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The answer may be that I cannot; she needs to help herself. It is just extremely difficult for me to stand by and watch what is happening to her and her husband.

She has been caring for my mom for 6 1/2 months. Her husband was actually the one who encouraged her to take mom in when I could no longer care for her. They had cared for his father a few years back, for about a year before he died.

About a month ago, my BIL began to let it be known to my sister that the situation was really getting to him. He told her he was getting tired of having "strangers" in the house (he was referring to mom's aide). So, for the past month, it has been pretty stressful between my sister and BIL. I have been trying to talk to my sister to try and help her understand what my BIL is feeling -- she doesn't want to hear it. She maintains she does everything for my mom, when the aide is not there, so my BIL shouldn't have any complaints. Yesterday, he told her that he is at the end of his rope and added "why did you understand when your sister burned out, but you don't understand that I am?" Bottom line, my sister has no intentions of moving mom to a NH, at least until a time that my sister feels is right.

I have tried and tried to get her to seek counseling, but she maintains that he will NOT go, so she sees no sense in going. I have spent literally hours on the phone with her, trying to help her to understand what he's feeling, but she just can't. The bottom line is always she is not ready to move mom.

I am so concerned that this is going to end their marriage, and I don't know what I can do...maybe the answer is nothing. Does anyone have any suggestions? I have to tell you that my BIL is really a wonderful guy, he really is.

[This message has been edited by MIMI427 (edited 04-23-2006).]
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You are such a caring and giving person so it's understandable that the problems your sister and brother-in-law are living with is breaking your heart. But you said it yourself - there really is nothing you can do to change your sister.

By your own statement, you have spent hours on the phone with her and talking with her. Still, she does not acknowledge the frustrations of her husband nor does she see a problem with her own resistance to counseling. I wonder if her apprehension to talk to a counselor is due to something that goes much deeper than the issue of caring for your mom. Who knows. We never really know what motivates someone to be a certain way.

As hard as it is sometimes Mimi, we have to remain silent and just be there for someone and to just listen. It isn't in our power to change another person's ideas or beliefs. Unless you feel that your sister is open to suggestions and is willing to take the first step toward saving her relationship with her husband, there really isn't anything you can do, sadly. Some people just don't see beyond the end of their nose about certain issues.

I know you love your sister and I do recall how she was completely oblivious to your frustration when you were caring for your mom last year.

You have a tremendous capacity for love and caring for your family and dear friends. It shows in your writing and sharing on this site. Those of us who visit this board are so lucky and blessed to have you here to share your thoughts and knowledge about the strength, courage, fear, pain and joy of being a caregiver.

As for helping your sister understand all of this, you may not be able to do anything to convince her otherwise. However, continuing to be there and listen also gives you the opportunity to give her food for thought. Knowing the little I do about you and your own journey as a caregiver, I am certain you will continue to be there for her.

Hang in there, Mimi. You are an angel.

Dearest Mimi.

As you and Glenda and Jane have all said, you can't change your sister or her husband (who really seems to be the one having problems with the situation). The only thing that I see you might be able to do is offer them a respite, and take your mother back into your home for a brief period, or possibly start a rotation with them of so many months in each home. I don't know whether this would be practical or even desirable for you.

We had my mother on a three month rotation for a few years before she became a fall risk and went to assisted living. My DH was the one that couldn't handle having her here all the time. My home was the permanent address. She spent winters with my brother in S. Fla. and summers with my sister in Colorado. We had her in the spring and fall. This spread the burden of her physical care, as well as the financial cost of feeding her, etc. It also spread the joy of having Mom in our homes - which was especially nice for my sister's kids.

Just a thought. Either way, I wish you well.

I appreciate everyone's input.

Barb, I wish I could bring mom back here for a respite for my sister. Mom has Alzheimer's and is now at a stage where she is becoming fearful of leaving the house. In fact, just last week, we had a dinner in my sister's dining room, a room that mom is unfamiliar with, which caused her to completely freak out for several hours. Moving her around at this stage in the disease would only cause her a great deal of trauma.
Right now, and since mom has moved in there, my other sister -- the RN who just never seems to have the time for mom and honestly never did, and I pick my mom up on Saturday and Sunday, so my sister and her husband get most of the weekend free, including being able to get out for dinner. My fear is that soon mom will not want to leave the house even to go out with me or my other sister. Then, we can spend the day there with her and allow my BIL and sister to get out, but it won't be the same. My BIL has mentioned several times he's tired of "all the people" in his house. He wants his privacy back.
I hope they can work this out. I really wish they would go for counseling...
I haven't read much on here lately - but I just happen to take a quick glance and saw your post.

I think you are correct that both your sister and BIL need counselling - but if neither party is willing to take that step then the ONLY thing you can do is suggest.

I am sorry that your Mother is getting to the point that she is fearful to leave the house. Although different - my Mother has always been fearful of leaving the house - not so much because she doesn't know where she is - but has always believed that someone is out of get her. It's very hard to watch someone like that.

I guess the one thing that surprised me - is that this is really getting to your BIL. Especially since they cared for HIS Father for a year before he passed away - so care-giving is not a "new" and "unfamiliar" road.

Maybe you could suggest a mini vacation for them - maybe even a long weekend - where you & your other sister & your Mom's aide could care for your Mom - where they can just get away together and have some alone time with no responsibilities.

I do hope it all works out.


Hi Janet:
Nice to hear from you. I hope you are feeling ok.
Actually, I offered to stay at their house for a weekend while they get away. Right now, there is too much tension between them to want to do anything like that. Each is believing the other is so wrong and not listening to them...and they are right. That is why I say I wish they'd go for some kind of counseling whether it be a psychologist or a mediator...someone to help each of them understand what the other is feeling.
Yes they took care of my BILs dad, about ten year's ago. His dad had a colostomy and a small stroke, so he needed help changing the bags, showering and a little help walking. They did not have an aide, actually my BIL was the one that cared for his dad. His dad was okay enough to be left alone during the day while they both worked outside the home.
I think what my BIL is having problems with is losing his privacy, not only to having my mom live there, but having the aide there during the day as well. My BIL is retired and although he keeps pretty active (playing golf) he is home at times during the day. I do understand what you are saying Janet, that is surprising that he would feel this way after having had his dad in their home, but his dad did not have Alzheimer's. He enjoyed reading and watching his favorite TV programs, and if my sister and BIL were in another part of the house, that was just fine by him. My mom cannot be left alone. Believe me, I know this from personal experience. If my sister walks away, to another room, mom is calling and calling until she works herself up into a panic. If you tell her I'll be right back or I'm in the next room, or whatever, it doesn't matter...she does not remember, not even a minute later and she does not want to be alone. Janet, I know you've been dealing with your mom's schizophrenia for a long time, and now Alzheimer's so you understand what I am trying to say. It is not easy, but they are our mothers, so we do what we need to do. I think sometimes our spouses see things differently. It's just not an easy situation.
Again, I hope you are feeling good...
Hello Mimi,

I am sorry it has taken so long to respond... what came to mind was perhaps you could stay at your sister's for a long weekend and care for your mom so they could have some time away to work it out with one another...

it's so different when a sibling finally takes on the role... but it is also more challenging since she is in the end stages vs earlier stages... please keep us posted as to how things are going..

Hi Gail:
Nice to hear from you once again. Actually, I have offered to spend a weekend at my mom's in June, and two weekends in July and then they are going to Ireland for 10 days in August -- that I will split with my other sister. Yes Gail, I realize my sister needs a break. I remember how I was and how desperately I begged my sister to take mom for anovernght. Sadly, I was so burned out by the time I got the weekend, even though I enjoyed MY time, by the time Sunday night rolled around, I felt like nothing had changed, I was right back into the same old grind. However, it could be different for her, so I have offered to stay at Ruth's home and care for my so she can get away.

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