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I feel so uncomfortable..

18 years ago

I am not sure where to go with my plight, so I am here.

You see, I am the primary caregiver for my MIL. My husband does what he can, but he is gone all day and when he is home, there is more to do on his list than caring for his mother. So, it falls to me for the most part.

And, as many of you may remember, I also take care of our now almost 18 month

, a whirlwind of curiosity, and precious monkey.. our one and only grandchild,

The baby and my MIL get along famously. {{gwi:1401180}} love each other with a connection that is beautiful. The only issues I have are that my MIL cannot be around the baby without someone being RIGHT there to protect the two of them. The baby loves her "Gi-Gi".. great grandma, and Alicia is a

who could easily tip my MIL over or hurt her unintentionally. And, my MIL cannot remember not to pick the baby up or to have help around her. My MIL is very tipsy and has a significant loss of balance, and does not walk well. She staggers and wavers and trembles quite a bit. She thinks she is in her 20's or 30's around the baby.. makes for a really hard day to watch the two of them if the truth be told.

And, as some of you may remember, my MIL and I have a really awful history. She was very, very cruel and mean to me for decades. So bad that it is of note to mention that even her close friends of 4-5-6 decades have recanted to me how terrible it was to hear her speak of me and tell of her wickedness towards me. They use words like.. "she was a cold fish to you", or they will say, "she was so mean and very cruel to you". And, they are right.. and they only know what she told them. They don't know the depth of her awful behaviors.

My husband was a total whimp-out in dealing with his mother. He kept thinking that it would get better and instead, it got worse. There are some very, very compelling reasons that he, truthfully, HAD to whimp-out in regards to his mother. It is a long story and filled with all sorts of family intrigue, but trust me.. I DO understand why he did what he did, and I accept it.

Well, she got sick and she's been living with us for over three years. Isn't life a quirky thing? She wanted me dead or whatever, and now she is dependent on me for everything..

Well.. over those decades where she was so intensely unpleasant and demonically cruel towards me, she always chose Holidays to be at her worst. And, Christmas was an especially poignant time for her to act up and act out. It made me learn to literally HATE Christmas.. it was always so stressful and unpleasant. And, due to the same reasons that my husband had to whimp-out, we HAD to spend every f-ing Christmas with her.

This year, our kids will not be here for Christmas. It is the first Christmas that I am not hosting "something". We will be going to my son's (the father of our granddaughter) home for a few hours on Christmas Day, but that is it. Then, it is home again here to our house. (Our son is coming over later in the day to drop off the baby as he has to be at work early the next day).

And, that leaves just me, my husband, and my MIL.

I cannot tell you how much I DREAD it. I am sick to my stomach over it. I feel totally uncomfortable.

I do not want to cook a meal for the day at all. She complains and makes it miserable. I have not wanted to do any baking either.. I am depressed and just plain sick to death of her and all her antics due to personality quirks, her dementia, and her cultural yada-yadas, (She is Italian and immigrated from the old country at the end of WWII in 1950).

I don't love her. I will never love her the way some women have grown to love their MILs. I love her and care for her the same way I would probably love and care for a little lost and sick puppy. (I guess she is one lucky son of a gun that I am a compassionate type person.. or I'd probably kick her in the arse and tell her to get out of my face and wouldn't give two licks if she ended up out on the street or in a home alone at 84!)

But, I DO give a whole lot more than two licks. I genuinely care about her situation and I genuinely care about her quality of life. My husband is her only remaining child. She has one son who died tragically in 1976, and then my husband. That is all the family she has in the entire world.

My husband and I have five kids. Three are his biologically and two are mine biologically. His three want nothing to do with their grandma at all. And, when they found out that she didn't have two dimes to rub together, they really took a hike and didn't even fake a smile for her. Their biological mother is the original twisted sister of Satan and raised them to be totally dependent on her, and although they are all closing in on 40+ years old, they are all.. "Mommy's Boys" and are interested in what they can get, not what they can give. My kids think my MIL can be very scary and they know she is weird, but care about her and always remember to send her cards, gifts, and when they come to our home, always visit with her and treat her with respect. In fact, she is closer to my kids than her own biological grandchildren. Weird eh?? But, that is life.

Anyway.. to the freakin' point of this long posting..

I DO NOT WANT TO SPEND CHRISTMAS WITH HER!! I seriously don't think I can sit down to Christmas dinner with her this year. I feel so depressed and sick to death of her. My whole world functions around taking care of her.. she is like a huge attention sponge that sucks the very life out of everyone and everything around her.

Because she is old and has dementia, I am expected to be loving and kind. I am supposed to be respectful and find ways to make her comfortable and make her happy and make her.. whatever.

My neighbors and friends who know the situation all think that I should bypass making dinner and just make whatever I want to make and graze all day. (I can be happy with munchies and not cook a big meal, and so can my husband. We actually love munching on goodies together and did that quite a bit until granny-kins moved in). Well, she'll throw a cat screaming fit if I don't cook a big Christmas meal.. oh, it has to have all the Italian traditions too. And, I will be expected to make pork on New Year's and all the trimmings for that too.. And of course there are three kings in January.. then there are the name days..

She can't remember to put a bra on, but she can remember tiny minutia things like "this is the anniversary of when we entered the DP Camp".. and all sorts of life passages.. to where we can't even celebrate our own anniversary.. it didn't happen in her life so it has no value.


I just feel like sitting down and crying. Oh hell, I have been crying off and on over the last week or so. I am just dreading, dreading, dreading Christmas too intensely.

And, yes.. we've done counseling with the Alzheimer's Assoc Case Manager. We've had in-home assessments and done all the "right things" to get coping skills and make things as pleasant as they can be. We live in a very large home that allows for us not to be stacked on top of each other, we have all the bells and whistles in place. We have the finest doctors for her.. in fact, we go back to her dementia doctor the second week of January again.

The bottom line is that she is here to stay. And, all I want for Christmas is my own apartment somewhere to GET AWAY from her!!!! This doesn't feel like my own home anymore. I feel like an interloper with my own husband, and a slave to an old woman who is a royal pain in the patoot.

My husband looks at me like a hound dog with the flu when I tell him I want an apartment for Christmas. A six month lease to allow me to HAVE my own space and get away from Granny-World whenever I just need to listen to my own music, do my own things.. HAVE my own things around me, and most importantly.. to have a freakin' place to BE married to him without his friggin' mother stickin' her nasty nose into our business all the live-long day!

One of my MIL's best friends in the world told me the other day.. "This isn't right, she is making you a prisoner in your own home. We have to figure out something we can do here. She doesn't deserve a good daughter-in-law like you!"

Well.. I feel sooooo guilty.. because how good of a daughter-in-law am I, if all I want to do is escape the old woman??

Okay.. done with my bented vent.

The bottom line is that I will probably suck it up like I always do, and do what has to be done, and privately pray that the doctors are all wrong and there is no way she can live another 10 to 15 years like this. I will either die first or go completely insane.

We are just clueless on what to do.

And.. again, sticking granny-kins in a home isn't even a partial possibility for at least another 5 or more years. THERE ARE compelling and real reasons that cannot happen. Trust me on this.. and again, IF she could, she'd be gone and tucked in somewhere!! We've already exhausted all possible options with the case managers and other professionals like her doctors.

Please know that my MIL is taken care of in the most wonderful, healthy, joyful, and pleasant manner. Her life is incredibly better now than it has ever, ever been before.

It is me who has to give-up my life for her to have a life. And, I don't like her especially, and I do not love her at all.

What I have become an ace at lately is just complaining. And, that makes me feel very, very uncomfortable.

Maybe once the holidays are past, things will settle down inside my heart and the hurts will scar-up again for another year.. ho humm..

Comments (33)

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello Tart...You are really having a time. I think the holidays can be very hard. If MIL is going to be a mess anyway, you may as well give her a reason. I would go ahead and not cook and have the "grazing food", maybe even plan to go out after your time with the family...maybe even if just for a drive or a movie. Can she be left alone for awhile?
    The apartment sounds like a great idea if affordable. Also do you have in-home respite care...or out-of-home day care?
    Feeling trapped intensifies all the bad feelings, because you can't get away, or do not know that you can get away.
    But,you know, it is only one day in a will go by and be over. Hope it is a fast one for you. Derry

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    There is no reason why you should cook if you don't feel like it. There's not any reason why you even sit at the same table with her except that you feel that you should. That's not good enough. Do what you want to do. If she pitches a fit...well, so be it! Let her rage and rant. She's like a child whose tantrums need to be ignored. Maybe eventually she would learn that it doesn't do any good. I know it's easy to tell you WHAT to do, but very HARD to tell you how to do it. Hire someone to stay in the house with her Christmas.

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  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I remember your first post a while ago, and the question I had in my mind then is the same one I have now, and which I will pose to you (please forgive me if I seem blunt): Where will YOU be in 10-15 years, if things continue like this, or most likely, things worsen?

    You are emphatic in that there are reasons why she can NOT be placed in a home. Well -- what is going to happen to her if something happens to YOU? Sometimes caregivers burn out and/or get sick while the people they are caring for continue to flourish.

    Something has to give -- surely you know that. You can't continue at the pace you're going. What would make YOU feel good? I think the apartment is an excellent idea. Even if you don't live there, per se, it is a place for you to escape for a few hours and if you can afford it, I say go for it.

    About Christmas dinner: if you don't feel like making it, then DON'T! It sounds like no matter what you do, this woman would not be pleased (sounds just like my aunt) so don't knock yourself out. Get some movies, curl up, and try to relax. Get food to pick on -- grocery stores do fully-cooked turkeys, hams, etc. -- and leave it at that.

    You've done your share and more -- at least try to recapture some of your day for yourself.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Lasershow has a good point. What would you do if either your husband or yourself became ill? Heart attacks can happen to anyone. If nothing else, you need to be thinking about where to place her. Visit nursing homes and find the most suitable place. You owe it to yourself, your husband and that precious grandbaby to take care of yourself FIRST. Who's going to take care of the baby if you wear yourself out?

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    From your description, it sounds like your MIL has won the war, she has destroyed your life, and your DH has enabled her to do that by moving her into your home. You are at the bottom of the food chain in your own home. Everyone else is taking advantage of you, and you are allowing it. You need to take steps to shift the balance back to you.

    Insist that your DH provide her care in the evening when he gets home, you can do the other tasks. You need a break, every day, and since it's his DM, he should care for her every day.

    What are your plans for her when she injures your . What are your plans for her when she falls and breaks her hip.

    She must have SS/retirement benefits, etc, and she probably qualifies for Medicaid, there are plenty of wonderful facilities that operate on a sliding scale. They'll give her great care and you can visit sometimes!

    There are Assisted Living/Nursing Homes that offer respite care, from a few days to a few weeks. Check with the local Office of Aging/Senior Services for information. It's probably too late for Christmas placement, she'll need medical clearance and that generally takes a few days, but get her cleared and maybe you can have a nice New Years, and she'll be ready to go the next time you need a few weeks off.

    I imagine your DH must understand that if you get an apartment, that's probably the first step to you moving our permanently, then he'd be stuck with his DM!

    Good luck.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    YOU need help! Believe me you are not the first or last person to be in this situation. Have you looked in to Hospice? It dosen't sound like she qualifies, but if she does she could go to a Hospice house for a week. What a wonderful week you would have! I assume your income is to great to get any grants or the case worker would have mentioned them? Please find a day care for her, she could be gone doing activities with other seniors for 3 or 4 hours a day 5 days a week. Most senior day cares offer transportation. If getting her up and dressed to go is too much of a hassel then have an aid come in to help, or just have her go 1 or 2 days a week. There is NO reason that you should be chained to this woman 24/7, you can NOT do this for long without serious damage to yourself or you marriage. Trust me, I do this for a living and I can't tell you how many people I have had crying on the phone saying they feel so guilty for needing a break, if you don't get one YOU WILL BREAK. You can make a call today and have an aid there for Christmas Day, go to a movie, or spend more time with family and friends (if you have any friends left)If finances are an issue I can help you find resources to pay for daycare and an aid. The thing is you must get past the guilt feelings that you can't do it all, dont be a martyr. You really have no idea what you are doing to yourself, my MIL was hospitalized several months ago due to stress from taking care of HER mother 24/7 for so long. We got hospice/respit care in place, but it was too late, she was so run down, we almost lost her. Grandma is in a home now and MIL is doing great. If you get the feeling I am being stern, I am, this is serious. You need help, get it NOW. I will be happy to help you find it.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Respecting parents and IL's does not require sacrificing your life, marriage, or sanity. Time for a serious heart-to-heart with hubby. Get her out of there.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Could your MIL visit with some of her friends for Christmas? Or could some of her friends come and stay with her? I certainly wouldnt cook a full Christmas dinner for three people, especially when your MIL probably eats very little. ItÂs ridiculous on a practical level. And it is past time your husband got more involved. If your MIL is going to have a hissy fit because youÂre not putting on a full Italian Christmas dinner, then your DH can either handle his mom or cook the dinner. And get an iPod so you can tune her out when AliciaÂs not there.

    Would an assisted living facility really cost that much more than an apartment for you, sitters for her, etc? If something happens to you (and with the amount of stress sheÂs added to your life, itÂs more likely now), she certainly wonÂt be able to stay in your home with your husband.

    Get rid of each and every scrap of guilt you feel. I would have washed my hands of this witch long ago. She has been ghastly to you for decades, and is darn lucky not to be rotting away in a forgotten little hole hoping Medicaid covers her meds. She certainly doesnÂt deserve to be living the good life in your nice home, having her every need attended to. Your life cannot continue to revolve around your MIL. The kind of stress youÂre living with right now can be extremely bad for your health. You are the glue holding the whole family together. No matter what issues your DH has with his mother, he needs to step in and put you first.

    The average time between an AlzheimerÂs diagnosis and death is seven years. If she already has other health problems plus AlzheimerÂs, 10-15 years seems optimistic, IMO.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ArizonaTart - Please reread Lisa's message a few times. This is a matter of your mental and physical health, and also of the irreplaceable time that is being stolen from you.

    If this had been my ex's mother, I would have left home rather than being forced to live with and care for her. She was a word rhyming with Witch, and my ex didn't do a thing to intervene. I would not have been too proud to say 'Yes, she drove me out of my home', because my health, not hers, would have been paramount to me. I would have told my ex, 'either you pay for me to live elsewhere, or you pay for her to live elsewhere. I am not a lamb to be sacrificed on the altar of your mean mother's dementia.' My current MIL doesn't care if I live or die, but she's not mean, and thank heavens, she lives 2000 miles away in a retirement community and doesn't travel. And my DH fully understands the situation, and has committed himself to our marriage above all else.

    You and your MIL need to be permanently separated. I have to say that I have little respect for men who are so afraid of their mothers that they permit this kind of situation to develop with their wives. I would press very hard for that part-time apartment and I would, if possible, take darling granddaughter with me when I spent time there. Otherwise, I would find a sitter for DG and just get away by myself.

    I will be completely honest here and ask you - do you really and truly want to solve this horrid situation, or do you just want to complain about it? Because there IS a solution, somewhere and somehow, whether it entails moving your MIL out, or moving you out, or at least your getting away from her regularly. You need serious counseling by someone who is proactive and on your side. Meanwhile, get that woman into a part-time day care program.

    As for Christmas, do it the way you want to do it. If she gripes, put on a CD of carols and turn it up, loud!

    Meanwhile, read Lisa's letter again. She knows what she's talking about. Nothing is worse than toxic people who attempt to ruin our lives.

    Good Luck and Merry Christmas.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I feel compelled to post again, because I am concerned for you. Sable_CA has some excellent points. We don't know the entire story of your MIL, but you are always saying there are "compelling reasons" why she can't be put in a home, why this can't happen, why that can't happen, etc.

    There is NO MORE COMPELLING reason than YOUR health and well-being. You've done enough and quite frankly, your husband sounds like a wuss who still allows Mama to dominate him entirely. It's time to take care of yourself. Now, as Sable said, DO you want to solve the problem or just vent about it? We are here to listen, but there is so much help out there available to you. It is needless -- and dangerous -- for you to continue suffering as you are. And right now, you ARE being sacrificed on the altar of your MIL's dementia.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Okay.. here are the compelling reasons. They are going to be shortened. And, simplified, so I hope the impact come through.

    1. She lived through WWII in a horrible way. She was selected to go to a breeding farm for the Nazi. When she said she was breaking her banns in the Catholic Church and going to get married right away, they slated her for the Russian front to "service" the Nazi military. She and her husband quickly married and moved to a different town in the middle of the night, the very night they were married. She could not have contact with her own family.

    2. While this was all happening, the Italians came to take her brother into the military to support Mussolini and the Nazis. He had his legs broken by his own father and was placed in a wheel barrow type contraption to avoid being taken. He lived, healed, and later became a drunk, beat his wife, and ended up being run over by a car in the early 60's.

    3. Her father served on the Russian front in WWI and lived with shrapnel in his chest, which eventually was the catalyst of his death in the late 1950's.

    4. Her mother left Italy and went to Yugoslavia to be with her brother, (who was the drunk), as he'd married a Yugoslavian girl and they had a son who needed help.

    5. Her mother was caught in the political web at that time, and was unable to leave Yugoslavia, even with an Italian passport, as Marshall Tito was commandeering his new dictator led nation of communism. This mother was told by the communists that if she gave up her house, she could go live in a beautiful home for the aged, and she wouldn't have to cook, or clean, or do anything but listen to music and read and be with her friends. So.. she agreed.. (stupid, stupid woman..) Anyway, she was thrown into a 12 bed room, had only a small bedside dresser for her things, and a sheet between her bed and the next woman's bed. There was screaming, crying, and horrors beyond what we can imagine. She died there.. after a horrific two years of progressive and chronic negligence and abuses.

    6. She immigrated to this country with her husband and her son, (my husband) just after WWII. It was a harrowing experience for them. A little over a year in a DP Camp (Displaced Persons) and then, finally they made a US Ship that was leaving some immigrants in Canada, and the rest went to America. They landed here. They were sponsored by a retirement home of Catholic Priests, where they cooked, cleaned, served, did groundskeeping, and general care of the old priests and the facilities and grounds. Some of the priests would have to go to a skilled nursing facility and she would have to bring his clothes back and forth to launder and whatnot. Well, she saw the disgusting filth and nightmarish scenes of the worst of the worst of nursing homes of the 50's. It terrified her to death. STill does. She doesn't call them, "nusing homes" or "assisted living" or anything other than.. "the crying place". She is beyond terrified of them, she is horrified of them.

    7. When my husband's father was dying back in the early 90's, he was accepting of his death and believed he would go to heaven. He'd been a freedom fighter in WWII and had been captured three times by the Nazi.. and had to undergo horrible tortures by the SS officers. He survived.. which is a story all in and of itself. The way he survived was beyond what a normal human could relate to in any manner. He was a man of great diginity and principle. He was totally dedicated to the United States, saw our country as a salvation for himself, his wife, and his son, (my husband). So, when he was dying, he was very disturbed about what would happen to my MIL. He was terrified to leave her alone. She could not write a check, she couldn't drive a car, she had no friends of her own, (she has always been super nova weird, and all her "friends" are actually HIS friends, who've honored his memory and life by being a friend to her. They, for the most part, pity her or feel sorry for her). Anyway, on his death bed, he made my husband promise, that no matter what, he would take care of his mother, protect her, and make sure she lived a good life until she herself died. It was THE most traumatic moment of my husband's life.. and mine if the truth be known.

    8. So, my MIL has stood up to the Nazi, stood up to Mussolini, stood up for freedom, worked her life in hard, hard manual labor all her life to provide for my husband. They gave him a college education, they gave him everything. They wanted him to be an American, so they worked to make him the best American they could. She worked as a clerk in a drug store, she worked cleaning houses, she worked for a dry cleaners, and they didn't even have a car until 1964! They didn't have a television set until 1970 for God's sake!

    Basically, my mother-in-law gave her entire life to my husband while he was growing up and going to college. And since then, she has pampered him and loved him like the last tree in the lot. He IS the last of her living relatives. There is NObody left alive in Europe they are related to. The only other child she had died when he was 20 years old, a violent traffic accident in 76.

    In the Italian culture, a first born son is a HUGE, HUGE, H U G E event! They took pictures of my husband when he was a tiny infant.. naked, with his penis in clear view.. to send to all their relatives.. (who all died in the war or shortly after). It was a thing of immense pride to have a son.

    So, there are cultural things attached to all of this that are beyond my being able to convey to you. There are historical things attached to it that are so far out of the norm, that you won't relate, and then.. there is the fact that she only gets about one thousand dollars a month total.. actually, I think it is like 800 dollars.. but, what the hey. Anyway, she doesn't have enough money to pay for butkuss. And, she is too healthy to get a medicare criteria placement. (She is very, very healthy other than her dementia, lived on that mediterrianan diet forever and walked everywhere because she couldn't drive).

    Anyway.. it is tied up in layers and layers of "stuff".. and I haven't given you ALL the stuff.. there is more, but, this should give you a taste of it.

    She truly deserves to have a good end to her life.. she does. And, I can say that knowing she's been a stark raving lunatic to me!!

    My husband and I are not rich. We are "okay", but the cheapest place for self placement is like 3700 a month and we don't have it.

    However, I am going to cut and paste this whole thread and take it to the case worker at the Alzheimer's Assn and see where we can go from here..

    You're right.. I am going to loose it. Or, maybe I've already lost it and need to find myself again..

    All I know is that I DO need a break. And, so does my husband.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ok, if we had known all of this, perhaps we would have given different advice. I can certainly understand your husband not wanting to go against his promise. But I am sure that his father had no idea what problems her dementia would cause. He certainly had no idea as to what it would do to you. Your husband may at some point soon have to make a choice that he won't like. Talk to her doctor. He should be able to prescribe medication that will keep her quieter..

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That's a terrible story, and your husband has been very kind and patient, but it doesn't justify her behavior. There are hundreds of thousands of people all over the world with terribly tragic stories, many times worse than hers, and they chose to be kind, decent people. She seems to have decided to become a cruel, destructive person, a perpetual victim. So what if they didn't have a car or a TV. You can use all kinds of explanations to justify her behavior, but she's poison for you, and your family.

    I think you and your husband have done an heroic job taking care of his mother, you are both to be commended. But her continued presence in your home and your life will probably destroy your marriage and alienate your children.

    She didn't pamper her son, she made him pay, and pay dearly, for her tragic life, and now she's punishing him and you, I guess, for growing up.

    Your husband made a promise, in good faith, but it's not a promise he should keep, the price is too high, not only for him, but for you, and your family, she's going to destroy all of you. I agree with PB, your husband, and you, are going to have to make some hard choices, not only about his mother, but about your future together, you aren't going to last much longer, based on your most recent post. Venting only helps a little.

    Some nursing homes in the 1950's were not great places, but they are nothing like that today. Catholic Charities, here in Baltimore, has some wonderful Senior Housing Communities, and it's all sliding scale based on income. They must have something similar in Arizona.

    If she falls and breaks her hip or has a sudden, serious illness and doesn't recover, you'll have to make plans for her to move. Better that you spend time finding a place that you are comfortable with, rather than having the social worker at the hospital stick her in whatever is available on short notice.

    You and your husband need to find each other again, you have a much more important task, taking care of yourselves and taking care of your beautiful granddaughter. She deserves better than having a grandmother (you are her mother) whose life is out of control. She needs love and security and stability. She's the future, she needs all your love and attention, and she will bring you the joy you so richly deserve.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Arizona Tart
    It has been awhile since I have posted. I took care of my mil for 5 year, and although the circumstances are different the endless hours of caring are the same. I will quarantee that if you can come up with the money to get help in for just 4 hours aweek, your attitude will change.
    I use to say to my hubby, my 4 hrs are mine, they are not for grocery shopping and etc. People would say, what do you do during those 4 hours, and I would reply, well if I can't find some one to go to lunch with, I will go stand in the middle of the road and scream, but it is MY HOURS. It was worth every dollar that we paid out.
    I will say, at least for me, looking back, I am glad I stayed the course and did my best and learned lots of lessons along the way, but it was hard.
    Good Luck
    Connie in Michigan

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What some fail to understand is the way your MIL behaves is not a choice; it is the end result of going through the atrocities she experienced. I know that first hand. My parents were both holocaust survivors. My father survived Auschwitz, Bergen- Belson and Dachau, and had the numbers tatooed on his arm to prove it. My mother survived ten labor camps and she did it by hard labor - building bridges, and railroads and standing at attention in the snow, with no shoes or coats for hours and hours at attention, and then marching for days on end, with no food or water, just eating snow. She spent nine months in a prison, working on railroads during the day and then sleeping in a cell at nite that had two bunkbeds with nine women in the cell. Yes she survived, but what was left was someone without a soul. She raised us (me and my sisters) with an iron fist. When we were sad, we were told we had no right, because we couldn't possibly know what hard times were. When we were happy, we were made to feel guilty, because after all, her childhood was taken from her, and she never had a chance to experience what we were experiencing. Someone that survives something as horrendous as your MIL and my mom survived doesn't choose to come out of it hateful and nasty; it's what is left. It's what is burned into your memory and what you dream about, and quite possibly, the only memories you'll have once you've lost touch with reality.
    Am I saying to you Arizona that because of her horrible experiences you have to endure her abuse? No...I think you've been given some very good advice. Start to look for a place for her now, before she has an injury or sickness and you're forced to choose something quickly. In the meantime, hire an aide to come in for as many hours as you can afford, and take that time for yourself. My thoughts and prayers are with you,

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi! i will be not be the first one to say that you need a break! here, i am saying this and i take care of dh 24/7 too! and i have never had one in all the time i have cared for him. is your mil's name Margaret, this was the name of my terrible mil, oh, what a woman, the nicest thing she did was about a month ago, and was sent to heven (i know that all of you are thinking Debbie you are not as nice as we thought you were!), this woman would come over at Christmas, for dinner and complain, the turkey is too dry, like i have control over it, and oh, your house is so tacky, all those decorations all over the place, well we like them your house is messy, gee, i'm caring for your son that you are so worried about, but you can't come over to visit, oh, daughter one and two give me such nicer presents than you do, well they don't have to pay 750.00 in meds for your son every month and then wait to be reimbursed for 85 per cent of it. this woman was also Slovac, do you think this is the way it was in the old country? dear son's girlfriends family is Italian, and they think our son is the greatest thing that walked the earth! and the spread they put out for holiday meals, boy oh boy. i stopped having granny over at holidays, because of the stress she put on the WHOLE family, and cooked what we wanted and never made any of her favs, but did invite her to bring or make whatever she wanted, she never brought anything. Our kids also did not like her, she was mean and nasty. i did suggest to Al that he suggest to his sisters that his mother be put on Paxil or something, but nothing was ever done. i know a lady who was in a concentation camp who lives down the street from me, however, she is sooo nice, but has told me afew stories of the camps, and your mil is not lying about what when on, i do however think if they have some type of respite care that you could send her out of the house for afew days, you might be a little refreshed. i do feel for you more than you know. debbie

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Look you don't have to endure any of her , just because she is your husbands mother. Yo udon't owe her anything, maybe your sons does, but looks as if, you are taking the brunt, and husband just does his things. No daughter-in-law, should have to suffer needlessly . She is not your world nor should you have to have to care for her and give up your precious life. Your husband needs to step up to the plate, and accept his part of making sure his Mother is taken care of ,whether it be in a home or assitted living, there are all kinds of help...BUT putting this on you is so can she expect your kindess when she hated you she needs help and expects as the others have said, FIND HELP NOW... you don't owe her NOTHING, just because she is your husbands mother....he can provide for her in other ways, in other places, and NOT PUT THIS ON YOU.....I kept my MIL for 5 years also and she was handi-capped ,but she also loved me. Isure didn't ask to do it, but did. IF it hadn't ened when it did last Feb, I was about to have a nervous breakdown. Don't get to that stage!!!! Please get soem backbone, and do something.... feeling for you.....Hugs Gabby

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Arizona Tart: That is a horrible story, but when you say that there were things so out of the norm that we couldn't relate, that's just not true. Some of us, myself included, have had friends and family who survived the tortures of the Holocaust. I also lived for several years in Israel, at a time when it was common to see people with concentration camp numbers tattooed on their arms, when there were women with the words 'feld hure' (field *h*re) tattooed across their chests. We had a landlord who was blinded in Nazi medical 'experiments'; it was nearly impossible to deal with him. So I and others here can relate.

    Some people survived and were/are able to function as competent and kind human beings. Others were/are physically and psychologically destroyed by the experience. You may know about the various organizations for children of concentration camp survivors. These children - such as your husband - have unique problems and needs stemming from the guilt and depression of their parents. One of the primary messages is that this cycle of guilt and sacrifice must be halted, in order that future generations may have more normal lives. It sounds like your husband's children are trying to do that themselves without benefit of therapy. You, however, are being forced to participate in the ongoing sickness. Only you can change the scenario, by setting new parameters with your husband.

    Most therapists, doctors and clergypeople agree that deathbed promises are not made to be kept. We promise anything to a dying loved one in order for that person to pass in peace. "Yes, I will never sell the house; yes, I will be nice to your perverted brother; yes, I will care for mom forever." I understand your husband's status in his mother's eyes. Both my husbands, the ex, and my wonderful forever DH, are of Mediterranean descent and both are The Prince Who Was Stolen By That Awful Woman in their mother's eyes. It's up to the wife-thief to stand up for herself in such situations, as The Prince is usually too frightened of His Mother to do it. I stand by every word I wrote previously. Either you or your MIL has to be out of the house for part of the day, if you can't get her into a home now.

    BTW, regarding organizations dealing with Holocaust survivors - our governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, belongs to one out here which attempts to reconcile victims and their children with the children from Nazi backgrounds who have immigrated to the USA. Eric Braden, the famous soap star, is another person who is very involved. I think that there is a survivors' group in Tucson, but don't know about the Phoenix area.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ArizonaTart, yes, your mother-in-law has been through many atrocities in her lifetime. But it still does not justify her behavior, nor is her life supposed to be a life sentence for you. You can't let guilt over what happened to her affect your reasoning for the here and now. Reality is, she is a sick woman who is bringing you right down with her. Why do you feel you owe her and your husband your life on a silver platter?

    As an FYI, you would not be expected (by the state) to pay for her care, if she is placed in any kind of facility. They go by her income, not yours. And Medicare does not pay for nursing home coverage. It is Medicaid that does that, which is the health care for the low-income. I don't understand why you think she needs some kind of medical clearance from them to get coverage.

    I am Italian, so believe me I understand the whole cultural thing better than you think. But it can also be used as an excuse to justify unacceptable behavior.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "he made my husband promise, that no matter what, he would take care of his mother, protect her, and make sure she lived a good life until she herself died." --- I am sorry she had such a difficult life but that doesn't mean you have to also. Taking care of, protecting and having a good life can also be in a Nursing Home with freq. visits. -- I would definately look into a placement. They would take her SS and medicaid/State would pay the rest. She would be very angry at first but might settle in and enjoy the activity around her. She would also enjoy your husbands visits with his undivided attention. It really appears you need to focus on your health at this time. Stress is physically as well as psycologically damaging. In addition to the case worker I hope you can share this with your husband so he can see the depth of your feelings.
    I agree with the above, Munching away Christmas Day sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day (esp. since husband agrees, you have the right to spend the day just as you wish!) She will be bitter/complain but it really sounds like she will be no matter what you do. Good luck in a very difficult situation.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just to let you all know, I am in the process of reading all of your responses.

    I have so much going on right now that I cannot give it all the attention it deserves. Later tonight, I should be able to give the computer some decent time.

    Right now.. I am hip high in allegators and busier than a one armed paper hanger..


  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Have a wonderful Christmas with your darling little granddaughter, she must be the joy of your life and bring you so much pleasure. At 18 months, she'll love Christmas this year. All those responses will keep till next week, as will you MIL! LOL

    Merry Christmas.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It's Christmas eve day and I was thinking about you. We have all given you our opinions, good wishes , and prayers.
    Heres something better.
    1. Elder Care locater & Area Agencies on Aging: 1-800-677-1116 use this to find the closest adult daycare, transportation, and just about any other senior related thing you can think of.
    2. National Counsil on Aging: 1-800-424-9046
    3. National Family Caregivers Association: 1-800-896-3650
    4. National Institute on Aging: 1-800-222-2225
    Nursing home compare:
    Alzheimers's Family Relief Program: 1-800-437-2423or ( this is also the American Health Assistance Foundation)Ask you case worker for an application for emergency assistance.
    Now is your MIL her own guardian? I don't mean Power of Attorney, but guardian. You can't have her do ANYTHING she does not WANT to do if she is.
    She does not qualify for Medicaid with her income, mut may qualify for a Medicaid "spend down" Medicaid varies from state to state and is income based, while Medicare is not. Medicare does not cover "custodial care" nor do most other insurances. Being elegible for a Medicaid "spend down" may make her qualified for other programs.
    There are ways to get around the "total houshold income", any good case worker can help you with that and still be within the law.
    When you call the Eldercare Locater ask if there is a "Senior Companion" program in your area. They would provide a companion for your MIL for 2 or more hours a week and it is free to you.
    Please find your local Adult Day Care and get even just one day a week to nourish yourself, you will be so glad you did (and so will everyone around you).
    I told you I do this for a living, I know of what I speak!
    This is my Christmas wish for you.
    I hope you find this helpful.
    Merry Christmas

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey, Lisa11310.....

    Wonderful post. Printed out and filed for future ref. You're a treasure. Thanks.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am a lurker here. I read the stories of the wonderful caregivers here, just to prepare myself for the possibility of having my mom or MIL live with us some day. Scout's motto is "be prepared", and this forum has helped.

    YOU MUST GET SOME RELIEF FROM THIS SITUATION. I never shout, but I have been thinking and praying for you since I read your posts. You sound as if you are on the verge of snapping. Women, especially, always take on more than they really can handle. The mental stress you are feeling must be enormous. Please get help. You could snap and do something to your MIL or granddaughter that you would regret. Your mental and physical health is the number one priority. Have you asked your husband what he would do with his mother if you died? I was told that 65% of alzheimer's care givers died before the patient. Most are probably spouses, but that is a sobering statistic. You are undoubtedly hurting yourself physically. Take care of yourself first.

    As to the deathbed promise, your husband should look to the promises he made to you when you were married as to his most important promise. My MIL knew a woman who had always promised her mother that she wouldn't put her in a nursing home. After a while, the mother became much worse, and the woman's health was suffering greatly. Finally, her husband, doctor and pastor all insisted that the mother go into a nursing home. The evening she put her mother into the nursing home, the woman committed suicide because she felt she made false promises to her mother. How sad. I have told my daughters that if a nursing home becomes necessary, they should not feel one bit of guilt about putting me in one. It's just reality. Asking a child to promise that they do not put you in a nursing home is just a selfish act on one's part. No one should ask that, and no one should have to promise it. No one but God knows the future. I want my children to have as little guilt as possible over what might happen to me.

    Anyway, God bless you. You will be in my prayers this Christmas Eve and Day.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It has been over two years since this post was written.

    Here is a quick update.

    We tried two assisted living facilities, we did a nursing home, we did three group homes, and during this time she's had a big hospitalization, so there was the acute care and a rehab hospital. We hired four different in-home aides to help. One ripped us off for about 40 thousand dollars. You read that right. Forty Grand. She'd take my MIL to the hairdressers or out to lunch, only she was stopping at the bank for my MIL and would take a few thousand each trip. She cleaned my MIL out from her savings. And, she took some antique linens, some jewelry from my MIL and me. She took some Polish Pottery from my china cabinet, and basically, had a field day at our expense. (Yes, there are police reports. Only no prosecutions as my MIL is the primary witness and she is useless and the aide swears that it was all given to her as gifts.) One aide was horrible and we canned her after two weeks of paying her to sit and drink coffee and do nothing, the other two were okay, but not worth the money or time. As soon as my MIL would say she didn't want a shower or whatever, they felt compelled to honor her patient rights.

    The facilities, to a last one all failed. My MIL was a horrible fit for each one and ended up turning me into the state, the county, and to adult protective services for abuse. I have had five intense and complete investigations due to my MIL's claims (proven to be lies after investigations.. oh gee, she'd lie?? I call her "The Patron Saint of All Holy Liars), and all of them proved my MIL has progressive dementia and that not only am I not abusive to her (or anyone), but that I am the standard bearer or the gold standard of in-home care giving and wouldn't it be great if everyone was as good as I am.

    Yea, why doesn't everyone give up their lives for the demented aims of the demented.

    So, my MIL is still here. The granddaughter is going to be 4 years old soon. I spend as much time as I can with our granddaughter and make every effort to make the basic care for my MIL but to stay away from her as much as possible.

    My MIL is worse than she was, but is stable and healthy here. She is quite happy to see her son everyday and she gets on the telephone with her friends and goes on and on about what a horrible woman I am.

    I don't cry as much, I don't complain as much, and I don't lash out for a life much anymore.

    I have come to accept that I am worthless and will have to either wait until she finally dies or I get the balls up myself to walk out on my husband and kiss this dream good bye.

    Because.. this dream is a nightmare.

    Oh yea, a couple of her friends have come here to rescue her from me. They believed her stories. One even came with her adult daughter my age and a traveling caregiver to help with the transfer to take my MIL with them and out of my evil clutches. When they saw the truth, they were shocked and ashamed. And, they LEFT HER! I would have been thrilled to have had them take her! But, they said they wouldn't be able to give her the care she needs.. BS! They saw what a wicked old crone she was and didn't want her in their lives. We've never heard from them again!!

    So, two years down the road and my life is as bad, if not worse.

    She's either not fit or been kicked out of every facility we've tried.

    I could tell you the graphic accounts, but trust me on this.. you don't want to have to read it.

    It is hard to find any happiness in life at all. And, I know that she is going to be here until I die. Not her.. me.

    And, my death is something I look forward to now. Amazing how much life can change in two years..

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I remember you from the Cooking Forum (or was it Kitchens? or Both?)

    Please let me tell you that She should not have the power to define your life. No, my MIL doesn't live with me... but I'm asking you to walk, not run, to a doctor, and tell him/her what you are thinking. Depression like this is not normal, although you have good reason for it.

    Over the years, you have given me much encourgement, without knowing it, in what you have shared about your situation. I have taken strength from you.

    I assume your husband knows how deep the depression has gotten for you.

    Please, please, please, remember that as much as it seems that she defines you, she really doesn't. Your Granddaughter needs you.

    Feel free to email me through Gardenweb.


  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yours is such a sad post. You definitely sound like you're at the end of your rope. I'm so sorry the assisted living facilities & caregivers did not work out for you. Has your MIL actually been diagnosed with dementia? If so, could she be placed in a memory care facility? Sometimes those kinds of places are better able to deal with the paranoia, confusion, & accusations of the dementia patients. They have more experience separating fact from fiction.

    I understand perfectly about the caregivers. We had six different caregivers covering two different shifts while my mom lived with us. Some did absolutely nothing; some did only what my mom would allow; and some would not follow our instructions and would tell us how to run our home. Very frustrating!

    I was horrified to read about the caregiver who stole money from your MIL. Does she still have access to bank accounts, etc.? Hopefully, at least your husband now has financial power of attorney along with health care power of attorney and that all necessary legal documents are in order.

    Do you have a spare bedroom? Have you considered just taking over a room and creating a safe haven for you? Just you -- no one else! Put a keyed lock on it & a peephole, just like a front door. Furnish it with a daybed, a comfortable upholstered chair, a TV, A radio/CD player, a bookshelf, etc. You could even include a small microwave & coffee pot. Put in one of those water coolers that dispenses hot & cold water. Make it almost like a studio apartment. And then when your husband gets home and dinner has been served, retreat. Maybe hire caregivers for 3-4 hours per day (through a reputable agency) a couple of days per week and escape while they're in your home.

    As bizzo mentioned, you should definitely see a doctor and be brutally honest about your emotional state.

    I read in an earlier post about your husband's promise to his father. I'm sure he also promised something to you in your wedding vows. Remind him of his vows to you. He should not interpret his promise to care for his mother as a promise to beat you down and send you to an early grave in the process. Caring for his mother, protecting her, etc. does NOT mean having her live in the same house with him and making you end up with all (or most) of the physical, emotional, & mental burden. What's his position on this matter? He must see what toll caring for your MIL has taken.

    You are absolutely NOT worthless! It sounds like your husband depends on you and so does your MIL, even if she doesn't want to admit it. Your grandchild needs the influence of such a loving grandmother. You must have the strength of Samson to still be hanging in there. I really admire your ability to plow ahead even though it seems futile and no one really appreciates what you're doing. You are a wonderful example to others.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It's taken me awhile to read thru all the posts. It saddens me to think of all you're having to handle. One thing that jumped out at me at the beginning, and throughout the posts, was/is that DH made the promise, but YOU are doing the work.

    Lisa (& others) are so very right in that Medicaid is available based on MIL's assests, not yours. And placing in her a facilty that treats alzheimer patients is taking care of her.

    Shambo's suggestion of a room-retreat & letting DH take care of MIL is a good one. PLEASE talk with your dr. about the deep depression and feeling so unworthy. YOU are very much a kind, giving, caring person and don't let anyone....not MIL, not so-called friends, NO ONE, tell you any different. (If you weren't all the investigations would not have been 'clean') I have to wonder what DH had to say during the multiple accusations that caused the investigations.

    I no longer have a MIL, but told my (now X) that I would work to pay for her care rather than take care of her. And she & I got along much much better than your situation. Even before her health failed, I knew I could not take care of her in my home. I may have relented, and tried, but I don't think I could have done it. Thankfully, I wasn't put in that situation.

    PLEASE talk honestly, openly with your doctor. A lot of people care about you.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    at, all my sympathies go to you, you are strong and still standing; I do hope something happens that gets you the possibility for a better life before you crumble.

    I sometimes wonder what master plan is set up and by whom, tough situations like this, with no resolution in sight, it's so unfair yet it's a reality for some people.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You need to get her out and get a doctor for yourself NOW. You are not in a good situation and YOU need help. I will pray that YOU may the right choices for you.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am writing from my hotel room close to the Mayo Clinic where I've been for the last week. I will go home tomorrow and have to come back next week after the Memorial Day Holiday.

    They are checking out everything. I have so far been told that I probably have fibromyalgia, I have a serious nerve/muscle issue and my legs are involved. I have blood pressure up the ying yang and had to wear the six hour monitor that showed some issues. They suspect my kidneys are involved and my heart. I go to Thorasic Cardio and Nepherology departments next week and in June again.

    The bottom line after talking to the Psych visit and the nutritionist really came front and center to my issues.

    I am literally wearing out and my body and mind are over their limits with caregiving. Everything has gone towards my MIL's life and nothing for my own, or even my husband.

    It really is coming down to it being my life or hers.

    I swear to those who are here and those in my life.

    She looses.


    Enough is enough. If she dies by acting out, then she does. I am going to live by being healthy.


    By the way, I can HIGHLY recommend going to the Mayo Clinic.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm so glad you've gotten some medical attention. And I'm so glad you've made the decision to take care of yourself. You need to channel all your energies on regaining health and strength. As you said, your MIL has made her choices and she can just deal with them. You will focus on your own very real physical & emotional needs.

    It's so good to note your positive & determined attitude. Good luck with your health problems, and may God grant you the wisdom & strength to persevere. Thanks so much for checking back with us. It's so encouraging to hear from you. I know I've thought of you often.