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Would you look after your ageing in-laws?


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Before we got married we talked about many things... but it never crossed my mind to talk about looking after ageing parents and/or in-laws.

 

My parents have been gone for a long while now.

 

My in-laws are almost 80 and my mother-in-law is not in really good shape. Should my father-in-law die, she would have to go into a home. Or one of her children's home! I'm married to the oldest and he thinks it's his duty to look after his parents.

 

It's not something I want to do. I look after seniors for a living already... I don't want to work 24/7! My husband says that my expertise in the field would enable us (us??! me rather!) to look after them better than if they would go to a home. I say we would kiss our family life and married life goodbye. I'm not for it at all.

 

Are you thinking of looking after your ageing parents or your in-laws at some point? Is it something you talk with your spouse sometimes? What is your 2 cents on the matter?

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I don't think my husband or I would have the heart to put an aging parent in a home to spend the rest of their years alone after all they've done for us.

It's certainly a personal choice, though and if you're not willing to do that as a partner, it's a good discussion to start having now before the time actually comes. In my case it touches my heart deeply that my husband would be willing to care for his parents and even mine and I think the experience could enrich our family and married life rather than be the end of it.

I hope you have the right discussions so that your marriage and his parents are well cared for whatever the living arrangement may be.

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Without a doubt yes. It would be hard, but as long as they dont need serious 24 hour care I would. If I get married his family is my family and vice versa. Family is family you take care of them in the best way possible.

 

My husband says that my expertise in the field would enable us (us??! me rather!) to look after them better than if they would go to a home.

 

 

In your case mimi you could always tell your dear hubby that your expertise will also allow to you select the right home for your in-laws that will provide the best care. Explain to him that home is not always the best option because the care givers cant always be objective about the needs of their loved one and how after all day on your feet, you would not have the energy to dedicate to the kind of care your in law deserves.

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This is a really tough situation. I had to take responsbility for my mother after she had a stroke, but I made arrangements to have her stay in her own home as long as possible, by arranging for someone to clean her house, cook food, and people to look in on her everyday etc. Then when she got more ill, i took care of all her personal affairs, but she had to eventually go into a nursing home for about 6 months before she died due to medical issues.

 

If she or the family has financial resources, you could perhaps try to arrange some assistance for her in her home. Most people do want to stay in their homes as long as possible, even if a spouse dies.

 

But if she needs lots of nursing care, it is too much for your husband to expect you to nurse all day, then all night too.

 

If it were me, and you didn't want to divorce, i'd tell him that if he makes the decision to bring her into the home, then he is responsible for her care. You will continue to take care of you normal household routines, but HE needs to not expect you to be his mother's caregiver all the time, nor to do it day and night. He can arrange care for his mother (in or out of your home or theirs), but he needs to clearly understand that you won't be the stuckee here, and how strongly you feel about it.

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Firstly thank you for your thread because it opened my eyes to something I would have never considered or thought about before. This is a tough one. I think to be fair all the kids should contribute to taking care of the mother which includes your husband however to put the full burden on you guys is a little much. Have you considered having her move around a bit? For example, every six months you guys can alternate her with other siblings so you would at least have half a year or more (depending on how many there are) to just enjoy life without her and then contribute your fair share. People in those very elderly years don't have very much in terms of materialistic things and needs so mobilizing her would not be a bad idea. Also, someone that age, not working would probably benefit from varied surroundings of reasonable nature. I think it would be a bit much to mobilize her around weekly but half a year here and half a year there would probably be great for everyone.

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btw, many people who have never cared for the very sick elderly don't understand the level of care that is required. So don't let anyone make you feel guilty about doing what you have to to make sure your mother in law is adequately cared for, and that YOU don't get ill doing all the caretaking. Many men will often assume this is 'woman's work', even if it is their mother rather than your own.

 

If he won't sign up to take the second shift with his mom when you come home from work, then i don't think he is being fair to you. He needs to think about your health too, not just his mother's.

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Wow! Thank you for your feedback. I'll have to read again all your posts. Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions. I truly appreciate it!

 

I forgot to mention there is a dementia issue too...

 

I don't have the heart to say NO but on the other hand I do know what to expect if we look after the in-laws and I don't want that. I love my in-laws.

 

The house would need to be rearranged to accommodate them and their needs. Not sure I'd want a bedroom instead of a living room...

 

They have some resources but my mother-in-law being blind she -r-e-f-u-s-e-s- any kind of help. It has to be family or she'll do without.

 

My husband wouldn't be able to care for his parents. He called me at work a few weeks ago because he couldn't find the margarine in the fridge. He wanted to know where it was. No kidding! It's a funny story to tell but kind of scary when you think about it. I hurt my back really bad last summer and the kids had to help him with cooking, cleaning, because he was completely lost. I'm sure my husband won't volunteer to deal with his mother's incontinence when it happens.

 

We had discussions with my husband's siblings and it's out of the question they look after their parents. They don't want to do that. Ever.

 

It's a really tough one, isn't it?

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Honestly, I wouldn't- not if it were dementia. It's very dangerous (they can get up in the middle of the night and try to leave, like my husband's grandmother once did) and it's also very draining. They also can become combative and violent. I would rather provide financial support for an assisted living facility and visit very regularly and take the relative out, etc. To have the relative in-home, 24/7 is just too much. My husband and I both agree on this for either of our parents/relatives.

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If your mom in law has dementia and is blind, then for me it is not so much an issue of logistics but of safety. What if she waked up in the middle of the night and gets hungry and turns the stove on?

 

My dad while not elderly had had some issues with medications and his midnight ramblings through the house were a lot to deal with. We still havent figured out how the ice cube trays wound up on his bedroom floor.

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I have to say that my original reaction was "of course I would care for my parents!" and I thought it would break my heart if my husband was a caretaker for a living and didn't want to care for my parents.

However, I have thought a lot about your post and I'm 33 years old with very healthy parents and have 3 healthy grandparents who care for themselves. So my perspective of "aging" is only based on those experiences. I have never cared for an ill person and understand that a lot more is involved than my mind can even imagine. I was kind of picturing hanging out with my old mom while we're playing cards or she's watching some silly soap opera. Not the things you just described.

What a difficult decision and I just hope that whatever happens, it will not put a strain on your marriage the way you fear. I did have a laugh at your husband not finding the margarine.....so at least you can smile at the lighter side of things as you make such serious choices.

Best wishes.

xoxo

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Its a VERY tough situation. Assisted living is very expensive. You'd have to change your house a bit, move her into a room of her own. You did choose to marry this man, so you do have to deal with the issue...now whether you two can come to a decision together about what to do is up to you. DIfficult decisions happen in life, its the way that it is.

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I'm sure my husband won't volunteer to deal with his mother's incontinence when it happens.

 

We had discussions with my husband's siblings and it's out of the question they look after their parents. They don't want to do that. Ever.

 

So they have all just "volunteered" you for it? It sounds pretty unfair to me. Be assertive and don't do anything that does not feel right for you.

 

If she ever lives with you- you should insist on a day nurse and that your husband take on at least half of her care....incontinence and all.

 

When you marry somone you have to love, honor, and cherish THEM in sickness and it health (there isn't a vow for their family) In simple terms- as his wife you may be expected to change his diapers if he ever needed it- but certainly not his mothers (especially if he isn't ready or willing to help take care of her, and his siblings have all washed their hands of it too)

 

You are his wife, not his family's domestic servant.

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If she ever lives with you- you should insist on a day nurse and that your husband take on at least half of her care....incontinence and all.

 

 

Yes - this needs to be established upfront. You dont want to bring her in and then face that battle later on. You want to get all the help you can possibly have upfront. This will also make it is easier because as your MIL needs more help and is more vulnerable she will have people she has already been established with that she trusts taking care of her, rather than bringing in a whole new stranger to help her during embarrassing moments.

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To the original poster, You mentioned "kids" in your last post. Has your husband thought about the impact that this can have on your children? Does he realize that in the advanced stages of dementia his mother would not be able to be left alone? Family trips, date nights with you, outings for quality time with the kids....all of those things would not be easy anymore and would require making arrangements to have a sibling or other family member come to sit with his mom (and so far his siblings sound less than helpful)

 

When his mom has visitors coming to your home to see her, is your husband going to help entertain them and feed them?

 

Does he realize what a big life-altering change this would be for your family and your marriage?

 

Caring for a person with dementia is more work than caring for a newborn infant. It requires around-the-clock care, but unlike an infant, this person can get up and do as they please. You know this, because you work in the field. I don't think your husband has any idea about just how demanding this would be.

 

I just think of my husband's grandmother in her last days (she was cared for at home): She had to wear a body alarm, she was combative and violent, etc. It nearly destroyed the family members that were caring for her.

 

No one wants to see their parent or loved one like this. It's truly a shame. The level of care that is required is best delivered from a place that is well staffed to handle the demands it brings.

 

If he can't/won't share in the care of his mother, then that makes it even worse. I really takes a team to make this work if she is to be in your home(i.e. him, his siblings, you- on shifts with her).

 

For him to think that you should bear the brunt of her care is totally unreasonable, IMO.

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When we got married we pretty much covered every topic we could think of : children, work, housework sharing, etc. I guess when you're 21 you don't think of old age. At the time, my grand-parents were healthy, fit, and fiercely independent so I had no clue about dementia, etc. Don't laught but... back then, 'getting old' in my mind was white hair and wearing an apron! I was working in an office. It's only later in life I made the switch to care for elderly people.

 

My husband (and probably the rest of his family) are in denial. He says his mother sees pretty well. Of course she doesn't live in total blackness... but when standing in front of her, she doesn't know if you're male or female, adult or child. She still cooks but suffered lots of injuries, and some were quite ugly burns. When her food goes bad she doesn't realize it. We're often served a nice platter of ... rotten raw veggies and dip. I'm the only one who tells her about the rotten food... in a very diplomatic tactful way I must add. I don't want to hurt her feelings but she has to know. She's often sick and I do think it's all down to eating spoiled food. She likes to play 'pharmacist' with her numerous pills. They are all over. I tried to convert her to a 'dosette' but omg! I haven't won that battle yet. She has many health issues but half of the time I'm sure she feels like a wreck because she plays 'pharmacist' with her meds.

 

For the past year I've noticed early signs of dementia. Her memory is going out the window lately (thus the food spoiling at the back of the fridge and storing food outside the fridge like lemon juice). She has incredible mood swings. She hardly ever smiles or laughs any more. We all walk on eggshells. My in-laws stayed together because of the kids... so there is no great love there and not much support from her husband. She balls him out 5 times a day at least so I gather he's not into helping out much.

 

That's pretty much the picture at the moment. My husband says she is doing fine. He has this picture in his mind that if she ever lives with us it will be like a nice long visit, playing cards and having small talk. He even said she could help out and do the laundry and cook. I think he lives on another planet...

 

My mom in law used to rock. She was so much fun. We used to have such a laugh together. She needs support and I am ready to give it to her (provided she'd allow me!) but I do think a day nurse and getting some help for them at home would be a good start. I just don't have the energy to deal with this at home 24/7.

 

Thanks for your feedback!

 

 

 

My 'kids' are 18 and almost 17 by the way.

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  • 2 years later...

Hi mimi,

 

I think your husband should have told you what your married life would be like. bbut if you'll ask me, it should not be a hindrance in your marriage. you could tell your spouse you wont do it alone and you need his cooperation. you should not give up without even trying to make the marriage work. you could also share responsibilities by laying out long term care plan

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SAY NO!!!! DO NOT take her in. Trust me, it will ruin your life. My relatives work in healthcare and they have seen it happen TOO many times where so-and-so blind/demented relative gets sick and the son/daughter goes "COME LIVE WITH ME" and hell breaks loose. Taking care of someone like that is a full time JOB. Your husband may expect you to stay at home and care for her. Your children will have to be subject to that and will have to witness the strain in your marriage. Your money will dry up because it's going to go into taking care of this woman. Your kids will be less comfortable and may not want to have their friends over as much. Your sex life will suffer. Your life quality will go down and you will just be hoping every single day that she will die the next. It's not good AT ALL.

 

Seriously, when someone is this bad, it never ends well just taking them up in your home unless someone is able and willing to stay home all the time watching them. It's even worse when you have children.

 

You really need to talk to him about putting her in a home. Honestly, she just needs too much care. You have lives of your own. We were not born to just be caregivers to our parents. It's unfair of your husband to expect that you will just take on the burden of taking care of a blind/demented woman until she dies. You have a life that you need to tend to.

 

Seriously, do not let this woman live in your house. Tell your husband absolutely not and start looking into homes to put her into.

 

Don't get me wrong - I like working with older people. I just believe that parents who have lives/jobs/kids shouldn't have to care for them. It's a full time job. They belong in the nursing homes when they are burning themselves and are demented. It's a full time job there too...running around to make sure that they don't decide to get out of bed and fall down and kill themselves.

 

You really do not want this for yourself. Taking in demented elders when you have kids and a job is a recipe for ruining your life. It really is.

 

And no, I would not take in my parents. They have long-term care insurance. I will help them and such but I am not having them live with me. My bf has parents but he doesn't have contact with them (never will, doesn't want to) but his grandparents are getting older and it's the same thing. The grandmother is crazy and toxic, she's an alcoholic. She is actually on the decline now and is getting more delusional and sicker. My boyfriend could stay back and take care of her and make sure that she stops doing demented things now, but he's not...he's moving out with me soon. Why? Because it's a bad, toxic situation and he isn't obligated to clean up after her messes. I bet within 5 years, she will be in a home. And that's where she needs to be.

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