I can’t continue to be a caregiver | Life

Dear Annie: Our son has been married to a lovely daughter for over 20 years. She’s a daughter-in-law everyone should have. She takes care of us; she keeps a graceful house; she is a good mother.

My problem is with his mother. We see them two or three times a year. His mother will take me alone and start sharing things about our son and his wife that we don’t know and don’t need to know. Always negative. And I’m pretty sure they’re not true, because other things would be apparent if they were.

Last time, at a graduation, she shared money issues she felt they were having. Before that, her daughter’s depression issues — which I knew about because our daughter-in-law had told me about it, but I didn’t want to talk about it behind her back. Her mother tried to talk about the struggles with the grandchildren and what she thinks needs to be done.

Now, I recognize that my daughter-in-law may have shared something with her mother, but our son hasn’t shared it with us, so I don’t want to discuss it with them who aren’t present.

How can I handle this without offending someone I need to maintain a relationship with? — Mother-in-law who wants to keep her ears clean

Dear Clean Ears, There are many reasons why people gossip: entertainment, insecurity, loneliness, pure boredom. If this woman has something productive to say about her daughter or your son, she should talk to them about it – and you should feel free to tell her.

Dear Annie: I need advice. My mother-in-law, who is 93 years old, lives alone in her house. My wife and I and my sister-in-law and her husband have been her caregivers for 20 years now. Her husband died years ago.

She doesn’t drive. We do his laundry, accompany him to his doctor’s appointments, run his errands, etc. His house is dirty. She doesn’t bathe at all, just “washes” in the sink. Her doctor told her to go to assisted living, but she refuses.

I’m approaching 70. My wife is 69 years old. My in-laws are 70 years old and in poor health. We told him we couldn’t keep doing this. She refuses any home care or cleaning and gets angry when it is done. We take turns making sure she takes her pills three times a day. I told her to look at least one place, but she refuses. We feel like hostages. We can’t force her to go to assisted living, but she’s not safe at home alone. Short of going to a lawyer and getting guardianship, I don’t know what else we can do. No advice? — Tired in Ohio

Dear Tired: Your mother-in-law is very lucky to have all four of you in her life, to watch over her and take care of her. But all things considered, it’s unfair to expect you, your wife, and your in-laws to be able to carry on as you have for the past two decades.

Although she’s stubborn and probably scared, now is the time to confront your mother-in-law with her options, once and for all. If she is firmly decided to leave her home for an establishment, she must accept the help of a home help. It’s a trade-off she’ll have to make to stay in her own space and without giving up any legal rights – for now – to her own care and life choices.

This kind of change is difficult for an older person to experience, but ultimately it is a change they must accept for their own safety and well-being and that of their family.

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