Hi my husband has MS. I am the one that takes care of him. He still works, the company he works for is wonderful. They set him up at home with all the computers and phones he needs. He is a lighting designer. He is also only 47 and I’m 61 so I stopped working to be able to do whatever he needs. But it’s exhausting and he has 3 siblings that don’t help out much. I have 4 siblings and 3 brother-in- laws who help me out all the time. They all have very busy lives as do his siblings but if they could help us more if would help us tremendously. Our house is old and my family is the ones that help with things that need to be fixed. My husband and his siblings grew up in this house and they know it so well so I feel it would be easier for them. So that’s my main issue at this point. Thanks!
Hi Patricia! If i had a dollar for every post that mentioned unhelpful relatives... i could retire!
It sure is a trick to leverage people into helping. Everyone has an excuse, and 'busy' is the most common one. I have a few ideas to brainstorm, and who knows what will work, if any of them. But you can see if any make sense and seem realistic. Please write back and tell us more of what you're thinking.
My partner is 12 years older than I am, and she too has MS. She has a very slowly progressing kind, however, and she's healthier at 70 than i am at 58 because i have diabetes. MS is scary, so i get that, and the age difference is irrelevant but i get that too.
So, his siblings. When you talk to your husband about their (lack of) involvement, what does he say? Does he want them to be more helpful, any of them in particular? Are they resentful that he got the house they grew up in? Families can be endlessly petty about favoritism and 'fairness.' Is there one of the family who is the closest to you both that you could start with? Like, hey there, George, come over for dinner... and then talk about the imbalance of who's helping?
And what kind of help do you and he need? Have you ever heard of Lotsahelpinghands.com? It is a remarkable free tool that you can use to organize the help you have, and recruit folks to help with other stuff. People sign up, and then one or two people keep it organized. He needs a ride to an appointment on such and such a day? Put out the word and a ride gets identified. The driver's car breaks down? She puts the word out on the community you've set up and a substitute volunteers. It keeps the tasks manageable and specific. People might not think they can 'help' but almost anyone can make a casserole and deliver. (Who get a bucket of KFC, for pete's sake.)
Do your two families get along? Could you invite everyone over for a party/ gathering/ fun event, and start a conversation about taking turns and chipping in? I don't mean that you'd want to trick them,... but... Free food will often get people to come and then, without a guilt trip, just update everyone...
Is there a church community that you are part of? (A temple, a mosque). Do those folks chip in, too?
Is there a respite care program in your county? The relatives of your husband might want to know that you've looked into all the other options before they take on more for him than they're used to.
Also, are there are other folks in the extended families who need help, too? Perhaps if there are and you include those concerns in your 'family meeting'/ fun gathering, folks won't feel you are begging. I bet there is an elderly relative on someone's list of concerns, or a special needs kid. Think in a wider more inclusive way, and the family will be grateful. The entire family.
Do you and your husband have an attorney or CPA who have figured out your own finances? He's working, you are not. Is there enough savings and equity and assets to take care of you both, in the long run? And... can you afford a housecleaner every couple of weeks? Of all the tasks that need doing, scrubbing the toilet generally falls in the 'least favorite' category.
I'm just throwing out ideas. What do you think? Please write some more. I'm just guessing.
Thanks for writing, though. I can relate to your situation very much!