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Old 09-24-2008, 07:21 AM   #1
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Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Hi everyone.

This is my first time on this board. I'm usually over on the back board. My mother-in-law is coming to live with us, probably on or about October 11. She's declining mentally and needs to be closer to people who love her. She was remarried 1 1/2 years ago to another 80something out in Arizona, where she lives. Her new husband's daughter has decided that they need to get divorced! Both of them are failing at this point, and I think the daughter is afraid we're going to try to make him help pay for her to go to the next level where they live. (No, not even on our radar!) They're in independent living. She needs to move on to assisted living or a memory unit, but he doesn't. Etc., etc., etc. They aren't getting along, she argues with him about taking her meds and everything else in the world, and they both want her out of there. She's eager to come out here and be with us.

He told us that the move from her house to the independent living facility was very hard on her. It was disorienting and he saw her decline even more in the weeks after that move. I'm fixing up a room here for her and trying to make it as comfortable, cheery, and welcoming as I can. My husband has a list of things I want him to be sure to bring back with them when he picks her up, little things like her alarm clock, her own pillow, whatever little things are on her night stand and dresser, a few pictures from her walls --- things that will be familiar to her.

I'm feeling rather overwhelmed. I don't know how long we'll be able to keep her with us. I'm disabled myself and can't lift over 10 pounds and need to lay down during the day on a regular basis. I'd appreciate any suggestions anyone has to help make this transition easier for her (and for us!). I have a feeling that I don't really know what I'm getting into, but I DO know it's the right thing to do, as long as she isn't a danger to herself or to me.

Thanks a lot!

Emily

 
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Old 09-24-2008, 07:52 AM   #2
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Think this over carefully, VERY carefully. There is no reason for them to get divorced. Leave them married on paper, just in case ..if she needs money from him to pay for her care, he is obligated to pay it. His kids want it for themselves.

Meanwhile, your husband should get Power of Attorney over all his mother's banking and medical affairs. Her husband may have it now. A new POA supercedes any old one. Go to an Eldercare lawyer.

With your handicap, I highly suggest you do NOT take her into your home, but find a place for her in a group home, a nursing home, or other care facility. You WILL be lifting her, it is inevitable. If she has any form of dementia it will progess to the point where you will also be changing her adult diapers. I think neither your husband nor her or her husband expect that of you.

If she has nothing, she is eligible for Medicaid. The elderlawyer can hep get her on it - Medicaid pays for nursing home care.

In case you decide to bring her into your home, make sure you have help - home health aides to bathe her, etc.

You must be overwhelmed by all this. How old is your MIL? Does your husband have any siblings? ALL of them should work together! Not only one - in my experience and that of many other posters here, the person who offers up her life 24/7 to take care of elderly relatives gets lots of criticism and no help from the rest of the family.

Remember that you and your husband want to do what is best for her. That may well be a nice, full time care facility with a loving staff and pleasant activities. I wish you luck ... please do not make any rash decisions.... This same scenario has ruined the lives, marriages, and children of several people I know well.

Love,

Martha

Last edited by Martha H; 09-24-2008 at 07:57 AM. Reason: spellin

 
Old 09-24-2008, 08:34 AM   #3
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Hi there!

Welcome to the board!

I am with Martha. Don't. Do. This. I know it's the "right thing to do". I know you feel that you will be good for her. I know, I know, I know. I was there, too. Now, if you read the other posts on this board, you will see that in a short period of time, I am dealing with an 82 yr old toddler.

I am strong and physically able to take care of my father. So far. But the day is upon us where I have to make some hard choices. THAT DAY WILL COME FOR YOU TOO.

If she is currently married and in a place where she can be cared for, think this over very very carefully. Before MIL gets to your house, read some of the other posts on this board and see what we deal with.

My dad is a gem. A real salt-of-the-earth guy. Love him to pieces. Would stand in front of a speeding semi for him. But I am sure tired of cleaning feces from under his nails. Sure tired of washing peed-on trousers. Sure tired of reminding him that THAT kid is his grandson. Sure tired of my 7 day a week, 24 hour a day job. One that I can't even quit. It's the hardest job I will ever love.

Think, Blue Atlas. And read the real life stories on this board.

Peace go with you - and good luck. Hope to see you again!

...little deb

 
Old 09-24-2008, 11:13 AM   #4
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Welcome to the board Emily. You have found a place where all of us have or are going through what you are setting yourself up for. I totally agree with Martha and Little Deb...... Think long and hard before you commit yourself. I know the difficulties of trying to keep loved ones at home and it's not that easy. My parents (both have dementia) are now in Assisted Living and it was the best thing we could do, not only for us but also for our parents.

I understand the combativeness that occurs with both party are impaired. I'm there with my Mom and Dad. They love each other and don't want to be separated but they with both of them cognitively impaired it is definitely a challenge when they don't agree with or understand each other. It is a difficult situation.

Marriage is for better or worse and just because the kids want a divorce for Dad that is no reason for a divorce. Separate them if necessary but your Mom is in no mental capacity to sign divorce papers. I would definitely check with an elder lawyer first... and do make sure somebody on your side has the power of attorney and other papers as Martha mentioned.

Your Mother in law was confused when they moved to AL because that's what happens when loved ones with dementia move out of their familiar surroundings into a new place. You can expect more of the same when she moves in with you. She will be more confused than she was then and more so than she is now..... at least for a while. There is no way to know but this could lead to aggitation and combativeness. I have had to physically restrain my parents at times. Are you physically able to do this?

Then you have the issue of wondering, especially since she will be in new surroundings. Do you have a system in place to safe guard against her wondering out of the house when you are sleeping or not looking? Are you ready to be vigilant at all times so she doesn't turn on a pot and forget it, leave the water running with the sink drain stopped up, or plunder in the medicine cabinet? It is like having a toddler in the house that can not learn but regresses. I guarantee she will do things that you never thought of.

Back to the move causing confusion. Maybe it would better to find a facility, perhaps an assisted living that specializes with Alzheimer/dementia patients and move her only once? Don't' think we are all being negative..... just realistic. I tried to keep Mom and Dad at home for over a year. I can tell you stories that would curl your hair. It only takes a moment for your world to be turned upside down and they have no clue what they are doing. We are just making sure you know what you are getting yourself into. The sleepless nights when you have already had a long day because she won't go to bed. The need for constant attention. The verbal abuse she will hurl at you when she is upset, scared, or angry and you have no clue why.

If you do decide to bring her into your house.... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have in home help with her at least part of the day. This is for YOUR sanity. I was healthy and caring for Mom and Dad took a tole on my health. My normally relaxed state was stripped and the stress cause a number of problems. If you do move your mother in law in with you be aware of the possibilities and have a back up plan.

I agree with little Deb... read on the forum and see what some of us have had to deal with. It will give you a clue what you are in for and also what you can do to make it better.... and keep typing any questions you might have. We have towels to hang on to, rocks to throw if necessary, and somebody has a hot tub and some wine..... Know I will keep you, your husband, and your mother in law in my thoughts and prayers as you decide what to do and how to proceed.

Love, deb

 
Old 09-24-2008, 02:09 PM   #5
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Amen, Deb.

And Emily - one point that I forgot to mention is that YOU have health issues, too! If I had a bad back, I could in no way do what I do for dad. He may be able to shuffle from here to there - even outside sometimes - but more often than not, I have to help him get up from a seated position, lift his legs into bed, shift his torso in bed so he is straight...the list goes on and on.

And what about the inability to ever leave your house? Every time I have to run to the store, the bank, the Jr High for my 12 yr old...I am taking a chance. One time, I was running to Home Depot to pick up the 5 gal bottle of water that fits on dad's water machine, was gone literally 15 minutes, and when I walked in the house with 40 lbs of water on my shoulder, he was sitting in his chair right where I left him. Except one small thing...he looked like he had been in a blender set on "frappe".

He had gotten up, walked outside and fallen down 4 concrete steps. 30 stitches later, we were grateful that the fall only knocked him colder 'n a wedge and gave him a gash on his scalp. It could have killed him.

There are many things to consider here. Not the least of which is the toll it DOES take on the caregiver. There is the isolation factor - you will not have friends for long (I sure don't), because you can't "do lunch", go to candle parties and going to church is a real roll of the dice. There is no more shopping for the heck of it - you will race to the store and race back home, probably forgetting half the stuff you need. You will never again do anything in a leisurely fashion. As a caregiver, your entire existance is focused on that person.

I said it before, and I'll say it again: I love my dad. So so so much. But if he only knew what it takes to keep him at home, he would probably have a fit. But nevertheless, it is what it is. This is my lot in life, at least for today.

I encourage you to really take a hard look at your choices. And here's a towel (deb tosses emily a white towel)...you will need it. We wring them, we throw them, we cry into them, we share them. And while I'm at it...here's a couple'a rocks. My dad is always bringing rocks into the house, and I have a ton of 'em. I throw 'em. You might find it theraputic yourself.

Stay with us, Emily. Let us know how it goes. You are all in my prayers...

...little deb

 
Old 09-24-2008, 02:29 PM   #6
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Thank you all, so much, for your comments and support!

I'm reading posts and soaking in as much as I can. My MIL has always been a high maintenance person, and I don't expect that to change. My husband has made it clear that if I don't feel I can do this, or even if I simply don't want to, his first priority is me and my health. I appreciate that! I've talked to a number of facilities around here, and all of them have said that they won't even consider her until they can evaluate her in person. So we HAVE to have her with us, at least initially. I've already explained to my teens that we may need to turn off the circuit breaker for the stove so she can't set the house on fire. One of her arguments with her husband is that she can't cook anymore. I am a bit afraid of her wandering. I think I will invest in those door alarms that go off if the door is disturbed. Would it be ethically wrong to give her a sleeping pill at bedtime so she sleeps through the night? I would certainly clear it with our doctor so I'll know it won't conflict with her other meds.

My husband and I have talked about the toll this will take on me. We've agreed that he needs to take over on the weekends so I get a break. As far as helping her get up, etc., I simply can't. If she can't do that herself anymore, then she needs to go to a facility. If I can't carry my grandbabies, I'm certainly not going to try to lift her!!! If I'm going to choose to let myself be hurt, it will be for the joy of holding those (future) babies!

A power of attorney is already being drawn up which will give full power to both my husband and me, since I'll be the one doing most of her care. That way, I'll be able to take her where she needs to be, sign papers for her, etc., but I can hand over the major decisions to him.

I guess we'll learn by doing. I may spend most of my day following her around. Shopping might have to be done at the 24 hour Walmart after she's in bed for the night. I'm scared, but I'm ready to give it my best shot. I'm sure I'm naive, too, but I'm trying to think up things that will keep her occupied, like setting up an easel outside and painting with her, giving her some 2 pound weights and exercising with her, playing cards with her (although she's never quite understood the "rules" even before this all set in), and sitting her outside on the deck with her feet in a foot whirlpool and helping her take care of her feet. This may all go out the window after the first hour in our house, of course.

I appreciate any suggestions from you all who are already going through this or have in the past. And I'll keep reading other posts!

Thank you so much!
Emily

P.S. Thanks, little deb, for the towel and rocks. I think I'll put the towel over my head and hide when I need a break from MIL. And if she doesn't behave, I'll weigh her down with the rocks in her pockets so she won't want to walk around. If she walks around anyway, she'll get extra exercise.

Last edited by BlueAtlas; 09-24-2008 at 02:46 PM.

 
Old 09-24-2008, 02:59 PM   #7
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Nice to hear from you again, Emily!

Well. This is a fine mess we are all in, isn't it? Let's see...what can I address for you...and be aware that I am not as knowledgeable as others on this board. Most of these terrific people have been at this far longer than my 4 years...

As far as a sleeping pill...ethically, I don't know. Ask her doctor. There was one occasion when daddy was "spinning" (that's debspeak for out of control angry at everything, including me) that I gave him a single Tylenol PM. Nighty-night, dad. I felt like an axe murderer. It did not affect him at all. Not even a little. I won't do it again. I don't know how that stuff can affect him, and I won't take the chance.

And holy cow...you have teenagers? I have raised 3, still raising one, and I'll tell ya', Emily, you have your hands full right now - how do you feel about adding a toddler to the mix? That's what you're doing. Adding a petulant, unstable toddler.

I am not there with you, and I don't know your MIL. But if I could go back in time, and I will advise you to do this as well, have MIL come to your home. Say, on a Friday. Enjoy the weekend. Monday, have her evaluated at a couple of places. Tuesday, same thing. Wednesday, ditto. By Friday, she is safely placed in a lovely AL. You visit 3x a week, bring cookies. Brush her hair, whirlpool her feet. Go back to your home, with DH and teens, take care of your back and wait for those grandbabies.

I cannot leave dad long enough to see my grandson. He will be 2 in November. I have seen him 3x in the past year - and they live 10 miles away. I love the little monkey. I miss him.

As far as the wandering goes, yesterday, daddy was outside, and it was lunch time. I walked up to him and said, "Lunch, daddy!" He ignored me. I put an arm around his waist to guide him into the house, took 2 steps and he threw on the brakes. Was not ready to come in, I guess. I just about fell on my butt. What will you do if MIL is half a block away, you try to direct her back home and she refuses? Hmmmmm? Daddy weighs 140 lbs. I can't "make" hm do anything. Can you "make" MIL stay put? If you can, let me know how you do it.

I love your visions for the good times you will have with her. I hope she loves the easels and the whirlpool. I hope you plant lots and lots of flowers for her - and take them to her in her lovely room in the AL. And then you can go home and enjoy yours.

My hat is off to you, Emily. Stay close...

..little deb

 
Old 09-24-2008, 04:36 PM   #8
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Hi Emily,

One of the things that made it harder for me than most, is that I was alone (with Mom). There was no one else to watch her at night or weekends, and as it evolved more and more into a day and night job (plus my job working with small children, which eventually led to hiring an aide for Mom for those hours) I was on a no sleep schedule. Shop at night after she is asleep? Nights for mostly all dementia patients is the time they get agitated and pace around, rearrange their rooms or houses, go through the refrigerator and throw out good foods, etc.

I was 61 when I went to live with Mom, and 66 when I left - deteriorating from a very strong healthy person to an insomniac with bad teeth (never found tme to go to the dentist), heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and depression.

So I may be a little prejudiced in the direction of ''get them into a good nursing home!"

As it turned out, Mom was happier in the NH than at home with me. She found friends, enjoyed various activities, felt happy in her new room and especially enjoyed the inner courtyard. I should have placed her there at least 1 year sooner, maybe 2.

The good news is that I have fully recovered and am again a healthy person! And after 2 years at the NH, roughly 8 years of Dementia, my Mom passed away peacefully almost a year ago. She was 99.

Love,

Martha

 
Old 09-24-2008, 05:44 PM   #9
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Okay, I'm getting a reality check and a LOT of food for thought!

Thank you!!!

Emily

 
Old 09-24-2008, 06:14 PM   #10
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Ok - it sounds like you are going to give this a shot. Please understand that it's best to go into this with a few things established up front.

MIL can't stay at your house all day - every day. It seems like she's not too far along so she needs to go to a Sr. Center or Adult day care 2-3 times a week. Plan for this now so it's part of her routine. If you don't do this, you will be the only person she deals with each day. Both of you will be too isolated. She'll get clingy and you will get frustrated.

Put an "exit" strategy in place now. Find an assisted living or nursing home and plan that she will eventually move in. Figure out about the finances involved - and the waiting list. So many people say "I'll deal with that when the time comes." The problem is when the time comes, it's usually a crisis, and the caregiver is way past the end of her rope. People make a bad choice because they have no time to make a good one, or they make a good choice - but there is an 8 month waiting list.

Don't let a really bad, scary situation creep up on you. People here - including myself - have justified the strangest things. You are like a lobster in a pot - right now the water is cool, you think you have everything under control. With ALZ the situation gets a little stranger - you say "they are just having a bad day" then there is a huge problem - you say "it's just a little bit worse today, I can still handle it." Like that lobster - the water is getting warmer and warmer until it is boiling. Don't keep moving normal - because sooner or later you will be feeling guilty that you can't keep up with a situation that is far outside the realm of possibility for one person to do.

Don't let others decide what you should be able to deal with. I'm glad your husband isn't thinking this won't be a problem, my wife should be able to handle it. If you can't handle the situation - get help.

Know that most people's houses aren't really set up to manage taking care of a person - houses are set up for people who can take care of them selves. You are going to have to make some changes, locks at the top of doors so she can't get out, no throw rugs, remove decorative/breakable items - that sort of thing.

I hope she's a sweet little old lady that isn't any trouble at all for you - but you need to be prepared.

good luck
Teapot

 
Old 09-24-2008, 08:47 PM   #11
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

As for the sleeping pill... I don't see anything wrong with sleep medication if it is approved by the doctor... only problem is that it might or might not work as you wish. When a dementia patient is in the throws of sundowning aggitation I am not sure you can knock them out. Mom had a little blue pill (prescription sleep medication) and I would give it to her on nights when she was extremely aggitated. I would patiently wait outside of their door until all had been quiet for about half an hour. She was sleeping right?? NOT!!! A short time later she would wake up Dad and start again. I would go back in and quell the chaos once again.... only to repeat the process.... sometimes for hours. The next day she was up and going as usual and I was draging. But it is worth a try.

Alzheimer patients have a mind of their own. They tend to do what they want to do. I will give you one piece of advice. Don't argue with them if at all possible. They are in a reality of their own that has very little connection to our reality. Distract if possible or be creative with slants on the truth. Many things postponed are forgotten. If not they can be postponed again. Mom wants to cook..... "Sure Mom but let's get this laundry done first." Take her somewhere other than the kichen and fix a quick meal while she's preoccupied. If she tells you there are little green men in the bathroom... go run them out for her. It makes life a bit easier. If you argue with her or try to explain your reality to her.... she will only get aggitated.

You do need some alarm system to know if and when she might go out of the door when you are not looking. Turning off the stove breaker is also a good idea. Let her help you cook if she wants to cook but you don't want her "cooking" at 3 am.

Teapot made an excellent suggestion. Find a senior center or other facility that has day care and use it.... or find an inhome care giver for a few hours a day. You will need that respit to do the other things you need to do. It is a good idea to socialize them with others as well. That way she doesn't not become so dependent on you that you can not leave her or she becomes frightened of others.

Expect paranoia. She will lose things or forget which random place she put them. She will accuse family members or strangers that broke in of stealing what she can't find. It is a perpetual scavanger hunt where Mom and Dad are concerned. She will rarely know the location of what she wants but all that other stuff will be pilled on her bed.

Most importantly..... create an exit strategy as Teapot suggested. I was one of those that keep dragging my feet.. or letting my sisters hold me back. The finally episode (Mom took a few swings at the caregiver) happened on a Thursday. Mom and Dad were in AL the next Friday. It took all four of us working almost around the clock to accomplish what we did. I truly wish we had a plan in place before that day....

We do have an endless supply of towels. You can put one over your head but I bet you, your mother in law will pull it off. Just know we have one tied to your belt loop for security purposes. Also... if you wrap the towels around the rocks they don't leave marks when you throw them at other ......Handing Emily her supply of towels and rocks.....

Enjoy the calm before the storm.... when does your Mother in law arrive?

Love, deb

 
Old 09-25-2008, 07:40 AM   #12
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

You've made me laugh! And then cry!

I know this will be hard. But I have to give it my best shot. We made plane reservations last night. She'll be here on October 11. I'm going to have a big luncheon with my friends that day, my last hoorah for a while. She won't get here until late, so I'll have the afternoon to relax and enjoy some company.

I don't generally look for signs, but here's a weird one: I work from home for a call center taking reservations for a company. It's great for me, as I can work just two hours a day with an hour break in between the two hours. Yesterday all of us agents got an email stating that the contract is being ended as of -- you see this coming, right -- October 11. That will be my last day to work, the same day my MIL is arriving. Is that a coincidence?

I think I'll be putting some of these towels in every room! I'll start now making appointments for her to be seen and evaluated and get her on the waiting lists. I will also line up someplace she can be during the day a few days a week.

I appreciate your help so much. Thank you for all the little tips. Not little really! Those are the tips that will help us handle this!

Is it okay if I use my rocks to hit myself in the head??? Maybe I better do that now, before it's too late! What am I getting myself into?!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Emily

 
Old 09-25-2008, 09:41 AM   #13
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

That's what we do here Emily..... we cry and we laugh, we hold each other up when necessary.... and even bounce rocks off noggings as needed. You have to deal with this situation with a measure of humor.

Good for you!!! Your plans for the day before your Mother in law arrived sounds perfect. You need to have plans for help in place so it will not be your last hurrah. It does sound like you are making your escape plans and that's good. The ending of your job on the same day your Mother in law arrives if quiet a coincidence. Perhaps it's more proof that things happen for a reason. I do hope it comes back to you the day you are settle in your new situation.

I do strongly recomment that you wrap the rock in a few towels before you hit yourself in the head with it. That way you get the hint but not the hurt. I would recomment a glass of wine on that deck afterwards.

Keep typing. There are questions that you will have and stress you want to vent. We all do. Glad you found us

Love, deb

 
Old 09-25-2008, 01:19 PM   #14
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Emily, you fit right in here! Isn't that nice? I have only been here a short time myself, and I felt like I was among friends...among people who knew me, knew my situation, and understood.

Hang on to those rocks and towels. They come in super handy. There have even been a few occasions on this board that the other bloggers let me know that I was all wet in my suppositions and plans...they don't pull any punches, let me tell you! And they were spot on right, too. I changed my direction, changed my plans (it was my original plan to simply care for dad on my own, till the end. Stupid, stupid, stupid. My husband, children...all were falling by the wayside in my quest to be super-daughter, and my own health was teetering...), and now, all seems to be falling into place.

I have smacked myself in the head with a rock or two. And I wring the hell out of those towels...like this morning, daddy looked at me and said, "Who are you, anyway?". Sometimes, it all seems like just too too too much.

Sounds like you are on the right track, Em. Don't get diverted. And your "sign"? I am a devout, Bible studying Christian, loving and following the Lord. And I don't believe in coincidence. Not for one second. He is right beside you, Emily, and He is making the path clear for you. Why else would your contract end on exactly that date? I say, good for you. If you are meant to have some good time with MIL while the good times last, well, there you are. Every where you go, He has already been there.

So, forward ho, Emily. Don't forget about us. You will need a place to vent, a place to complain, a place to rejoice. That's what we're here for.

And now that you have your stack of towels, here's one more (deb throws Emily a Care Bear towel)...know that we care, and that you will never say anything that has not been said before, never worry about anything that we have not all worried about. It's safe here. Thank God.

...little deb

 
Old 09-25-2008, 03:32 PM   #15
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Re: Any suggestions for preparing for mother-in-law?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skimps46 View Post
Sounds like you are on the right track, Em. Don't get diverted. And your "sign"? I am a devout, Bible studying Christian, loving and following the Lord. And I don't believe in coincidence. Not for one second. He is right beside you, Emily, and He is making the path clear for you. Why else would your contract end on exactly that date? I say, good for you. If you are meant to have some good time with MIL while the good times last, well, there you are. Every where you go, He has already been there.
I'm right there with you, dear sister! I try to be careful not to interpret things that happen as signs that I should do this or that, but sometimes it's so very clear! It's just another confirmation that this is what we need to do for her.

I made a lot of phone calls today and will be having a lot of information coming in the mail shortly. I will be touring a facility that offers day care for such as her. I think I'd rather have her out of the house a couple of days a week rather than having someone in to help. She needs a change of scenery, and I need my break from her to allow me the flexibility of being home or not, whatever I need that day. But I'm also looking at in-home help. I found a program that will come out and do a free assessment once she's here, no obligation, fully insured, etc. I can have that in place and be able to call them on short notice if and when I decide we need it.

I'm feeling a lot less overwhelmed, thanks to all of you! One day at a time...

Emily

 
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