Time for me to join this forum
My 88-year-old mother-in-law is moving to our city in two days, and I'm getting nervous. She has been living in Florida in assisted living, but after her boyfriend died -- shortly after his 100th birthday! -- she did not want to, nor was she able to afford to, stay in that facility, so she is moving to an assisted living apartment in our city.
I am not a caregiver as most of you seem to be -- at least not yet. She is starting to have a few memory and confusion issues, but not much (although she is anxious about it). That stage may be coming, and I recognize many of your stories, as I remember the challenges of the last years of my father, who died of Alzheimer's. (My mom handled it so well, I think she should write a book.) Mobility and initiative are bigger issues. She is very outgoing, so we are hoping she will make friends (and maybe even a boyfriend, if we are lucky!), but I have to be prepared to become her best friend for the foreseeable future.
So it was a relief to find this forum, because I know that I already need a place to look for advice and vent. GW people are the best. As I gain experience, I hope to be able to help others, too.
My husband's older sister lives in another state, but Mom chose here (she worships her son :-) ). It's fine, and I have the time to help a lot, and I'm glad to do it. But I am already getting frustrated, and she's not even here yet.
I have spent a lot of time buying, collecting, and arranging the furniture, appliances, linens, and all the thousand other things she needs for the apartment. I know there will be lots more work ahead, every week, forever. I truly don't mind doing it -- until I get micromanaged by my husband, or his sister completely fails to thank or even acknowledge me, or something stupid and little like yesterday when I asked MIL what kind of coffee she would like me to buy for her, and she said, "Oh, get whatever kind DH likes best! Because he will be coming to visit me!"
Now, I know she didn't mean anything by that. She didn't mean that she doesn't want me to visit, or that she is implying that I won't, or that she doesn't care if I like the coffee. But it was in the middle of a very, very long day of getting the furniture moved in, cleaning, shopping for, and setting up the apartment, on top of which it just happened to be One Of Those Days where every little thing went wrong, you know? (Even, amusingly and ironically, that the little treat I bought myself to cheer myself up -- that was one of my mom's self-preservation tricks -- turned out to be rotten and made my hands and my car stink unbearably.)
At times like this -- and, again, she's not even here yet! -- I feel like I just can't be the kind of person I want to be: patient and unselfish and mature, but not a chump or a doormat, either. At those moments, it feels like I either have to be a b***h or a saint, and I don't want to be either of those things; I resent feeling like I'm forced into that position. And then I feel guilty for not being able to set aside my ego more than that; why is it so important that I navigate this, even my own emotions, with impossibly perfect serenity?
Reading through some of the posts on this forum has already helped me, if only by seeing that I am not alone and reminding me how much harder so many others have it (and I may later).
So thank you already, and in advance, too.