Recently, I wrote recently about my in-laws and their accumulated treasures. What I did not discuss is my family’s recent health situation. My in-laws are wonderful people, stubborn as old goats , but wonderful never the less and aging fast. They are each others second spouses, as as their previous ones passed away. Each have their own children, my mother-in-law a son(my husband) and a daughter and my father-in-law, two sons and a daughter. In the 22 years I have been in the family I can count on one hand how often we have all been together. Apparently early on in their 35 year relationship they decided to keep their families separate.
Now that they both are getting older, my father-in-law it seems is aging much faster than my mother-in-law and life is becoming very challenging for both.
My father in law suffers from leukemia and essential tremors, add to that skin cancer, pneumonia, and several other illnesses in the last year that affect the aging population, and it has become a real effort and dilemma to keep him healthy and happy.
My father-in-law refuses to move out of their house, because he built the house with his first love and first wife, I completely understand these sentiments and everyone wants him to be able to live out his life in the house. But he will also not allow live-in-help or even allow his own children to come a few days a month to let my moth-in-law have some much needed rest. Consequently, my mother-in-law is his primary, make that ONLY caregiver. She is 88 herself, 5’2 and about 90 pounds, he is 88, 6 foot tall and considerably heavier. I am sure that you can imagine that lifting him off the ground when he falls is a near impossible task.
Sadly, his attitude is beginning to create ill feelings because we(my mother in laws side of the family) feel helpless; not only because we live half way across the country from them but also because we love my father- in-law but are disheartened that his actions are detrimental to my mother-in-law and her well-being.
Although we suggest in-home nurses, or perhaps downsizing, he will have none of it. He will not compromise in any way.
His health and attitude is taking its toll on my mother-in-law because obviously she loves him and wants to honor his wishes but also because he will not be truthful about his health situation to his own children. If I were absolutely honest, I would say that they are happy to have my mother-in-law handle it. Don’t get me wrong, the come to the hospital and visit the house all the time. They have also insisted that their dad use a cane and the other items they have brought like the chair in the shower and things like that.
My mother-in-law is exhausted all the time from taking him to appointments, running back and forth to the hospital numerous times a day when he is in there with food, clothes, etc, and taking care of him at home. She just needs a break.
If I come across as unfeeling I think it is because I am frustrated. I am torn because I love both of them, BUT, these are not my parents and I am in no position to make demands and decisions about their care. In fact even when they have asked us for help and advice they seem to do the opposite. If these were my parents I am sure that I would be a wreck trying to figure out how to realize their wishes, and to keep them safe as well.
End of life care is a challenge for everyone, those living it and those on the fringes.
Is anyone else in a situation like this that can offer a bit of advice on how to cope and get through a situation like this?
Life in a blended family is a day to day challenge but especially when the kids are very young and the parents are very old. I would welcome any and all advice as I love them both but also could use some coping skills in this situation as my own parents are 18 years younger.
Thanks for the advice!