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Caring for Father-in-law puts family under pressure

Community Member

My 93-year-old father-in-law and his children were advised following a stroke back in August, that he needed to go into a nursing home. However, he wanted to go home so the kids said they would give it a go. He has since also been diagnosed with dementia. Although he has people coming in to heat up some meals, shower him and get him ready for bed most days, he is still heavily reliant on his children. Only one of his kids, however, lives near him. The others are a minimum of 90mins away. One is interstate. We are not the ones living close. But we are not interstate - so my husband is travelling regularly to his father and staying away. If something goes wrong overnight, we are too far away to get to him.

I don't feel like I can say anything about how alone I feel without sounding selfish. We are both retired - and this is not the way I expected to spend my retirement. It is also costing us a small fortune in petrol, food - and time. I suffer from anxiety and have had to increase my medication due to the pressure of living alone far more than I thought I would without being a widow. The last time I saw my doctor my pulse was so high she immediately did an ECG to make sure I wasn't having a heart attack. I feel like I am constantly on the edge of a panic attack. And I am having moments of depression that I have not had for years.

I feel like my life is being run by my husband's commitment to his father. We can't plan anything without a family discussion of who is available when - be we are the only ones who consult. Everyone else just tells us when they can't do it, meaning that my husband fills in.

So essentially, I am stressed because of the situation and I'm stressed because I'm stressed by the situation. I don't know where to go from here.

3 Replies 3

Paw Prints
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Insignificant,

I don't know if you will find my thoughts useful, but I hope they help. I'm reading that you have 2 main issues, (1) how the responsibilities are being shared & (2) the time you're left on your own .

1. Discuss with your husband about getting together a roster giving each of the siblings a week they are the one on call/visit duties. This would lessen the strain on you & your hubby & give your clear time to do what you like.

2. Could you go with your husband to your FILs , you could help around the house/garden/shops & hopefully find time whilst there to have a cuppa together or you could read/draw/do craft, but still be on hand to help.

Best wishes

Paw Prints

Thanks, Paw Prints. There is a roster but it is done on a who-is-available basis, so there is no real predictable pattern to it. I have asked for it to be more regular so that I don't arrange to do things when he is home and I know what I am doing - but so far, no dice.

I would go with him, at least sometimes, but we have a dog and FIL yard is not secure AND she is essentially an indoor dog. It is too costly to board her constantly. We did consider trying taking her up (she is pretty well behaved) but it could be a disaster if it doesn't work.

All my friends work and my own parents have passed. Other family are too far away to just pop in. And they don't substitute for a husband anyway.

I just feel lost but I feel a little better today.

Hello Insignificant,

I do feel for you and your hubby. I lived with my father as his primary carer, it is a stressful time for all concerned. One thing that helped me was I took time away, sometimes just a weekend, sometimes a week. I informed my siblings when I would be away as I needed time for my own mental health & let them decide how they would step up to care for him during those times. These days there are plenty of places that let you take your dog so you could save on boarding fees for your pooch.

I will keep pondering & try to come up with other ideas

Best Wishes

Paw Prints