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I don't know what to do with mother-in-law

(15 Posts)
Oakmaiden Sat 17-Jan-15 12:24:09

Advice needed, please. This is going to come out all of a jumble, as ?I am not really sure where to start.

Mother in law is about 83 years old, and is poorly. She has been in hospital for the past 6 weeks with a lung infection. Prior to this she has been in and out of hospital over the past year following infections (she had pneumonia over the summer), falls, etc. I think she has spent more time in hospital than at home. Her partner died about 3 years ago, and before his death I think he had really looked after her - she has a broken arm (broken many years ago, never healed and she refuses to let "them" operate on it, so that really affects her mobility.

Hospital are currently trying to prepare her for her return home. She lives alone in a warden assisted flat. We live about 4 hours away, her other children have emigrated to Australia/New Zealand. Unfortunately the hospital report that she is still confused (for example she is looking forward to going home, but thinks she will be returning to the house she lived in 20 years ago with my husband. I personally have watched a decline in her mental faculties over the past 10 years, and am convinced that she has some form of dementia/Alzheimers. The hospital say it may be the after effects of the lung disease. Which may be making it worse - but we are talking about someone who when well cannot remember how to put on a seat belt, etc - things she has done competently for many many years.) The hospital also say that she is making no effort to look after herself. She finds it difficult to do some things (ie get out of bed unaided) and so instead of trying or asking for her, she just lies there until someone comes to do it for her. Apparently their response to this is that SS will be sending someone into the flat 4 times a day to get her up/put her in bed and they will provide her with a hospital bed. We were phoned yesterday by the hospital and asked what we wanted to do with her current bed - would we want to store it or get rid of it. I am extremely concerned that they don't think her capable of making decisions like that, and yet want her to move home and live, housebound, alone.

I don't know what we should do. We have told her she would be welcome to move in with us (we have a large house with a suitable downstairs room and a downstairs bathroom - we chose this house specifically because it would be suitable if she needed to come to us). Prior to her illness she was clearly lonely and unhappy, but unable to make the admittedly huge decision about taking a step like that. Which is fine - I get that it would be a very difficult transition for her. However, I am now wondering if we should take the decision out of her hands. Should we just override her as far as possible (OK - not drag her kicking and screaming, but you know...) and move her here. We could tell her that she is just coming until she "feels better able to manage" - and of course if she does ever reach that stage, then she would be able to go back home. But I don't think she will.

I cannot bear the thought of her being shut in her flat day in and day out at the mercy of carers who come and go when they feel like it. And 'I don't know what to do.

Oakmaiden Sat 17-Jan-15 12:28:10

The flip side of course is that my husband and I both work full time, and the children obviously are also out of the house all day. So she would still be alone for a portion of the day - although we could maybe employ a housekeeper/companion for her. My gut feeling is that us being there in the evenings/weekends/school holidays would be better than the current setup, and I would be able to keep a much closer eye on whatever carers are doing...

AlpacaMyBags Sat 17-Jan-15 12:33:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Purplecircle Sat 17-Jan-15 12:36:10

We had homecare for my gran. She lived 20 miles away. They went in 4x a day to get her up and do her meals, prompt her tablets. Family did her shopping and she had a cleaner. She also had an alarm for if she fell and someone would go over. She had to have a number lock on her door so the carers could get in and no one needed a key.

I wouldn't leave her just to them as they only do 15 min visits and there's no time for shopping or cleaning. If they are short staffed then they may not turn up

You could get homecare to come to your house while you're at work and to help with bathing

Andante57 Sat 17-Jan-15 12:37:37

Oakmaiden you sound a lovely, kind person. I'm sorry about the problems your mil has to face, but she is lucky to have you as a daughter in law.

Oakmaiden Sat 17-Jan-15 12:37:49

I could do what I needed to do. I have worked in a care home for the elderly, so I am capable of doing what is necessary, and reluctant to send someone my husband loves into somewhere of that type....

ColdCottage Sat 17-Jan-15 12:39:19

Follow you gut and bring her into the home if you can afford a companion for her. She may not have much time left and it would be the least upsetting time to move her.

Going home then to you would be harder.

She probably doesn't want to be a burden which is why she is saying she doesn't want to move in with you.

If you make it clear she has her own little set up, TV, kettle, mini fridge etc in her room so she has some independence it will also be easier.

Good luck.

Oakmaiden Sat 17-Jan-15 12:42:40

Purplecircle - that sounds very similar to my mother in laws' current set up. She has been having people come in 4 times a day, and an alarm if she falls. But it is very difficult when we are so far away. She presses the alarm, and Careline phone us - but we can't actually do anything - it takes us 4 hours to get there. She had the ambulance out about twice a week to pick her up because she had fallen before this stay in hospital. Which is madness, really.

Similar care with us closer on hand might be workable - but not with us so far away.

Oakmaiden Sat 17-Jan-15 12:44:09

She probably doesn't want to be a burden which is why she is saying she doesn't want to move in with you

I think this is a big part of it. Which is why I wonder if just not asking her but telling her is the best option. If she were to really object, obviously we would listen, but I think she is in two minds about it herself, so maybe it would be best to just go for it.

Greywackejones Sat 17-Jan-15 12:45:10

Well you need to sound out family I think. Do kids mind?

Also, is there anyone your side possibly expecting to move in with u? I'd def mention to a parent of yours too as people might be hurt.

You sound experienced of elderly needs so I'm not commenting there.

With home care at your house in your absence and your family around the rest of the time it could work. You might want to make sure a will is written too now so dh siblings don't get the hump in anyway in future too. (Thinking forwards they might still expect a share even if you say need the money to look after her)

Oakmaiden Sat 17-Jan-15 13:41:55

Thank you, Grey.

My own parents are much younger, and a long way from needing this type of arrangement. I need to talk to SS etc I think to see how it could work.

ColdCottage Sat 17-Jan-15 14:29:45

Grey gives good advice.

If you do decide to go for it, say you want her with you and have decided it is the best option and how you will all gain from her company, especially the children. Let her know she will still maintain how own freedom to see friends and have friends over, go out and about as she chooses etc

Unless like you say she is very distressed and it obviously not what she wants, but I doubt that.

NotMyName123 Sun 18-Jan-15 00:12:36

You could maybe get private carers to go in to visit when you're at work? They will stay roughly as lomg as you want. However, they are expensive.

Auriga Sun 18-Jan-15 00:28:19

My experience with my Mum was that she talked a lot about wanting to maintain her independence but didn't mean it. Of course it may be very different with your MIL.

My Mum said she never wanted to be a burden to anyone etc. but in reality she wants to be looked after and was fed up with trying to look after herself.

She persuaded herself she was doing us a favour by moving in with us & she still maintains the fiction that she helps us out, for example by putting the soup pan in the sink to soak. I've come to realise that this is essential for her dignity and self-esteem. She is from a generation that was brought up not to want or expect anything for themselves (especially if they were female).

I think asking your MIL to stay with you to convalesce for a while could work well. Better than going home, failing to manage and then having to move in anyway.

Auriga Sun 18-Jan-15 00:31:58

Having said that, Grey's advice about the will is good. We completely failed to have any discussion about ground rules or finances and thereby made the whole thing a lot harder for ourselves.

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