We have been told and have read how you need to avoid causing anymore trauma to my MIL. How you need to avoid arguing, correcting, distract and redirect. But, life has changed for everyone, changes absolutely have to happen, and we need her to settle down and in.
My MIL has strong narc. tendencies, very controlling and extremely negative. We have actually come to terms a long time ago, arguing is her form of communication, now we get to add complaining. For many years we have noticed her memory was going, then covid happened and it seemed to exasperate the issues even more.
Well in Feb my FIL had a bleeding stroke, he is paralyzed on his left side, he has a direct feeding tube in his stomach at this point. He is 95% all there mentally, only mild confusion or memory loss all things related to the stroke.
This has really thrown my MIL in an understandable tailspin, her life is flipped upside down, she is out of her comfort zone and doesn't have control. She seems to be cycling negative thoughts, worries and anxieties, even if she is shown how these things are not true, she will acknowledge in the moment and then revert back to those cycled thoughts.
Her whole focus is going back home, which is not possible, there is no family support where they lived, which is over 2 hours away from us with a mountain range between us. The medical over in our area is also much better, hence why FIL was flown over here to our trauma center. FIL has to have skilled nursing or adult care center; MIL cannot live alone, and we are pretty sure once she goes to the memory clinic, they will affirm that and more.
FIL even before the stroke he wanted to move back over here, but stayed because he doesn't like upsetting his wife. He affirmed this during his one month stay in the hospital too.
Thankfully in Dec. after months long battle, we were able to get them to do an estate plan, which has been such a blessing all things considered. Since the stroke they signed over durable poa, to my husband (their son).
We have to think of both of them, where it seems like the rest of the family is more focused or concerned about the squeaky wheel (MIL).
We were able to find senior care home, that is incredible, only 6 other patients. Both of the in laws are considered residents so they get two rooms, each having a private bath with shower. They are able to share one room as a bedroom and we set up another one as a sitting room and brought some of their stuff from home to set up in there.
We have to protect FIL from MIL because she has been manipulating and has actually caused confusion for him. Her negativity has impacted him and even had him refusing PT. She has called the neighbors at their house, that is going to have to be sold, and tried to enlist them to find assisted living over there. Everything is about what she wants, and she has said some really cruel things, like she will put her husband in a home, and she can live alone in the house, all her husband did was take care of the yard she did everything else.
Because they are together, we don't have alone time with FIL to get his wishes in decisions. He had told us to get a mobility van, she created chaos with that: we are going too fast, we don't need it when we go back home, your dad doesn't want to go anywhere (that is actually her). Even explained that because of using a cabulance to take FIL to a denture fitting that last 10 minutes, but my husband ended up taking 4 hours off work because they had to wait over an hour to be picked back up.
She has had to be told several times they won't be going back, the house needs to be sold, this is her new home, by her son and even her husband. She acknowledges it breaks down crying then the next day back to going back home. She isn't settling in and actually being rude to the aides.
I get some of this is memory, but it feels like a whole lot of this is more narc. What can we do to get this to sink in and get her to settle in and down?

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A little more background...
I have been being treated for Cptsd, started this journey about 3 years ago, have had a contentious relationship with my mil and strained relationship with my sil. I married into this family because as a whole they have a very big extended family and they seemed to be a close family, I yearned for a good family. I would try not to react to my husband's family, but I would lay all my anger and frustration out on him. He basically said it was just him mom, it's normal, I would internalize it as it is my problem, I needed to change to make it better. It was my therapist that shared that my mil had strong narc tendencies. So, my husband and I have been trying to learn about that and figure out how to keep ourselves healthy and not be baited by mil.
In January we found out my sil is diagnosed with kidney cancer that has spread to a couple of lymphoids. She was scheduled for surgery to remove the kidney on the 31st. So we started planning on traveling down to support her. The plan was we would leave on Feb 8th to pick up the in laws and drive them down to see their daughter. Then I would be left behind to help care for my sil so her husband could get out on the road and make money on the 12th. I would stay until however long she needed.
My fil had his stroke Feb. 6th, never got the parents down to their daughter. I couldn't leave to help my sil since everything was a whirlwind with supporting my husband overseeing his father's care and managing his mom. We found out very quickly my mil could not be dropped off or left on her own at the hospital, she would get lost. So we had to schedule that someone from my family had to take and stay with her down at the hospital.
My Sil started immunotherapy, big fail, since she no longer had cancer the therapy drugs attacked her good kidney. Now she is trying to get her good kidney to function properly.
Sil and my Mil's family all are very empathic to memory issues, but don't realize how the narc is at play at all. They have read and everyone has an opinion on how we should do this and that. They don't understand we have to protect Fil and help keep him in a positive attitude and make him understand his wife is really in a bad place and can't make decisions. Because fil is stable health wise (knock wood), people don't really think about him other than seeing if he has had any improvement. A lot of the family my mil has told that my fil is in lala land, you have to spend time with my fil, ask lots of questions if things are feeling off, and find out this man is sharp, he is not in lala land and when he it it's painfully obvious.
Mil has an appt. next week, hopefully getting diagnosed and praying she will get stronger meds, at tranq might be nice, but I guess that is out of the question. If after some time on meds if there isn't improvement, we may have to separate. It goes against our mission statement to them to protect the sanctity of their marriage and keeping them together. Heartbreaking
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We didn’t deal with dementia but did have times when my dad couldn’t seem to accept changes or make decisions. After a particularly bad fall, though he had a sound mind, we got really firm in his face and told him there were two options on how the living situation was going to change immediately. Truth was, we had no real power, but he bought it. Dementia is a new ballgame, but I can see the need for firmness and no negotiation. If you haven’t already, check into meds to calm her behavior. You may have to consider another degree of separation for she and husband, to keep him safe from her tirades. Answer every comment about her former home and her going anywhere with “this is your home now” and no further discussion. Don’t discuss the home being sold at all. The less info the better, give her less ammo to argue with. You’ve done a great job in getting them both care and advocating for their needs, it’ll take a thick skin for the road ahead. I wish you peace
Helpful Answer (1)

I hope you've informed her former neighbors that she has dementia and that they can't consider doing what she asks.

You can be as firm as you want as many times as you want. MIL still won't get it because her brain is broken.

It's a wonderful set-up you managed to find for them! But I also think that it might be better if they were in different facilities. Or maybe use their two rooms as a bedroom for each instead of one as a sitting room. That way he could have some peace, which I strongly believe he deserves.

She isn't ever going to understand what's wrong with him now. You might think she does, but she's only going through the motions. I hope her doctor will prescribe calming meds at the very least.

You could reduce your involvement and let their facility handle more of these issues. Stop calling, fretting, asking how things are. For that matter, when she starts up with the everything, tell her YOU DON'T CARE (that'll knock her out of her socks) and you have to leave or hang up now. She probably loves the attention and may be one of those who gets her fun from watching your reaction. "Oh, she's paying attention to ME she loves ME because she's got tears in her eyes he has to take ME to the doctor and I'M going to give them a piece of MY mind."

Yup, there are people like that. Harass and harass to provoke, then sit back and watch everyone else fall apart.

You've done a great job so far. Just don't let the monkeys run the zoo.
Helpful Answer (3)
chekylildevil May 2023
We don't know all the neighbors they associated with, we have been in contact with a couple of neighbors and also gave presents to them for all the help they have given us.
We just found out about this particular neighbor we didn't know at all, MIL let it slip and my husband got the phone. We reached out to her and told her what was going on and where the in laws are at. My husband ended up feeling like he had to drop on her that these are my FIL wishes, seemed to make her feel better. This neighbor even shared that one of the neighbors who knows all our family and has been such a huge help even told this neighbor that it was likely the in laws would be back.
I am going to post more explanation in a separate response regarding meds and such.
So, I hear what you're saying agree totally with what you're saying. We decided after a week of them staying there and her dumping on our sons and her sister too to feed her into her need of importance. We took a composition book and pen with us; we said OK we understand you have concerns; we think it would be a great idea if make sure we give you time each week to express your concerns and document them. I think that shocked her because she really couldn't think of anything. She started back pedaling and saying how lovely the place is and the staff is really nice.

I so love your comment about "Just don't let the monkeys run the zoo", I am teaching my husband about flying monkeys and we both busted up laughing when we read this.
Perhaps MIL needs to be on an AD or something for her overarching anxiety.

Once 'calmer' she will likely be more amenable to the inevitable changes, plus she'll be less stressful for FIL.

Their Drs need to be treating BOTH FIL and MIL as a team, not as individuals, for the sake of peace and a care plan that is best for both of them.

It will take MIL time to adapt. Something as big as being moved to a new home is stressful, esp so if it's not your choice.

I agree that if she is really, really upsetting her DH, they might need to be separated. I did CH for a couple who had been living in AL for years, then the wife's health took a real nosedive and they wanted to move her to a higher level of care. Would have cost them anothe $5K a month. So the family moved them back to their home and tried to get 24/7 CG's in. It was an epic fail---I quit these people after ONE day b/c I saw nothing but misery and I wasn't in the mood for that. IDK what finally happened. The 'kids' were squabbling over the extra expense b/c it would have eaten into their inheritances.
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chekylildevil May 2023
I didn't share this before because I felt very long winded already. I have been on a journey to try to heal, I have been being treated for CPTSD, my mil is very triggering to me. I spoke to my therapist about how controlling my mil is over everything and especially how it has affected my fil. My fil was almost kicked out of rehab because he plateaued in improvement, while we were on vacation. So, my therapist insisted I get my husband to take his mom and get her on meds, which he did. She is now on a med that is supposed to help with sleep, depression and anxiety. She has an appt next week to try and get a formal diagnosis and hopefully get really appropriate meds on board.
I believe it was your threads I read last night, and it sounds like you have a very contentious relationship with your mil also. Ours has been contentious since prior to our marriage 30 years ago. Hugs strength and prayer to you!
I loved your suggestion of getting a doctor to treat both of them as a team. I am hoping with how this home is set up it will happen organically. This home has a primary care physician that comes in every 4-6 weeks to check on all the patients. So, they will be seeing both the in laws. This physician is also set up with "my chart" which my husband has access to and can see the notes of the physician, PT, OT and speech which is really awesome.
We are trying hard not to separate them but also realizing that if things don't change, we may have too. My fil actually suggested living with us and I am sure he noticed my eyes popping out of my head when he said that. Thankfully we don't have any alphabet letters after our name so we couldn't care for him the way he needs.
What a remarkable journey, and I can only congratulate you for all you have done, how well you have done.

But the truth is you know MIL. She was never anyone but exactly who she is. No one changes in age, they just kind of get "more so". And that's what she's doing.

So my only advice is acceptance: that you try to give up your unrealistic expectations that somewhere out here there is someone with a magic wand that will make MIL not the person she is. It is magical thinking. It won't happen.

Again, you have my most sincere admiration. You have been through the mill and you have handled this unimaginably well. Glory in all you have done right, and continue to live, as her husband has all these years, well as you can with who MIL is. Cheky, you have so much to teach others. I hope you stick around on the Forum.
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chekylildevil May 2023
Thank you for your encouragement!

In regard to mil, I didn't realize until I went through my own health journey, that she had the problem, and it wasn't me. I have been being treated for CPTSD, I have always been very reactive, especially to people trying to control me or manipulate me. I am a people pleaser, perfectionist, self-critical but I specialize at over thinking and being hypervigilant.
For the longest time my husband would tell me oh that's just my mom, that's normal, to which I attributed it to it's my problem I need to change and try harder. I never really ever lashed out at his mom out of respect for him and her, but boy I wanted to and he often times bore the brunt of my anger. He would tell me his mom loves me, I would yell back at him that actions speak louder than words and what she is doing is not love!
My therapist was the one that put a word to what my mil was doing to me, she labeled her as strong narcissist tendencies. So, I started learning about that to try and protect myself from these tendencies. In my learning we found out people who grow up with parents like this can react in two different ways, there is me reactive and not going to take it. Or my husband who avoids convict at all costs, peace maker will let things smolder around him and then only reacts when it blows up and is an inferno.
Once he recognized these things too, he is making big changes that has impacted our relationship, we can be really honest with each other. It has also benefitted him with managing employees at the business' he runs.
I know there is no magical fix, she is who she is, we are actually starting to use to tendencies to actually try and help us. We look for ways to make her feel important or powerful. Like as I mentioned to Fawnby, in this thread, give her a time to express her concerns and complaints, write them down, hoping to stop her from dumping on our kids (young adults too).
I tend to question everything and try to problem solve or make things easier for us. I am exploring an idea right now and laying it out for my husband, using a white board, hanging one in each room, and using her stressor and listing out each solution. Like she is super stressed about bills, so writing on board as a bullet point Your son is paying all your bills. So, verbal remind, visual reminder and assurance that all is ok. Just an idea hoping it works.
They are both adjusting to a new way of life. It seems like your father in law is accepting of his new surroundings and your mother in law is not.

I feel sorry for your father in law and I agree with Beatty’s statement about trying medication for your mother in law. Hopefully, she will respond well to the meds and be able to cope.

If she doesn’t respond well to the medication then it may be necessary to separate them so your father in law can live in peace.

Wishing you and your family all the best. Please let us know how your situation progresses. Stick around because there are many people who post on this forum who may have been through similar circumstances and may be able to offer viable solutions for this situation.
Helpful Answer (3)
chekylildevil May 2023
Thanks for your encouragement, hopefully next week we will have a true diagnosis and proper meds on hand.
Time.. can take up to 6 months to really adjust to a big life change.

This 'downsize' stage can be tramatic for some. This *loss of control* seems to wound them deeply. Others just go with it. Give their belongings away with a shrug. Accept a new season of life.

You know your MIL's personality by now.

Patient staff may help.
Routines help a lot.
Medications may be considered to support this adjustment time (knock some sharp edges off any anxiety). Or a Pschycologist (faith leader, other professional listener) for her to unload her anger to.

Sometimes it even takes another stepdown in cognition to adjust.

It can be very hard on everyone 😔

If it gets too hard for your FIL, consider further distance between them. I've seen this being necessary - he was a stroke survivor too & she had always had difficult behaviours (personality disorder?, starting dementia?). She would continuely harrass & verbal abuse spouse & any staff caring for him.
Rooms on separate floors were arranged for his protection. He made short daily visits. (She was not told his address).
That made a mark on me - never ever thought adults kids had to separate their parents like that! I mention it as an option if needed.

Seeking out your own support for this big change is good too. And still get some fun too! Your whole life shouldn't be about aging in-laws... got any holidays planned?
Helpful Answer (6)
chekylildevil May 2023
Thank you so much for your insights so appreciative spelling out for us possible duration and maybe needing a true decline.

Funny you mention holidays, I use our vacations as goal lines, things I look forward to research and plan fun things. I have a cruise coming up in the end of Sept.

We had a cruise booked well before the stroke happened, for last April, we almost cancelled it. We decided to go ahead and go, since FIL was in rehab, Mil was staying with her sister, there seemed to be a routine in place, and all was well.
The week before we left, my Fil seemed off I couldn't put my finger on it, so started in with questions. My fil will not tell his wife anything is going on and wouldn't use the call button either to get a nurse's help. I had already kind of figured this out about him. So finally got out of him that he was in pain, from his wrist up his arm and into his chest, this is on his left side which is paralyzed. Chest pain, not good this is new, I talked him into letting the nurse know, he approved and then an ambulance was called with his approval. It was found that he was dehydrated, and his blood pressure was now too low.
We talked ourselves out of canceling yet again.
We go on our trip, my sil is second in charge of the in laws when my husband is gone or unavailable. The second day we were gone my mil took the opportunity to manipulate and stir things up. Messaged her daughter stating how her husband hates it there, they treat him bad, he wants to go back home. Stating they do nothing with him no PT or anything. So sil jumps in both feet and my sons that are going at the care center. My husband is trying to explain to his sister mom's manipulating you, you just need to manage mom. Every night before dinner there was some kind of drama. Sil doesn't understand her mother tendencies and well is in denial.
Praying they will be settled in for our next trip.
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