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FIL isolating himself as sole caregiver to MIL. Advice please!
Looking for some advise or shared experiences regarding a tough situation my family is in. My MIL is probably stage 5 Alzheimer’s and is beginning to have some delusions, particularly about what she is capable of doing (she has left the house by herself once and often talks about how she should get her driver’s license back, or that she can run to the store to get something). Her and my FIL live in a big two story house. My FIL won’t move her to a smaller place or assisted living or memory care facility because she wants to stay in her house. She has significant vision deficits and no OT or doctor has done a fall risk on her. My FIL isn’t in great health. He is 62 but has horrible knees and has trouble walking. He thinks he can keep her safe and keep her in the house by himself. He talks of having home-care involved but so far nothing has happened. My MIL is completely dependent on him for bathing, dressing, preparing food. We live 2+ hours away and cannot seem to get him to understand that he needs help and to put a plan in place before something happens to my MIL (wonders off, tries to drive a car, falls down the steps, etc). It’s frustrating and heartbreaking at the same time. We have had multiple conversations with him about these concerns but he might be in denial about his capabilities and her current situation. My husband and sister in law are going to try to talk to him together about this again, but so far no luck. Any advise? Thank you in advance.
At this point, your FIL is in charge. Unless he starts to feel completely overwhelmed, he is not going to go along with you. That will come in time, I am sure, OR there will be a crisis + you will have to swoop in + take complete charge.
In the meantime start the process of choosing an Assisted living facility where they can reside, preferably with a MC unit when your MIL needs it. Get on waiting lists + hopefully, when the crisis occurs(it will) you will at the least, have a good idea what is available where you want them to live.
In the long run, it's not healthy to isolate oneself as a sole caregiver with no help.
I learned the hard way. Two years ago, I collapsed at work and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. My BP peaked at 200/120.
I was allowed to go home that evening but the doctor warned me to deal with my stress or I'd have a heart attack or stroke eventually.
Try to talk to FIL in a way to let him know he can be the "Sole caregiver" without isolating himself from allowing others to help him and MIL. Express your concern for his own health.
Just avoid putting him on the defensive.
Sdp22, I hear your heartbreak. When I married my husband lo these 39 years ago, I knew I was marrying his family as well; he knew he was marrying mine. My people are his; his people are mine. What we were too young to know was that our traditional wedding vows were wise and complete. Here we are, late 60's, 3/4 of our parents deceased, and only my mom left.
I guess we were "lucky" in that both of our mothers were widows by the time they developed dementia. Offspring have been, and are currently, the decision makers and infantry in both cases. My sisters in law consider me "the fourth sister" which is an almost unbearable honor. Their mother loved me despite the fact that I stole her baby boy. The whole family raised our (adopted, with "issues") children. The whole family is trying to help DH figure out How best to handle his recently inherited portion of a generations-old trust which may not pass to adoptive heirs (ours). I cannot think of them as anything but "mine".
All that said, MIL had the resources to remain in her home until death, and my mother has sufficient resources for AL/MC. Two of my SILs took their widowed MILs into their homes until more care than they could give medically was needed. There is a history of deep love on both sides of the family. My parents prepared a small space for Mom's mother in their house, despite my mother's statement long before that she could NEVER live with her mother. The space was never needed, and I know EXACTLY how my mother felt lol!
I hear you loving and supporting your in-laws through even the worst things in life, which is what I too believe marriage is for, what my wedding vows instructed me to hew to until death.
Beyond that I have zero practical ideas, because yours is a situation I've never faced. I wish you the best, and pray for clarity and wisdom for you and DH and your generation in-laws. I am heartbroken with you.
It can be a very difficult problem for more than one reason . One of the big ones is fear of ageing. Needing help carries with it the feeling of not being able to be strong and independent.
Here is an idea. Explain to your father that the outside stimulation will be beneficial to your your MIL! He need not leave the house.
Additionally having some help with insure their being able to stay in the house. To be independent. In other words acknowledge his goal and suggest things that will make it happen.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. My husband and I have begun to discuss ideas to suggest to my FIL to hopefully make the home a safer place to stay for a bit longer. I also looked up some memory care facilities near me as well as near my in-laws. If the time comes that the house is too much, or god forbid something bad happens, we can hopefully be better prepared for a next step.
GemsWinner12, I apologize, but I did not have any intention of this post to sound whiny or like I was annoyed with my in-laws. I am extremely close to my in-laws and travel often to spend time with my MIL while my husband helps my FIL get out of the house and take a break. This post was because my husband and I (and my SIL and her husband) are extremely nervous about them staying in the house safely, since my MIL has already wandered outside without my FIL noticing and has significant visual and depth perception deficits. My husband and I are very involved now, but we have a new baby expected in October which will likely not allow us to be as accessible. This was me just seeking supportive advice on a tough situation that I do care about because I love my in-laws. I am not going to have them move in with me and that was never a discussion point. I won’t be a whiny poster in the future. I actually feel a little embarrassed that maybe I didn’t do a great job explaining myself in the initial post based on your reaction. I am relatively new to the forum. Please take care.
Its going to take a crisis, that its. A fall, an accident,and until then unless your DH fights for legal guardianship, there is zip you can do. That being said,
Sometimes I do the same thing, try to pull the blinders off
people so they can see the reality of the situation and the most likely
future situation. I think its better to be brutally honest then sugar
coat it. So many posts, how can we them to help? Or change? If they
haven't they aint gonna.
I am also 62, and was the sole caretaker for my husband. I know 62 might seem ancient to you, but really, I still think I’m 30 ( yes, the denial is strong, hahaha). Seriously though, your father is young and not cognitively impaired, this is his call. Eventually he will come to the point that he knows he cannot take care of your mother alone. You will have to let him come to that decision in his own time.
He is very blessed to have you within driving distance and so willing to help. You can start helping now but gathering info about adult day care , in home care, and placement possibilities. When I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it alone, I would have really appreciated having any and all of that info at the ready so I could figure out which way to go, what to do.
When you talk to him make sure he has durable power of attorney and current wills. If he doesn’t you can offer to make the appointments and go with him. Also find out if they have long term care insurance, this info will guide you in locating possible placement possibilities. If they don’t, you can research the long term care Medicaid laws in your state and locate facilities that accept Medicaid.
Gathering all this info is very overwhelming when you are a full time care giver. I had to do all of this on my own and would have appreciated any help, I’m sure your father will as well.
Something that I think families overlook when they are looking at home care help in the future, is that someone may come in to help with bathing, or other tasks. But they are only there for a short time, a few days a week. Your FIL or some other family member would have to deal with everything in between visits. As your MIL becomes incontinent and has other difficulties, your FIL likely won't be able to keep up. Maybe in your future discussions with him, you need to talk more specifically about what in home care really is, and especially about what it isn't.