'Whatever makes Mom happy'!!!

joyce_6333August 14, 2006

I don't know if I need someone to just listen, or to give me advice. So thanks in advance.

MIL stroked 5 yrs ago. I lived with her for several months to care for her, which was hard because we have NEVER been friends. But I did all those things many of you have done -- including those really nasty clean up jobs. Recently she fell, broke her pelvis. Was in Swing Bed for several weeks, went to a NH for a month for further rehab. She looked great, was clean, gained 4 lbs, was active, and the staff really enjoyed her. And it seemed to us she was also really enjoying it herself. But then she DEMANDED to go home. So, her boys (My DH and his Bro) of course did what they always do -- "whatever makes Mom happy"! We now have someone coming in twice a day to do basic care. She "messes" all over the house, looks disheveled, hair is a mess, nails long and dirty, and wants to have company everyday. She calls us to come to her house to help her "serve", etc, etc. I keep telling my husband I cannot work full time, take care of my own home, and take care of everything for her as well.

My DH and his bro have FULLY supported her financially for many years --house pmt, insurance, food, clothing, spending money, etc -- EVERYTHING! I was recently able to get her some help from social services, but it doesn't come close to covering everything. Now she is telling other relatives and friends that we are denying her food, stealing her money, taking things from her home, and that we are trying to take away her home and force her into the NH. I must repeat here that her boys will do anything "to make Mom happy". It angers me so that she tells everyone how cruel we are to her. I honestly am concerned that someone will bring "elder abuse" charges against us. My DH says, "Let them". She is so ungrateful. Sometimes I find it hard to even be civil to her. And then I feel guilty because she is old (81), and has health issues. She has always been one to blame others for everything bad that has happened to her. Am I being terribly selfish?

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Nope, not selfish. Just honest. I think honesty is the first step in handling a difficult problem.

I also think that if a person has been rude and hard to tolerate even when they were younger and well, that sickness and age doesn't excuse that behaviour. Usually you will find that they can behave themselves around those other than the caregivers. This means that they are aware of the problem and choose to ignore it. No matter what the cause of their behavior, they choose not to adapt to make it easier on others.

Tolerate her as much as possible, but don't let her wear you out. Working full time and taking care of your own home is enough. Your husband and his brother have taken the easy way out. They need to be reminded that you are important too.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 12:37PM
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Agnes -- you must be absolutely psychic! You seemed to read between the lines and know exactly what I'm feeling, and identified MIL's behavior better than I ever could! Thank you so much for responding with such insight. And you hit the nail on the head when you said the boys have "take the easy way out". Thank you so much! I honestly feel much better about it. What are your rates for counseling!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 6:39PM
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I completely understand how you feel, Joyce. Strokes do different things to people. They take certain aspects of a person's ability to function away. Sometimes they get "mellower" other times they get nastier.

Mum had one in '04. Her short term memory is SHOT. She is still physically active, but compromised with respect to left side mobility/coordination. She "neglects" her compromised side. Every day requires the reminder to "use your left hand". She does, but only because she's "prompted".

She can no longer manage money or make wise/safe decisions for herself. She cut up valid credit cards and tore up original documents pertaining to her brother's name change in the late '20s, assuring me the "originals" were the family safe deposit box. She can't really understand that the "family" is all dead now.

Get the ducks in a row. It sucks when you have to do it; but get it done. A will, living will, medical power of attorney, and durable or limited power of attorney. Establish a mortuary/funeral trust (pre-pay expenses!). All those things will make it easier for you when you decide you can't take it any longer and reach the point where you have to commit her to long-term care.

The reality is she is NOT taking care of herself, hasn't been for some time now. She hasn't the means or the capability. Of course she crows about how "mean" you are... it's all she can do when things aren't to her liking. Don't worry about it.

I've come to understand that as time rolls on and adversity doles out a hard hand the underlying character of the beleagured reveals itself. The difficult become more so. Mum is generally easy-going, but she can be really MEAN when she has a mind to. I wither when she unleashes it. Sometimes I snarl right back at her! But usually I just ignore it. I'm in the "driver's seat". I do the things she can no longer do for herself and I do them with a smile, some humor, and a professional attitude. I'm a "cruise director"... in charge of making everything EASY, but requiring that she remain engaged and a PARTICIPANT.

It's hard work!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 9:40PM
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Also don't worry about health care workers, they have heard it all and they see what you and her sons are doing for her. If a family member hears and believes it, volunteer for them to take her.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 5:46PM
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