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Caring for husband and mother in law

I am new here - just found this website.  I am caring for my husband and my mother in law.  And I work fulltime, have a craft business, and volunteer.


My husband has brain damage and memory loss due to chemo.  His memory loss is getting slowly worse. He also can barely walk due to refusing to have knee replacement.  So he can do very little. The brain damage (for lack of a better term) has caused him to be depressed and frustrated.  This is from his doctor, not just my observation.  He is angry and takes it out on me.  He has no friends and no hobbies, except that he loves our cats.  He does take care of them.  But he is always yelling at me, saying that everything is my fault.  If I ask has he fed our cat who  must get wet food, he just yells of course not or of course.  You should know that.  He is very difficult to talk to or deal with.  I just don't talk to him except to give or request information.  I mostly just stay in my room so as not to have to talk to him.


Every conversation turns into an argument.


He got a cold and asked me to get cold medicine.  He wuld not say wht kind.  So I asked my pharmacist what to get.  I got home and got yelled at for 30  minutes that it is the wrong thing.  The next day he yells at me that it caused him to lose his voice.


It is just very hard not to explode back.


Then his mother (95) had to move in with us.  She is in a wheelchair, has an ostemy bag, wears diapers, can only eat soft food, can barely hear and barely see.  She at least says thank you.  She is not difficult, she just needs a  lot.  I have to shop for her, take her to doctors, get her meds, make her supper every night and put her to bed, get her up on Sunday and give her a "sponge bath" because she cannot stand.  (Mon - Sat. I am not at home in the morning)  The tape on her ostemy bag invariably fails at 3 am, not during the day.


I HAVE to work for another 3 1/2 years.  I refuse to give up my crafting and my volunteering completely   I volunteer at a cat shelter.  I clean on Sat. mornings and foster little kittens.  They keep me sane.  The staff at the shelter make me feel valued and appreciated, which I do not get at home.


My husband was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 so I have been caring for him and now his mother, for 6 years.  It is affecting my health.  I am so stressed that I am constantly exhausted.  I have not been eating right and was just diagnosed as pre-diabetic.  So I HAVE to start taking care of myself more.


But how do I do that?


Sorry for the long post, I just feel so alone and overwhelmed. I can see from other posts that others are dealing with serious isssues also, some even more than me.  There is no other family.  My husband has no other family here, and my family is in IN.




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AARP Expert

Hi Ruth,

Thank you for writing and being so candid. Goodness. Here's what i'm thinking. Why do you put up with his verbal abuse? I think you can transform this information, but it's going to take work on your part, and moxie. I'd find a psychotherapist, a counselor, who can coach you on how to do this. But seriously, would you put up with this from a child? Not that he is a child, but you would less likely put up with this bratty, cranky, ungrateful and irrational behavior from him if he were 5 or 10 or 15 years old instead of 65 or 75 or however old he is.


I also feel compassion for him, of course, since he's lost a great deal. I'd be depressed if i were him How about an antidepressant? Chemo causes "chemobrain" but i don't think it can be blamed for such a dramatic decline in mood and behavior.


Also wondering, your mother in law moved in with you. She receives at the very least Social Security. Can you hire someone to take care of her? She sounds appreciative, and high maintenance, and it sounds like your husband can't do hands on care for her. So hire some help? Even one day a week to do the thorough bath. Did she sell a home to move in, if so where are those funds? Her money should take care of her needs, right?


I'm glad you aren't taking leave of your crafts or work with animals. I bet they both nourish your soul. How wonderful, truly. Do take care of yourself. And, think about how to stop your husband's behavior. It is possible. His illness does not give him a license to abuse.


What do you think? Write more?


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