It may be that you and your spouse live closest to their parents. Maybe they’re an only child. Whatever the reason, your spouse may want to—or have to—take care of their parents as their health begins to fail. But when your partner’s schedule prevents them from attending to their parents’ day-to-day needs, you may end up doing most (or all) of the work.
Caring for your in-laws can be both easier and more challenging than caring for your own parents.
You may find your in-laws are less likely to push your buttons and you’re less likely to get emotional. At the same time, you may feel resentful as your in-laws’ needs increase. You may feel angry if you never really got along with them, or if your spouse or their family second-guess your decisions.
Honest and frequent communication is critical to avoid conflict. Whether you’re just beginning to discuss your role as a caregiver or if you’re in danger of hitting the wall, keep these points in mind as you negotiate with each relative:
If their siblings or parents feel strongly about one plan of action while you advocate for another, your spouse may feel torn.
When the two of you agree on the best solution, you can present a united front when discussing care options with your in-laws.
Your goal here is to help your siblings-in-law to understand changes in their parents’ condition that may soon require a different level of care or attention.
As your responsibility increases, your authority should as well.
Caregiving is an inherently intimate act. As you provide more care for your in-laws, you will see more of them (literally and figuratively). You will also become increasingly involved in their lives. You may need to learn about their financial or legal affairs or about their medical histories. They may rely on you in ways you don’t anticipate. As the dynamic of your relationship changes, remember to respect confidences and confidential information.
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