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Hi everyone, I am really struggling with my emotions regarding how much time/help we need to be giving my in-laws as my FIL fights this battle.

First, a little background - FIL is 83, MIL is 74. They live on their own, and have always been able to care for their house/yard etc on their own. FIL can drive, MIL does not. They can do their own shopping and cooking - very very self sufficient.

There are 4 children - 2 daughters and 2 sons. The youngest daughter is 11 years older than the oldest son, so they are spread out. 2 live 1 1/2 hours away, we live 2 1/2 hours away, 1 lives 2 hours away.

After the surgery, we and the other son and his wife tried to get a schedule going where one of the kids would go home each weekend so that they had help and visitors each weekend - we all still work, the sons both have young children. However, we are finding that the two daughters are not communicating with us, nor do they seem to be too willing to go back and help out.

Right now, they do seem to be doing fairly well on their own...but it still feels in my heart that they should have someone come home to see them on the weekends. If we could split it among the 4 children, it would mean one trip a month - very doable. But with only two willing families, it then gets to be every other weekend.

My dh went back 10/29 - they were gone 11/4 and 5 - my BIL and SIL are going back 11/13 - and we are going the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That leaves the weekend of 11/19 with no one coming back to see them. Am I wrong to be feeling so bad about this? It really is too bad that none of the kids lives right around them, and I feel bad that no one can just pop in for a quick visit.

On the other hand, it is hard for us to take our kids, because my FIL tends to lose patience with them quickly in the best of circumstances, and it is worse with him not feeling up to par. Plus, my kids are 2 and 4 and they are just little germ factories at that age and we don't want to get him sick!!

Help!! I just feel so helpless, but there is only so much we can do. And they do get out - go play cards, etc, so it is not like they are housebound.

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I understand your worries but what are you gonna do?

There is no magic wand for this. In My family I can't get my sister to committ to a weekly phone call just to discuss dad's condition. We're both going to be there for Thanksgiving. I have emailed her my itinerary ( last week) and have not heard a relpy about hers so we can at least coordinate rides. I am type A baby boomer.... she's type gen x.

My point is in Families there are some who "get" it and some who don't. There are those who can and those who can't.

I think of myself as the person in the family who can and will take action. If you are that person in your family...well continue to do so. If you are a truth teller....tell it. If you are a silent supporter...contine that....if you are the food preparer....do that..if you are the vitamin buyer.....

I just make sure I am doing what I need to do to feel good about my contribution. I always ask permission before doing something. I pronounce my desire as wanting to be a positive and not a negative in any given situation. Grousing about who is doing what and who is not doing what to my parents is not allowed. I make sure I have communicated my desires and plans. Then I proceed to do what I say I will do. If anything i make sure I am predictable.

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I would hire someone to do their house cleaning and yard work for them . That would be a huge help and the cost would not be much divided between you all. Then you would not be so worried that things weren't getting done. You could visit when needed. You make a good point about your little cesspools. :lol: They probably shouldn't be around him right now. Good luck.


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You said it yourself--there is only so much you can do. Do that, with a cheerful heart, and pray the rest works out as well. No way your FIL wants you to ruin your life to help him.

I like the idea of hiring someone to clean. That is what we are doing for my mom for her Christmas gift this year (shhh....don't tell!). That way I won't feel guilty if I can't get it all done. Geesh, I barely keep my own house clean.

God love you for what you are doing. Take care of yourself, too, OK?

:) Kelly

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Considering all the issues you have stated, I think Ry has the right idea. You might also check with them to find out if they do want you all to be constantly visiting like you are. They may not need it at this time so much but down the road they may. The other idea I was thinking about was checking with their card buddies and see if they are able to check in on the folks for you too. Atleast give them your names and number incase someone needs to call or update you on a change of events.

I wish you the best in this. I know how hard it is to be a distance away and not able to help as much as you would like to. But if you can atleast have contact with them and maybe a few others that are closer to them it would make it easier for all of you.

Best of luck.


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I think Ry is definitely on the right track. Right now, they know they have your love and support and are probably very understanding, considering the distance between you. Right now, I would also follow Shirleys suggestion and see if some of their friends could drop in and check on them when family can't be there. Hopefully your in-laws will be accepting of help with household chores. Sometimes, seniors have a really hard time accepting "strangers" in their homes and that makes things even more difficult to work out. Hope things can work out!

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Another vote for Ry's suggestion.

You are doing all you can do already without putting your own family into a tailspin. Your in-laws may not actually want people around every weekend if they are as independent as you describe. That might actually cause them more stress than the time alone!

Send little cards in the mail or funny videos or jokes you cut out of magazines during the times you're not there. There are lots of ways to give support and help without physically being there.

Good luck to all of you. Now, take a deep breath, exhale, and shake it off. You're doing fine in my book.


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Thanks for all your support!!

Currently, they seem to be doing totally fine with the cleaning - my MIL used to clean houses for a living, she loves it, and is way faster/better than me or anyone else would be!! Any of the times I have been home she has not wanted or needed any help there - but certainly it is something to think about if their situation changes.

Our main area we have been able to help is with the yard work, and that is winding down for the season, but now that I am thinking of it, we do need to address snow removal, as we live in WI. Good topic for a future conversation!!

Leslie - you are right about having company being stressful to them (mainly FIL). We have tried to keep our visits shorter, like a few hours, versus all day and overnight. Easier for us to do because my parents live very close to them, so when we are there we can drop in for a few hours and then leave before it gets to be too much.

Again...thanks for all of your thoughts. I guess that there truly is no right or wrong way to help them...as long at it comes from the heart.

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Your doing all you can. The others are the ones that have to deal with things in their own way....sometimes they just don't deal with it at all.

People are weird when it comes to doing what they can and you see a persons true colors in times of need. I had a real wake up call with people in my family when I was diagnosed.

Hang in there!

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