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Hello All, 

 

My name is Dannette   Seven weeks ago my father-in-law passed away which resulted in my mother-in-law living with my husband and me.  My husband and I have been empty nesters for the four years. I am used to our house being in a certain way and I find my self constantly cleaning now more than normal.   

 

This is quite the adjustment for both of us.  Although my mother-in-law is fairly independent she still needs assistance from time to time.  

 

The death of my father-in-law was sudden and has been difficult for the family especially my mother-in-law.  My laws were married 52 years and it is difficult for her.  There are days when she is not willing to get out of bed (sleeping a lot) shower or brush her teeth.  I am aware of her greiving. But, I believe she is depressed as well.  Other health concerns are that she has suffered from TIAs.  Help.    

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@reginaldj134974 Hi Danette! I second Jane's suggestion of finding a grief support group for your mother-in-law. You might contact the area agency on aging to ask about a list of local support groups. I realize that may be tricky if she won't go though. 

 

HealGrief.org is a website that has some good info about grief and healing and moving forward - there may be some resources there that would be helpful. Has your MIL done anything to memorialize your FIL? Doing something proactive like that can help a lot. 

 

I'm glad you are aware of signs of depression, it's not unusual to have situational depression when grieving, and it is also something that can happen for older adults even when they have never had depression before. According to Mental Health America, about 1/4 of people who've had a stroke also get depression. So if she's having TIAs that might be a factor too. Be sure to ask her doctor about the depression and medication for it. My Mom had a stroke (and lived 25 years after that) and she had depression also. Medication did help her. My Dad has Alzheimer's and he also has had some depression and medication, acupuncture and Chinese herbs prescribed by a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor have helped. Exercise used to help him a lot too - but now he has congestive heart failiure so he doesn't get much exercise. 

 

I've been caregiving for my parents intensively for the past 9 years, 6 of those years living with me. Mom passed on 4 years ago and Daddy is still living with me and is 94. So I understand your feelings about the changes in your home. It's a choice that does come with change, but I don't regret it one bit. Their quality of life is so much better and their care, because I provide a lot of it and am able to supervise it so direclty. Sure, my house has too much stuff in it, I never have time to do the organizing and cleaning out closets etc that I'd like to do...but every time I kiss my Dad good night and every moment I have with him makes it all worthwhile. Be gentle and patient with yourself and try to be adaptable. I always go back and remind myself that the reason I chose this path remains - love for my parents. That is unwaivering despite the stress and chaos and disruption of my old routines! 

 

I've learned to keep filling my tank though - I can't keep going on empty so remember what Jane said about caring for yourself too - and making sure you and your husband have couple time! 

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

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@reginaldj134974wrote:

Hello All, 

 

My name is Dannette   Seven weeks ago my father-in-law passed away which resulted in my mother-in-law living with my husband and me.  My husband and I have been empty nesters for the four years. I am used to our house being in a certain way and I find my self constantly cleaning now more than normal.   

 

This is quite the adjustment for both of us.  Although my mother-in-law is fairly independent she still needs assistance from time to time.  

 

The death of my father-in-law was sudden and has been difficult for the family especially my mother-in-law.  My laws were married 52 years and it is difficult for her.  There are days when she is not willing to get out of bed (sleeping a lot) shower or brush her teeth.  I am aware of her greiving. But, I believe she is depressed as well.  Other health concerns are that she has suffered from TIAs.  Help.    


Dannette, 

Jane has provided you with a wealth of questions and options to consider and please do write us back. In the meantime, I want to direct you to our free, online careguide for first time caregivers. I think this will help you take each day, one step at a time. You can find the guide HERE.

What state do you live in? We also have some state/local care guides that might be of assistance. 


Hope to hear from you soon!

Jen

AARPJen
Caregiving Concierge
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@reginaldj134974wrote:

Hello All, 

 

My name is Dannette   Seven weeks ago my father-in-law passed away which resulted in my mother-in-law living with my husband and me.  My husband and I have been empty nesters for the four years. I am used to our house being in a certain way and I find my self constantly cleaning now more than normal.   

 

This is quite the adjustment for both of us.  Although my mother-in-law is fairly independent she still needs assistance from time to time.  

 

The death of my father-in-law was sudden and has been difficult for the family especially my mother-in-law.  My laws were married 52 years and it is difficult for her.  There are days when she is not willing to get out of bed (sleeping a lot) shower or brush her teeth.  I am aware of her greiving. But, I believe she is depressed as well.  Other health concerns are that she has suffered from TIAs.  Help.    


Hello Dannette, 

 

All of this is a huge adjustment, isn't it? Your husband has lost his father, your mother in law has lost her partner and beloved husband of 52 years. You have lost your quiet empty house which you enjoyed for four years after your children moved out into their adult lives. That is a lot of change. And depending on how close you were to your father in law, you lost him as your husband and his wife have.

 

That's a lot. 

 

Your mother in law has barely experienced 2 months in this new reality. She is in a kind of emotional shock. And it's going to take a great deal of time for her to begin to contemplate a new chapter in her life. Grief overtakes you and rides you hard. It beats you up and then kicks you for good measure. It comes in waves and drowns you, except you aren't dead. She cannot be rushed through the process. 

 

Sometimes home hospice programs have support groups for grieving people, and all the hospices i've known about have welcomed widows even if the deceased loved one did not use hospice. She's not going to feel like meeting a bunch of grieving strangers, but maybe one day she will. No one understands grief better than another grieving person. You could look into this option for her, find out about any group or groups, let her know about it. Or have her son do the footwork and inform her. That's one idea.

 

Another idea is to have other people who love her visit her. Was she a part of a faith community? Does she have siblings? Did she have any other children besides your husband? Does she have a favorite grandchild? A best friend? A buddy from a job (that she's retired from)?  She lost her home as well as her husband. Some familiar people will help her feel just a wee bit normal, even if it's just for a short while.

 

Is there a reason she had to move in so quickly? If she's having TIAs, then she must need a little help, plus she's grieving so she might forget to eat. But gosh, it all seems so abrupt. 

 

What are you doing to help yourself, to care for yourself, while your home has changed so? Did you have a vote in all this (i hope so.)  Maybe you're feeling a wee bit resentful?  Is cleaning the house more often the biggest burden? Can her son help more? With chores, with taking her to doctor appointments, etc?  Sometimes daughter in laws take over the caregiving without even a discussion, and i personally don't think that's fair. Resentment can build.

 

Could you write more and tell us a bit more about what part of this HUGE change you need help with? I can imagine there are a lot of bits of tasks and feelings that feel new and burdensome. What is the hardest part?

 

Thank you for writing and do tell us more?

Jane

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