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Living with boyfriend's mother and acting as caregiver for both

ddskorupski
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2013

I have read through a few of these posts and feel a little ashamed of myself. A part of me feels like I have no business complaining, but I feel so overwhelmed right now that I don't know what else to do. I have no one else to turn to. Please, if you can, help me sort out what I can do in my situation.

Here is my situation. I am 49 years old and am currently living with my boyfriend and his mother. My boyfriend and I have been living together for about ten years. We had our own place in Connecticut until we learned his mother had terminal cancer and should not live alone. We agreed to move to New Jersey to live with her and help his brother and sister care of their mother. (His brother lives locally but has a wife and two small children and could not live with her. His sister lives in New York, about an hour away, but works a great deal. She tried living with her but the commute to work was too much.)

Chris and I proved to be the better choice as my children are grown and on their own. So Jan 1, we moved in with his mother. His mother is a wonderful woman, and honestly, easy to llive with. The most difficult time I have living in her house is that she and I are very different in housekeeping. Her house is small and oh so cluttered! It was very dirty when we moved in and my efforts to clean it, and keep it clean, are futile. I try, but there is so much stuff that I can't seem to make a difference. The house is only a two bedroom. We occupy one and the second has two bunk beds that are never used. She sleeps in a recliner in the living room. She likes the room hot, keeps the termostat at around 85 because the cancer has left her feeling cold. She is deaf, so the t.v. blares very loudly. She keeps the t.v. on 24 hours a day. This house is small, dirty, loud and oppresive.

Chris and I both work fulltime jobs from our house. My desk is in the bedroom we sleep in and his is in the bedroom with the two bunk beds. I asked Chris this morning if we could get rid of the bunk beds and clear out the children toys and books that fill this room. (His mother watched small children before she became terminal. This is why we have a bedroom full of toys and kids stuff.) He agreed and we began talking through plans to clear out the room and buy furniture that would provide us a place to be more comfortable. We can't sit out in the living room because of the noise level and the heat, plus she sleeps there. Before I knew it, we were fighting! Lately, it seems we snap at each other over stupid things.  I recongize the stress is getting to us both. I want very much to be supportive of Chris and available to help him when he needs it. But I feel like all I do is work, clean and care for him and his mother. I am tired and so uncomfortable in this house.

I don't want to leave. That is not an option for me. I am here for Chris and his mother and want to remain here. But I need some way to cope and I don't know how.

Pleases, any suggestions?

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1610
Joined: Aug 2009

Caregiving is really hard so don't feel ashamed of your feelings. Stress, anger, and feeling tired are all things most of us have experienced while caring for someone we care about. Have you considered the TV ears thing? That might help with the noise from the TV. Also, maybe a small space heater right next to Mom would keep her warm and allow the rest of the house to be a bit cooler. Can you open a window in your bedroom and close the door? Maybe none of this will work, though, and might cause hard feelings. I can tell you we all look for little escapes from the reality of care giving. Maybe a walk, coffee out, or pounding a pillow might help. Also, could his brother stay for a weekend and give the two of you some time out. The sister could also give you a break. Maybe they can't be there all the time, but they still need to help carry the load part of the time. It really sounds to me like a division of labor is called for here. Talk with your boyfriend when you have a quiet moment or ask him to read your post. Then ask him if you can call a family meeting to work something out. You have both made a big sacrifice to be there for your boyfriend's mother. You both care about her and you sound like a very caring person. Tell him you aren't leaving, but you do need some down time. We all do. Take care and come here when you need to vent. We have all done that, too. Fay

Ladylacy
Posts: 457
Joined: Apr 2012

Caregiving is hard and it doesn't make any difference if you are married, if it is your mother/mother-inlaw/husband/child/boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.  But when you and he are fighting it is harder and you two need time to yourselves.  I have found with caring for my husband, it is easy to loose my temper so I get out of the house and take sometime for me.  You have to take care of yourself but if you don't you will have problems.

Another thing, the heat in the house is too much.  She can become dehydrated from the heat.  My mother lived in a small one bedroom apartment and when I went to spend some time with her, she had the heat up to 90 because she was cold.  Well the next think I knew she was doing strange things like bathing, getting dress and then an hour later doing it again.  We found out she was dehydrated due to the heat.  So we were always going behind her and turning down the heat.  She came to live with me her last 2 years and all she did was complain about being cold.  She had had by-pass surgery but it didn't help.  She had congestive heart failure and low blood counts.  They also thought she might have had gallbladder cancer but due to her health they didn't test her and wouldn't have been able to do surgery on her.  She wore long sleeves every day and a sweater and used to complain about how cold the house was.  But it wasn't. 

Your boyfriend needs to realize that you need help in taking care of the house, his mother and working full time.  As well as his siblings.  And I know how frustrating it can be.  We have grown sons, but during our battle of 3 years never once have they said mom I'll take dad for his treatment so you can rest.  We are not young and I don't really expect them to help since they work, but still I get very frustrated when I see them taking vacations, helping their significant other when their parent is dying from cancer, etc.  I think what about us, why can't you help him.  Now though we are not doing any treatments but they rarely come see their father or call.  But yet when they need something, they call and expect us to help.  We also have grown grandchildren who offer no help nor do they call or even send emails but yet when their birthdays or graduation rolls around they expect us to do something for them.  So believe me when I say, I understand where you are coming from and my hat is off to you for your willingness to be there and help, something that you don't need to do.

Wishing you the best.

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