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Am I being selfish?

(61 Posts)
wildthingsmummy Wed 22-Mar-17 00:34:07

Fully prepared to be told I'm being selfish...

DH and I were talking hypothetically about the future, and what might happen when our parents are elderly.

(As background, MIL is mid-70s. DH is an only child)

Basically DH wants MIL to live with us eventually, but I'm not prepared to be her carer (and it will be down to me, because I'm a SAHM and DH works full-time). Now he's really grumpy and I feel bad, but I don't see why I should HYPOTHETICALLY care for an elderly lady.

Am I being selfish?

NotStoppedAllDay Wed 22-Mar-17 00:37:16

No you aren't

SuperBeagle Wed 22-Mar-17 00:38:43

No, you're not.

Eventually your MIL will be beyond your (or your husband's) care anyway, and that is why care homes/nursing homes and retirement villages exist. They are trained to give the care that family members simply cannot provide.

When she can no longer care for herself, it is best for all parties involved that she goes to somewhere where she will get the best care possible.

VimFuego101 Wed 22-Mar-17 00:47:03

YANBU. I wouldn't be able to cope with doing this for my own mother, let alone someone else's.

highinthesky Wed 22-Mar-17 00:50:16

Did you and DH not consider having this conversation before you wed?

You have signed up to being a wife and not a granny-sitter. YANBU but in your position I would hope to be close enough to MIL to want to look after her.

JonesyAndTheSalad Wed 22-Mar-17 00:52:25

YANBU! It's not ok for him to get shirty because you don't want to nurse MIL!


HighintheSKy not many people DO have that discussion!

BillSykesDog Wed 22-Mar-17 00:55:04

No. And it would be unfair if you to do it if you weren't willing as it would be an unhappy situation for both of you. (For some reason I'm getting memories of 'Whatever Happened To Baby Jane'.

NoWinNoFfi Wed 22-Mar-17 01:01:53

YANBU, you didn't sign up for that.

Janey50 Wed 22-Mar-17 01:06:07

I couldn't do this for my own DM,never mind anyone else! No you are definitely NBU.

CantSleepClownsWillEatMe Wed 22-Mar-17 01:18:05

No you are absolutely not and you're as well to have this conversation now before she gets to a point of needing that level of care.

It's very easy for DH to imagine "we'll Look after her" but 9 times out of 10 it falls to the daughter or DIL. Some people are cut out for taking care of an elderly person and all that entails but many are not.

I remember a couple of threads on MN a few years back where some very honest posters outlined the reality of having an elderly parent move in, their health deteriorating over years and the effect that had on the main care providers own health, the couples relationship and the family as a whole. Very sober reading.

Maybe now DH knows this isn't an option a discussion can be had with his DM about what would happen in the future should she need care.

PyongyangKipperbang Wed 22-Mar-17 01:24:40

Are you planning on never going back to work?

If you are planning to return then you will presumably also be working when she is moving in with you. So I would say fine, you give up your job to do that actual physical caring and I will go FT. You might find he loses enthusiasm for the idea when it is him doing the hard work.

ohtheholidays Wed 22-Mar-17 01:30:54

No not at all!

We have 5DC and myself and my DH have said there's no way we want our DC to have to look after either of us when were older.

BoomBoomsCousin Wed 22-Mar-17 01:32:37

YANBU to not be prepared to be the main carer for his mother. Instead of simply saying "no" I might ask how he'd like to make sure that can happen? Say you'll probably need to downsize a little or move to a less expensive area, he'll need to pick up a lot more of the slack now so you can retrain and build up a career so that, when the time comes, he can leave his job to care for her and you can support the family. Point out that if that's his vision you need to get on with things now, because it isn't going to be possible to simply step into these roles when his DM finally needs the care. Also, ask if, since he thinks parents living in is a good idea, he's up for having your mum as well.

Pallisers Wed 22-Mar-17 01:44:48

Did you and DH not consider having this conversation before you wed?

Seriously? DH and I talked about a lot of things when we wed but elder care issues weren't among them. And if they were, I wouldn't expect to be held in my 40s to what I said in my 20s.

When we married we were in our 20s and our parents were in their 50s (40s for MIL). No one thought of it. We knew that our values were the same - we both cared for our families, both valued our parents, both knew there were no absolutes in life, neither expected the other to pick up the other's responsibilities. I trusted in this for any shit that came our way - including elder care issues. It all worked out.

Your dh has said what he wants to happen with his mum which is you primarily care for her. It is ok for you to say that no that is not what you will want. And it is great that you are talking about it now before there is a real need for care. Gives everyone time to get their heads around the realities of elder care. If your dh thinks there should be no discussion then he needs to think again.

Cwandri Wed 22-Mar-17 01:48:12

Ummm...... going against the grain a bit here. I think it is our responsibility to love and care for our elderly parents and of course if we are married then also our spouses parents should it be required.

I would totally have any or all of them to live with me if they needed it. I think this is just good social responsibility. It is about being a good citizen and treating our elderly with the respect they deserve after they look after us through child hood.

I cannot believe that not one response has been that you are being unreasonable.

Having said that, I do suppose it depends on the relationship. Our parents have been very supportive of us throughout our childhoods and adult life, very supportive of our marriage and our own children. I feel I owe them big time and although it would be a dreadful tie I would feel it my absolute duty to be there for them and have them live with us in their old age.

SuperBeagle Wed 22-Mar-17 01:50:43

I cannot believe that not one response has been that you are being unreasonable.

Because she's not.

Italiangreyhound Wed 22-Mar-17 01:54:59

I can't imagine anyone talking about this when dating!

If she is fit and healthy she will probably be able to stay in her own home a long time. My auntie is 90 plus and can.

If she gets dementia then you will not be able to look after her at home, most likely.

Do you plan to go back to work when your kids are at school or not to work outside the home ever again?

Build a granny annex and be done with it! Slightly joking!

We allowed our mum to go into a home, my sis and I, because she had dementia, it cost a fortune, mum's money.

Be sensitive to your dh, it is a big burden/responsibility and as the only child he must feel it. It is not your job to care for her but if you are not working when she is older and your kids are older I would imagine your dh will wonder if you need to be at home all the time. If you kids are still small when she needs care you may not be able to manage them and her at the same time anyway.

Quailingtonsmithe Wed 22-Mar-17 01:59:20

This has in fact just happened to our family/my parents.
Grandma (in her 90's), after a recent stint in hospital, and refusing all help in her own home and being a serious risk to herself, moved in with my parents. She's always been a nasty old bag and always a real cow to my dad (her son) and even more so to my mum, so she is very fortunate that they have such forgiving and kind hearts to take care of her. Both parents are nurse and care trained and worked in industry for many years and so thought they could make her life better and more comfortable living with them.

Well this is where I tell you that YANBU!!!! They had to have the whole house assessed by social workers to make sure it was suitable and many adaptions had to be made, stair lift, bath equipment, told to change rooms so she could have a special bed put in, to change the living room chair to a wingback style so it was easier for her to try to stand up I could go on and on! Now the social services were great I'm not saying a bad word about that side of things, because if u do need things it'll get sorted eventually, but when granny came to them she was walking with use of a frame, but with a slight risk of falling and this is all the gear my parents were told to get. Also thr amount off appointments, visitors, general tasks that need to be done just made it so their life just evolved around her and they never really got time to themselves.

If your MIL is still able to do everything for herself it will still be difficult in the fact that your whole world at home will change and over time she will only get more difficult, so u might not need the stuff we had to get at first but there will come a time when u do.

Needless to say my parents have said they have never experienced anything like it in all their years of care. And like the social said to them so many people make the mistake that they would be able to manage an elderly parents care, its nice that they gave it a go but in the end she has had to go into a nursing home as it she was just too much to handle and social praised them for their efforts and said not many people would have done what they did and put up with what they had to. It turned all our lives upside down as it became round the clock care and it just cant be done, even my dad said to me (after I said id refuse to put him in a nursing home) that, as I had personally witnessed, sometimes you just have to even if you don't want to.

Yours may be different to our situation, but I can honestly tell you it really wasn't as straight forward as we thought, its was like looking after the worst child u could possibly imagine, its ok for the carers in homes as they can do their shift and go home, but you cant when they live with you, we were sleep deprived and round the bend by the end of it and now she's in a home its not that bad, she likes it and she still sees us every day. Its alot to take on and will change everything, its up to you if you're prepared for that and not very fair and unrealistic to just expect that of you, there will be so much more to it than your DH may think.

Perhaps if you told him to do a bit of research into caring for an elderly relative at home he may see there's a heck of alot to consider. Hope this helps smile

CantSleepClownsWillEatMe Wed 22-Mar-17 02:07:10

cwandri I love and respect my parents and appreciate what they have done for me. That doesn't mean that I would be able to provide the type of care they may need in later life.

The notion of "duty" is why many women find themselves sinking under their responsibilities to others. Bear in mind people are starting families later these days and life expectancy is longer so in reality you could be parenting young children at the same time as providing care to an elderly person, possibly while trying to hold down a job.

I wonder do you have much experience in the day to day care of say, an elderly person with Alzheimer's? My mother did it for my gran for years and the stress of it was horrendous. Gran became like a child, she could wander off if doors weren't locked, she needed to be bathed/dressed, helped to eat, she could get confused and would then get upset or angry. My mother was out of her depth and it got to a point where the Dr felt gran was a danger to herself and a care home was eventually arranged.

There are lots of people providing elderly care for parents to the detriment of their own health, family and career. I imagine most took that on out of love/duty without any idea of what would be involved. It's naive to just say oh of course I would do it because they're my parents.

Hidingtonothing Wed 22-Mar-17 02:14:06

No one should ever have to be cared for by someone who doesn't whole heartedly want to care for them. YANBU OP, you are entitled to feel how you feel about it and if you don't want to do it your DH has no right to expect you to.

Rubies12345 Wed 22-Mar-17 02:29:17

Why don't you go back to work and he can look after the children and his mother. Seems like the obvious solution.

Pallisers Wed 22-Mar-17 02:43:50

I would totally have any or all of them to live with me if they needed it. I think this is just good social responsibility. It is about being a good citizen and treating our elderly with the respect they deserve after they look after us through child hood.

Have you been through this? Do you have elderly parents? Do you have parents or parents in law with dementia whom you are caring for? Have you 2 elderly incontinent parents/inlaws in your house right now that you are caring for around the clock - while your teens act out their own issues and you desperately try to deal with it all - oh and while holding down a job?

Because otherwise you are talking in fairy tales. And you might be better off taking a realistic view of what is going to happen in you and your parents/in laws lives so you can offer them realistic care when the time comes.

Pallisers Wed 22-Mar-17 02:47:52

Why don't you go back to work and he can look after the children and his mother. Seems like the obvious solution.

Or how about we separate the idea of being a SAHM from being responsible for every other thankless and wage-less job in the family that no one else wants to do.

Why would staying at home to rear your children who would otherwise require paid care mean that you should automatically be responsible for every other care situation in the family?

Being a SAHM is so undervalued in our society but this OP shows how much people also expect SAHMs to put up and deal with all the stuff (elder care) that is consistently undervalued by society.

Wingedharpy Wed 22-Mar-17 02:53:17

Has your DH asked his Mum what she would like to happen if things get to the stage where she needs care?
She may already have her own ideas about what she wants that do not involve either your DH or you.
IMHO we should all start planning for our old age long before we need any care or looking after.

wildthingsmummy Wed 22-Mar-17 09:21:04

Thanks for all the responses.

I'm glad the majority think I'm not being selfish. I admit DH and I didn't have this conversation before we married, it never came up. We haven't spoken to MIL about her wishes, we were just having a hypothetical chat late last night (I'm not even sure what made us begin the discussion).

In response to my role as a SAHM, I'm not sure when/if I will return to work. We are pretty sure that we haven't finished having children yet, so I'll be a SAHM for a few more years at least. We are lucky enough to be in a position financially where this is an option, and DH recognises that my role is just as much a full-time job as his, but if our circumstances changed, of course I would work. Even if I didn't work, looking after an elderly lady is not the same as caring for children. I would be more than happy to visit her in a care home/retirement village as much as I possibly could, but I am not willing to physically care for her (also, I think I would go mad if I was with her 24/7!).

Having said that, I greatly admire people that do care for their elderly parents themselves, I'm just not sure I could give anyone the same level of care as professionals.

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