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Did “Dear Abby” get this wrong or right?
SelEtPoivre
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 11:41 AM
Joined: 3/8/2018
Posts: 789


 DEAR ABBY: I have been married 35 years. During the last six years, my mom died, my dad moved in and then he passed away at 91. Dad traveled, including to see my three siblings, and had a girlfriend. Three years ago, my mother-in-law, who is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, moved in. My husband is an only child and has no other family nearby.

A couple of years ago, our sons, both of whom are in their 30s and had been in the Air Force, moved in. They have steady jobs and contribute to the household. One just bought a house.

My problem is with my husband. Because his mother can’t be left alone, we rarely go anywhere anymore. And even when we are out, he’s glued to his phone. They don’t have a strong relationship and rarely speak to each other. When I try to talk to him about it, his answer is, “I promised I’d never put her in a nursing home,” and, “Honor thy mother and father.”

We have been to counseling. It didn’t help. We are in our mid-60s and in good shape. I would like to travel before we won’t be able to anymore. His mother is almost 90 and has no other health problems, so she could live five or six more years.

I feel he should put her in assisted living so we can get on with our lives again. I’m tired of taking care of others, and I want to “retire,” too. Am I selfish for feeling this way? How do others deal with this? — HOW MUCH LONGER?

DEAR HOW: I have mixed feelings about your letter. Considering that your father moved in with you and your husband until his death, yes, I think your attitude is selfish.

That said, Alzheimer’s patients need constant supervision, and it is possible that in the right kind of assisted living situation, your mother-in-law could be doing better than she is. Social stimulation is important, and the activities that are provided could be good for her.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a trusted source of information, and you and your husband should be getting help from it. Find it online at alz.org. The toll-free phone number is (800) 272-3900.


Army_Vet60
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 12:05 PM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 369


Selfish is a strong word to throw at the woman.   I think she didn't think it through enough with her husband before moving his mother in. Now, she's learning on a day to day basis and figuring out what she got herself into. She is going to hate life.
JJAz
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 12:49 PM
Joined: 10/21/2016
Posts: 2422


Abby's answer is obviously one that was written by someone who has never taken care of an Alzheimer's patient!  Selfish? No.
ruthmendez
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 1:53 PM
Joined: 9/8/2017
Posts: 2078


The response almost sounds robotic.  Alexa probably would have had a more considerate response.
SelEtPoivre
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 2:08 PM
Joined: 3/8/2018
Posts: 789


OH BOY

I just checked Wikipedia, and Pauline Philips (the original Dear Abby)  died on January 16, 2013 at age 94, after battling Alzheimer's disease for 11 years

Her daughter has been writing the column since her mother’s death.

Wow, reading that response has a very different impact knowing that the writer’s mother died from Alz.


Jo C.
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 2:25 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 9965


The woman writing to, "Dear Abby," had her father cared for in her and her husband's home until the father's death.  Her husband was present and in whatever way, involved to whatever degree we do not know.

Now her husband's mother needs care and I think what "Dear Abby" is saying is that the attitude is unfair or "selfish" to deny in the way she is, her husband's concerns which she herself has already benefitted from.  Husband's mother is as important to him as her father was to her.  The writer asked if she was being "selfish," and she got an answer.

Sounds a bit harsh, but the answer comes from an up close and personal perspective as "Dear Abby's" mother died of dementia.  She feels it.  Note:   "Dear Abby," offers an alternative and also a referral to the Alz. Assn.

J.


selkirk60
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 2:38 PM
Joined: 1/11/2018
Posts: 93


Selfish? Heck no.  The poor woman is worn out.  Wanting a life of your own is not selfish.  It's normal and natural.  She's retirement age herself and wanting to have fun.  Easy for hubby to say "honor thy mother and father" since she is almost certainly doing all the work.  If I were her, I would want to run away from home.
D in law
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 3:07 PM
Joined: 4/24/2017
Posts: 564


I understand the mixed feeling reply.  She understands the Alz parent is going to be different than caring for an elderly parent.  It should have been advised to make a plan with the husband for the future when enough is enough and he will see having a place for his mother to go is the best outcome for everyone involved.
gubblebumm
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 4:43 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1303


Apples and oranges, taking care of a father who didn't need 24/7 care who traveled had friends etc is quite different from caring for someone who can't be left alone.  To conflate the too was wrong.  So what if dad had a turn, he didn't hurt the marriage of his daughter and had other support.  ANd by the way, being selfish isn't always wrong.  Is it selfish to take care of your self and your marriage and your health...then call me selfish
Janice.alone
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 4:47 PM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 55


SelEtPoivre wrote:

 DEAR ABBY: I have been married 35 years. During the last six years, my mom died, my dad moved in and then he passed away at 91. Dad traveled, including to see my three siblings, and had a girlfriend. Three years ago, my mother-in-law, who is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, moved in. My husband is an only child and has no other family nearby.

A couple of years ago, our sons, both of whom are in their 30s and had been in the Air Force, moved in. They have steady jobs and contribute to the household. One just bought a house.

Big problem with analyzing this letter is the time line. During the last 6 years so much has happened, but what is the overlap?  After the 6-years started with mom's death, when did dad move in and how long did dad live with daughter before he died?  Did he travel during those years?   What was the length of their 24/7 care for dad?  How bad did dad get before his passing?   Was dad gone before MIL moved in?     Sons moving in would surely be an imposition, but there is the "No you can't move in" clause in any parent/adult-child relationship.   

All these details contribute to whether her attitude about MIL moving in is selfish.  However, husband's illusion that MIL will stay there forever is completely out of line.  I would come down on her side of that argument and say she is not selfish on that detail. 


Victoria2020
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 6:37 PM
Joined: 9/21/2017
Posts: 858


A traveling father is different then a PWD, but the husband is picking Mom over his wife, she doesn't even get his attention at one dinner.

They tried counseling. I think it is a case you dream of a future lifestyle, then the calendar tells you : you made it - time for that happy retirement.

Problem maybe you weren't looking too close at *who* you were going to have this fabu retirement with, too busy with the day to day. They are on different pages or in different volumes.


JJ401
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 7:36 PM
Joined: 6/19/2018
Posts: 31


Abby was wrong.

Dad was an adult living in the household. He took care of his daily needs, had a social life (girlfriend), and traveled. Mom needs 24 hour care which husband expects his wife to do without his help (glued to phone, rarely speaks to her). 

 

If you promise your parent you will never put her in a nursing home, you need to do care when you are home. You need to hire someone to come in and help your spouse. You need to arrange respite care so you and your spouse can have some quality time together.

 

This woman is not selfish. She is human and very tired.