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Selling my soul to the devil....

(51 Posts)
Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 09:29:29

My MIL is a problem drinker and now at 78 she has a whole host of serious alcohol related health issues. Most serious is alcoholic neuropathy - which is where the nerves in your limbs dysfunction and her mobilty is serverly limited and in rapid decline. She is more or less house bound now. I also think that she has the beginnings of alcohol dementia as she repeats the same negative stories on a loop and gets simple things wrong frequently. I have recently lost my job due to ill health and want to spend a year or so at home recovering and being around for my 4 kids who are in the middle of A levels GCSEs 11+ etc. one option to achieve this financially is to covert part of our house to an annex for MIL and then rent out her house which would contribute to our mortgage. Once we reach the end of the road - her house would get get sold and proceeds split between sil and dh. If we dont do this she will be in a home v shortly and that is not what anyone wants - and to be blunt it would erode any modest inheritance. So this would only be a finacial decision on our part - but it would provide a window of opportunity to be at home to support my would I be selling my soul to the devil.

daylily Wed 03-Dec-14 09:35:31

or a sainthood?
Dos MIL get any help re Social Services? If she did eg carers etc you could become her carer and be paid something?

airforsharon Wed 03-Dec-14 09:36:05

You don't mention how you image caring for your MIL? Surely a lot would depend on the amount of care and support your MIL would need, how much you would be able to access and how much it would cost. It varies greatly from one part of the country to another. Having a progressing ailing relative living with you, albeit in an annexe, might not be the best for your family as a whole.

SelfLoathing Wed 03-Dec-14 09:41:33

I would completely ignore the financial aspects. It's your assumption that the "inheritance" would come to your DH/SIL. She may change her will and leave it all to charity.

The questions really are what do you and your DH want to do, what does your MIL want to do, what is the right thing to do and what can you cope with - in terms of care and family interaction.

She is 78. Just because her mobility is in decline doesn't mean she is overall. It's perfectly possible she may live for another 20 years. Factor this in to your decision.

Mitzi50 Wed 03-Dec-14 09:50:50

Is she still drinking? If so her condition may get worse - do you want to care for her with possible incontinence and dementia? A colleague's MIL has a similar condition and they have been caring for her for the last 7 years. SS support has been very poor and it has put a strain on my colleague's own health and on relationships between various family members.

CogitOIOIO Wed 03-Dec-14 09:54:51

I get the financial argument but, if you're home all day caring for an invalid with an alcohol problem (I take it she's still drinking), how much time are you going to realistically have to support your children?

TheYuletideMovement Wed 03-Dec-14 10:01:51

If you are also suffering from ill health how do you plan to care for your MIL?

MiniTheMinx Wed 03-Dec-14 10:31:17

It sounds great on paper, the reality? I can't see how you can recover and care for your family and deal with an old person with complex care needs.

GarlicGiftsAndGlitter Wed 03-Dec-14 10:36:47

What they all said. If you're in a position to create a separate dwelling at your house, why not do so and rent it out?

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 10:46:06

Thanks all - sobering thoughts....could not do 20 years.... My dh would die if she had to go into a home. It is something she has been terrified of for all her life and he does not want this to happen. Caring for her here would be the same as caring for her as we do now at her current home - ie organising everything - we would eventually employ carers as things deteriorated. She wants to do this but has made it clear she wants her own privacy and to maintain her personal freedom (ie to drink).......she wants her own separate entrance etc. I see myself having really clear boundaries - I would be less hands on caring more orchestrating the whole thing. I already to all of her hosp and GP appts. She is v placid and the children love her. She needs company and I see the kids popping in on a rota to have tea with her. She is not drunk in the day. She starts at about 7 doing a bottle of wine a night now (down from 2 bottles). My husband keeps saying it is inevitable - old peoples homes is not something We do culturally.

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 10:56:23

We are not in a position to finance creating an annex to rent out - we would need to raise a small mortgage on MIL property. We are not doing any less now than if she were in an annex - if fact it would be easier that the current constant toing and froing. .... But as said above we need to look ahead and consider her deteriorating over the long term.....and if she did end up with severe dementia then we might have to look at a home anyway.

GarlicGiftsAndGlitter Wed 03-Dec-14 11:01:18

Oh, okay, it doesn't sound too bad now smile No-one can foresee what's going to happen in two, five, ten years' time. It's not unlikely you'll end up having paid carers in at some point.

As long as this isn't going to turn into you being her personal maid, perhaps you're not selling your soul after all!

... but why did you put it that way? Are you expecting her to take the piss?

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 03-Dec-14 11:01:56

TBH it is likely that you will not manage to look after this lady at all and will become over invested.

It sounds very hard but she may well have no choice but to go into a care home. It won't be her decision to make ultimately and I think agency carers at home (how is that going to be paid for) will not be able to met her needs either.

Do not sacrifice your own health and family's wellbeing in such a manner, you have not thought through this at all properly. I would concentrate all your efforts now on your own recovery and your children primarily, not this woman.

His mother is not interested in stopping drinking and actually wants to have her own personal freedom to continue. There is an extremely fine line between wanting to help and actually enabling which does not help either her or you. It just gives you a false sense of control. You will likely not be able to manage her and that is no shame on you at all.

The 3cs re alcoholism are ones you would do well to remember:-
You did not cause this
You cannot control this
You cannot cure this

Employing carers costs a small fortune, and she may eventually need 24 hour supervision, shared between you and carers.
Realistically it often means no sleep as dementia sufferers lose their concept of day and night, and are awake and wandering at all hours.
You would have no life.
I've been in the situation of stepping in when people are at the very end of their rope, having spent years struggling to caring for an elderly relative. It isn't something I would recommend. The inheritance you're trying to preserve would be mostly spent anyway on private carers, and you might well suffer greatly. Your life and health is so much more important.

X-post with Attila

iseenodust Wed 03-Dec-14 11:10:10

You've been so ill that you've lost your job and you have four children. The harsh fact is that your MIL is facing a downhill spiral and the amount of care required is going to increase and you could be facing years of it. Carers can be booked but do not always turn up! We've been told a number of times to prepare ourselves for MIL's demise (not alcohol related) but modern medicine can keep the body going for years. Think long and hard.

iseenodust is right, the body can keep going way longer than the mind, thanks to modern medicine.

campingfilth Wed 03-Dec-14 11:16:11

You will have no time to support your children, your MIL will no doubt be very demanding if not drinking or extremely difficult to manage if drinking. I've looked after people with all those conditions and there is not a chance in hell you will have the mental or physical energy to be there for your children as MIL rapidly declines.

Dementia caused by alcohol is awful, really awful. She may be very placid now but that doesn't mean she will be when she is effectively at your house 24/7. How will you cope when she is drunk, her dementia has worsened and people are finding her wandering around the street.

Do you know anyone that has looked after an elderly relative with dementia and a drinking problem? I do, they are exhausted, stressed and rarely get any relaxation time. Can you afford 24/7 care when her conditions worsen? Many people can't.

Will you be able to deal with double incontinence, her fingers covered in poo (quite common for them to dig/scratch their bottoms after poo'ing or when trying to poo or play with their poo). The constant falls that will no doubt happen if she is frail, drunk and has neuropathy? Especially is she is a evening drinker?

I've seen the most placid of women turn into screaming, shouting, swearing and violent dementia patients. I think you have an image in your head that may not actually match what happens with alcohol dependant dementia patients especially when it gets to the point of not allowing them to have alcohol.

How will you pay the mortgage needed to convert into the annexe when you have to sell her house to pay for her care home fee's?

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 11:23:20

She has a private income so that I woud imagine would fund carers. The 3 Cs I am well aware of. My FIL was an alcoholic died at 64. Really surprised that majority say dont do it - not because I disagree - just that it is something culturally we dont do ie put elderly in homes. My Grandmother had dementia and was cared for round the clock at home.....but in many ways she was an "easy" case as she became really mild mannered, slept loads and was in a wheelchair so no issues with wandering. Though it was oppressive and exhausting for everyone - so I have seen it up close and personal.

dirtybadger Wed 03-Dec-14 11:23:33

I have done some care work and a few people had set ups like you describe. I think it's quite an ideal scenario in terms of person-centred care. Carers are often working flat out to get from one place to another, and good ones will do their best but ultimately sometimes the minimum needs will be being met- the person being cared for still has social needs which might not be met and wouldn't be met alone at home. That is where your family could make a huge contribution in terms of your MILs well being. She also maintains some personal autonomy for as long as possible, and privacy.

Has she been to the Doctors re potential Korsakoffs (sp?)/memory problems?

Would your dh's sibling be willing to help out? My friend cares for her elderly mother and only gets out the house alone once a week. The rest of the time she has to bring mum (who needs diazepam to leave the house and even then can't manage more than half an hour in the car before her agitation becomes unmanagable) or stay in with mum. She has to book care up well in advance so has a whole day/night (rather than 3 hours) a few times a year. It sounds like you are in a better financial situation than my friend so could maybe get more care anyway but bear in mind how demanding the role of carer may become. Having one or two relatives to help will be very useful.

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 11:36:36

Camping - i had no idea that alcohol related dementia presented differently - that puts a v different spin on things and is not something that I want my children to see. If I am honest I have an underlying bitterness that she has brought this on herself - I dont like that feeling and worry that I would be doing this with clenched teeth and little compassion. I suppose that we should prepare for the inevitable - and a home it is. This has been an incredible thread to support me in making the right decision.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 03-Dec-14 11:37:23

"She has a private income so that I woud imagine would fund carers"

The above also shows me that you have not thought about the financial costs enough either.

My nan has some savings initially but that money went very quickly after paying for carers. If it was not for my aunt paying for extra care out of her own funds my Nan would have been placed in a care home earlier than she was. She never wanted to go into a care home either (and told my dad as much) but in the end the decision was not hers to make; she had no idea what day it was, was doubly incontinent and could barely put one foot in front of the other. Infact for the short period of time she was in the home she enjoyed the experience.

Have you looked into how much carers going in say three times a day for 45 minutes each visit would cost?. I will give you a rough idea of what my family of origin paid re my nan - just over £600 per week.

Cultural expectations of you carrying the load here does not cut any ice with me. These people who may well judge you are not in the position you are. You will likely be on your own doing this too, I cannot see DHs siblings rushing to help.

The wellbeing of your family unit as well as your own self takes precidence here and you are not fully fit yourself. Busting a gut to look after a female alcoholic with alcohol related dementia will just about destroy you. You will have no time for either yourself nor your children.

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 11:45:05

Thankyou Atilla and others from saving me from myself

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 11:47:32

Dirty - have never heard of Korsacoff - will look it up

Somethingtodo Wed 03-Dec-14 11:50:27

Dirty - have never heard of Korsacoff - will look it up

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