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Elderly parents

DH can't cope with MIL. Don't know where to turn

5 replies

AllyJ · 20/06/2013 18:40

I wonder if anyone has any advice on what to do about MIL. I apologise for the length of this post. DH is an only child and his relationship has never been great with her as there were alcohol and neglect issues when he was a child and he has never forgiven her for that. She has been difficult since FIL passed away 13 years ago - calling us with issues she wants us to sort out immediately, having a tantrum if we refuse and using emotional blackmail on DH by refusing to answer the phone when he calls so he has to drive to her house (1hr round trip) to check on her. Her relationship with me is strained as she resents me and this came out in front of our family and friends when she was drunk, along with a lot of other things. I stopped the kids visiting her home about 5 years ago as it was filthy and we would pick her up and bring her to our house for dinner instead every few weeks.
She had an operation in March which has now affected her mobility although this will not be permanent. She has also been diagnosed with vascular problems and kidney disease as well as diabetes. While she was in hospital DH and I went into her house to try and find nightdresses and toiletries and we found that upstairs was like something off a TV documentary. I spent days scrubbing her kitchen and living room but the house was still a state. Tbh the house needs gutting as it is that bad. When she came out DH suggested she speak to someone about help and she started screaming and threatening to kill herself. He backed off but said she would need to do something as she could not live like that. DH has been doing her shopping since she came out but she refuses to eat the food he buys and demands sugary things even though she has quite bad diabetes. She sent him round to ASDA 3 times in one night threatening not to eat anything if he doesn't get what she wants. She also demands that he drives her to her medical appointments even though she could get a taxi as she lives 5 minutes away from the hospital. He is now struggling as he cannot take this much time off work but she says if he won't drive her she won't go. The house got so bad the district nurse called me to complain (she tells them I go in with DH to look after her every day, which we can't as we both work and have 3 kids). Apparently she is now letting her dog poo everywhere in the house as she can't be bothered dealing with it and leaves it for DH. The district nurse contacted her GP at DH's request as he is so stressed out with her he is making himself sick. The GP said he would not go out to see her and we would need to make an appointment (!!!) She won't go (surprise surprise) so the nurses have said unless she is found to be mentally incapable there is nothing anyone can do. Any suggestion of social services leads to her screaming and threatening to kill herself.

OP posts:
bishboschone · 20/06/2013 18:44

Was she like this before she got old and before fil died? She sounds like my mil who is obviously narcissistic !! What a horrible situation for your dh . No real advice , just empathy .

AllyJ · 20/06/2013 19:00

She was but she has got worse - demands DH go round or drive her wherever she wants by saying he promised his dad he would look after her. Since she has been ill it has given her a blank cheque to lay on the demands by playing the poor disabled old lady (she is 70 and her mobility issues are nowhere near as bad as she makes out - she walks fine without the zimmer she was given, manages stairs etc but says she can't get into a taxi and can't go to the corner shop)

OP posts:
bishboschone · 20/06/2013 20:42

Jeez , she sounds awful but I guess she Is lonely and panicking . My mil has always disliked me and yet it's me who instigates contact .. Pah !!!

MrsFrederickWentworth · 20/06/2013 20:57

She sounds dire..

She will go ballistic whatever you do, so I would book an appointment with SS and ask what they advise, explaining that you cannot be responsible beyond a certain point. It sounds as though she is a mixture if depressed, unhappy and highly manipulative.

Tbh, my MIL was not unlike this. Eventually DH took the decision that he would do what he could, be assertive about not doing more ( " I am not talking to you when you are like this " ) and that it was her choice as to how she lived. And we resisted people who told us how to look after her.

It is not impossible that she has early stages dementia, or is going blind. Not clearing up after her dog could be a sign of either of those. Hence a good excuse to put the onus on SS.

It doesn't sound from what you say as though she wants to kill herself, but if she does, that is her choice. " I don't want you to kill yourself. But I cannot do x at the moment. I will do it for you on Saturday if it is still important to you."

While people are in their reasonably right minds, they must imv have self determination.

We had emotional blackmail too.

Needmoresleep · 21/06/2013 08:48

Poor you. I agree with Mrs FW.

SS should be able to tell you how someone else: you; DN; GP might initiate a referral and how you might impose a test for possible dementia. (Vascular problems plus a General anesthetic can both contribute.) In any case living conditions will be creating a vicious cycle. Eating poorly, no visitors, vulnerable to infections. Alzheimers helpline might be another place to try.

As Mrs FW says if there is not a problem with mental capacity there is not much you can do if persuasion does not work. Other that save your strength, keep an eye on her and investigate alternatives so you are ready with a Plan B (sheltered housing options, say) when the crisis strikes.

The longer thread is largely about how to differentiate support from enabling. Whatever the relationship history you dont want to neglect your MiL. Yet support in the short term may simply be propping up an unsustainable and unsatisfactory situation.

If SS ae unable to suggest anything I might be tempted to promote a crisis by providing a anonymous tip off to the RSPCA. Any decision that the house is not suitable for animals or the she is not capable of looking after them will provide evidence which you or SS could use if you need to step in. Plus provide a bit of a short term fix.

Other than that she will need to live with the consequences of her decisions. And you need to decide how much you are willing to be drawn in to propping things up.

It is difficult.

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