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Supporting spouse - PIL, dementia, controlling SIL

(217 Posts)
Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 10:28:27

Quick background info: We have been NC with controlling sil (csil) for over 15 years for multiple reasons having lived away (the latter 4 years, at the other side of the world). 20 months ago when H retired we returned about 40 minutes drive from pil’s home. H also has a B and N(ice) sil (nsil) who along with csil live 5 minutes drive from pil.

csil has always been extremely (joined at the hip) close to pil and has over decades been a toxic influence on them and her brother and his wife until eventually bil and nsil saw the light and went no contact with her also. Despite csil’s best efforts both sons aided by their wives (me and nsil) managed to maintain a loving relationship with pil. Pil tried to steer their ship through all the ups and downs of their fractured family relationship - appeasing csil (as she screamed the loudest) allowing her full control of their lives.

Csil was widowed tragically in her early forties with two young children (she is now 58). We as a family were very supportive to her when this happened but sil decided ‘that part of her life was over’ and wore her widow’s weeds with aplomb. As the years passed sil and pil’s lives became more and more entwined with pil heavily involved with childcare so csil could carry on working. As pil became older csil then gradually turned the tables until neither could live without the other and she became the support to them. Eventually pil could not make any decisions for themselves, ran everything past her, domination of them was complete. Both of her now adult children still live with their mother. Both are ‘odd’ neither have managed to maintain adult relationships; their mother was highly controlling as they grew up; both were very unpleasant to us, we assumed this was due their mother’s toxicity - we did not add flames to any fires. NC was our way of managing csil and her little family.

csil in my opinion, has serious mental issues. She catastophises everything. She has cried wolf so many times that we now do not react until we see first-hand whatever crisis occurs (usually a storm in a teacup). Her anxiety levels are sky high and her anger and jealousy at my Dh - (her brother) even higher. Mostly I think the fact we moved away from the area and dared to have a happy life beyond the narrow confines of her life has angered her. She is now trying to use her ailing parents as a tool with which to control us and her other brother and wife.

Fast forward to the situation today : Both pil are now 90 (fil) and 87 (mil). Both with memory problems both 100% reliant on her, who is now self appointed carer. She is paid by pil to be their carer and because there are no assets (social housing - no savings) we volunteered to top up her earnings to make up her ‘wages’ so that she wasn’t out of pocket. Csil will not countenance outside help, until both brothers forced the issue and a cleaner was brought in to lighten the load. Nsil and I do not get involved in any decision making but support the brothers in a weekly rota to help. DH and I go every Tuesday. He does the grocery shopping, I prepare and serve the main meal (lunch), prepare afternoon tea for them to serve themselves and do some light housework. Bil and nsil do the same on Sundays. Csil manages everything else. Fil is blind, confused, has a severe tremor and diabetes. He has insulin injected every day (by csil because she is an ex nurse and fell out with the district nurses). Mil is on a zimmer, struggling to walk, completely confused and does not recognise she is in her own home now. Csil refuses point blank to consider care home for either of them and is in the process of autonomously taking them into her own home. Pil will do as they are told and are under complete control of csil.

Both brothers do not agree that she should do this but she is overruling them and steaming ahead with it.

Epic story. Thank you for reading if you have stayed with it.

I am using this as a way of keeping check on events as they unfold and will welcome constructive advice how to handle the fallout when csil crashes and burns. I am seriously worried about her (as much as I do not like her). Nobody could cope with what she is insisting on taking on.

I will add that DH has been emphatic that he has not worked for over 46 years to become a carer. I offered to take father into our home (fog) to lighten her load but DH will not budge.

Currently financial assessments are being made and occupational therapists are assessing csil’s home. We are aghast.

ajandjjmum Wed 28-Nov-18 10:33:47

You're not alone! flowers

GhostSauce Wed 28-Nov-18 10:39:13

That sounds like a nightmare.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 11:26:48

It is an absolute nightmare. Csil has ‘form’ for being violent (with us) if she is crossed. Both brothers have kept their distance over the years because of this. She is expert at playing the martyr; lies, manipulates and is a force to be reckoned with. Batshit crazy. To be fair she cares for them like a lion with her cubs. The local practice ask “how high” when she says “jump”. They would not be here now if it wasn’t for her.

She is very very angry at both brothers, especially DH because he will not bow down and come under her regime. We have said once incontinence is an issue we will withdraw our physical help. We have committed to her financially until she draws her occupational pension next year. She is furious with both brothers. Nsil and I are allies. We both support dhs but draw the line at wiping bums and bathing, because neither of them are prepared to do it.


HoleyCoMoley Wed 28-Nov-18 11:37:38

Does anyone have power of attorney for either pil. Have they had capacity assessments.

GhostSauce Wed 28-Nov-18 11:42:01

Do you think there's a possibility of her being violent with PILs?

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 11:47:11

Csil will not be told. She uses their bank card to access their money. Despite being asked by brothers to give an account on income/expenditure she has not produced this. Currently she is trying to ‘not’ involve the social services preferring to handle everything herself but is now being thwarted by us because we will not be part of her ‘care plan’. It is only this month she has got them involved because we have drawn our lines in the sand and will not step up to her regime. We have no idea what will transpire once they get involved. Csil has threatened us with the police for ‘harrassment’ if we contact her directly. Communications are by note on a board in the kitchen.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 11:53:00

Mil is very compliant. Fil and csil scream and shout at each other. Csil is very volatile and loses control. H has had to leave the house in order not to escalate situations. Fil in the past has said to us he dreads her coming round and does not want to move in with her but dare not tell her this. Csil thinks she has a wonderful relationship with him but he has told us otherwise. There is rapid deterioration with fil now. He is ‘resigned’ to moving in with her. He is not honest with her and will do as he is told I think. He has resisted moving for the past year but mil needs 24hr care, we can all see that now.

HoleyCoMoley Wed 28-Nov-18 12:01:23

I would contact the adult social services safeguarding team and their g.p. and tell them everything you have told us, in laws need to be safe.,

FadedRed Wed 28-Nov-18 12:02:24

Have you and your brother told your parents GP about the situation? And you could contact your Local Council Adult Safeguarding team if you suspect financial, verbal or physical coercion or abuse.
Difficult situation.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 12:07:22

Csil thinks they will not be safe in either a carehome (horror stories constantly in the news) or strangers coming for “10 minutes a day administering tins of soup”). She thinks only she (with us) can give them the care they need. I am hoping when they assess the situation they will see that no one person can physically do what she thinks she can. Incidentally she has told her brother that once they are in her house, she will not allow DH to visit. Her hatred of him is palpable.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 12:09:12

We have never had contact with in-law’s GP. csil is in overall control. We are observing the situation as it transpires.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 12:11:59

Pil trust csil implicently. I do believe csil has their best interest at heart. She thinks “she is the only one”. She is deranged. Her volatility is frightening. She is used to getting her own way in the family because both brothers have deferred to her until now.

HoleyCoMoley Wed 28-Nov-18 12:20:10

If fil dreads her coming round, doesn't want to live with her but is scared to tell her then surely that's not in his best interests. If she won't allow their son to visit that is abuse. Does she have power of attorney. Perhaps you should read the elder abuse website about the different types of abuse that happens to vulnerable people and what help is available.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 12:31:30

I don’t think it is abuse. She just thinks only ‘she’ can give them the care they need. Fil and csil clash because she is strict with him regarding diet. He has a sweet tooth and would gorge on chocolate if he had his way. She rules him like a little child and they clash. He is slowly losing capacity and appears lucid but tell fantastic stories about people long dead. Mother is frail, confused, on her last legs (literally) and diagnosed with demetia. Father is strong physically but blind and insulin dependant. Not diagnosed with Lewis bodies but has the symptoms. He had a brain scan this year but wasn’t diagnosed (yet). Neither know what day it is. Cannot operate tv, radio etc. Have no capacity for domestics. Between us we do it all. Csil wants to keep it this way due to her anxiety for them. I don’t think she is abusive for personal reasons. Just does not like to be disobeyed. She appears normal until she loses it if she is not obeyed. I think she is suffering acute anxiety (for them).

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 12:34:25

Thanks I’ll have a look at that. Csil is not used to not being obeyed. Both brothers let her do her thing until now. She is astonished they are not complying with her wishes. We are all adjusting to the new situation now they are becoming fully dependant on their family.

HoleyCoMoley Wed 28-Nov-18 12:37:14

Maybe also read the mental capacity act, all care must be given in their best interest, including financial and where they live, care they receive.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 12:40:03

We shall see what transpires once the assessments have happened. Christmas is coming, I don’t think anything will happen until next year. It hasn’t occurred to us to overrule csil. We are so used to her making the decisions. But we have made a stand regarding us being coerced into coming under her control using them as her tool. Thanks for listening. I’ll come back to this thread if and when something happens.

ajandjjmum Wed 28-Nov-18 12:46:13

There is nothing to stop your DH from getting an appointment with Social Services, and asking them to do an assessment of their needs - we hadn't realised this is different to a dementia assessment.

This is what DH did for his Mum (also has an overbearing sister, who is desperately trying to preserve what money she can - whatever for I can't think!!), and although it changed nothing, it has put his mind to rest, knowing that he has done everything he can.

He also saw the woman leading the mental health team, and gave them an honest overview of the dynamics of the family, and why he is not prepared to give more.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 12:54:31

There is no money in this case. Csil just wants her version of what she sees as best for them. She will crash and burn because she thinks only she (with us in her employ) is the way. We are not complying with her wishes. She is very angry at us.

HoleyCoMoley Wed 28-Nov-18 12:58:51

It would be worth finding out if anyone has power of attorney, the social services and o.t. will ask this anyway, their welfare is really the priority and if any professionals feel they are at risk of not getting the care they need they will act in their best interests. Her having access to their bank cards and not sharing this info with her brothers does involve money. It's about them, not her.good luck, hope they get the care they need.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 14:24:29

Thanks. I’ll come back if and when the situation changes. Pretty sure the is no - csil just assumes full responsibility, has done for years, they just trust her and do as they are told. We are the ones objecting to the ‘by mission creep’ assumption that we have to step up into her ‘care plan’ plans. I am going to suggest to H that and his brother have a right to be involved with decision making despite csil’s assumption that it her way - period.

Needmoresleep Wed 28-Nov-18 16:30:46

1. Save any emotional energy for fights you can and need to win.

2. Make your own decisions on how much physical care/support you are prepared to give.

3. Talk to adult social services. (It is worth doing anyway, as it gives SS a chance to provide informed input around, say, discharge decisions.)

4. Do not give up a Housing Association tenancy unless you are certain. Being tenants means the HA/Local Authority are motivated to help with a move to sheltered or to a care home as they will want to free up a property.

5. No POA can be an advantage as if SS decide, they can apply to Court of Protection instead. Assuming you feel they are more likely to be sensible than SiL.

Needmoresleep Wed 28-Nov-18 16:39:23

6. Money. SS can provide a limited amount of carer support plus needed adaptations. Your PiL should already be receiving full Attendance Allowance, and have applied for Council Tax exemption. Your Sil will be eligible for carers allowance. If they are not getting these they should apply.

7. Sad as it is their situation is as a result of decisions they made years ago, plus extreme old age is pretty rough for almost everyone. You can't change much. It is not your fault. Step back, help as much as you are happy to do, but dont prop up the unsustainable. If they are vulnerable, use SS to step in and protect. Save your energy for the (inevitable) crisis.

Slugslasher Wed 28-Nov-18 20:20:58

@Needmoresleep thank you for your response. They are in a three bedroom HA/Local Authority House. A wet room (fully funded) was installed in the downstairs cloakroom last year. A bed was installed in the dining room but mil insists on sleeping on the sofa in the sitting room (glass doors into the dining room). Fil has just recently started using the bed downstairs in order to be on hand if confused mil wakes up. Csil is finding that she is needed more and more and for this reason wants to take them both into her house because running between the two is becoming too much. Csil owns her own house. She gave up her paid employment the year before last and pil agreed to use their pension/benefits to pay csil to look after them. We topped up her ‘wages’ so that she was not out of pocket. She feels entitled to this and has never acknowledged our contribution nor our physical help on Tuesdays which she requested so she could have a day off. Csil did not think her mother had long to live when she made the decision to be her carer. (catastrophising), fil’s heart is strong, we could have years of this to face. Mil I think could last too. Neither of them are aware of the huge burden they are. They have always had csil in their lives. This is their normal. Bil, nsil and we think they should now be in a care home but csil is having none of it and has been expecting us all to fall in line. The manipulation and emotional blackmail has not worked. She has turned to SS for help. We are waiting for the assessments, both financial and OT.

We are not committing ourselves to being in her employ and will not enable her to make this decision. She is on her own if she does this and after a meeting last week between the three siblings she knows it.


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