Ultimate Love Triangle: Mother-in-Law's Alzheimer's Disease Strains Marriage

"What I wish," she said, "is that sometimes when we come home, she has something cooked for us. Wouldn't that be nice?"

And Blane Wilson, 52, and in love for the first time in his life, feared his marriage was in jeopardy.

Experts say that caring for an elderly parent can put a strain on any marriage, and the pressure of having to care for her mother-in-law caused Georgia Wilson to leave a second time. When she returned, Blane made his marriage a priority. And soon his mother sensed something was wrong.

"She tells me that ... she doesn't want to impose," he said. "She feels like an intruder."

Alzheimer's Mishaps Strain Relationships

Then things began to snowball: A series of mishaps -- from Lawanda Wilson falling in the shower to driving off in her car. Georgia Wilson, frantic, reminded her husband over and over that they are not trained to care for her.

But they felt trapped. He believed they couldn't afford any kind of nursing care now that they'd built his mother her own house. And Blane Wilson had made a promise to keep his mother out of a nursing home. So they stumbled along.

About eight months later, the three of them moved to Alpine, Texas, to be closer to Georgia Wilson's family. But her mother-in-law was no longer part of the household -- she lived about two miles away and across the highway in an apartment by herself.

"Her apartment is like away from everything," her son said. "It's real secluded. She has no neighbors."

Blane dropped by most days and he found a social service agency, which took his mother to an adult day care center called the Sunshine House for a few hours every day during the week. It even served lunch.

But on several occasions in 2007, police found Lawanda wandering again. And state protective services was called in to investigate. Wilson insisted his mother was just fine.

"It angered me," he said. "It made me mad that people were coming without my permission, and looking through her refrigerator and looking through her cabinets."

When her older sister Wyvonna Ordener recovered from her own health problems in March 2007, she drove with her daughter to Alpine to see how Lawanda Wilson was doing. She said she had been worried for months.

"We walked inside and there was no one there," said Ordener. "But the stove burners were on. And the television was on."

They found Lawanda at the Sunshine House, sitting alone. Ordener was devastated and decided to take her sister back to Midland, where Lawanda currently lives.

"And [Lawanda] said, 'How did you find me?'" Ordener recalled. "'I didn't think you would ever find me.' And it was so sad -- we both were so sad."

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