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advice on MIL moving closer (would love to hear from MILS!)

(67 Posts)
ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 07:40:44

So, MIL has decided to move closer to us. Do you have any tips on making sure we don't make any mistakes?

Could I please ask for your collective wisdom on what we should look for in a house for her. Due to her quite panicky personality my DH and I are likely to do most of the legwork so that she doesn't get overwhelmed.

A bit of background on her:
- she is 76 and has lived on her own for decades after FIL passed away in his forties
- physically fit and well
- she also has a daughter but daughter lives in Dubai and will be no help.
- her memory is going and she is in denial about this. She won't remember conversations had a few minutes ago but it doesn't seem to impact on her day-to-day (keeps to appointments etc).
- she lives about 4 hours away at the moment and is happy to move to us as would rather be closer to us and her grandchildren than the handful of friends she has where she is currently

background on us:
- We all get on fine but I am a huge introvert and like my space so wouldn't want daily visits - or unannounced pop ins! But I would appreciate the babysitting of course!
- Overall this will probably be better for me as won't need to go away for whole weekends and can do shorter but more frequent visits.
- husband has a semi backbone when it comes to her. He doesn't like to hurt her feelings but I think if I was upset and needed boundaries enforcing he would step up to the mark.

The property search so far:
- we live in a village which only has a pub and v. small shop. There are houses for sale in the village which she is keen on. Will this be too suffocating for us? Will she want/need more amenities down the line?
- she could also live in a nearby small town (about 20 mins away) with lots of nice shops, dr, dentist etc
- she likes period properties. When I look at her suggestions all I see is stairs and problems for when she is older - am I being too harsh?!

Has anyone made a similar move? How did you find it and how did you make friends?

Sorry for putting this on AIBU - not sure where else it would fit!

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ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 07:48:57

sorry for typos!

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Twooter Mon 25-May-20 07:52:12

The village could well be suffocating for you, but a town 20 minutes away, especially when she can’t drive, could be like a lonely prison for her.

MinnieMountain Mon 25-May-20 07:53:08

MIL bought our old house of us when she retired as she realised her area of the city had changed for the bad. We're now 15 minutes walk apart.

She's made friends by chatting to anyone and everyone in the street, going to an exercise class and joining the local Labour Party.

If your MIL can drive to see you, I'd say the small town is better. There would be more for her to do and more ways to make friends.

The small town would also stop her visiting without warning you.

MIL plans to live downstairs in her Victorian house if she ever needs to. She had a downstairs toilet put in.

The memory loss is concerning though.

AlwaysCheddar Mon 25-May-20 07:55:08

If she is starting to forget things, I don’t think she should be in a house. What about sheltered housing?

SnuggyBuggy Mon 25-May-20 07:55:38

If she doesn't drive she needs to be somewhere with either local amenities or good public transport.

I think you are being sensible to think about things like stairs. I had one grandparent in a large bungalow and another in an older house with steps all over the place and it made a huge difference once they were 80s.

ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 07:56:58

@Twooter thank you.

I feel like in the village it will probably be easier to make friends and will feel more homely (she lives in a village now). But then when she can't drive her life will be so much harder - having to get a taxi just to do the weekly shop.

Very torn over what is best.

Her happiness trumps my fears of suffocation I think!

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ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 08:00:24

@snuggybuggy she does drive now but I feel like it is only a matter of time before she stops (she openly discusses stopping driving).

I think we can persuade her to go for the town option - just want to do what is best. And certainly don't want have to go through the stress of her moving again in a few years when she has already made friends...

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Toomboom Mon 25-May-20 08:00:52

I think at 76 she needs to be practical for long term living, so a ground floor flat or a bungalow would be better.
Does she drive? If not the town would be far better in terms of her being able to access services and shops. Like wise, what is your bus route like if she lives in the same village as you? I live in a village and we only get one bus an hour [ none at all during lock down ], so this also needs to be considered.
If she doesn't drive and lives in the village it will be you or your husband taking her for appointments, shopping etc.

She could join local clubs to find friends. I also think that you need to put boundaries in place when she does move straightaway, otherwise you are going to find her on your doorstep everyday, especially when she first moves and knows no one.

Time4change2018 Mon 25-May-20 08:00:59

I'd be thinking an over 50s development, sheltered housing or the like. Period properties are great but at this time in het life she needs less to do/ maintain and somewhere that support can be or is available.

Nowisthemonthofmaying Mon 25-May-20 08:01:24

If she has memory loss already I would anticipate her needing full-time care sooner rather than later, and I would make this your priority - are you planning on doing some caring for her? And if so would you want to drive 20 minutes each time? What's social care and support in your village/the town like? Are there activities for older people? How easily could any property be adapted if she loses mobility? You don't want to be doing this all over again in a couple of years so really think about future-proofing any property she buys.

Also take into account that she may find it more difficult to adjust to moving away from friends than she thinks - how will you deal with her feeling isolated and lonely? Are you happy for her to rely on you for support if she doesn't make new friends? Is she sociable or is there a risk she will end up not wanting to join any new groups and will be expecting you to fulfill all her socialising needs? People's personalities can change quite a lot as they get older, especially if her mental function is starting to decline.

ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 08:03:42

The village has a train station and a bus but we are quite rural.

The bus only goes once every couple of hours and the handful of times I have tried to catch it has been very unreliable.

The station is a bit of a walk out the village (let's say 15 minutes for someone fit like me) and so I worry it isn't that helpful anyway?

She doesn't like to spend money (even though she has quite a lot) and so I think taxi prices will prevent her from going out as much as she would like.

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Flamingolingo Mon 25-May-20 08:03:52

Ohhh this is ringing some alarm bells for me. If she’s in early dementia then then it upheaval of moving could make things accelerate (she loses all of her bearings and landmarks).

If she’s going to need a lot of care in the near future then being closer to you is better practically (but who will be doing the care? DH or you?). We live in a leafy part of a medium sized city and our old road was full of young families and older people (often women) who had downsized there because it was a reasonable walking distance to a reasonable high street (plus Waitrose) and good green space. That community worked well because it was very friendly. The houses were large enough that a downstairs bedroom could be accommodated but not too large iyswim?

Is some kind of retirement property an option? Especially if she’s already used to living in a flat?

I’m like you - I wouldn’t want people in every day (not my family or DH’s), or frequent unscheduled visits. Don’t underestimate these needs, your DH will soon be trapped between your needs and her needs, you will need to fight for what you need and if you get it wrong your marriage might not survive the pressure. Remember, she sounds frail but could well live another 15-20 years, likely another 10!

LivingThatLockdownLife Mon 25-May-20 08:05:11

I wouldn't be happy with this. She is going to need care in the near future.

I will put it this way. In the next 5 years is she likely to have more health problems or less? The next 10?

It all depends on DH. Is he going to take responsibility for her AND continue to take responsibility for you and DC? Or is he going to check out and you'll be run ragged and guilted into being an unpaid carer on top?

Flamingolingo Mon 25-May-20 08:06:46

Sorry I don’t know why I thought she lives in a flat now, I don’t think it says that

SnuggyBuggy Mon 25-May-20 08:08:46

I think you also need to be realistic about how much care you can offer. These situations can snowball

ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 08:10:32

Ok the focus on health/memory that you are all bringing up is rightfully ringing alarm bells and something I should discuss more with DH. He gets upset but must bite the bullet and be realistic.

In terms of her care. I have no idea what local options we have... How should I look into this.

I am a SAHM (for now) and he works long hours in London (well did pre lockdown). I am, I guess, willing to pop in most days down the line with a bit of shopping but not willing to become a carer. I also do plan to work once children all at school anyway.

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ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 08:11:22

She currently lives in a very cute cottage in a picturesque village.

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C0RA Mon 25-May-20 08:13:01

My husband has a semi backbone when it comes to her. He doesn't like to hurt her feelings but I think if I was upset and needed boundaries enforcing he would step up to the mark

You need to be 100% sure of this before you go any further with this plan. You also need to agree who is going to be the carer for her. Many men think that you will do this because you Have a vagina , even though it’s his mother and not yours. So it’s possible you are both assuming that the other will do this.

You need to agree as many practical things as possible .

Sit down with him and a a piece of paper and write done how often he will visit her each week, what he’s prepared to do himself and what he will buy in help for . Cover everything you can think of - does she need help in the garden and a cleaner now? What about later if she needs help with cooking, shopping and personal care? What if she gets dementia ? What if she needs to go into a home?

Does your husband work and if so is he willing to give that up or go part time to be her carer ? If not, who is going to do this or pay for this ?

Will she come and live with you if necessary or will he go to stay with her for part of the week ? ( so she will need a spare bedroom ).

You absolutely MUST think of practical things like no stairs and accessibility to house and garden . Otherwise she may end up having to move again in a couple of years!

Does your husband have POA for her? Does she have a will?

Before you do anything else ,spend an entire evening reading the boards here on MN about caring for an elderly relative and write down all the scenarios you can think of and discuss them with your husband .

DO NOT DO THIS if he’s not willing to talk to you about this, if he says things like “ we will work that out at the time “ or “ I can’t predict the future so there’s no point in talking about this “.

What that means is “it will be your job to deal with it. I will be too busy at work / on the golf course “.

You don’t mention children but if you have them, think hard about the impact this may have on them.

fullofgoodintentions Mon 25-May-20 08:14:00

If you live near a town have you considered sheltered housing apartments? My MIL moved to one and loves it. It’s over 55s so not all very elderly, they have lovely gardens and a communal lounge where they gather to have a chat, drink wine etc. The apartments are self contained so she is totally independent but has made lots of friends.

ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 08:15:12

I'd love to convince her to move to sheltered housing - it makes so much sense but she will hate the idea. Probably be offended by the idea.

I especially like the fact she will instantly have people to socialise with. My Grandma loved her sheltered flat!

Has anyone had any success in persuading someone reluctant?

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ladybird303 Mon 25-May-20 08:16:56

@C0RA thank you I need this stern talking to! Will do as you suggest

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C0RA Mon 25-May-20 08:17:23

I took so long to type I now see that you are a SAHM and he works long hours.

DONT DO THIS. He is lining your up to be her full time carer and you’ve already said you don’t want to do that.

Also “ he gets too upset to talk about this “ is not a good starting point for such an endeavour.

Greengrapes1357 Mon 25-May-20 08:18:21

A town with amenities will mean she's independent longer, they'll be more social things going on for her to get involved in.
With regards to house - no stairs would be the ideal (inside and out). If stairs can it accommodate a stair lift? Alternatively look at ways she could live on one floor in the future (downstairs wet room, living space that could become a bedroom). Outside space that is manageable.

swishswashswoosh Mon 25-May-20 08:20:26

As pp have said, an upheaval is likely to accelerate any early dementia - if there is any - but that said, if this is present then you will want her to move sooner rather than later so she has more chance of being present enough to make it feel home. The key is not then having to move again in 5 or 10 years time. So future-proofing; Ramps over single steps (so many period properties have single steps everywhere!), induction hob not gas, easy access parking for a daily carer or you so you aren't paying for parking on top every time you visit, ability to 'live' downstairs or stannah stair lift to ensure mobility doesn't force moving. Although if she is fit and well this would concern me less than the memory loss future proofing. My mother was fit and well but memory decline from 70s but could still face round town and up and down stairs in her early 90s - if she could remember how to get home! The mobility for her only declined when she got to 94ish when she started to struggle after a fall (because she forgot there was a step outside in her garden).

Good luck, you sound like a lovely daughter in law, she is lucky to have you looking out for her!

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