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Elderly parents

Concerns about MIL

5 replies

FatOwl · 19/08/2013 09:50

I posted this in Mental Health a while ago but didn't get a response, but now realise it might have been better in here

Looking for some advice

My MIL has always been an "odd" woman.

She is very fussy, over-anxious about things that really don't matter, etc.
She is also a hoarder and can be very secretive, esp regarding "family" matters.

I've been married to her DS for 25 years and she still won't tell me "family" stuff. She doesn't like me as she thinks dh married beneath him.

We now live overseas and see her about once a year/every 6 months.

We flew her out to see us last year (for Chrsitmas 2011) and she stayed for about 2 months - until mid feb. She spent a lot of the time fussing and reorganising her handbag/suitcase (she wouldn't unpack properly even though I cleared her a lot of space as she didn't want to "be a bother") She also seemd very disorientated, but at the time we put it down to her being away from home (she lives in the same house that dh was born in!)

Dh then saw her in the Summer of 2012, when he and dd came back for Uni visits and they stayed with her for a few days. Dh said she was a nightmare following him around the house and checking he wasn't moving anything or taking anything.

Dh then came to the UK on business in May this year, and she has got much much worse. He stayed with her over the Bank Holiday weekend, but had to do some conference calls on his laptop. She accused him of talking to her vicar about her! (DH doesn't even know who the vicar is- let alone what his skype id would be!) There was also more of the following him around the house, and one day she completely flipped out at him because he had taken her keys (he did have them, he had gone to open the back door)

I have just got back from staying with her with dds for a few days (without dh) and it was really bad. We spent the morning locked in the house becuase she couldn't find the keys. It was also really lovely and warm summers evenings but all the windows and doors were closed/locked and curtains drawn by 5pm - as if it was midwinter. It is like a real paranoia has set in.
Also she doesn't seem to be managing the house, there was days-old washing up, and the house had obviously not been cleaned for a good while (difficult with the amount of stuff she has in the house). Me and dd cleaned the kitchen and she got really cross.

She does not have many friends-lots of aquaintances, but not people she is really close to. She used to be involved in the church, which was her main social circle, but she doesn't like the new vicar so has stopped going.

FIL died in 2002, even though there were issues like this before he died, it has got much worse in the last 10 years since he has passed away.
SIL (her dd) lives two streets away and can't see the problem. She says "Oh it's just DM, you know how she is!

DH wants to phone her GP to raise concerns, but I am pretty sure he/she won't talk to us. (As I said we live overseas and I am not up to date with how the NHS works). He also mentioned to her about moving somewhere smaller- it is a big four bedroomed detached house with a massive garden she can't manage, and this suggestion was met with an accusation of "you're trying to get my money".

I realise SIL is the key, but she really can't see the problem- I think we see a decline more clearly as we are a bit removed.

She is only 77 and in good physical health otherwise.

OP posts:
whataboutbob · 20/08/2013 13:40

Owl, I am sorry to say but that sounds like typical dementia plus typical relative (SIL) denial of the problem. The anxiety, the phobia of any change however minute, the paranoia, the losing stuff- it's all very common in dementia, whatever the organic cause (alzheimers, vascular etc). The only remotely likely alternative reason I can see would be mental illness of some kind. Others with more ideas about this may be along soon, but I think your suspicions are well grounded.

crazyforbaby · 20/08/2013 22:57

Dear Owl, my heart ached when I read your post as we are going through the same thing with my mother at the moment. We live in Canada - where are you?
I have contacted an old school friend at home who works in MH. She is going to put me in touch with someone who can assess her...I don't think she will agree to seeing anyone. It's tough isn't it

FatOwl · 21/08/2013 21:57

Thanks for your responses

Crazy, we are in Asia.
I'm convinced she is in the early stages of dementia, but as she has always been a bit batty (as dd calls it)

My dd is coming back to the UK for Uni, but don't want to have to ask her to keep an eye on MIL too much.

SIL says her GP Practice runs a memory clinic, but she has to agree to go. I'd like SIL to speak to the GP (SIL is at the same practice) and ask them to call MIL for a "check up" - I think she'd accept that. Would they do that?

OP posts:
crazyforbaby · 23/08/2013 02:59

So my poor mother is now in hospital. It looks as if I will have to travel across to England as the docs will only speak to the next of kin. She hasn't been this bright for ages - chatting to all her visitors on the ward (the same people she will not let into her home) and thriving on the care she gets there. She is too young for this to be happening to her-it can't be dementia yet...can it?

I'd like to bring her back to Canada with me and look after her over the winter and then one of my other siblings in Europe could maybe care for her for another few months. So much has happened in the last 24 hours - trying to work out what and how to do the best for both her and our family is difficult.

Sorry for the pity post :(

Needmoresleep · 23/08/2013 20:23

Owl there probably not a lot you can do without your SIL on board. It seems strange that others cant see something that is pretty obvious. Yet clearing my emails from a year ago and I spotted an exchange with my brother with him disagreeing completely with my view that my mother had dementia and that we needed to intervene.

There is no satisfaction in having been proved right. Earlier intervention would have meant:

  1. My mother could have started on Aricept earlier which may well have meant she would have more memory and more independence now.

2. She could have been party to decisions that we ended up making in a hurry.
3. She would not have spent several months barely clinging on, eating poorly, being quite lonely and the subsequent 'sorting out' would have been easier and would not have required me to drop everything else just like that.
4. She would not have been at risk. As it was the crisis came in the form of a fall outside. But it could have been indoors.

I would phone and ask to speak to the GP. It will be up to him but some will listen and advise. The aim would be for him to give her a memory test or to refer her to a memory clinic. I would also speak to the local social services. You can do this without giving names. The issue for them is if she is potentially 'at risk'. Again they should have suggestions.

Good luck. All I can say is that my mother is now a lot happier in a supported environment. And it is great for me to know that there is a 24 hour warden etc.
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