New caregiver questions
I am now a caregiver.... I think. My 86 year old mother in law has moved in with my husband and I, so I may just be a "cohabitor", but I sure feel like a caregiver. She moves around very little as walking is difficult for her even with a walker, and is pretty deaf and refuses hearing aids (?).
She is used to being very independent having lived alone for the last 10 years since being widowed, but we wanted to move to a different state and so all decided that it would be best is she came along.
It seemed like a good idea...
We are clashing over the smallest things. The normal things too (her TV is too loud 24/7, she hates my cooking and wants hers prepared separately, it's too cold, it's too hot, there's a cat hair on the floor), but little things that shouldn't be a problem. We did all just move 1200 miles, and changed our living arrangements dramatically so it is normal to experience an adjustment period. But our ways of living are very different, and I am looking for some advice on how to proceed.
I understand that she has lost all control of her life and that she might try to exert some control just "because", but there are areas where I draw the line and this is where the clashes are coming in.
Her eating habits are atrocious. She is a colon cancer survivor and so the excuse of "it doesn't agree with me" often comes into play. But then she will eat Hershey bars all day to the point of explosive diarrhea (and I'm talking hourly), then hand me a pile of pooped up clothes to wash. Am I supposed to be the food police and deny her candy and refuse to buy it? Isn't that treating her like a child? Many, many days she eats only candy and turns down good, real food.
I keep (as much as possible) a chemical free home. This means I need to be careful about cleaning supplies, and the MIL is simply addicted to chemicals. She wants me to bleach her dishes after washing them because "soap doesn't get them clean". This was our first clash.
She wants to spray bug spray. There are no bugs, and even if there were I can deal with them is a safe manner. I haven't used a chemical pesticide in 15 years, and plain and simple do not want them in my home. I threw it all away- second major clash.
She wants to saturate our air with Lysol spray and I am still sneezing from the last go round. Her can is nearly empty and I just know there is going to be another argument over it when she asks me to buy her another.
Don't laugh at the pettiness of this issue- I feel very strongly that I should still be in charge of how my house is run and she feels denied of what she views as life's necessities. Our new home is small and I just can't have all this stuff drifting around.
Never mind that she is flushing non flushable Chlorox wipes- they disappear out of the bathroom at an alarming rate, there are never any used ones in the trash, and I fear for my plumbing.
My husband (her son) is out working hard to provide for all of us and the last thing he needs is problems when he gets home. He is fully on my side of this issue, yet she is still his mother and he is uncomfortable standing up to her. I will swallow a certain amount of frustration to spare him, but I will not sacrifice my health or that of my animals to her need to disinfect and debug the world. My house reeks of the stuff as it is.
How can I gently yet effectively communicate to her my feelings? I can't really talk to her- she becomes very defensive and tells me I'm being picky just to annoy her. I swear to God the woman just likes spraying stuff!
I should probably add that she has two other daughters, both of whom she has attempted living with, both of whom shipped her back to our area because she was difficult to live with. She is about out of options here.
Is this just part of the settling in process, and will soon pass? Or is it a sign that things will always be difficult? We have restructured our lives to help her out, we do everything she needs and she doesn't want for anything (except a can of Lysol) and she is still unhappy.
I am beginning to regret signing on for this and only agreed to it in the first place to make my husband's life easier. I love him to death and things would be fine if she would just be happy for what she has and let go of all the stupid little things she thinks she is missing.
Well that and maybe eat a vegetable.
At any rate I feel better for having vented. If you've made it this far- thanks. And please tell me things will get better.