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(long) Appalling news re MIL and sFIL, please advise

(76 Posts)
Jux Tue 04-Oct-11 00:15:53

MIL is completely gaga; she declined very fast - over a few months - a few years ago. They live in Surrey (we're in Devon), and as we've had a really awful time with many bereavements over a very short space of time, we have been really busy dealing with the emotional fall-out and the practicalities of winding up estates etc. The upshot is that we've left things pretty much to SIL (dh's sister).

SIL has been the carer for her disabled partner, who a month or so ago fell into a diabetic coma, was hospitalised and not expected to live. He has recovered enough to leave hospital but his medical needs are so great that he has had to go into a nursing home. SIL is devastated. She visits him every day.

Meanwhile, SIL is still trying to help out with MIL. Leading up to her partner's collapse, she had realised that MIL's house was not as well kept as it used to be and that MIL wasn't as spruce as she had been, but whenever she had asked sFIL about what was happening about MIL's medical treatment, what help he needed, what MIL was able to manage, etc he fobbed her off saying things like "It's all in hand" "I am doing everything that needs to be done" and would close the conversation (he was exactly the same with dh and me when we asked). When SIL asked why MIL was wearing old clothes with holes in he told her that MIL refused to wear anything else. The fact was, ALL her clothes were dirty and ragged.

SIL then investigated further - up until then, sFIL had not allowed discouraged her from going further than the 'public' rooms which weren't well tended but weren't awful. SIL found that the bedclothes were crusty and black. She threw them all away. All MIL's clothes were fillthy with holes in, old and ragged. She threw them away. She took MIL shopping for new clothes. She told sFIL he had to buy new bedding and get a washing machine which he could work himself.

SIL had just contacted social services to see what could be done about her mother's personal care and to help keep the house clean, and to provide meals as they clearly weren't eating properly (if MIL's beyond cooking - and she is - sFIL certainly isn't prepared to stoop to do so himself).

SIL had to leave organising things for MIL when her partner collapsed and went into hospital and asked sFIL's daughter to do it. sFIL's daughter didn't.

SIL had bought clothes for her mother, she had bought new bedding as sFIL couldn't be bothered and she was seriously out of pocket - she had been managing on her partner's DLA and her carers' allowance. She was badly in debt and asked sFIL if he could reimburse her. He said he would; he said he would ensure that when he drove MIL round to see her next, there would be money in MIL's account which SIL could access via MIL's cash card. There was no money in MIL's account. This carried on for weeks, until SIL rang dh and we gave her money.

Yesterday, SIL rang again. She has told us that MIL has stopped washing, her hair is filthy, her clothes are dirty again, and she smells. Social Services went to MIL's but sFIL assured them that everything was under control and wouldn't even let them in.

SIL has managed to get a cleaner for 3 hours a week, via the Alzheimer's charity, who have also sent them a gardener. This is the only help that sFIL will allow. The company who provide the cleaner told him that the house really needed to be blitzed and then for someone to come along for a few hours a week. He would not allow it.

There is never any money in MIL's bank account, but sFIL keeps telling SIL to reimburse herself for the things she buys for them - food, cleaning stuff and so on - but she never can. The result is that she is now desperate again, as her partner has had to go into a nursing home (senility, diabetes and extensive paralysis) so her carers' allowance has been stopped and of course the DLA goes to him.

DH has done a lot of phoning round today. He has spoken to the Alzheimer's charity who are on the case, and told dh about sFIL's refusal to allow a proper clean. They also told him that the first cleaner they sent was a man, and sFIL spent much of the time telling him he shouldn't be doing women's work. The poor chap refused to go back because he couldn't bear the way sFIL treated and spoke to MIL. The woman at the charity said she would be prepared to stand up in court and give a full account should it come to that.

DH has also spoken to Social Services, who have said they will try again, but next week, so that dh has time to tell sFIL to just bloody well let them in.

He has spoken to MIL's doctor who suggested that he come in with MIL, and then he can talk to dh. He has not seen MIL for over 6 months. He said that he had wanted to refer her to something (to do with her memory loss) and a few other things to help MIL, but sFIL had refused them on her behalf, and that MIL herself had refused some form of help he's offered - dh pointed out that was probably because sFIL had told her to. The doc had no idea things had become as bad as they are.

DH is going down tomorrow and will stay a couple of nights. He will talk to sFIL forcefully (wink) about what needs to be done and that he must cooperate.

DH feels that sFIL has neglected MIL, failed in his duty of care to her. sFIL's kids aren't really interested in getting more involved than they are (OK to have the old folks over for lunch, but that's about it).

The cleaner and gardener are apparently being paid for out of MIL's pension. Of course, she's no idea what's happening from one minute to the next, so it makes no difference to her, but she's aware sometimes that SIL is out of pocket and when they find the cash card won't produce any money, gives her 20p or 17p with a great flourish. Poor old stick, she really hasn't a clue, but she adores her two children, and everyone knows that she would never in a million years see SIL in the dire financial straits she is in right now. She was also always horribly house proud, and again, would be devastated if she knew what a state it was now in.

sFIL won't even put a wash on. This is why her clothes are always dirty. The cleaner has started doing some washing but she's only there once a week. MIL needs someone every day, or at least every other day, to help her have a bath for a start, wash her hair, brush her teeth and put on clean clothes. She can't produce a meal, and sFIL won't. She lives on bread and cheese and the odd biscuit. sFIL will go out to dinner.

I'm sorry it's so long, don't want to drip feed.

What else can we do? DH and DD were down there last half term, and things weren't that bad, apparently, but they were only there for an afternoon, stayed at SIL's.

There's no lack of money by the way. MIL only has her pension, but sFIL is loaded, seriously loaded. Bought a yacht earlier this year. Anyway, he's not refusing help because they can't afford it. They've been married for over 25 years; how could he treat her like that? It's so horrible.

jasper Tue 04-Oct-11 00:27:49

is sFIL starting to lose his marbles? Or is he being cruel?

I'm glad your dh is going to help for a couple of days and hopefully he can talk some sense into sFIL but it sounds like he will have to do a lot more as sil seems to have been shouldering most of the burden

wellwisher Tue 04-Oct-11 00:28:27

Can you take MIL to live with you as a short-term/emergency measure and look into residential care for her?

Are you sure sFIL has no MH issues himself? His behaviour sounds very odd. Has anyone really confronted him about it?

jasper Tue 04-Oct-11 00:29:08

is it time for mil to be in a care home of some sort? She is being neglected quite horribly

jasper Tue 04-Oct-11 00:29:43

I see wellwisher and I think the same way

Tianc Tue 04-Oct-11 00:32:57

Utterly appalling. If it were a child being treated like this, there would be prosecutions.

It's a grim thing to consider (but no more grim than sFIL buying a yacht and eating out while your DM sits in filth), but would you investigate legal action? Age Concern might have some experience of this sort of abuse and how to tackle it?

piprabbit Tue 04-Oct-11 00:33:17

It all sounds horrific sad.

TBH I think that your sFIL could also do with a visit to the GP as it sounds as if he has problems too (not only is he allowing your MIL to live in squalor but he seems happy to do so himself - perhaps he doesn't see it either?).

If sFIL is feeding himself but failing to ensure that his DW is also fed - then it starts to sound positively abusive - maybe have a look here?

Good luck - I hope your DH and SIL can make a difference.

ShutUppaYourFace Tue 04-Oct-11 00:33:36

Your MIL is a vulnerable adult and her needs are being neglected and in a way she is being financially abused if sFIL is keeping all the money. I would contact Social Services and tell them you are concerned about her welfare. sFIL not letting them into the house shouldn't be the end of their attempts.

I'd google 'Safeguarding vulnerable adults' + the area she lives in and see what help there is for you.

Tianc Tue 04-Oct-11 00:35:22

Whether or not sFIL has mental health issues (which may also need to be assessed), this sounds a long way beyond the realm of talking some sense into.

solidgoldbrass Tue 04-Oct-11 00:48:45

Have you ever previously suspected that SFIL is abusive? If not, then he is clearly suffering MH problems himself and it's probably best to report this to the charities and SS. If he has always been a prick, then, as others said, report him for abuse of a vulnerable adult. Best of luck with getting it sorted.

laptopwieldingharpy Tue 04-Oct-11 00:53:06

Your dh really needs to act on it without delay.
Good luck.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Tue 04-Oct-11 01:50:37

One thing is crystal clear - your dh is going to need take a very firm line with his sf.

I would suggest he says something along the lines of:

a) if you do not allow a blitz clean of the house and hire a cleaner to come in for x hours 3 times a week at a cost of c£100 per week, and if you do not ensure that dm is well-fed and clean at all times and that dsis is repaid every penny she is owed today,

I will

b) take dm back to Devon with me so that I can arrange for her to be admitted to a care home in the certain knowledge that you will be legally obliged to pay the bill which will be in the region of £1000+* per week.

For good measure, your dh should also add that there will be no if's or but's and that if sFIL is not prepared to agree to either plan, dh will be seeking police involvement to redress sFIL's verbal abuse and neglect of his wife.

If your sFIL agrees to either plan, your dh is best to write it up and get sFIL's signature.

This is an awful situation for you all but it sounds as if there is a witness The poor chap refused to go back because he couldn't bear the way sFIL treated and spoke to MIL at least to the verbal abuse is being inflicted on your poor MIL.

I get more than a tad pissed off disappointed by social services' failures and tardiness in these matters; your dh may be able to stick a rocket up their arse prevail on them to call again while he is present by telling them that your MIL is being abused by her not so dh and that he intends to invoke the complaint procedure if they are unable or unwilling to visit the house again within 24 hours of his call.

Please note that although social services are open c9-5pm Mon-Fri, there are always duty social workers on call out of hours and they can usually be accessed via the local authority/council's main switchboard. It is my experience that duty social workers tend to speedily respond to calls for help - and, please make no mistake, your MIL's situation is, and should be treated as, an emergency.

*This figure provides an easily understandable comparison with the cost of a regular cleaner; care homes who admit alzheimer's/senile dementia patients cost considerably more than a grand a week.

DontTellHimYourNamePike Tue 04-Oct-11 02:45:48

I think funding is complicated, don't know that he is legally obliged to pay care home fees, it depends how their finances are set up. Safeguarding procedures are headed by adult devices and sound appropriate, regardless of sfil's iillness or not. He's likely to refuse assessment himself, it might provide a framework for this to happen. Gp may have been planning go refer to older persons' mental health, they tend to work alongside adult services , particularly in these kind of difficult situations. Really hope things improve soon

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Tue 04-Oct-11 03:17:12

On second thoughts, if it seems to your dh that his dm will benefit from being in a care home - even temporarily until such time as the house is blitzed, washing machine in place, cleaner hired, social services/gp on board etc - I would suggest he asks social services to find an immediate place for her in the nearest establishment and insists that she is not returned home until a proper care plan is in place.

Of course, whether sFIL is responsible for care home fees for his dw may depend on how their individual finances are set up but, from what you've said, he's comfortably off and I have every confidence that if the local authority are informed of this pertinent fact they'll pursue him the matter. In any event, you can rest assured that dh/sil won't be expected to contribute.

There's also the question of MIL's disappearing pension - it could also be that in addition MIL is in receipt of full dla and sFIL may be claiming carer's allowance for MIL.

It's a lot for your dh to sort out in a couple of days - but if he kicks up a huge fuss stands firm, it is do-able.

You may also wish to check out the family abuse pages of as your MIL's situation is, sadly, not uncommon.

Thumbwitch Tue 04-Oct-11 03:31:58

Your SFIL is not caring for his wife at all. He is effectively abusing her by keeping her in this condition and not allowing her access to the help she clearly needs. If she were a dog, the RSPCA would prosecute him for cruelty and neglect.

On the blackest side, it sounds to me like he's neglecting her care in the hope that she'll die soon (sorry) - but that might be OTT - he may just be a selfish old bastard who can't bring himself to do "wimmin's work" so everyone suffers. Are his clothes clean? Who cooks for him? If he is also a mess, then yes I would consider his MH at risk too - but from what you've said so far, selfish old chauvinistic bastard sounds more likely.

I hope your DH finds the strength to do what is right for his mum - and tbh, I'd be thinking about taking her away from where she is now too. Either to a care home, or bringing her back to yours for a bit, until you can see how bad she really is (often elderly people who aren't clean develop chronic urinary tract infections, which can send them doolally - clearing up a UTI can sometimes improve their mental functions). I also hope that SS pick up their game and sort something out for the ongoing care of your MIL if she goes back to the marital home.

So sad and angry for you that you have all this going on as well.

laptopwieldingharpy Tue 04-Oct-11 03:46:23

Print izzy's post. No buts no ifs.

laptopwieldingharpy Tue 04-Oct-11 03:55:05

Sorry for the blunt posts. I just have a lump in the throat reading this. So sad
i really feel your DH should be very decisive on this.
Its neglect plain and simple and could very well qualify as abuse. You have witnessess.
Thumbwitch asks good questions about his general demeanour. Might give you clues as to his frame of mind.

hairylights Tue 04-Oct-11 08:17:46

This is elder abuse Nd should be reported as an urgent case to social services. Your mil should be removed from this abusive situation.

ShoutyHamster Tue 04-Oct-11 09:24:55

'She lives on bread and cheese and the odd biscuit. sFIL will go out to dinner.'

This is abuse. Your DH needs to get there asap and make it crystal clear to SFIL that this is what he is doing and it stops now.

How does it stop? - well sadly I would say that if your DH wants his mother cared for properly and not to have to lie awake at night worrying about her, he needs to do what another poster has suggested and get her into a home near you, which SFIL pays for (this 'loaded' man who lets his wife exist in smelly rags and eat scraps angry).

Your SFIL's attitude to his wife isn't an instant thing and can't be undone and everything made better. The only 'good' explanation for it all is that he too is losing his marbles, in which case she also needs to be out of his care.

Your DH should look into getting power of attorney too perhaps - it isn't your SFIL who is 'loaded' - it should be both of them, they are married. He is financially abusing her as well as everything else.

Good luck with sorting it all out.

HerHissyness Tue 04-Oct-11 09:37:11

I just want to add my shock and sad to this threat Jux and hope that you can find a way to force this man to care for your MIL.

Izzy's post seems to provide the correct starting line. It really does look like sFIL is choosing to neglect this poor woman.

Jux Tue 04-Oct-11 09:37:15

He has always been a pompous, chauvinistic bastard; none of us like him tbh, and he treats us with complete contempt - that's dh, SIL and me, he also treats dd like a second class citizen whenever she's stayed with them (we've only taken her for day visits in the last few years, as MIL hasn't been able to look after her, and sFIL wouldn't bother).

Thank you you all so much for your help. I didn't get on with MIL too well, but I wouldn't treat a dog like this, and she really does deserve to have a better quality of life, of everything, than this. I think she'd be very distressed to be separated from sFIL though, unless she were with SIL. She could come to us, but she often (mostly) doesn't even recognise dh, so may be more distressed coming here, where even the people are unfamiliar.

DH has been in touch with a solicitors firm and is waiting for their specialist to call him back. They are a shit hot firm, andw we will mortgage ourselves to the hilt if necessary if we need to engage them.

SS had not forced the issue as they were simply asked what help they could provide, but couldn't get in to do the assessment. If they had got in, they would have been on top of it, I'm sure. When dh spoke to them y'day they were ready to go in all guns blazing but dh asked them to wait until he'd had a chance to speak to sFIL himself, but they are geared up and waiting for the call.

I shall pass all your advice, knowledge, suggestions on to dh. He will be leaving here late afternoon, with 'meeting' with sFIL, SIL and sFIL's daughter (though she's frightfully busy hmm ) tomorrow afternoon.

It's grim. Thank you again.

solidgoldbrass Tue 04-Oct-11 09:41:44

Then SFIL deserves to be prosecuted and hopefully will be. Unfortunately sexist, selfish men nearly always tip over into outright abusers at some point: if he had always been a lovely man up until recently it might have been a case of him needing fairly urgent medical help too but it clearly isn't.

ENormaSnob Tue 04-Oct-11 09:41:49

This is elder abuse of a vulnerable adult and should be treated as such.

MsGee Tue 04-Oct-11 09:50:57

Call action on elder abuse - they have a helpline and will help.

Getting the GP on side will help but you also need to report as urgent to SS and make it clear that you suspect abuse of a vulnerable adult. SS will have a protection of vulnerable adults policy which you should be able to request or view online.

If you need to look at local care homes see -

cartblanche Tue 04-Oct-11 10:01:49

You need to get back in touch with Social Services and you need to get her recognised as a vulnerable adult. Your FIL is evidently NOT "caring" for her in any sense. She needs help. This situation needs intervention now. Your FIL may not be beating her black and blue but his neglect is tantamount to abuse. Whether this neglect is intentional or not is something you can analyse later - don't get too bogged down with this aspect because it detracts from the main issue of your MIL's health and well-being which needs addressing now.

I unfortunately have experience of this with my own mother and your story resonates with me (the dirty clothes, the tip of a bedroom, the brazen denial that there is a problem or that the FIL is not coping) As a family we had to take the difficult decision to effectively have my mother removed from her own home by social services and be "taken into care" in a residential home. I think it was called an Adult Care Order. She never returned home. It was hellish - to his death my father never acknowledged the situation and was even heard to state that my mother had "left him". His denial and utter delusion was part and parcel of the whole situation and I sense you are battling this yourself.

Good luck with what you have to do. It won't be easy but I think you yourself know that action needs to be taken.

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