My MIL has moved in with with myself and my wife. Her huspand passed away a year ago and it's been a big change for her as well as us. She has been with us since November. But she misses all that she has left.
The hard part is over.
I'm matching you with one of our specialists who will be calling you in the next few minutes.
There could be other reason's of course, so a good physical would be in order, anyway. Of course, she would feel better if she contributed more, but she may feel so displaced and depressed she can't. Try to help her find a reason to exist, while you are working on her health.
Good luck to you all. These many changes can't have been easy.
Here are some questions you need to answer with your wife about your MIL:
What is her general health? (MIL)
What do you expect her to do?
What can she do safely to contribute?
What does your wife need help with?
Do your wife and MIL work well together?
Of course you can sit and discuss these questions with your MIL and wife together, but make it a discussion NOT an ultimatum. Just a conversation, casual over coffee and cake maybe.
Simple questions but worth defining. If her health is relatively good and she is willing to help, by ALL means include her in any activity around the house that is safe for her to do!
Of course she misses what she 'had' all of us would. Don't you agree? BUT we can find 'reasons' to go on, with loving family around to help!
We all need a "purpose" in life, even if it is just setting the table for dinner! If she is unable to handle certain tasks, or if something is too complicated, find SIMPLIER
stuff for her to do. With the answers to the questions above you and your wife should be able to find some uplifting answers that may just help her 'adjust' more.
Start with what she is WILLING to do, then what she LIKES to do, and then establish what she truly CAN do!
My mother loved to cook. But I noticed that she didn't want to eat when she first came to stay with us. Of course at first I didn't allow her to do anything, telling her that she was 'retired' and I would be happy to do for her. Boy.. that didnt' work! I also (like Linda said) I 'caught' my mother using ODD ways to do things, and was worried about the safety of the food or her for that matter. BUT, it didn't stop me from directing her to something I could supervise without her even realizing it. And BOY, did it make a difference. I went from having a mother that was uninterested in food (or meals) to someone that asked "When are we going to make lunch?" As my mother ALZ worsened I had to change tactics. (see below).
ex: If cooking is OUT of the question, then ask her to look for bargains in the paper to shop for. Or look through cook books for recipes she might like to 'taste'. Or watch the food channel for 'new ideas' (or old) for dinner.
At 87, with the losses your MIL has experienced there is going to be many adjustments she will have to make and these adjustments will keep changing!
I don't know your MIL's age, health or outlook on life, but please take the time to try. I never had children, and I never considered my elderly mother a "child" but I can see how having someone else help can make the job twice as hard, but, and it's a big BUT, we have to try to include them, engage them in LIFE, or the situation can get much worse. Depression will set in, and then that's when (in my humble opinion) drugs are used and the situation gets worse! Drugs MAY or may not be necessary if you just let them know "here's how you can help Mom" , instead of "Here take this pill it will make you feel better". Fresh air and sunshine helps me more than any pill I think can be prescribed!
At 87 your MIL will have to make some adjustment too, but let them be HER decision. As long as she doesn't put herself or others in harms way, what's wrong with a few mistakes? If she doesn't wash the dishes right, show her how to put them in the dishWASHER and let the machine sterilize the dishes. If she uses dirty socks to wipe something, have her put dirty clothes in the washer! You can check the washer WITH her without seeming 'overbearing' and she will be helping herself too.
Mistakes are a part of life. Some of my best recipes where 'mistakes' and some of my nicest pieces of artwork started with a failure and they turned out great too!
Tell us MORE about your MIL (if you like), talk to your wife, and learn more
about her abilities. You will learn something about yourselves too and what you are capable of doing, what you want to do, and in reality what you are willing to do!
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