Finding it hard to cope

by Natalie
(San Mateo, CA)

I was 46 when I married for the first time to a man 12 years my senior. After about five years of a great marriage and planning for retirement, having investments, real estate, nice home, good jobs, savings, trying to do everything right, our carefully choreographed retirement turned to dust.


In 2005, my husband's 86 year old mother, who had dementia, came to live with us. She stayed for three years, but needed an assisted living facility due to her memory loss and that we were working full time.

She would forget to turn off the stove and leave the garage doors wide open, and was too much of a risk to be left alone. She resented having to move, blamed me, and it impacted our marriage very much from that point forward.

Our investments began to lose value. My husband lost his job in 2007, and in 2009 I was laid off as well. Our own lives have turned into a financial disaster, all the while trying our best to recuperate from the many setbacks of this challenging economy. We continue managing Mother In Law's finances.

Her rent in assisted living has gone up to $2800/mo. It's paid from her savings and SS. She's exhausted most of her money and we are worried about her. She is 92 now. My husband is almost 69 with severe rheumatoid arthritis, working out of the home, but generating very little income.

I recently found a job a good job, but never did start it because my own 87 year old mother had a severe left-sided stroke the day before I was to begin my new job. I have been by her side at the hospital every day. She is recovering, but I am at a loss at what to do now when she comes home.

We are upside-down with our mortgage, almost ready to go into default after 15 years of no late payments, our savings are nearly depleted, my husband is worrying about his own mother's health, the bank won't give us a refinance or loan modification on the house, we have two 12 year old husky dogs with the onset of health problems that we cannot just get rid of, and my mother might need 24 hr care when she comes home.

I am the only one to care for her which would mean I cannot go back to full time work. She lives in a mobile home and I would have to live there with her, as I wouldn't want her to sell it, then we lose the house to foreclosure. I guess maybe the best option is divorce, go our separate ways, and take care of our mothers.

The relationship between my spouse and I has been very strained for such a long time now, in spite of our best efforts to resolve our problems.

I know he is very stressed and is drinking more, even while taking arthritis medications. I am to the point where I know some major decisions need to be made very very soon. I am finding it hard to function some days and just don’t know what to do. Thank you to all who have read my rant, but I need help badly.

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Finding it hard to cope
by: Natalie

Leasa, Thank you for your very nice comment. I agree with you 100%. I'll do the best I can to heed your advice, but I've never felt so lost in my life for such a long time.

Right now my mother is home after 2 weeks in hospital, but needs 24 hour care. It's possible she'll eventually be able to manage on her own, but not yet. I am staying with her at her place.

Although she is improving physically and she's very happy for that, she's very negative. Her hearing is about 75% gone, though she does have a hearing aid. Her speech was affected, but improving too.

But she's constantly trying to figure out why she's still alive, amongst other very childlike behaviors the stroke has caused.

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Boiling.
by: Leasa

Have you ever watched water boil? Go from calm smoothness to a bit of a bubble then watch as it progresses to a full blown hard on boil? If you stare at it long enough you begin to imagine something terrible happening...what will the outcome be. That is how I felt reading your horror story.

I can actually understand your husband's drinking. It's the coward's way out. I know he's in pain and worried about his mother but doing what he's doing is not helping anyone or anything. Especially you.

You have to get a grip on your situation, and fast! Drop what you are doing this minute (well after you finish reading this) and call YOUR doctor. Get in to see him or her asap. Tell your doctor everything....even copy your letter that you've written here and give it to him/her to read. There, is a start.

You are going to have to step out of your own picture and have a good hard look. I tell many people, if I were asking you for advice and I was the main character in your picture...what would you tell me?

You need counseling, both emotional and financial. Through your doctor you can find a good counselor for the emotional stuff and I'm sure through your bank you can find a good financial counselor. Banks will work with you, you have to have good communication and let them know what is going on.

You probably need to sell a lot of things, downsize, get your mothers into care and not throw your lives into their care 100% or you both will end up very, very, very lonely someday.

There was a reason you and your husband married. Find it.

If your mothers were of sound mind, would they want to see you destroy your life for them, when in reality there is nothing you can do for them?

Talk to your husband in a caring loving way. Tell him you need help. Ask him to follow you on a better path. Good luck!!

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