In a home stretched thin by emotional and physical demands, the Original Poster (OP) finds herself as the reluctant primary caregiver for her mother-in-law, who suffers from rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s disease. As tensions rise, the possibility of moving her mother-in-law to a reputable nursing home becomes an increasingly attractive but contentious option. While her husband grapples with the emotional weight of the decision, the rest of the family erupts in judgment and hypocrisy, leaving OP at a crossroads that could either save her sanity or fracture her family forever.
The New Housemate
OP and her husband have three adult children who moved out, leaving them empty-nesters, but not for long. Her mother-in-law (MIL), now 83 and physically frail, moves in with them after her health drastically declined.
Two years ago, MIL was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She is under medical care, but the illness progresses rapidly. The household feels the escalating impact of her condition as the couple must protect her from herself.
Near-Misses and Accidents
MIL can no longer be left alone at home, as she has nearly caused fires and had other dangerous incidents. It’s becoming increasingly evident that her safety, and that of her surroundings, is at risk. The looming question is when, not if, a serious accident will happen.
OP’s Heavy Load
Taking care of MIL falls mainly on OP, as her husband has an irregular work schedule. He often has to leave home unexpectedly due to his job requirements. The responsibility weighs heavily on OP.
A Full Workday
OP works ten hours per day, usually from home, but occasionally, she must be present in the office. Once she’s done working, she assumes her caregiving role. It’s a long day, every day, especially as she nears her retirement years.
Husband’s Limited Assistance
OP’s husband helps as much as he can, but his availability is often limited, and he needs a lot of direction on how to care for his mother. When he’s home, he does contribute to caregiving but defers to OP’s guidance and knowledge, who assumes the bulk of the responsibility.
The Reluctant Nurturer
OP has never seen herself as a natural caretaker. She finds it draining to be depended upon and often feels impatient and burned out, making her life more stressful than she would prefer. She thought her lifestyle would be carefree after her children left home.
Strained Parent-Child Relationships
OP mentions that she’s always had a better relationship with her own adult children now that they are independent. This contrasts sharply with her increasing frustrations around caring for her dependent MIL.
MIL’s Escalating Needs
MIL’s needs are growing, and OP is feeling the emotional and physical toll. Her exhaustion is increasing, and she knows the caregiving will only become more intense. It’s a stressful foresight.
Work-Life Balance Eroding
Due to her caregiving responsibilities, OP faces constant issues at her job due to her availability and level of focus. She values her career highly, and the situation frustrates her deeply. It’s a conflict she didn’t foresee.
The Nursing Home Option
Frustrated and worn out, OP considers putting MIL in a nursing home. She plans to choose a facility with a good reputation and skilled staff. It’s a difficult decision but seems like the most practical one.
Husband’s Moral Dilemma
OP’s husband has mixed feelings about placing his mother in a nursing home. However, he acknowledges that since OP is the primary caregiver, the final decision is hers to make. He tells her that he will respect whatever she decides.
Accusations and Blame
Upon hearing of the potential move to a nursing home, the husband’s siblings accuse OP and her husband of cruelty. They put the majority of the blame on OP, claiming she should simply hire a nurse.
The Stranger Dilemma
OP is against the idea of letting an unfamiliar person into her home to care for MIL. In addition to this, she knows she’d still have to shoulder caregiving responsibilities after her workday ends. So, this option does not solve all her problems.
Hypocrisy and Deflection
When offered the opportunity to take over the caregiving role, either in their homes or OP’s, the siblings decline. They cite “too much responsibility” and “having their own lives,” mirroring OP’s own concerns.
A Rejected Compromise
OP and her husband even offered to pay the siblings to take on the caregiving responsibilities, but the offer was rejected. The siblings are unwilling to rearrange their lives despite their criticisms.
A Household in Limbo
The situation remains unresolved. The siblings continue to object, OP remains stressed and burnt out, and her husband is caught in a moral dilemma. MIL’s condition worsens, heightening the urgency.
The Clock Is Ticking
Time is running out for a collective family decision on MIL’s care. OP is aware that her MIL’s needs will continue to increase, making the nursing home option increasingly inevitable. The future hangs in the balance, fraught with complexity and emotional strife.
Was The Woman’s Behavior Appropriate?
OP posts her story online for feedback and perspective from others who may have been through a similar experience. The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter.
One reader said, “Quite often, people respond to the phrase ‘put in a nursing home’ because it sounds like you are kenneling a dog. Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that needs increasing levels of care as it progresses.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote, “Arguably, it would be more kind to introduce her to that environment earlier in her progression so that when she is highly confused, she doesn’t find the place completely foreign.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person stated, “Well, that’s rich coming from the siblings who refuse to help. I’m just astounded how some people can’t see their hypocrisy even when it’s staring them in the face. They want you to do more while they do nothing.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another reader commented, “The siblings don’t want the responsibility of looking after MIL, nor do they want to contribute to the expense of her being cared for somewhere. What a selfish lot they are. OP is entitled to a life.”
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on their actions?
What would you have done in this situation?
This story is inspired by a thread from an online forum.