom and dad wanted in the role. Dementia and poor elder parent health, lousy discipline at taking care of themselves is also not my fault. I am doing everything I can, to not burden our kids, and that means living a very different older life, than mom and dad. Worth it to stay independent. You do not owe your sister or parents your life. If the way you CAN help is rejected, smile and say ok. Good luck, love you. Done. No FOG.
Oh, honey---

DON'T take her in. Let the martyrs have a voice in which NH you move her, but if you take her into YOUR home, chances are you will NEVER get her out.

When you BIL states he wishes they'd never taken her in--BELIEVE him.

My MIL is 'dying in place' sustained by my DH, his sister and his OB. 2 months, now, she's in Hospice and she is dying, but oh, so slowly and so miserably. She's literally sucking the life out of all 3 of her kids-not to mention the 'behind the scene' people--like me, my SIL and my BIL. AND our kids, too, b/c I am not doing any hands on care, but then that leaves MY household with a grouchy, miserable DH who can't stand his mother, but spends up to 4 days, 24 hr shifts with her. He comes home grouchy and mad, and who gets to live with THAT??

All spurred by some level of guilt that I simply do not get.

Had they moved her right from the rehab facility after a short stint in the hospital (she fell--didn't break anything) to a NH, we wouldn't have this mess now.

She's so proud of being 'independent'. Yeah, independent b/c you have 3 grown children literally holding her up. She has not been left alone for nearly the whole last 2 months. And no end in sight.

YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT A SELFISH WENCH. You may be the only 'thinking' person in this family. Since you seem to have a voice that's heard--USE IT!!

Best wishes for a 'good' outcome.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to Midkid58

They wanted to be martyrs.
So they did.
Now they want something else.
They are free to change their minds.

** They stepped in. They can step out. **

Or a kinder way I could put it;

Plan A (age in their home) has been tried. The needs outweigh what they can do themselves. So it is time to add extra support. Either informal (what family or friends offer) or formal (aides, other home services). If this still doesn't meet the needs, then move on to Plan B, a care facility.

You are not responsible to make their decisions work out for them.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Beatty
Way2tired May 27, 2023
Beatty is spot on. They chose to be martyrs . That does not mean they can expect help from you . Nor should you feel obligated . You have to take care of yourself and you are already taking care of your husband . I saw that he had a stroke and seems to be depressed . Have you had husband seen by the doctor about possible depression ? It’s very common after a stroke .
No, you’re not selfish. You deserve to live your life according to what you want and taking into consideration your own health.

Tell them that you can’t do it. Then direct them to respite care at a facility near them. Offer to help pay for it, but ideally the expenses should be paid out of mom’s funds.

Close your ears to the outcry and resist saying that if they’d done what you wanted to do with her in the first place, the problem wouldn’t exist.

As for mom, she gets no say. She should have planned better as soon as her problems began.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Fawnby

Let her have a vacation it won’t kill you and then maybe all of you can sit down and make adult decisions together .
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to KNance72

You have absolutely no idea the level of sacrifice that they have made.
I also got a lot of "This never would have happened if you hadn't insist on keeping Mom in her home/ hometown". Well I made those decisions based on her happiness and being a caring human being. So many of us tried to do it at home out of love and we find out they live longer than we expected and it winds up breaking our hearts and driving us into the ground.
Help them out and be thankful every day for the time that they have given to spare you so that you have time to spend with your husband.
The way you speak about them being martyrs... That's YOUR interpretation. They're expressing them pain of their experience and asking you to recognize it.
And finally if you still can't do anything, instead of leading with judgement (who among us hasn't made decisions that in retrospect we would have done differently... With ourselves, our kids, or our parents?).... Recognize how difficult their experience is, and give them kindness instead of judging their expressions of exhaustion and overwhelm from a place of guilt. Be kind.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to wicki100

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