Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

dh not coping with this situation

(41 Posts)
offtosaturn22 Wed 12-Oct-16 04:14:32

Dh has been caring for mil since fil died around 10 years ago. At first, it consisted of visiting her and doing diy etc. She then became too frail to live in the house, so he moved her to our area and she was set up in a ground floor flat.

He continued to care for her - shopping, cleaning, medicines, GP visits, phonecalls, diy etc. He visited most days. He did a really good job of supporting her.

Sil lives in another european country and visits several times a year. She is in daily phone contact with mil. She no longer visits at Christmas and we're expected to have mil then.

We have had to limit things over the years due to caring for mil. Holidays, Christmas, moving to another part of the country etc. Dh's responsibilities are never far from our minds and he is effectively 'on call' 24/7. When we did go on a break, she kept contacting dh and we ended up arguing.

Mil had a fall and has now had to go into a care home. She is very elderly and frail. This appears to have triggered some sort of change in dh. I suspect it is driven by guilt sad He no longer appears to be able to cope with visiting her and doesn't want to take her out anywhere. He seems to have run out of steam and is very anxious about the situation. He doesn't cope at all well with having constant demands put on him. He obviously has some mental health difficulties, but doesn't want any treatment.

Sil is becoming increasingly frustrated with Dh's lack of motivation. He visits between 1-2 times a week. Sometimes it takes him a couple of days to psych himself up to go, then, when he arrives home, he is withdrawn and exhausted. I can see the strain it's putting on him and don't know what to do.

Mil has severe anxiety and possible ocd. This has never been treated in the past, but she is now on some medication. She regards dh as a carer and has a different relationship with him compared to his sister. Visiting mil is quite draining and tense. She doesn't like being in the care home, but she can hardly walk and becomes confused, so she needs to be there for her own safety. I find her to be quite needy and clingy and I find it stressful to visit. Being autistic, I find being in the company of others very draining in itself. I go to work and look after the house and dcs and that's about it.

Our home situation is that I have aspergers, as does ds2. Ds1 is under CAMHS for a severe phobia and has had behavioural difficulties in the past. We've had an exhausting time raising him, but he's doing okay now. Ds2 gets bullied at school and is on antidepressants (he's only 11). We have no friends or relatives or any kind of support. Dh is an introvert and has poor energy levels - he may be depressed, I don't know. I have depression and take antidepressants for this problem.

I don't know what to do about this situation. I hate to see dh being so affected by it and his sister doesn't seem to understand. I have explained to her that dh is struggling, but she can't understand why. I'm scared that he makes himself ill with all the worrying. He would really like sil to take mil to live in her country, but don't know if this would be possible. I worry that he's going to have a heart attack or a stroke or something. He also worries about ds2 and gets upset when he's bullied.

I'm scared that a family falling out is on the horizon sad

Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

quicklydecides Wed 12-Oct-16 05:04:16

I think your husband should tackle his poor mental health, would he go to his GP and take advice?

SandyY2K Wed 12-Oct-16 06:09:35

There's no simple answer for this, but as your DH has been the carer for years l, your SIL can step up and stop moaning.

Perhaps when she realises how draining it is she'll stop having a go.

ample Wed 12-Oct-16 06:16:15

Your DH needs to go to his GP.
It's okay to admit you can't cope and that situations are getting the better of you (meaning him).

Having a relative in a care home is so emotionally draining. I do feel for you. We've been through a similar adjustment, last year. It gets better albeit marginally.

Basically your DH has been doing wonders but he has reached as far as he can go without additional help. Please encourage him to make an appointment with his GP.
Would you be able to go with him?

PS: your SIL needs to take a hike. The view of a situation is a lot different from a distance.

luckylucky24 Wed 12-Oct-16 06:32:48

I'm sorry your DH is struggling so much. It sounds like you have had a stressful time over the past few years.
I have to say though, moving abroad at an old age is a huge stress for someone elderly and frail. Especially if they speak another language.

Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Oct-16 06:45:34

Agree your dh should seek help and if SIL has a problem with how her dm is being treated then maybe she should be told that it is her turn to look after her dm.
How is ds2's bullying being tackled. Could you change his school. You need to concentrate on your family and helping your dc.

Could dh cut his visits down to once per week or every 10days

Humblebee1 Wed 12-Oct-16 07:07:09

Aww, I feel so sorry for your situation, you have had so much to deal with. Your poor dh sounds like he could for with a boost. If it wasn't going to make your dh feel worse then sounds like nothing to lose from telling her a few home truths. She sounds selfish.

Humblebee1 Wed 12-Oct-16 07:08:21

His sister, that is.

KateInKorea Wed 12-Oct-16 07:24:34

First off, it is completely unrealistic to think that MIL will be moving to another European country. Even if you and SIL are in places that speak the same language it just isn't going to happen.
But I do think your husband should encourage his sister to visit more frequently.

She may choose not to, for the same reasons as you (finds MIL clingy, needy etc and ultimately it is bad for her mental health). Having said that, she doesn't get to call the shots but is perhaps unaware of the reality or your husband's position- have there been any honest conversations.

I can understand that your husband feels torn between (a) finding visits stressful and wanting to avoid them and (b) feeling guilty about not visiting more frequently. I mean this with kindness, but ultimately he is an adult and has to find his own resolution of that tension. Certainly, if he has additional MH difficulties it would be best served by getting professional help, but people can be very reluctant to access that help.

Myusernameismyusername Wed 12-Oct-16 07:38:28

Stop answering the phone to SIL for a while. If she wants an update she can call the manager of the care home.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 12-Oct-16 08:02:34

He is likely suffering from carer burnout having done this now for many years. What your DH is experiencing here is actually not all that uncommon and he simply cannot do any more than he already has done. My Dad himself almost broke down completely under the strain of being the sole carer/advocate for his own elderly mother.

Your SIL needs to take a hike; she has no idea of what has been going on this past decade. I would stop taking her calls for the time being.

Your DH does need to see a GP and start talking properly about this; not doing so will not make this problem go away and he will feel worse over time. That will impact further on both him and you people as his own family unit; your own family including him need to come first now. His own mental health is important and you need to go with him also to see the GP.

Ultimately his own family unit has to come first now.

LIZS Wed 12-Oct-16 08:10:09

Is there a carers support association in your area? They could signpost him to other services and also offer their own groups and respite from caring responsibilities. Sounds like sil is being very unfair, almost blaming him for the situation when he needs reassuring that there is little alternative to the care home. Is the one she is in the most suitable for her conditions? Could you/he speak to gp and ss ?

Penfold007 Wed 12-Oct-16 08:22:01

Your DH sounds utterly exhausted and as mentioned up thread he is likely to be literally burnt out from caring for his mother. He also has a lot to cope with in his own family. He may need to withdraw from his M for a while, him talking to his doctor is an excellent idea. Meanwhile SIL needs to be told that he is struggling and that she needs to ring the carehome direct

offtosaturn22 Wed 12-Oct-16 09:07:08

Thanks for these replies.

The care home she's in is good. We looked at all the ones in the area and this one ticks the boxes.

The problem is, that mil won't ask the staff for help. She contacts dh or sil if she has a problem. She won't press the nurse call buzzer or speak up for herself. She won't ask the staff to help her wash or dress each morning. She's very passive, but this causes stress because she won't take any responsibility for herself. She won't speak up, but instead complains to us.

I'm trying to get dh to see the doctor. He has to go for a blood pressure review this month and I said I'd go with him. He's very resistant to the idea of medication.

They're not a family who discusses issues sad I'm very pragmatic and like to find solutions to problems so everyone's happy, but they don't tackle things like that. Things are very angst ridden and not talked about. I think that's why I find it so stressful to visit. Everything is such a huge rigmarole.

I will talk to dh about a Carer's group. Mil is self funding so she doesn't have a social worker.

offtosaturn22 Wed 12-Oct-16 09:14:39

The school is really good about handling the bullying issues. They do nip things in the bud and the senco and head of year are involved and ds2 does have support. Internet schooling would be the next step if this school doesn't work out though.

I know sil just wants the best for her mum, but dh and the dcs are my priority. Dh is a nice chap, but he won't stick up for himself confused

Nermerner Wed 12-Oct-16 09:21:30

I agree with Kate in Korea. Stop thinking she might go and live elsewhere as that isn't going to happen. I think your own home situation sounds really stressful on its own. I do think if it were my dh and I could see he was suffering I would take on a visit once a week. Then he could go once a week. Have you talked to the care home about her calling you?

Myusernameismyusername Wed 12-Oct-16 09:21:54

He's enabling this behaviour of his mothers and I think him withdrawing is him forcing her to do it. It's their job and they are trained.

I would tell him you fully support him visiting once a week. I think you should go to and then you can help him leave when you see it's getting too much for hmm.

This is quite common and you should tell the manager of the home exactly all of this stuff too.

Make it clear to SIL that all queries go via the home and it is now their position to provide her with meeting her needs.

Make sure you DH knows he is not expected to meet her needs now. Time he spends with her is a CHOICE not a demand.

I know you have autism and your Ds aspergers so you do not help out here but I think has this kind of meant that DH deals with all this alone? A united front is a strong position.

Fully support him in a total step back and find out if she has a key worker and get them involved.

If this still doesn't help your DH with his guilt then consider hiring or finding a volunteer who can go sit with his mother and listen to her worries a few times a week, do her hair and take her shopping

daisychicken Wed 12-Oct-16 09:27:17

Could you speak to the carehome about how MIL is contacting you (as in DH/SIL) all the time and how they could support you with stopping that? I appreciate that might be difficult for you to do but CHs have a duty of care and from past experience with CHs, they are usually on the ball - especially good ones.

They do know how difficult it is for family to have a family member in a CH and that often the family need time out for want of a better phrase, they should be able to help you with that. As for SIL, from experience again, family members who are not there that often don't see how difficult it is emotionally let alone anything else dealing with someone who needs a high level of care and perhaps has other issues. On the occasions they visit, they just see a short snapshot of time and often (I hate to say this but it's happened to my family members) the person needing care puts on a 'good face' so the rare visiting person only sees the person when all is good. Perhaps it has to be spelled out to your SIL that it's draining and emotionally difficult dealing with a loved one all the time when you never get time off and you feel guilty that they can't be looked after at home?

A carers group would provide support from other people in the same situation - even you are one step removed as its not your mum iyswim.

offtosaturn22 Wed 12-Oct-16 10:40:39

She used to facetime me at all hours of the night and in the early hours of the morning. I'm a shift worker and need sleep, so I've blocked her. She also facetimes ds2 if she can't get through to dh.

I feel bad about leaving dh to it sad I guess I'll have to start going on visits with him though.

Speaking to the care home staff might help. I don't know what she's like when dh isn't there. I think her behaviour is a mixture of anxiety and pressing dh's buttons.

annandale Wed 12-Oct-16 10:49:22

I think you need to meet with the care home manager. When I say 'you', I think ideally this would be you, your DH and your SIL but you and dh is more realistic.

You need to tackle this issue of your MIL not requesting help from the staff but calling you instead. This means neither you or your dh is getting any kind of break.

Go through the care plan for your MIL together and point out the times when your MIL says she can manage alone but in fact calls you (keep a diary if need be). She clearly needs more support and more reassurance. That's why she is in a home! It's possible she is starting to need to be in a nursing wing rather than a care wing, but maybe that will improve if she does settle more. You need to hear from the CH what they can and can't do for her and agree together a realistic new care plan. YOur SIL ideally needs to hear all this. Why can't she take the Facetime calls if that actually helps? But not if it just means she then rings you as well - she could ring the CH though. Perhaps she could be the CH's primary contact for anything that doesn't need a physical presence? Then your DH could just go back to being a son who visits once a week. I agree that if you could possibly take over one visit a week this might help him. Also don't underestimate the value of repeating a simple message - he needs to see his GP and say he is really struggling with having his mother in a home. Be sympathetic but keep repeating the message. 'Sorry you had such a bad day. You need to see your GP about all this' etc.

offtosaturn22 Wed 12-Oct-16 10:58:10

I can't take over visits by myself. I'd go with him, but not by myself, it's just too tense. She's probably refusing help from the staff. It's really difficult to get out of her what she wants.

He's sitting downstairs putting off going right now.

offtosaturn22 Wed 12-Oct-16 11:00:38

She does make it clear that she doesn't want to deal with the staff.

annandale Wed 12-Oct-16 11:15:11

She is going to have to, and it is the care manager who should help this happen, because if your dh and you are going to get some proper time off, she has to use the help that is expensively provided.

At the moment your dh is spending the entire week 24/7 either dreading going to see her or actually going to see her. That's probably only about 1% better than doing the actual care. He sounds as if he's headed for a breakdown.

DiscoMike Wed 12-Oct-16 11:31:52

The staff will have dealt with people far worse than your MIL before. You need to push it back onto them and MIL. Block her from phones - or if you can't bring yourself to do that completely, block between 8pm and 7am or something, so you (all) know there will be a break.

Would it help your DH if his visiting days and times were fixed, rather than as often as he can manage, he knows it's only Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour?

And SIL needs to butt out.

Gymnopedies Wed 12-Oct-16 11:35:41

I think the whole dynamic needs to change, your DH does not need to be her carer any more, he can be her son again.
Perhaps go on vacation for a week or 2 so his DM can settle and get to know the staff without your DH being in the picture? He sounds like he really needs a vacation ( he could go on his own if DCs and you can't go bc of school/work). I am thinking something peaceful where he can breathe and think.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now