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advice appreciated
Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2019 3:35 PM
Joined: 7/6/2019
Posts: 5

So, my first post on this forum did not go as planned.  It could have been my error in some of my wordings (on mobile at the time) but I ended up with some very negative comments so I am going to try one more time and hopefully clarify some things up.

I've been with my husband for around 5 years.  His mother had a BAD car wreck about 20 years ago which left her physically disabled (like you would find in a stroke victum) and also mentally disabled to an extent.(Her reactions are different than most) For the past couple years she has been slowly getting more issues I would associate with dementia. 

After a year of him and I being together he decided to move into my house and we took the following year to see if his mother's 2nd eldest son (who is in his late 30s and her POA who has a house next door) and her youngest daughter (around 26 at the time who lived with her at the time with her boyfriend) would be able to care for their mother.  

The year ended with the house packed full of stuff (they all have tendencies of hoarding) to the point where she had paths in her room from her bed to her bathroom and door.  There were also rooms she could not safely enter with her physical limitations.  There was a mouse infestation. (we were coming most weekends to clean house/yard work and try to get rid of the mice, but they kept bringing in items and refusing to let anything go and they were leaving all the doors open throughout the year so the dogs could go in and out as they pleased.) There was also the issue of some very extensive money spending.

Side note: my MIL has 6 kids in total. The three others not mentioned live out of state and even tho they knew what was going on with her living situation, they did not do anything to help fix it and just slowly stopped visiting more than once a year at best.  Two also knew of the money spending, but ignored it, while the oldest son some how convinced himself it wasn't happening. 

If this wasn't bad enough, her kids thought she was capable of managing her medications  (maybe took them 4 days a week at best) and she was bathing at most once a week.

My husband and I decided we were going to sell my house and move in to the 'family house' and give his mom the care she needed. 

My husband was also in denial of the extent of her limitations, but after about 6 months of us living with her it became evident to him she was in need of full time care so he quit his job and stayed home with her.  After a year he told me he could not handle the stress so I quit my job and stepped in, and have been taking care of her for the past 5ish months while he went back to work. 

Things were looking up when I started staying with her.  I started taking her to physical therapy, getting her on a better routine with meds and bathing, and just did what any normal caregiver would do.  Unfortunately my husbands siblings see this as me overstepping and while none of them want to step up and take care of her, they have made it clear to critique every decision we have made in keeping the household safe and clean, as well as complaining about me as a person to their mother.  This has put his mother in some very obvious angry outbursts with myself and my husband.  Even tho it made it harder, I still knew I was doing my best for her and decided it was worth it to continue.  

Now, about 2 months ago my MIL started having sudden physical and personality changes quite suddenly.  She had already been going to PT for a month and a half and was walking better than she had in 2 years and suddenly could barely stand up without almost falling over most days. We though it to be a UTI so we took her to the doctor and after basically telling us there was nothing wrong with her and she didn't understand what we were even talking about, she basically told us to go to a neurologist because we wouldn't take no for an answer. (she was UTI negative btw) Now we are waiting for the next appt to get a head scan and more info in Aug.    

My issues are that now, more than ever, we are needing the siblings to understand her issues are getting worse, we are needing them to be a support group not only for her, but for us as well. I do not know how to even approach an actual conversation with any of them about their mother's health, but I know it's necessary. If anyone has any ways they have personally started these hard conversations about a parents health I would love to hear them! I am so worried about how they are going to react, I don't know where to begin. 

Thank you for listening!

and P.S. for any comment about how I am NOT the one who needs to be OVERSTEPPING  and taking care of my MIL and that it's her children's responsibility and not mine (like in my first post I deleted) please take your negativity elsewhere.  I care about this woman and if her children CHOOSE not care for the woman who gave them life, then by golly I will!  If it wasn't for her I would not have my husband who I love, and if it were my parent I would want them to be taken care of no matter what. And any person who has taken care of someone with dementia knows it is hard, and because of this I do not fault my husband for not being able to do it.  

P.S.S. my husband is one of the middle children and is slowly finding his voice with his other siblings.  The others are quite overbearing with their opinions and he does not know how to handle their excessive negativity and lack of overall helpfulness. We are trying to work on it and hopefully positive leaps will happen soon

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2019 5:32 PM
Joined: 4/1/2014
Posts: 5053

You and your husband are doing a lot for your MIL and that is commendable. You are right, it is a hard job, but it must be done and it looks like you are the one who can do it. It sounds like you are asking how to get the other's on board and be supportive and helpful-well, I have to be the bearer of bad news-you probably cannot get all of them to step up and help-so work on the children who can help and forget about the others. Sounds bad but for your own mental health-don't waste time on the ones you know cannot be helpful. You cannot change someone who has a lifetime of bad habits or sloth or uncaring. Many of us have had to write off unhelpful siblings and we usually feel better after we stop banging our heads into that wall. Take care and good luck!
Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2019 6:49 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 983

Cottentoe, you are IMNSHO the kind of DIL (and wife!) that every woman dreams of for her son. I do not find anything negative-inducing about the fact that you are married and live your MIL (and hubs of course). I loved mine too, and knew her better than I knew my own mother! I acted as one of the sisters in her care. I couldn't make legal or financial decisions of course, but they were perfectly capable without me lol. 

When we marry, I believe we stay married for EVERYTHING. I believe we don't say, oh wait she's not my mother so I will dump her by the side of the road. I believe we roll up our sleeves and get dirty. That's just me, but it sounds like it's you too. Now that it's my own mom in need of help, hubby treats her exACTly as he did his mother. Be her "chevalier"? Big time! Take care of little toilet things... well, so far as I know he never had to do that for his mom, and since I had to teach my brother about family public restrooms, I'm not going to even try with hubby lololol. 

Cannot help you with advice but I want you to know that whatever you do that your are pleased with, or even feel awful about but you had to do it that way anyway, I am behind you cheering you on. Sounds like hubby married himself a gem.

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2019 8:09 PM
Joined: 2/16/2019
Posts: 79

Who is the medical proxy and who has Power of Attorney, if anyone?
Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2019 5:16 AM
Joined: 6/24/2019
Posts: 67

Cottentoe - I, too, have my MIL living with me. My DH & I moved her in with us in April. She was alone in an apartment not close to any of her 6 children. She did live near some of her siblings (one of whom has dementia) and more distant nieces & nephews. All of these relatives would not help her, and, in fact, complained to MILs children that she had memory issues. Finally, after months of discussion, DH made the decision (with my support) to move her in with us since none of his 5 other siblings seemed to care. We've now got her back on her diabetes medication and want to get her to a neurologist but, currently, she is refusing to go to. We'll get her there eventually!

Anyway, I'm too new at this myself to really offer any advice. I do know what you are going through as my DH's siblings are all stand-offish and have offered "help" but nothing substantial that would inconvenience them. In fact, one is offering to come visit in the fall and put more stress on us as we would have guests to take care of as well as MIL! How thoughtful!  I keep telling myself that they want to come visit their mother before she forgets them, but that doesn't help the stress. I agree with TessC and am doing just that - working on those children that do seem to care and want to help and ignoring the others. Good luck and keep us posted!

Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2019 1:55 PM
Joined: 3/25/2018
Posts: 172

It wasn’t negativity, it was reality. You are not responsible for your mother in law who has six children of her own. 

Have you looked inside yourself and figured out why you are so willing to give  up your job, your house, your future? You are so young and have only been married for five years. All the siblings appear to resent your interference. 

Sometimes you have to step back and examine your own motives, and other people’s motives. The reality is you are now an unpaid caretaker with no job or house. Before you got married you were an independent woman who was employed and owned her own house.

You will not fix this family, you will not be able to force adult children to do things the way you want. There is no Alzheimers diagnosis and another son has power of attorney. What possible outcome do you expect from this, and are your expectations realistic? 

Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2019 3:07 PM
Joined: 5/16/2017
Posts: 562

If you do not have POA + medical + financial control you are in an uphill battle...permanently. As far as the other relatives, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.   The have demonstrated how helpful they are going to be.

The person with POA should be in control,  otherwise there will be continual conflict.  

Give the other relatives a synopsis of the situation + probably future issues IN AN EMAIL, including your plan for caretaking.  do not get into a ‘back + forth’ with them + ask for suggestions from the others about whether someone else would like to take over care at this point.

I am really afraid you are in for constant conflict with these people unless they or you step aside from her care.  Someone has to be in charge with little or no interference + that should really be the one with POA or a POA that is willing to hand over the decision making for the LO’s best interest.

Good luck, but I think this situation is unworkable as it stands now.

Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2019 3:34 PM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 685

I didn't read the post you said was a disaster, so....

What I got from this post is that you have three issues:

1. Your husband needs to find his voice YESTERDAY. Otherwise, you're outnumbered in this situation. Regardless of your good intentions, MIL is getting an earful of poison about you from her own children. Your husband, as one of her children, needs to stand up and be counted. I didn't get that about him in your post.

2. If MIL's children haven't been a help up till now, don't count on them waking up any time soon and seeing the light. those of us on this forum have all learned the hard way family and friends will tell you just ask for help and they'll be there. Then you ask for help, and you'll get get every story in the book about why they can't help you....

3. You're the only one being proactive in helping MIL. I would wager that her children resent you making them look bad. I think that is a big reason they're bad mouthing you to MIL.

Finally, has she been to a neurologist? It would help you both to know what her problem is, and what stage she's at if it's Dementia/ALZ.



Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 1:36 PM
Joined: 7/6/2019
Posts: 5

I'm still trying to figure out replys and since I'm not sure if I can do this individually I will try to answer as much as I can. The 2nd oldest has POA and MOA. He didn't do too bad until about a year before we moved in. He started nursing school "to help take care of their mother" and decided he was going to blow thru her money partying and spending money to impress his "friends". He blew thru about $20,000 in 6 months and she also was paying for ALL his bills as well. He stopped as soon as we moved in.  He also went straight to work after school and even when we have asked for his help with her medical stuff he has been barely helpful.

Now, I do believe that I was the only one seeing her decline at the time. Like I said, even my husband didn't notice for about the first 6 mo. we lived here. They were, understandably, wanting to give her as much independence as possible, but it was becoming an issue with her health. 

 She has always been stubborn, and I feel some of it was also them not wanting to deal with her outbursts. (An hour screaming match (i was not a part of)about switching lamps in two rooms because the end tables were too small for them to fit) I do understand this could def be dementia issues, but she has had these kinds of reactions since her car wreck 20+ years ago. (Also why I don't think her kids saw her declining even tho the doctors told them she was at a high risk because of the brain trauma to get dementia issues).

Lastly, cuz I have to leave to take her to physical therapy and can write more later...I may be young, but I do not feel like taking care of my MIL is 'halting my life' in the least. Yes, I did NOT see myself doing this when I was contemplating my future, but it's our responsibility to take care of our elders. My parents are older than my MIL and the thought of them living in a nursing home frightens me to my core. (I have volunteered at enough of them thru college to know it's not the same as the care they can get from home if it's an option).

Thank you all and I hope to write more later!


Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 3:55 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1546

This is what you happily signed up for, unlike many of us who had it thrust upon us. 

Your husband needs to man up with his siblings, middle child or not.  He is an adult and he has let you take care of his mom.  That is on him to talk to his own family.

Just say it Mom is Sick,Has Been Sick, and just because we live in her home (which by the way, if she dies, where will you go?) cause sounds like the siblings will want you to move on, even though you took care of her.  Its not that hard of a conversation, they may not want to hear and think you are exagerating, but just say it.

As you have no legal or medical rights here, this is going to be very very very hard for you.  You will have to get permission for anything, money, doctors appointments, care givers, how to pay for anything, you will be doing the work with no way to control anything, you can already see the family backing away.  The one with the power and control, well you see how well that is working out.  Unless she as a very clear will, he can will very likely push for NH and then to sell the house to get cash.  This is reality, you can read other posts, this happens all the time.  He can decide everything for his mom and you can't do diddly squat about it. And not sure how old MIL but this situation could last for a decade or more and only get worse.  Lack of sleep, lack of freedom, no vacations, and while its all swell and noble, you may come to resent your choice, you for sure will resent his family and their lack of anything useful in terms of help, but all the bashing of you will wear you down.  And your DH?  Well he reallly needs to have your back you should be Number 1 at all times, and stand up to his siblings bad mouthing you...and his mom for that matter

You can say this is negative, but having been here awhile and seen so many posts, this can and very likely will happen.  If you don't get DPOA, fincanical and medical, you have a very long hard road to go, even f you want to keep MIL at home till she dies, how can you pay for caregivers, transport, etc?  We are just being honest need to take the blinders off and see this disfunctional family as it is and realize you prob won't be able to talk them into helping, they haven't as of yet and seem to be thinking well they are there, living free in the family home, they can take care of mom, who we really aren't that fond of anyway



Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 5:44 PM
Joined: 6/20/2016
Posts: 2256

If you care, that’s great.

You cannot force others to care OR support you in caring.

Both of you left your jobs and here you are, taking care of someone for whom you have no legal or financial say at all.  With a very dysfunctional family to go along with it.

When this is over, you will probably find family has spent her money.  They will throw you out of the “family” house.  If she is alive still they will put her in a facility on Medicaid.

If she is dead your reward will be no job, no home, and lots of criticism from the family.  Plus you’ll be having to explain to potential employers why you haven’t been employed.

You will dislike my reply and that’s okay.  But if you know that family you also know how things will end.


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