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I hate my life

Posted by cearbhaill (My Page) on
Mon, May 11, 09 at 9:46

I know that a lot of you struggle with caring for people who refuse to bathe so I feel a little guilty for whining about the opposite problem, but there is a downside.

My MIL (88/wheelchair) changes whole sets of clothing three times a day and puts them in the hamper. And a set of jammies. Plus two towels and so on from a daily bath I help give her. She will sometimes rub a stain of something or other on them to justify it but I am completely convinced it is a passive aggressive behavior. And on top of that if she so much as farts she changes again. I swear to God it is her hobby.

Yesterday I left DH (her son) in charge to go visit my own mother for Mother's Day- it's the first time I have been free for an afternoon since St. Patrick's Day. When I left there wasn't so much as one dirty sock in the house and I came back three hours later to overflowing hampers. Including a sheet set and I had just changed them that morning. She said she spilled something but I couldn't find the first smudge.
DH then told me that he wheeled her around the neighborhood yesterday afternoon and evidently she sat down on the bed to change clothes (outside air has cooties) and contaminated the sheets- through the bedspread.

I am so over laundry. Sometimes I just run them through a rinse with fabric softener to freshen them, but there's still the incessant folding and carrying them back and forth.
It makes no sense.
I am not going to get into a conversation about it as she thinks I am unclean anyway (because we have pets, who by the way are prohibited from going anywhere near her) and it is easier just to remove them and then take them back.

Please don't suggest that I get outside help- there is no money for it (she receives decent SS but sends most of it away to charities), plus I could never leave them alone in the house due to pet issues. DH can't help too much as he works himself to death seven days a week to support us all on one income.

That Medicaid nursing home is looking better and better.
I'm two years into this situation and it's wearing a bit thin.

OK- now that I've typed it out it seems petty.
But I vented, so there it is.
Just another day.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I hate my life

I think starting point might be targeted conversation with hubby. You must be on the same page with this. She's his mom. He'll have to be the one to handle most of it if she's going to be influenced.

The laundry thing will stop at once if she goes anyplace else -- no facility will put up with that. Why not handle it on-the-spot?

Giving the SS away to charity when you're strapped is nuts. I'd bring that to a close instantly, too.

What does your hubby think of all this? Is there hope?


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RE: I hate my life

Hub thinks "what do you want me to do?".

Honestly, he has enough on his plate that I will not force any confrontations just to make my day easier. He is much more frustrated with her than I am already (by a long shot) so I am pretty much happy to just do a load of laundry and spare him the aggravation. They always end up shouting and he stays upset for days.

I'm better now. It was just a tough morning walking in there to see another hour of needless chores piled up again.


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RE: I hate my life

Changing my opinion, then. If this situation is trashing your otherwise happy home, some action is called for, I think. "Honoring" our parents does not entail sacrificing our own well-being or our own family's.

I can't tell if you've got a manageable situation or if you've got a tyrant in-residence. Does sound like some changes are called for. Is she at all approachable on either of these issues? Sounds pretty unreasonable to me.

What do you want you husband to do? Sounds like he's about at his wit's end, too.


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RE: I hate my life

Can you be a little less accommodating about returning the clean laundry. If she asks for it say something along the lines that you are conserving so you can't do as many loads on a regular basis. If she is up and about you would have to hide the clean stuff.


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RE: I hate my life

I think that you do need to have your husband on the same side as you are on. It'll be like pulling a tooth, I guess, painful at the time, but worth it afterwards.

Just make the issue about one thing, and I'd make it the money. Both of you sit down with her and explain that there is a real financial burden to her being there, and you expect her to pay a certain sum towards the household expenses, say perhaps 50% of her income. Explain that if you can't make an agreement to this, you will be forced to look for a Medicaid-covered home for her, because you can no longer afford to have her in your home. If she agrees, then explain that you need to be on her checking account officially and get a check when her income arrives. Get it in writing at the time.

So if she refuses, then by all means, go get the tour of covered facilities and offer to take her for visits to all of them.

If she does manage to pay you money, use some of the money to hire someone to come in and do some laundry. Then if she doesn't have what she wants, you can always say that she will have to wait until the helper comes in.

Seriously, your own health isn't worth this. The stress on your husband isn't worth this.

Look for a nice place for her to move to. Get her moved and get your own life back. I am completely serious.

Wish I could send out some hugs for you.


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RE: I hate my life

Regarding the folding, put on her laundry on her bed & she can fold it or as much as she can handle.

I taught that life skill to my kids when they were little.

In fact the nursing home my MIL(92) had lived at that was a job they gave them ( folding napkins, towels )and they handled it quite well.

She may be old & in a wheelchair but she surely can help fold some her own clothes..

She needs to start contributing financialy to the household expenses..
At least if she is paying something you could look into some respite care coming in.

You need to start looking AFTER yourself.. You'll do no good if you're run down & stressed out & sick. Get your husband on your side & sit down with Mom..

And vent away here.. That's why we're here..


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RE: I hate my life

I have to agree with the others. I don't think you're being petty at all. This is an intolerable situation. Doing several loads a day is a given when there's incontinence to deal with. But just because outside air commingled with inside air while she was sitting on her bed?

Is she heading into dementia? Because this sounds like unreasonable behavior. Does she have a history of mental illness of some kind? Again, this behavior is not ordinary quirkiness. Has she always been like this or is this new? Or has her penchant for changing clothes & being clean become more exaggerated in the last few years?

Has she been given a full checkup by her doctor and perhaps a specialist? I think that would be the first order of business.

I think Eandhl may have a solution. Just stop doing the multiple daily loads of laundry. Drag your feet. If her clean wardrobe dwindles, so be it. You shouldn't be at her beck & call on this issue. Let her deal with the repercussions of her behavior -- less clothing choices, waiting for the sheets to get done before napping, etc.

You seem hesitant to bring this up with your husband, as though your contributions & sacrifices aren't valuable and real. He may be earning the money, but you're doing a whole lot of labor. If you had to pay for outside help, it'd cost a small fortune. It also sounds like he doesn't quite know what to do. Guilt may be a factor. Maybe a Medicaid nursing home would be better.


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RE: I hate my life

Thanks for all the support guys- I just don't know what to say to some of them.
We won't threaten her with a nursing home.
I won't/can't/am temperamentally unable to let piles of stuff accumulate.
She has not got dementia and is likely sharper than I am. She sees doctors all the time and everything that can be done to help her in that respect is being done. She isn't a tyrant- just suffering from lack of control over her own life and prone to overstepping what little remains.

She is not approachable about anything- it always escalates unreasonably and DH is always the one that gets hurt the most.
Guilt?
In spades. He feels as if he should be able to make it better for her and of course he can't. Her life is a misery, she is in near constant pain, and everyone including her is just waiting for it to all be over, yet she is just to stubborn to give it up.

I know I hate reading when someone complains about a situation then refuses to consider any helpful suggestions, but I am doing that here I guess.

I just need to get out of the house more- it's just hard to figure a way to do it.


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RE: I hate my life

Just had to reply. I certainly wasn't suggesting threatening with a nursing home. It's such a negative approach. Plus, at that age, threats don't work. You're not dealing with a child who needs to learn and is also capable of learning cause & effect. It sounds like she's beyond the point of any kind of motivation.

You say she doesn't have dementia, so she must just be one of those "unique" personalities. The laundry issue and the giving her SS money away to charities instead of contributing to your household expenses seem to point to a self centeredness that won't make any accommodations for others.

The "just waiting for it to all be over" approach is probably not the best one. She may be in pain & wheelchair bound, but she could hang on for several more years. And the longer she hangs on, the more stressful & difficult it will become for both you & your husband. Instead of just waiting, you should start planning ahead for the time when you may no longer be physically able to care for her. You could start researching facilities in your area and get her on waiting lists.


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RE: I hate my life

This is my 1st time to this forum as we are considering taking my DH's aunt (74yoa, starting into dementia or altzheimers (sp?)) into our home, and I was hoping to educate myself here from real situations. She has no kids/husband. The other nephews/nieces won't even visit her.
When I read your post I almost cried. I hope you can find some respite somewhere before it affects your health. And it will if you don't get a break soon.
The only suggestions I can think of are: discuss with her Drs about using more pain medication. Pain will really change a person's ability to be nice. It takes over. Also discuss the clean clothes fetish she has developed. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Surely there is an anti-anxiety medication they can put her on. Sounds almost obsessive/compulsive to me.
Also, Calmly take the laundry where she can't go and shake it out, fold, and put in basket. Once you've had it away from her long enough to have washed/dried it, take it back into her room and put it away. Act really tired from all of that laundry work. LOL Seriously, that could work sometimes. You really need any help you can get now. I also like the suggestion to drag your feet on her laundry.

Also, please take time to go see your own Mother. When I first married DH 13 years ago, I jumped in- with both feet running -to be a super step-mom to the 6 kids at home. I took very little time to go spend with my parents.
Now they are both dead and the step children are all out of the house except the youngest (who I raised from a baby and he is my one bright and shining light from that family) and all of the others have tried EVERYTHING in the book to destroy me, my career, my reputation and our marriage. They have sucked us dry emotionally and financially. DH is into the guilt also because he just rolls over and lets them stomp me and him too, if they don't get what they want. He is such a good loving man and husband to me otherwise or I would have been "gone like a freight train" long ago.
I shared all of that to say : I soooo regret not taking time to be with my parents. It's not too late for you. Don't make the same mistake I did.
And DO NOT feel guilty for venting. If we do take his aunt in, I AM SURE everyone here will hear from me! Thank God we have this forum to come to for strength and encouragement.
My thoughts and prayers will be with you.
Betty


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RE: I hate my life

OK, it's probably time for you to stop lying to yourself. She is showing signs of dementia, and yes, she is a tyrant. Being honest with yourself may not change her behavior, nothing is going to change her behavior really, but at least call it what it is.

Her behavior will not change, it will get worse. That's a fact of life. All you can do is manage your own reactions to her.

All I can offer are hugs, and hope for you.


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RE: I hate my life

Betty had a wonderful idea that you could use. Do a "pretend" laundry. Remove the clothing/bedding, check for stains, do a "sniff" test, re-fold, and return 2-3 hours later. I'd add one more step: spray with Febreeze to give that freshly laundered smell.

Sushipup has also given you good advice, although it is very direct. It's time for you & your husband to stop pussyfooting around the issues: her behaviors are not normal. Whether it's dementia, Alzheimer's, mental illness, or whatever, she is not simply an elder dealing with the emotional ramifications of loss of independence and pain.


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RE: I hate my life

I agree, this is early dementia or personality disorder worsening due to age, or both. Talk to her doctor about it. Medications may help. It is likely not really under her control.

Dementia can take many forms, not just the classic memory loss, and is not always easily recognized because the person seems so "with it" otherwise. Especially if he was not exactly the most simpatico person anyway.

BTW, does someone need to help her change her clothes?
If she is independent with this, maybe getting her involved in the chore will help displace or occupy some of her need to act out in this way.


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RE: I hate my life

I believe it's definitely some form of ocd, but also something to do with the loss of control as you said.

As for the money to charities, am I right in reading 'churches' or even televangelists? I guess it doesn't really matter, but giving all your money away and living on someone else's dime isn't right, especially if you're struggling.

"Honour thy father and mother" is not a license for a parent to behave badly, just as wedding vows aren't either.

I agree, some 'pretend' laundry would make sense. It's an unhealthy obsession and your perception of her 'sharpness' is a misnomer, it may not be dementia and she may be sharp as a razor, but still given to some delusions or disorder. Consider Howard Hughes - a brilliant man, inventor, raconteur, but in the end, very messed-up.


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RE: I hate my life

pjb999, for sake of discussion, perhaps we should start a thread about "dementia" and related causes and forms. Howard Hughes was known for mental illness since his early 30's, and often speculated due to syphilis. Many other causes of dementia are know.

It would be an interesting discussion for the folks on this forum.

I admit, I've just been dealing with a family member with problems, but that's a new thread for your comments...


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RE: I hate my life

Gee- thanks everyone.

I do fake washing things sometimes, other times I run them through a cold rinse with some fabric softener to freshen them. Or Febreeze :)

We're doing OK now.
I am going to wait for the next kerfluffle before I think any more about it- I know that doesn't remedy anything but I so hate rocking the boat.

I don't know what else to say. In the grand scheme of things it's not that bad and it's not as if I am trying to work outside the home as well.
It is sad for her that it has come to this.


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RE: I hate my life

You can try this website for a comprehensive introduction into the different types of dementia:

Here is a link that might be useful: Dementia - what it is and can it be treated


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RE: I hate my life

This is coming on a bit late but.... what if you take away all her clothes and just give her the clothes for that day until she showers? It's time to take over! Talk to her about it, tell her you've had enough of the laundry and that from now on she's getting one set of clothes until bath time and that's it! As for the sheets... do the same. Tell her you will not wash and continue to replace clean sheets. See what happens. If she spills on it on purpose, let it dry and ignore it. Stick to your guns. Don't give in. Obviously, if she soils it, it's a different story but do it and see what happens. Get strict.


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RE: I hate my life

Is adult day care available? Seems like that might enough to give you a much needed break. I use some of the SS money to pay for it.


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