My mother-in-law will not get my father-in-law help!

Started by

I am dealing with a family who has NEVER had any issues with health or death close to them. My husbands family. My father in law has alzheimers and was released from his driving job over 18 months ago, he was tested and is on meds, but the problem is he should not be driving and my mother in law was told to have him tested and she refused. He is getting lost, does not remember the kids grandkids, or her half the time. She is sending him out to run errands and get dinner, then complains that he does not get it right. she has issues herself and I think as long as she does not have to do anything she won't.
There are three kids in the family. The oldest keeps to her self and just won't get involved. The middle child is living off her parents and will not go against her mom wishes for fear she will end her money source. The last is my husband who is so upset over his father that he does not know what to do and is trying to keep peace, but is also not stepping up.
I have tried to step up only to be told to stay out it all. I am not sure what to do. I have contacted the police and gave them his license plate number, but other than that what else can I do? has wonderful free help who will come to your house and she refuses to contact anyone and said she will never tell him he can't drive. I am afraid he will hurt himself, get lost, or God forbid someone else. How do I get this family to wake up and realize that this is no longer a game, it is serious and he needs daily care and he does not need to be driving all over town and running errands. I am so frustrated and dont' know what to do. Any help or suggestions would be so appreciated.


You can contact driver control in his town and ask for a form for his doctor to fill out. After doctor fills the form, you mail the form back to driver control and they will assign a time for you to bring in your father in law.

At that time options will be discussed those being, give up drivers license and get a ID card, or take the drivers test with a state trooper. If he wants to take the test, then it is up to the trooper to decide whether or not he will be allowed to keep his license. Most likely he will not pass the test. Problem solved with wife sending him out on errands. The ball is in her court to find new errand runner and people will be safe on the streets since he will not be driving anymore.
You can also anonymously "report" your father-in-law to your state Dept. of Motor Vehicles as a person who needs to have his driver skills tested. The DMV will then send your father-in-law a letter requiring him to come in and be tested. I am told that a letter of this type is worded to appear to be something that naturally occurs in a person's life once they become of an advanced age, so that suspicions on the part of your MIL and FIL won't be directed toward you or your husband in particular.
My father-in-law passed away 11 yrs. ago this month from alzh., but I went through a very similar family situation. Does he see a doctor that deals with geriatric patients? At this time I would think a doctor could be your biggest help. I'd suggest to your mother-in-law that you're concerned about how his illness might progress and what's to be expected. Perhaps there are medications, exercises (mental or physical) or diets that would assist. Let her know that you are there to encourage and help with the best and longest quality of life which would benefit both of them. Once you get him to a geriatric (sp?) doctor - if they are passionate about their profession, they will confirm if he has the cognative ability and if driving is safe. It helps if you are able to express to the doctor that it is a concern of your's. (in private conversation) It is easier coming from a doctor or outside professional then any family member. Of course the doctor won't take away a license, but if your father-in-law and/or mother-in-law here it from him, there is no denying. It can be a long term illness - for us over 8 years with the last three being particularly difficult, but it's different for everyone. The biggest help is if you can just get your mother-in-law as primary care giver to know that it is their best interest that you are trying to help. For future reference, think of raising children. When we went out to eat - I'd ask for crackers to give him something to eat until food was ordered and delivered, when he couldn't follow a baseball game or tv show, I brought out a kareoke machine and he sang or hummed, when he could no longer bowl we went to Chuckee Cheese and played games. It's a sad part of life, but you can find ways to make the best of it for everyone. Keep hugging, smile and love them for who and where they are. I'll keep you in my prayers.
Della, I'm afraid that without your husband stepping up and raising HIS own concerns, you're out of luck. It's really his job. That doesn't make it right, just the way it usually shakes out. Sorry.
Must say I disagree with "naheaton" posting. Yes, it would be nice if our spouses and other family members were able to deal with their family health issues. But face it - some people are more capable, first of all, even recognizing a problem and then being strong and compassionate enough to get involved and help. Not all people are able to do these things. They just don't have it in them. My best suggestion would be not to nag or nose, but be supportive, suggestive, compassionate and show concern for all - including your husband. He could be as confused and in denial as much as your mother-in-law. It's always difficult with the aging and serious illnesses. Don't give up if it isn't in your nature. After watching my father-in-law and then assisting my own mother in my fathers decline with his health and death, I have since become a hospice volunteer. I always recommend to other volunteers to not judge other family members who either don't recognize or acknowledge the change and decline of their loved ones. For the most part, it's just something that isn't in them. We are all who we are and should always try to better ourselves and help those we can. It's not about "luck" - it's "love".
What state do you live in? To allow this man to drive and endanger innocent people is truly unfortunate. If one of my young daughters were killed by this man, I would not stop until someone paid. I don't mean to be hard, but in today's world your in-laws are really asking for trouble. This could have an effect on the entire family. Please help this poor man.
Denial is a huge issue, not just on the part of the elderly "patient", but on the part of relatives. It's hard to admit we see a relative or loved one changing from the picture we had ( and want to still have) of that person.
Teri I to understand what you are saying and I have stayed quiet for so long and stayed out of it. THe problem is I now feel that he is not being taken care of in the manner he would want. I feel as though there are things that we could be doing for him to help him and her, but they are being ignored. At this point I fear for his safety and the safety of others. I don't know if I could ever forgive myself if I did or said nothing at all. I know it is hard for some families to see this and accept it, but at some point someone has to stand up and be the responsible one and make sure that the person is being cared for the way they should be and by being quiet, in my eyes, I am allowing that to happen.
My father in law is a sweet man and I know if the roles were reversed he would make sure his wife had the best care and would ask us for help. It would be different is they had a close relationship to begin with, they have not in over 20 years. So this upsets me even more that I feel like she is just not "caring" and just feels she does not need to do anything to make his life more enjoyable, which is what she should be doing.
I love this website and all the help and the support, this is truely a blessing to me.
Thank you all.
I see alot of this sort of thing in Florida where I live. I am not picking on the elderly, since I am becoming one of them. But many times their families live up North or they are alone and they try to continue driving even when they shouldn't. You shouldn't give anyone the keys to a car who shouldn't drive out of respect to other people. Many tragic accidents happen here due to the elderly driving who shouldn't and all the drunk people, lets not forget them. However, you can stop your FIL from doing something he would never ever want to do.
Della, I along with many members of the family at different times over the course of my father-in-laws illness had issues with the way that my mother-in-law was handling his care. For instance she refused to get help because she didn't want to spend the money even though she had the means available. She was never much of a cook and then when they were no longer mobile to go out for dinners, their diet became a concern. There are many issues that will come along. One thing to remember is that there are lessons to be learned for all of us. Help with things like meals on wheels or just a prepared dinner delivered by someone every other week or so. Be sure your children and your spouse are aware of what your expectations are for your own wellbeing and care as you age. If grandma or in-laws happen to be in the room to overhear, perhaps they will get some hints or maybe see a different side. Try to talk with relatives that are of their age. Sometimes suggetions coming from a peer, sister or brother is easier then your children. Also, light conversation with some humor will go a long way. We can not live their lives, only live ours knowing we did our best. Hang in there...don't give up and you will make a difference in his final years.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support