Caring for Wife's Mother

by John
(Alabama)

My wife and I (mostly my wife) take care of her mother in our home. Her mother suffers from a treatable lymphoma and has other issues including kidney disease.


She has difficulty in walking and pretty much needs 24 hour attention (she stays up all night watching TV but needs assistance to go to the bathroom and go to bed). She has lived with us for 5 years.

When she first moved in, it was supposed to be for a short time, but 5 years later here we are. My wife's sister, who lives 4 hours away, does come periodically to help out and to let us take short trips away from home. However, a brother who lives here in our town will only take her to doctors' appointments and isn't willing to let his mother live with him and his wife (he doesn't want to stress his wife out).

They have a large home and no kids at home, but they don't want to change their lifestyle. We have our ups and downs. We also have two teenagers who need and want our attention as well.

During the holidays it is stressful as we always have to host all family events because my mother-in-law can't leave the house. So, on top of daily care for her mother, my wife has to feed and entertain up to 25 people each Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I've gotten to where I dread the holidays as I don't want to be around my wife's siblings because I bear resentment that we ended up being the primary caregivers.

My brother-in-law is always telling us what we should be doing different to make my mother-in-law more comfortable. Now he is telling me that I should install a wheelchair lift in our garage to make getting her in and out for doctors' appointments easier.

I am an introvert by nature and I crave my alone time which I never get any more as the house is always filled with relatives, nurses, and visiting friends (my mother-in-laws friends).

I hate that I have this resentment as my mother-in-law is really a nice person and didn't want this to happen. I know we will be grateful that we took care of her when she finally passes away but right now it seems it will never end.

We rarely get to go out and enjoy ourselves and we have to find someone to stay with the MIL if we want to do something together with our kids.

I feel like a terrible person because I just want it to end but everyone keeps telling me what a wonderful person I am to do what I am doing. I don't think that I am a wonderful person because deep inside I am very resentful.

Our marriage is very rocky right now because my wife is usually stressed out (which she takes out on me) and I am usually annoyed because I have no privacy in my own home. This is not how I imagined our lives to be right now.

We have just recently hired some help to come every day to help with lifting and bathing. This helps but it is yet another person in our home taking away my privacy. Sometimes I just think that I will rent a hotel room just for myself and spend a few days alone. But I know I never will.

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Siblings are Wimps
by: Anonymous

When mother in law is gone pick up your life. Nice thought, but what if mil lives to be 95-100? And that is a good possibility in this day and time. That leaves you around 65-75. Not much time to enjoy your life. What is so frustrating is that there is no way we can make them help and give us some well earned vacation time.

I have a brother in New Mexico who thinks calling her on the phone and buying her nice things is all he has to do. That actually doesn't really help me or my mom. She and I need actual physical contact with him. Pretty much told it isn't going to happen.

Then I have a sister on the east coast who has come once a year sometimes and has finally said my mom could move in with her after January. We'll see. I'm soo burnt out.

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Take the Time
by: Anonymous

Indeed, take the time for you alone and for you and your wife together. Do whatever it takes, and do it without guilt. After your MIL is gone, is not the time to pick up the pieces of your shattered life. Do something now to maintain it along the way.

I had an older brother who took care of his paraplegic wife for many years, with help, but most of the burden fell upon him and finally the stress took his life 3 years ago. His job use to take him out of town to one-day conferences and he use to stay over in hotel rooms just to get the time to himself. But he always felt guilty and it was never enough.

I'm living with my 93 year old mother and I try to maintain some semblance of my life as much as I can. It's not an easy road. Their lives envelope us and we get sucked in until we are completely living their life instead of ours.

Five years is a long time for you to slowly be giving up all of your life, inch by inch, day by day. That's how it goes down. Don't feel guilty or weird for whatever you need to do.

Sadly, no one steps in to help, they will watch you go down. You have to be responsible for your own happiness, even under this burden.

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Good idea: take time out
by: Anonymous

Hi. I love spending time alone. I totally feel for your situation. If your financial situation can help I'd go with your get away idea of a hotel or motel once a month for yourself and plan on a special time once a month for you and your wife to be alone somewhere as well.

Or carve out a few hours every day or a few times a week that you can look forward to for what you enjoy doing in your alone time: take a class that centers you? do sports? go for a long bike ride?
a swim or something like that.

Your wife needs time out too. Together maybe you can both work out some ideas to support each other to get through this time in your lives.

Is there a time bank in your area where you can find people to earn time dollars or find volunteers in your church or synagogue or senior center: someone who can help where needed so you and/or your wife can have a break.

Go with those instincts to care for your own spirit.

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