Six months ago my mother-in-law moved in with us. Shopping and housekeeping had become too much for her to manage, plus she no longer drives. It was hard for her to leave her home and community of 30 years but it’s mostly worked out ok. Our main problem is no one is home during the day as my husband and I work and our kids are in school. Mom gets up in the morning to have breakfast with my husband, then goes back to bed and sleeps most of the day. In the evening she wants to talk, play cards, etc. but we’re tired and busy with other things. After we go to bed she wanders around the house and watches TV. We’re afraid she might fall and it’s affecting our sleep and marriage (my husband keeps getting up at night to check on her). Should we insist that she stay up during the day and sleep at night like the rest of us or let her set her own schedule?
~Tired of Being Tired
From what you describe, it sounds like your mother-in-law may just be bored! A little research by you and your husband might be all that’s needed to help her figure out how to make new friends and fill her days. What did she do during the day before she moved in with you? If she had a hobby, you might look for local clubs where she could meet other like-minded folk. Is there a nearby Senior Center that offers programs or classes she might attend? Have you checked out your local Department of Parks and Recreation or Community Center? Many offer daytime programs for seniors such as exercise classes, art and music enrichment, current events or book discussion groups, and day trips to museums, concerts, theater and more. Or maybe she’d enjoy doing volunteer work. You could check with your local food bank or other nearby non-profits. If transportation is an issue, contact Senior Information and Assistance through your Mayor’s office for resources and information. If she has the funds, another option is to hire someone to come in for a couple of hours each day. Caregivers from agencies like mine, Family Resource Home Care, can provide companionship, and could easily keep her busy for a few hours a day. Finally, it’s very important that she gets adequate exercise everyday so that after dinner she’s tired and ready for bed. All moves require a period of adjustment and I think with these suggestions your mother-in-law AND your marriage will get back on track.