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ExMIL Help needed please, don't know what to do

(10 Posts)
SlightlyPeeved Wed 01-Jun-16 10:02:17

Bit of a long story but I'm a bit stuck and so is ExH so thought I'd post for some advice.

ExMIL has always been a strong lady, when I fell pg with our first 13 years ago she was over the moon and went crazy with baby stuff, very excited at 1st grandchild etc.

Her and FIL live together and have always been financially supportive if not emotionally.

A few years ago FIL needed a major OP and MIL stayed with BIL for a few days. She'd just retired and her and FIL had lots of plans for the house and holidays etc. Out of the blue she took a large overdose which was a huge shock to us all. FIL was in hospital and we, on the advice of the MH team, got her to agree to a stay at the MH unit.

FIL had another week in hospital and doctors advised us not to tell him what had happened just yet as he was weak.

We went home (2 hours away) to sort DC and plan next steps. The next morning MIL's sister had signed her out after pleading calls.
I was angry at the time.

FIL was finally well enough to go home, we told him about it all and MIL promised age was ok hmm

Then the slow decline, it started with them not socialising, when they used to. Then eventuality not visiting us. ExH and I spilt up and no support for him. Over the course of the next few years they slowly gave up, MIL more than FIL.

She was visited by the community team but as she gets up each day they stopped coming.

GP has prescribed antidepressants which she takes like sweets. Now exH goes down every week to take them shopping. Otherwise they don't leave the house.

He went today and she was staggering around the shops, not with it at all, checking her purse every few minutes to make sure she had change for the car park and asking to go to the cash point even though she'd been.

She only eats yogurt and brioche.

ExH and I have a good relationship and he's obviously upset and concerned. He won't take the DC there anymore as she is behaving so strangely. They don't wash or clean the house, he does it all. She lies on the bed and begs them to stay with her as she's going to die and then keeps asking ExH when he's leaving as she wants him to go.

She refuses the GP and when ExH took her there they gave more pills. She is taking far too many.

I've suggested going private but she won't have it.

I haven't seen them in three years but want to march down there and demand action from someone. ExH is not coping well but wants to do something.

Any suggestions gratefully relieved. My kids are missing the old grandma and grandad and the whole thing fills me with despair. I'm very sure I would not be welcome.

If she won't seek help, is that it? Surely not?

Lolimax Wed 01-Jun-16 10:09:17

Hi. Horrible situation all round. What has (ex) fil said? If he went to the Drs on his own to say how worried he was that might help? Other than that can your ex make an appointment explain his side and see if they can get the CMHT back in? If she or they won't accept help or acknowledge there is an issue I can't see how much more can be done but I don't think the GP is helping by doling out more pills especially if she's taking more than her prescription.
Could you phone MIND for some advice?
Good luck.

MadameCholetsDirtySecret Wed 01-Jun-16 10:09:20

Without seeing a GP it is impossible to say what the problem is. It could be anything from a vitamin B12 deficiency to dementia.

Could her GP be prevailed upon to do a home visit ?

My DF has dementia so I have some experience, but of course that might not be your XMIL's problem.

SlightlyPeeved Wed 01-Jun-16 10:13:12

She's had dementia tests in the past but all was ok. It's much more about anxiety. She says she is scared and frightened but doesn't know what she is frightened about.

SlightlyPeeved Wed 01-Jun-16 13:09:33

Bumping for any other suggestions...

NanaNina Wed 01-Jun-16 13:10:50

But that's the nature of anxiety - we don't know what we are frightened of..........it's not like saying "we are frightened of spiders etc" that's rational but anxiety is fear and when we don't know what we are frightened of it makes it all the more scary. It's difficult for anyone who hasn't experienced mental illness to understand. It's a very frightening place to be.

SlightlyPeeved Wed 01-Jun-16 13:24:58

I'm sorry Nana, i make it sound as though I have no empathy. I do get it and i feel a lot for her and the situation. I just don't know what can be done and feel as though GPs have no clue. It feels like they are waiting for her to die.

I know she needs help but am at a loss as to how to access that help.

Is it a case of paying privately?

NanaNina Wed 01-Jun-16 16:44:24

Ah your empathy comes through........no worries on that score. The overdose seems to have come like out a bolt out of the blue. Mind having said that my MIL did the same (she died some years ago) and seemingly had no idea why she'd done it - we never got to the bottom of it.

When you say she takes anti depressants "like sweets" do you mean she is taking more than she should? Does she see the GP or are they just on repeat prescription? Oh hang on I've just seen in your OP that her son took her to the GP and she got another script for pills. Do you know what these meds are that she's being prescribed. To be honest they way you describe her behaviour, it doesn't sound like anxiety. It sounds more like her thought processes are impaired in some way. I don't like internet diagnosis (and I'm no medic) but dementia can take a long time (years) from the onset until it is more obvious that there is a problem, so I don't think that can be ruled out.

You don't mention ExFIL's r/ship with his wife - it sounds like he doesn't do anything in terms of keeping the house clean and shopping as their son has taken over those tasks. She may well have a vitamin deficiency given her very restrictive diet.

It's a tricky situation isn't it, because a GP is not going to discuss her with anyone else, even a close family member. I think the exception to that is if someone has a psychotic illness and is in danger of harming themselves or others and the nature of the illness is such that they don't realise they are seriously mentally ill, but that is clearly not the case with your ex MIL.

You mention "going privately" - not sure what you mean - do you mean a private GP - I wouldn't advise that as they are no more qualified than an NHS GP - just means that you would get a longer consultation and your ex MIL wouldn't agree to this in any event. You could consider a private consultant psychiatrist (I saw one myself recently - she was extremely well qualified and had many publications to her name and taught psychiatry at a Uni, and was also a Pharmacologist. Cost £250 per hour, but I actually had 90 mins) It was worth every penny and I intend getting another appointment in the near future. BUT your exMIL wouldn't agree to see anyone like that would she? So whichever route you take, there is a dead end - very frustrating I know but I honestly don't think there's anything you can do. It almost seems that things are going to have to get worse before they can get any help/support.

The thing is, as I'm sure you are aware, there is the issue of a person's civil liberties and just because someone is old or ill doesn't mean that they are eroded in any way. Incidentally you don't mention how old she and exFIL are.

Just thought of something else - not sure about their financial situation or ExH's but a friend was really stressed trying to care for her mother who was slowly dementing and very forgetful. She had a cleaner who she paid for, and she was the one person who her mother liked to see. She went in twice a week which wasn't necessary but my friend encouraged it because of the r/ship between the lady who cleaned and her mother. On the days that the cleaner came, her mother would be up and dressed, whereas on other days she refused to get out of bed. My friend hit on the idea of asking the cleaner if she should be prepared to go in daily (obviously for payment) as a sort of companion. She was very happy to do this and my friend could relax knowing that someone was with her mother every morning. It's a long shot but maybe something like this might help. My friend's MIL wanted her to go through an agency for the companion, but I encouraged my friend to keep to the lady her mother knew and liked and because there were no agency fees, the could afford to pay this lady much more than she would get working for the agency, and my friend's mother got a whole morning, rather than the 15 mins she would have got with an agency carer.

Sorry didn't intend this to be such a lengthy post.

SlightlyPeeved Thu 02-Jun-16 09:17:27

Wow, thanks so much Nana.

The only thing I know she takes is diazepam and she is only supposed to have one when she is feeling anxious but she take many more than that.

FIL is a lovely man and always very capable but seems to have lost himself. She has always told him what to do and without that he seems to flounder. I really think he could be key to helping her but he just does as he is told by her and defends her to the hilt, lovely but frustrating too.

Yes, when i say private, it was to maybe do some talking therapies to attempt to help her in some way or at least have a doctor give her the time she needs and an actual diagnosis. The change in her is insane. My eldest DD has been in tears asking why Grandma doesn't do puzzles with her anymore and it's heart breaking.

The cleaner idea is a good one. At the moment, she doesn't like her son in the house so i'm not sure how that'd go down but i've sent ExH a link to this thread <waves> so he can see and maybe think about that.

Financially, they are ok, they saved for retirement and both have good pensions, so could afford a cleaner so well worth considering.

I know it'll be a long road and i've been shocked out how the rest of the family and friends have disappeared. We used to go at Christmas and the house was full and people would stop by. Tonnes of cards and presents for them and yet now, they have no one. ExMIL has actively pushed people away but how quickly it goes from one situation to another. So sad.

sadie9 Thu 02-Jun-16 10:10:09

To be honest like Nana has suggested, it could be the start of dementia. The symptoms can be very like this - sudden mood changes, and the thing you say about her behaviour looking for the change for the car park. Here's what happened with my Mum symptom-wise. It was very subtle for the first few years.
Mood swings - fits of depression, angry outbursts, unreasonable blaming behaviour (unlike her)
Agitation and anxiety over money
Worried about appointments
Mixing up dates very badly
Thinking talked-about events are much closer that they are
Waking up early worrying about a very minor thing (house insurance which is not due for months)
Subtle cognitive deterioration: talks a good talk about reading paper etc but is not really capable anymore. Doesn't do crosswords anymore, cannot really write a shopping list. Can't really buy food because when they are out they can't work out what a person would buy for a meal. The lists in their head are just not there. Can't relate amounts of money - if someone told them it was 20 quid for an ice cream they wouldn't notice.
Food changes again - forget what they used to eat and might develop new habits. They might say 'I always hated beef' when they always ate it before. Next month they are eating a load of new stuff that has caught their eye in the supermarket that they never ate before.
Stops cooking because can't actually work the cooker sometimes.
The Biggie - doesn't notice their mistakes, and doesn't notice their confusion either.
Just an idea. It is very difficult for them.

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