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FIL isolating himself as sole caregiver to MIL. Advice please!
Posted: Monday, July 8, 2019 10:04 PM
Joined: 4/1/2019
Posts: 8

Hello All,

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. 

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 12:46 PM
Joined: 5/16/2017
Posts: 562

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.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 1:28 PM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 685

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.

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 12:38 AM
Joined: 7/17/2017
Posts: 403

My no-nonsense reply is :  why is this your aggravation?  It's your husband's parents.  His call ; don't let them move in with you is my no BS  advise. You take them in, you bought it.  Perhaps you'd also like to take care of your husband down the line?  If you fall for it, please don't be one of those whining posters in a year, complaining that she does all the work while the husband is too busy, etc.
Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 7:37 AM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 983

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. 

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 9:29 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 18362

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.

Dreamer Lost
Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 10:50 AM
Joined: 3/7/2019
Posts: 448

SDP22, It sounds like your FIL is still quite young (age 62) and so still believes he can handle all of the care of your MIL by himself, at least for awhile. I am only 59 and my DH, age 60, and am his sole caregiver 24/7 with no family living close by (all out of state). DH is stage 6, so I help him with everything.  He is still continent, thank goodness, but that too shall change at sometime. Unlike, your FIL with the bad knees, I am in relatively good health with a little high BP but controlled with medication (definitely keep an eye on him taking his own meds consistently).  I keep an eye on my DH with the use of YI cameras when he sleeps later in the morning, while I go for a run (my me-time). I would like to move closer to family (but this sounds like a nightmare to me as I would have to do everything -- sell the house, buy a house, arrange long distance movers, the high cost, find new doctors and dealing with DH throughout all of this ).  DH is very content and well adjusted at our large two story house right now (doesn't go upstairs at all), (knows where the bathroom is, likes our house and area), we have our doctors who know us, our familiar restaurants, our church, our neighbors, so for now the positives outweigh the negatives for moving (may change at sometime though and probably will, just don't know when). 

I agree with terei in that your FIL is in charge, and not likely to listen so try to plan ahead, do your searches so you know what's available in your area for home help or ALF or MCF. Use technology wherever you can, cameras, door locks and chimes, pill dispensers, GPS trackers, etc. A good geriatric psychiatrist is important if dealing with a lot of delusions or hallucinations and the sooner this is addressed the better as meds have to often be adjusted throughout the course of this disease. Encourage FIL to take care of himself, exercise, diet, meds, doctor and dental appointments (tell him the better his health the better he can care for MIL). Call and visit often and for an extended time and volunteer to sit with MIL so FIL can get out on his own.  Introduce FIL to this forum or find any support groups in his area and encourage him to attend and educate himself (you or your husband  or SIL might need to go with him the first time).   You sound like a loving DIL, continue to let FIL know family is there for him and your MIL.  Good Luck. 

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 8:32 PM
Joined: 4/1/2019
Posts: 8

 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. 

ALZConnected Moderator
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 8:34 AM
Joined: 8/17/2011
Posts: 309

Dearl ALZConnected Community,

Please accept this post as a reminder that we created ALZConnected so that people with dementia and their caregivers would have a safe place to share concerns and support each other.  We created the ALZConnected Guidelines for Participants with the intent of upholding this mission and purpose. The following are included in our guidelines:

1. Encourage Civility

ALZConnected invites and encourages a healthy exchange of opinions. If you disagree with a participant’s post or opinion and wish to challenge it, do so with respect. The real objective of the ALZConnected community is to promote discussion and understanding, not to convince others your opinion is “right”. Derogatory messages will not be tolerated. Name calling, insults, personal attacks and discriminatory comments are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. Posts containing any such content will be reported and will be subject to edits, deletions and/or suspension of accounts privilege. 

2. Be supportive 

ALZConnected is very active and its size is one of its strengths. As you post and read messages, please be aware that electronic messages, often written quickly, are easily misconstrued. Given the challenges of online communication, it is usually helpful to assume a positive intent. Please try to keep in mind that the main purpose of this online community is to provide support and education to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Members should offer advice directly to the person who initiates the thread. Please respect the opinions of others and do not monopolize the conversation, and recognize that the diverse opinions add richness to the support provided to members. 

Thank you for respecting these guidelines and the needs of our community. 

Alzheimer's Association | | Contact Us 

Dreamer Lost
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 9:24 AM
Joined: 3/7/2019
Posts: 448

SDP22, Please don't take any one post personally. Sometimes a caregiver may be having a bad day themselves and write (or speak) without thinking (or editing) about how their words may appear to someone else, especially someone new to the forum such as yourself.  Also, many of us do whine or vent at times as that is what this forum is for.  It is good for those going through a difficult time to get it off their chest and receive some uplifting or supportive advise from others going through similar times. Welcome to the forum. Keep posting.
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 12:26 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1546

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.

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 12:39 PM
Joined: 3/25/2018
Posts: 172

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.


Seasons In The Sun
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 2:25 PM
Joined: 5/21/2018
Posts: 235

sip, Ditto to what Dreamer Lost said.  Whine ,Vent, Scream whatever it takes to let it out. Don't think anyone means to be critical of another.
Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 3:54 PM
Joined: 5/30/2013
Posts: 1176

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. 

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:13 PM
Joined: 4/1/2019
Posts: 8

Laura57 thank you. I will definitely look into long term care insurance and see what (if any) Medicaid services can help with in regards to this. You taught me something new.
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