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Help! MIL was widowed 6 months ago after a wonderful 50+ year marriage. It was rather sudden. We moved to a ginormous house with plenty of room for her and invited her to come live with us. She declined and said she wants to live in the house she shared with her husband. She is 82. DH or his brother go over every single night to do her eye drops and visit for 45 minutes or so. Additionally, DH goes over Thursday mornings and does her trash/visits and also does her grocery shopping/visits on Saturdays. She has been having anxiety spells and when it happens, she immediately calls DH and asks him to "come sit with me." She does this several times a week. There is a heavy amount of guilt placed on DH by his mother if he doesn't go over right away. This is frequently during his working hours (he's a CTO) and can be in the middle of the night. She does sometimes call his brother instead for this. It's impacting both of their work and home lives and I am starting to resent it. I love my MIL. It's not about that. Any suggestions on ways to make this better? 

Edited by hippymamato3
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Does she have any other family?  

Could you hire someone to come visit her and spend time with her?   Does she do anything in the day?  

Have you looked into adult daycare or senior programing? 

Does she have friends that come and visit her? 

Do you have kids that could go and visit with her during the day? 

Is she seeing or talking to a doctor about her anxiety spells? 

Could you invite her to come spend a week with you?  Not move in, but spend a week.  Get a little bit of a taste of living with you.  Maybe do that 2 times a month and your dh's brother handle the other 2 weeks.

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Well talking to her about it would be ideal, but I understand if that won’t turn out well.  
 

I think there are eye drop things that make giving eye drops easy.   I’ll look up a link.  https://www.amazon.com/Mumford-OP-6000-Autodrop-Guide/dp/B002LVV3OI/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=eye+drops+helper&qid=1619446250&sr=8-4
Get that and show her how to use it and tell her he can’t come over every night anymore because of work.  

Ask a neighbor to help with the trash, because that really is cumbersome and she probably does need help with that.  Even getting a teen/preteen neighbor to do it and giving him $20 a month would be a good alternative.  
 

Alternate Saturday visits with the brother.  I would absolutely not go to the grocery store with her because I’d rather gouge my eyes out than do something like that.   So maybe do a Walmart pickup and bring it over on saturdays? 
 

Also, can you look into those Amazon echos or whatever there called with the video screen?  Maybe get one for each brother, any grandkids who are out on their own, maybe a sibling or sibling-in-law of grandma?   Show them how to use it and let her ‘visit’ that way.  
 

just some suggestions.  💛

Edited by WildflowerMom
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10 minutes ago, hippymamato3 said:

Help! MIL was widowed 6 months ago after a wonderful 50+ year marriage. It was rather sudden. We moved to a ginormous house with plenty of room for her and invited her to come live with us. She declined and said she wants to live in the house she shared with her husband. She is 82. DH or his brother go over every single night to do her eye drops and visit for 45 minutes or so. Additionally, DH goes over Thursday mornings and does her trash/visits and also does he grocery shopping/visits on Saturdays. She has been having anxiety spells and when it happens, she immediately calls DH and asks him to "come sit with me." She does this several times a week. There is a heavy amount of guilt placed on DH by his mother if he doesn't go over right away. This is frequently during his working house (he's a CTO) and can be in the middle of the night. She does sometimes call his brother instead for this. It's impacting both of their work and home lives and I am starting to resent it. I love my MIL. It's not about that. Any suggestions on ways to make this better? 

I can't believe it has been 6 months already!  Wow.  Time flies by. 

I am so sorry for this situation.  Unfortunately it is going to have to be your DH and BIL who speak with her and let her know they love her and want to be there for her, but they cannot keep up this pace.  Maybe ask her again to come live with you.  If she still refuses that maybe suggest she get a live in caretaker or companion.  

Sadly your hands are tied.  

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7 minutes ago, mommyoffive said:

 

Could you invite her to come spend a week with you?  Not move in, but spend a week.  Get a little bit of a taste of living with you.  Maybe do that 2 times a month and your dh's brother handle the other 2 weeks.

Great idea!

Edited by Scarlett
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When my dad died, it took a few years before my mom was ready to move in with anyone. Part of both her realization that she needed to move and her reluctance to do so was that none of us lived nearby. Living with any of us meant leaving the town where she had lived for about 56 years to a town where she didn't know anyone. Then my sister who had lived a half-hour away had to move much further away. She finally came to the realization that even if she were in the hospital, it would be complicated for any of us, and the care of the house and yard was too much for her to take care of anyway. It was hard on her, due to leaving the home where she had lived for years (and being not-quite-a-hoarder and moving to a much smaller place). Her home was large, and it was a great place for all her kids/grandkids to gather, and she didn't want to give that up, either. She had too much money (but not enough) to move to assisted living where some of her friends lived, but if she had, none of us would have had a place to stay when we visited. She did finally move 9 years after my dad's death of her own free will, and knows that it is much easier on everyone. Part of it was also that she has always been so determined not to be a burden and bother any of us. (Her grandmother lived with them for about 8 years, and she has very bad memories of that. However, she is nothing like her grandmother.) Thankfully for her sake, she has her own "apartment" area, and it keeps her from feeling like she is a bother. She insisted on paying for changes to the space, such as making the bathroom more accessible and putting in a stair chair, and she also insisted on paying rent/utilities.

It is a huge change for an elderly person who desires to be as independent as possible. Perhaps helping her realize that it is much harder on her sons to run over there whenever she calls would help her see what she needs to do. That's a hard balance though, because you don't want them to feel like a burden, either. If there is diminished mental capacity, it is hard for them to understand. My mom was resistant for a long time, but we had planted the idea, and she finally owned it herself. I think she is happy having more contact with her kids, and since my dd lives in the same town as my sister, she runs over occasionally with lunch and a nice visit. Mom has been a wonderful example to us of how to handle things when we age. Hugs to you. Elder issues are complicated sometimes.

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I get wanting to stay in a home she's lived in for decades. Totally understandable. 

I also get that this cannot continue indefinitely.

Ask her what it would take to make her more comfortable in your home.

Her own kitchen/apartment area?

Her own television in her own room where she can just be?

How old are your kids? Is the household more busy than she's used to? 

What are her expectations of what it's like to live with someone? Does she worry about "being a burden" or does she just want to have her own home? Does she expect that she'd have the check in with you and have people monitoring her comings and goings? What does "being independent" mean in her head? 

Your dh and his brother need to figure out what they're able and willing to do. "Mom, I can come over at night to do eye drops, but I can only stay 10 minutes because I have other things to do."

"If you call me during the day when I'm working, you'll just have to leave a message. This is affecting my work and it can't continue. Would you consider a companion to come three days a week?"

"Hippymamato3 is willing to pick up your grocery order when she picks up the family groceries, but I can't be responsible for this any longer." 

Then he needs to have a set time to visit. One thing that often elders forget is that when they depend on their family members to "run and do" for them that the family doesn't have as much time to just sit and visit and enjoy their company.  Hiring out the stuff that others can be paid to do will help her family have more time to tend to the elder's emotional needs. 

OP, it would be nice for you and your kids to have a set time to visit. If your dh and the brother in law can get together on what is going to happen for MIL, then the visits can be spaced out throughout the week and give her something to look forward to. 

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Can you do a gradual move of sorts? Your DH could explain that he will go to her house one day for scheduled assistance BUT you would LOVE for her to stay with you on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so she is alone less often. Set up a space for her so she’s very comfortable. She’s not moving in, but she’s visiting regularly to ease the transition. Get her a better bed/amenities at your house to increase her comfort level. 

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I think it is time for your DH and his brother to have a talk with her about exactly how it is affecting their lives and explain that while she wants to remain independent, she is very dependent on them in a way that is not sustainable. They need to get together ahead of time and decide what they ARE willing to do and set some boundaries, then offer her some alternatives to choose from from the ideas above such as hiring companionship or a neighborhood teen to take out trash, and having groceries delivered.

Now that she's experienced living alone, she may be more open to the idea of moving in. I think starting with her staying for a week or two to experience "on demand companionship/help" then having her back at home with boundaries in place, she may hopefully realize that moving is the better option.

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I’m with fraidycat. She can want whatever she wants but that doesn’t mean she is going to get it.  Your husband and his brother need to have another heart to heart with her. 

Side note - I do not know about your area but in mine you can pay extra and the trash people will walk up to the house to get the trash can and bring it back so that those who struggle to bring it to the curb can still get service.

 

 

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Many (hugs)

Six months is is nothing where grief and loss is concerned.  Ime, she needs more time.

My late sister was widowed at a young age and then lost her house.  Losing the house on top of losing her husband was way too much.  Her world was already rocked and leaving the place where they shared their life together was shattering.

Imo, I'd keep the daily eye drop visit in place but outsource the garbage etc that was mentioned up thread.  For the come sit with me moments I like the idea up thread of a simple video device and a boundary of not during certain hours.

My sister phoned me multiple times a day and I let her know I couldn't answer while homeschooling but she was welcome to fill up my answering machine.  I would call back if urgent but otherwise just call to chat when able.

I like the idea of her staying overnight weekly to ease in to moving in.

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To be fair, the grocery situation on Saturdays started during COVID before his father died. She is fully vaccinated now, but no one really wants her driving and trying to handle her groceries herself. And the eye drops, while annoying, are a nice touch point for everyone each day. It's really the extra visits and requests for companionship while he's trying to work that are the issue. 

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2 minutes ago, hippymamato3 said:

To be fair, the grocery situation on Saturdays started during COVID before his father died. She is fully vaccinated now, but no one really wants her driving and trying to handle her groceries herself. And the eye drops, while annoying, are a nice touch point for everyone each day. It's really the extra visits and requests for companionship while he's trying to work that are the issue. 

Hopefully she lives nearby.

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What does she typically do during the day? That might be key.

If you can set her up with some senior activities several times a week, she may be distracted by those things enough to be at home by herself more. If she was used to only family providing for her social needs, she may need some help finding stuff to do to fill the hours and have companionship. There may be a social worker in your area that may be able to assist you in finding the senior social opportunities in your area. Likely there is a senior transportation service that can get her to these activities. 

I think the emphasis should be that "We don't think its healthy for you to only rely on us for your social needs. "

Does she have other friends, like from church and all to do things with?

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It is really a tough situation.  MY SIL's room mate's grandfather died last month.  Her grandmother is in mid stage Alzheimer's.  They had been married 70 years.  The family had to drive 12 hours to retrieve the grandmother.  She wakes up either not knowing where she is and feeling like she is being held captive, or wakes up in her mind missing her husband and best friend.  It is a heart breaking situation.

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She mainly sounds lonely, and is trying to come up with reasons to have someone come over.

I used to place groceries orders with Shipt/Instacart for my mom.  She’d call me with a list, I’d place the order, and they’d deliver to her.  Of course this was pre-covid and they’d carry them inside and sometimes even help unload.  But if she’s vaccinated maybe she can ask them to bring inside, or just specify on the order to make very lightweight bags due to elderly recipient.

My friend’s son has been bringing trash in/out for elderly neighbors for years.  They pay him, though he’s a good kid and would do it anyway.

I would outsource what you can.

our Meals on Wheels/Neighborly organization also goes around on certain days to pick up folks to bring to their Rec center for a lunch and a couple hours of games/entertainment/socializing. It just started up again a few weeks after a long hiatus for covid.  Your local senior services would likely know of options.

My mil used to attend ‘lunch bunch’ at church once a week.  It was bring your own lunch, but you got to eat with others.  People would pick up those who couldn’t drive.

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23 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

The saddest part of a long, loving marriage is when one spouse dies, the other does not know how to do life without them.

My grandparents were married for close to 60 years. All of my memories of them are as a couple. They rarely did anything separately, they even sat next to each other, shared chores. They lived with my family of origin as ours was an intergenerational family. They first lived with my grandfather's parents and then with their son's family (my dad) so not exactly lived by themselves. But when my grandmother died, my grandfather did not know how to do life. He had people who lived with him like my dad, mom and brother in the same house, but he just shut down and died a few months later. 

Your inlaws have lived by themselves, just the two of them for a significant portion of their lives, so I can imagine your mil feels more lonely. The wise thing to do is for her to move, the kind though hard thing to do is what your DH is doing. 6 months though long for us is not a long time for someone who has lost someone she spent most of her years with to adjust to her new reality. I don't think you can rush it.

Please know I have sympathy for your situation and I do agree this cannot continue for long, but I would look at the next few months to slowly transition her. It cannot be abrupt. She will be losing a lot more and she needs time to adjust.

I am sorry. It is extremely hard for all. 

My grandfather "died of a broken heart" 8 months after my Grandma passed away. He is another who just didn't know how to go on living after Grandma passed. He started having anxiety episodes almost immediately. We lived about 50 yards away, so were very close by, but he still ended up staying in our house and with my two aunts who lived nearby. He just couldn't handle being alone.

We just recently (two weeks ago) passed the one year mark of my own father's sudden passing. Although I had already spent a lot of time with my parents just hanging out, I have had to "step up my game" quite a bit this past year to help out my mom and especially pay attention to all the special days that are less about physical support (I help with that, too) but more emotional. It's a delicate balance, because my mom lost her husband, but I lost my dad, so I have to make sure I allow my own space for grieving and processing, too.

It's tough.

 

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I like the suggestion of PPs of inviting her to visit for a week.  That may get her thinking more about moving, but it also may just break some routines and habits that she has gotten into. 

It can be very difficult when a spouse dies.  In the midst of a pandemic, I can imagine it is even worse.  I know that some of the things that my mom or my FIL did when their spouses died would not have been possible during a pandemic, depending on how cases are in your area, maybe these will opportunities are returning.

Would more phone calls help preclude some of the requests for visits?  Is there any particular activity she has enjoyed in the past that might be helpful? Is there a neighbor that can visit?  Sometimes an elementary school neighbor can be a good visitor, reading books together, doing a simple gardening project, baking cookies.  

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A friend's husband of fifty years died, and the loneliness was unbearable. She really loved her house and she really hated being alone. She also hated third-wheeling with friends who were couples for social events. She was in her late sixties and remarried happily. 

I agree that six months is the blink of an eye in terms of grief. She's still in the devastating shock-and-awe phase. There are two realities here. It's absolutely unfair to your dh and his brother to have to babysit her, yet she's also genuinely suffering. 

I like what others have said about slow transitions. Boundaries are good, as is farming out some chores, but recognize the crushing loneliness and start taking baby steps to bring others into her orbit and to bring her into your home at least a little bit.

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I don't know her financial situation, but independent living at a retirement village provides new friends, activities, and a safe structured environment.

Both sets of our parents have moved to this setting.  There's still PLENTY for us to help them with, but their basic needs are taken care of.

The sale of their home paid for the new apartment.

Edited by Beth S
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Posted (edited)

DH was there yesterday from 9-1 and then went back for eye drops from 8-9. She called him first thing this morning asking if he'd come sit for a while. He told her no, that it's really hard on work days - which it is! But now he feels bad. This is so hard. He did arrange for her brother and his wife to come visit tomorrow. 

Edited by hippymamato3
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21 hours ago, Beth S said:

I don't know her financial situation, but independent living at a retirement village provides new friends, activities, and a safe structured environment.

Both sets of our parents have moved to this setting.  There's still PLENTY for us to help them with, but their basic needs are taken care of.

The sale of their home paid for the new apartment.

This is what I think she needs. If she sold her house it would be doable. But she doesn't want that. I don't think at this point that living with us would be the best fit. 

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3 minutes ago, hippymamato3 said:

25ish minutes

Yikes, that is not that close for daily trips over there.  I feel bad for her and for all of you.  My parents are less than 5 minutes from me which I am  thrilled about. 

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Hugs. This sounds really hard. My SIL has cancer and has been needing round the clock 24 hour care for the past 4 months which has been mostly done by my dh and his two siblings, with her four adult kids coming in to help when they can (they are not local). It is really hard being the spouse supporting the caregiver spouse, I get it. 

It sounds to me like mostly she is lonely and that the nightly visits are not enough for her as far as loneliness and possibly the anxiety of being alone. It sounds to me from your earlier post like the planned visits (eye drops, groceries, trash) aren't as much a burden on you all as the extra calls and visits. 

Could you schedule a morning visit daily? But make it a rotating schedule, not necessarily always your dh? Make it clear that it will be for an hour or something like that. But then if she calls looking for someone, the answer would be a gentle "remember, so and so will be there in an hour" instead of either having to say no and feel guilty or yes and have it be an issue with work. 

It sounds like she just wants someone physically there but doesn't always need something specific. Could you have her come to your house for the morning hours a certain number of days a week? That might give her something to look forward to. 

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19 minutes ago, hippymamato3 said:

DH was there yesterday from 9-1 and then went back for eye drops from 8-9. She called him first thing this morning asking if he'd come sit for a while. He told her no, that it's really hard on work days - which it is! But now he feels bad. This is so hard. He did arrange for her brother and his wife to come visit tomorrow. 

Would you mind having her with you during the day?  When she calls in the morning your DH could say, “no, I have to work, but I could come get you and bring you to our house for the day so you won’t be alone.”

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5 minutes ago, Danae said:

Would you mind having her with you during the day?  When she calls in the morning your DH could say, “no, I have to work, but I could come get you and bring you to our house for the day so you won’t be alone.”

It would be another hour round trip out of the day, which none of us have time for really. I feel like it's just too much. 

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2 minutes ago, hippymamato3 said:

It would be another hour round trip out of the day, which none of us have time for really. I feel like it's just too much. 

I was thinking that if it replaced all the other trips it wouldn’t be adding.  Pick her up in the morning, drive her home right before eye drop time.

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2 minutes ago, Danae said:

I was thinking that if it replaced all the other trips it wouldn’t be adding.  Pick her up in the morning, drive her home right before eye drop time.

Oh I see. I don't think she'd be comfortable here for 10+ hours at a stretch. She usually is ready to go after an hour or so. Nor do I think I could sustain a visit that long. 

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6 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Sorry OP. ((hugs)). 

I understand both her loneliness and your frustration. 

My grandfather would repeatedly pray to die, tell me when I call to pray he must die. It was probably depression, we did not know then. He was jovial and full of life so it was hard to see. 

I hope you figure out something that works for all of you. 

I will keep you in my prayers.

 

Thank you. I'm frustrated but I'm also sad. She is a shadow of the person she used to be. It's like grieving them both at the same time. 

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One further, random thought. 

The prospect of bedtime may be raising new anxieties? Throughout the day we distract ourselves with doing and talking and watching TV. In a happy marriage, it's a pampering, comforting thing to crawl into bed with someone warm and snuggly. Perhaps you might talk for a few minutes as you settle. Perhaps sleep spooning side by side. Cozy. After a loss, bed can be the loneliest place of all, especially if you lay in the silence trying to will yourself to sleep. 

So I wonder about addressing bedtime worries head on. 

--Does she had a happy bedtime routine? This may need to be worked through with some reminding or even a checklist. (Which brings up another thought--has she had any grief counseling? It may help.) Does she need to put a book at her bedside table that she will look forward to reading? Watch Johnny Carson reruns?

--Does she need something in the bed like a long body pillow?

--Is the bed cold? Even a simple hot water bottle or heated rice sock can help. 

--Does she need to fall asleep to nature sounds or music? Something to let her mind attach to other than the silence and her grief?

--Consider taking melatonin?

 

Similarly, I wonder if solitary dinners are a sad, sad way to start an intimidating evening? If so, routines are a must. Does she want to eat and watch a favorite show? Or have a standing arrangement for dinner with your family and bil's family on certain nights? Order takeout on a certain night? The point is to inject a sad, lonely activity with something she will enjoy.

 

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The 80something in my life really struggled with nighttime anxiety—going to bed alone was a huge trigger.

Rather than driving over there, how would she feel about a FaceTime call? (Honestly, I know she will be unhappy but I agree this isn’t sustainable.)

What about moving to a retirement community with a built in social calendar?

Your dh and BIL need to set some boundaries. I suspect she knows this also on some level.

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It’s only been six months! She was married longer than many people in this thread giving advice have been ALIVE!

You’ve got some thoughtful, kind ideas. It can be very stressful for everyone involved but I think it much, much too early to think she should have to just deal with adjusting to life without her husband without massive amounts of support from family.

i know you said you love your MIL, but consider how many women on this board can’t stand/hate/have no relationship with their MILs and own mothers and then take advice with a huge grain of salt.

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It’s only been six months, but few working fathers have several hours a day to spend day after day with a grieving family member across town. 
 

Honestly, buy the woman some saline drops and let her figure out giving her own eye drops. (I am saying this as a caregiver—if the dynamics aren’t working for everyone, they need to change or resentment eventually creeps in.)

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5 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

It’s only been six months, but few working fathers have several hours a day to spend day after day with a grieving family member across town. 
 

Honestly, buy the woman some saline drops and let her figure out giving her own eye drops. (I am saying this as a caregiver—if the dynamics aren’t working for everyone, they need to change or resentment eventually creeps in.)

She may not be physically able to do her own eye drops. She may lack the coordination, or she may not be able to see what she’s doing. Also, if she requires a specific number of drops in each eye, a little slip here and there could pose a real problem.

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7 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

She may not be physically able to do her own eye drops. She may lack the coordination, or she may not be able to see what she’s doing. Also, if she requires a specific number of drops in each eye, a little slip here and there could pose a real problem.

Gently, if she is that frail, she should be considering having a nurse stop in daily or considering assisted living.

Eye drops do not require vision. The bottles can be labeled with textured tape to distinguish them. If she doesn’t have shoulder range of motion, she should go to PT. Hand dexterity isn’t required. I am saying this as a person with rheumatoid arthritis. When you stop being able to do your own ADLs, you need to work to regain it or find a work around. https://www.amazon.com/Mumford-OP-6000-Autodrop-Guide/dp/B002LVV3OI/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=eye+drop+dispenser+for+elderly&qid=1619554510&sr=8-3
 

It is very easy to become overly reliant on another individual and that isn’t fair to do to her sons. OP has stated that it is interfering with his work and with his home life significantly to the point of needing to make a change. 
 

The 80something in my life became overly reliant on me. I was having to go over multiple times a day with four kids in tow. She was entirely capable of doing physical things with adaptation but she was looping me into an emotional codependency by refusing to do what she could do herself. This is actually a fairly common problem in recent widowhood. 
 

In the long run, me continuing to help her to that degree was hindering her independence. We worked on getting her to manage her own dressing, we hired a housekeeper, and I began to FaceTime to chat rather than drive over. I still went for a couple of hours a few times a week—but 8 hours a week is much more manageable than 30, iykwim. 

As she developed her own social network and sought medical help for anxiety things improved.

 

 

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1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

It’s only been six months, but few working fathers have several hours a day to spend day after day with a grieving family member across town. 
 

 

Exactly.  I love my MIL and my parents.  My parents are the ones who live near us.  They are not demanding at all, and yet the things they do need help with can really be exhausting. I can't imagine how exhausted this widow's two sons must be.  

 

Edited to clarify my thoughts.  And no I don't think they need to just tell her to take care of herself.  But I would think something needs to change.  

Edited by Scarlett
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6 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

Exactly.  I love my MIL and my parents.  My parents are the ones who live near us.  They are not demanding at all, and yet the things they do need help with can really be exhausting. I can't imagine how exhausted this widow's two sons must be.  

“Exactly?}

so you’d buy your 82 yo mom or dad or MIL some saline drops and let her figure out giving her own eye drops?!

That’s hysterical...like in a *hey, protect your elderly mom from Covid but forget her when her husband of 50 years dies and she needs help with your eye drops* hysterical. 

HippyMom mentioned called the eye drops a “nice touch point for everyone each day” 

 

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3 minutes ago, pinball said:

“Exactly?}

so you’d buy your 82 yo mom or dad or MIL some saline drops and let her figure out giving her own eye drops?!

That’s hysterical...like in a *hey, protect your elderly mom from Covid but forget her when her husband of 50 years dies and she needs help with your eye drops* hysterical. 

HippyMom mentioned called the eye drops a “nice touch point for everyone each day” 

 

To clarify I was saying exactly to the first line of the PP.  No need to jump all over me.  I just feel bad for everyone in this situation.

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2 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

To clarify I was saying exactly to the first line of the PP.  No need to jump all over me.  I just feel bad for everyone in this situation.

Nice, you edited it to make it look like that’s what you meant all along. 

Smooth move.

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1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Gently, if she is that frail, she should be considering having a nurse stop in daily or considering assisted living.

Eye drops do not require vision. The bottles can be labeled with textured tape to distinguish them. If she doesn’t have shoulder range of motion, she should go to PT. Hand dexterity isn’t required. I am saying this as a person with rheumatoid arthritis. When you stop being able to do your own ADLs, you need to work to regain it or find a work around. https://www.amazon.com/Mumford-OP-6000-Autodrop-Guide/dp/B002LVV3OI/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=eye+drop+dispenser+for+elderly&qid=1619554510&sr=8-3
 

It is very easy to become overly reliant on another individual and that isn’t fair to do to her sons. OP has stated that it is interfering with his work and with his home life significantly to the point of needing to make a change. 
 

The 80something in my life became overly reliant on me. I was having to go over multiple times a day with four kids in tow. She was entirely capable of doing physical things with adaptation but she was looping me into an emotional codependency by refusing to do what she could do herself. This is actually a fairly common problem in recent widowhood. 
 

In the long run, me continuing to help her to that degree was hindering her independence. We worked on getting her to manage her own dressing, we hired a housekeeper, and I began to FaceTime to chat rather than drive over. I still went for a couple of hours a few times a week—but 8 hours a week is much more manageable than 30, iykwim. 

As she developed her own social network and sought medical help for anxiety things improved.

 

 

I guess it all depends on the family dynamics. I was the caregiver for my mom after my dad passed away. It was a lot of work, as she was bedridden by that time. But I would do it again in a minute if it would bring her back to us.

My feeling was that my parents would have done anything to help me; all I had to do was ask. If, heaven forbid, I had been the one to get ill, they would have been absolutely selfless about taking care of me, no matter how difficult or inconvenient it was. So I felt that, even though it was hard, I owed it to them — because that’s what you do when you love someone.

My mom and dad had been married for over 60 years when my dad died, and Mom was heartbroken. They had always been inseparable. She missed him every minute of every day. The last thing I would have been telling her is to learn to put in her own eye drops or she would have to consider assisted living or having a stranger come in and help her with them. I wanted to do everything I could to help her. It’s what my dad would have wanted, and my mom really appreciated it. That’s just the way we do things in our family.

Edited to add — Prairiewindmomma, I apologize! My post is coming across as an attack on you, and that’s not how I meant it. I was trying to explain my earlier post and it came across the wrong way. 

Edited by Catwoman
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Just now, pinball said:

I can only go by the sequence of events I observed.

no need to jump all over me

The sequence of events is that once you quoted me I was briefly confused until I went back and read the post more closely that I had quoted.  I was responding to her first line. I don't know why that is so hard for you to believe.  And no I would not just tell my mom to 'suck it up and do it herself.'  But I would try to find a way to make it a doable situation for everyone.  If the OP and her husband and his brother and family are ok with one of them going every day then there is not a problem with that.  

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On 4/26/2021 at 11:54 AM, hippymamato3 said:

To be fair, the grocery situation on Saturdays started during COVID before his father died. She is fully vaccinated now, but no one really wants her driving and trying to handle her groceries herself. And the eye drops, while annoying, are a nice touch point for everyone each day. It's really the extra visits and requests for companionship while he's trying to work that are the issue. 

Is there any way your dh and his brother can do something like Zoom visits with her every night? 

I’m sure she’s very lonely, and nights are hard, but might she also be nervous about being alone at night? Maybe that’s one of the reasons why she wants company? If she was never used to being alone overnight before your FIL died, the nights might seem very long and scary to her. 

Is she alone all day, too? If she was used to being with your FIL 24/7, this is a huge adjustment for her, and she may be calling your dh and his brother just because she’s so lonely.

It’s too bad she doesn’t live closer to you or to your dh’s brother. The long drive after a full day of work gets really old. 

Edited by Catwoman
Forgot something!
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5 hours ago, ktgrok said:

Definitely look into senior activities in the area. She does sound just lonely. Or would a pet help? Many shelters have a senior discount, if the senior adopts an older animal. 

I called the Senior Center today and they aren't open and have no plan to re-open at this time. I think she would like that, but COVID makes everything harder too.

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2 hours ago, Dreamergal said:

I do not think she has the emotional capacity to take care of herself let alone another living thing dependent on her.

She needs to be open to more changing anything about her situation before getting a dog I think.

She has a cat who is good company for her; she usually has a cat story to tell us every day. 

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How old are your children? Coukd one of them sleep there, then be picked up each morning to come home for school then after school dropped off there again or maybe in the evening dropped off. Then the grandmother would have something to look forward to each day, 

Would feel safer and less anxious as there would be someone there at night etc

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