Struggling with the Right Answers

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Hello everyone,

I read everyone's posts and it puts my situation into perspective!! My father in law died almost 2 1/2 yrs ago and my mother in law has not recoved and I am coming to terms with that things are not likely to change. I have an intense job working with families in challenging situations so really provide a lot of support in addition to managing two caseloads at work for the past 4 months.

My MIL lives in the same community in an apt on her own. My issues are that lately more often than not she does not get out more than once a week (if that). She sleeps the majority of the day. She has no outside pursuits or interests in spite of still being able to drive and get around. Given that my work life is so stress filled it is hard to watch her "waste her days".

She is not demanding or difficult but I think I still take on doing too much for her. She is in the early stages of dementia - forgetful and gets confused about facts. We had considered having her live with us at one point, but I know I could not manage emotionally to respond to her day in and day out (especially while working).

I've tried a million things to try to get her into activities but she won't go to things on her own. I am looking for advice on whether or not to have a "heart to heart" about my thoughts or whether to just continue to keep my views to myself and let her be.

I think she would do well in an assisted living situation especially around social connections and activities - also she could have a pet which would make a wonderful companion - she cannot have a pet where she is right now ...

Any advice ... I realize we still have it good ... given that we are not doing day to day caregiving. She has one other adult child, a daughter who lives a long way away (all the way across the country) who she talks to by phone, e-mails and visits a couple of times a year. I tend to have her over for dinner a couple of times a mont, take her shopping and to some of her medical and other appointments.

I look forward to any advice offered.


Overwhelmed, you definitely need to have this heart to heart with the entire family and your mother-in-law. You all need to figure out what is best for everyone. If you feel that you can not take care of her, then by all means, there are some wonderful assisted living facilities. There is no one easy answer for everyone. Each family is different. If your mother-in-law has dementia and it's been diagnosed then decisions will HAVE to be made. It's best that she realizes that right now, she has options, but in the future, she may not. If she is more involved in her own care right now, it will make it easier for her.

I lived 800 miles from my mother and did not know exactly what had been going on since I moved away. When the doctors told us she needed full-time care immediately, we didnt know what to do nor where to turn to. My brother has taken a step back in her care, but helps us financially. But it's still not enough.

I think you should contact your local office of Adult and Aging Services as soon as possible. Gather as much information you possibly can and make the choices as a family.

Good luck Overwhelmed, we're here for you!
What Kelley said was right. You may want to talk with your husband and have your husband talk with your in-laws. Sometimes they don't receive it well coming from an in-law. Guilt plays a role and sometimes they don't want to hear that you know more about mom then they do. Just FYI from experience. I just wanted to add. When I took my mother to the doctors they said there is a very small window where you can move a parent from their home. If you don't hit this now, you may miss the opportunity. I also wanted to ask you if you have discussed this with your husband. We care for my mom, but it's funny my husband is way more observant than I am. A lot of times he will tell me things that I just didn't see. Maybe because it's my mom and I'm closer to her. I don't know. You need to talk with him and maybe have him talk with the family.

Also, the reason your mom may not be going and doing is . . . she might be depressed. It may be as simple as an anti-depresent for now. Depression goes hand-in-hand with dementia and alzheimers. However, you may want to get a really good doctor who specializes in geriatrics and dementia. They will help a lot and give some really good suggestions. My mom did the same for a while.

You will have to start watching her eating. You will find that she may not eat unless you or someone sits with her. You are probably heading into some rough waters. It may take years but the progession will happen. You need to, if possible, have a plan now. Does she have a will . . . who has power of attorney over medical and financial? Have your husband talk with your mom to see if she would be open to assisted living. What places in your area are available? What is her financial situation? Does she qualify for any assistance?

The first thing we noticed in my mom was her not eating. Then she could not remember to take her pills. A neighbor told us that they would see her lights on at all hours of the night. We would reset her odometer to keep track of milage (Sometimes she would put 100 to 300 miles on her car in one day and yet when we asked . .. she said she hadn't gone anywhere). We started noticing she was not changing her clothes. wishing you the best . .. especially with the in-laws.

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