Elderly caring for the elderly

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Mother in law can't do it anymore. Will not put husband in home. Only thing he can do is feed himself. Everything else is up to her. She moves him from chair to wheelchair to toilet. She can't do this anymore and needs in home help or something that can help with handling him. His mind is going as well. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks


This was pretty much the status of my mother and father when I moved in with them, except that my father could walk using a walker. They needed help. They had paid someone to take my mother grocery shopping. They paid a housekeeper for a while, but being hermits, they didn't keep that up. Their house was a wreck. Sometimes it is hard to understand why people want to remain in their homes when it becomes so impractical, but many do. From what you describe, it seems the best option would be to hire some in-home care to help with bathing, moving, and cleaning. Either that or look for a good assisted living facility. Having help would make it so much easier on your MIL.
Thanks for the advice. I think the assisted living would work best for them. Does assisted living offer the care my FIL needs?
Some will, while others won't. Some AL facilities require that a person be able to toilet themselves. There are different levels of AL that vary from almost-independent to almost-in-NH. My main concern would be finding something where they could remain together. I have heard of nursing facilities in TX that have accommodations for couples. You may be able to find them other places. I had two friends that recently moved into a place near Bastrop, TX. They are well set financially, though, so money was not a consideration for them. I am sure it is expensive. If you look around your area, you may find a place that fits your in-laws needs physically and financially.
I feel like your FIL needs more care than assisted living would give him. Are there any facilities that offer graduated care, where they start out in the AL part, but can move within the same facility?
We are having a very difficult time finding one, in a large city, even.
I meant to point out, that if your MIL dies suddenly, your family is in a fix. I guess you know that, but being a caregiver is so difficult, that sometimes the caregiver dies first.
I see so much of this at the church I attend...elderly spouses caring for one another....It is very difficult to give up that independence and many believe that they ask for or hire help or put their spouse in a facility, they are shirking their duty and not living up to their marriage vows of "for better or worse, in sickness or in health". Maybe a friend of theirs or a pastor or a health professional can talk to them. also many of the caregiver support groups I've researched allow the patient to come along. If your MIL sees that others are getting help, maybe she will "allow" someone to help her, too. She will see that she is not being a good wife. She has to learn to take care of herself first or she won't be any good to her husband.
My in laws lived together until he passed away at 88. She is now 92 and although she went into AL within a year after he died, she also soon thereafter went into LTC because she fell twice and broke the same hip. Twice. Hasn't been able to walk since and has incontinence issues and UTI's constantly.
She in particular was fiercely independent and wanted to be in as much control as possible. Her husband went along with whatever she decided. He had terrible circulation and problems moving from point a to point b, so, with her mobility problems too, they were quite the pair. I used to see her hobbling behind him, yanking him up by his sweat pants and thinking that any moment they'd both go down.
Pride and self sufficiency is so important to many elderly folks. They have raised kids, been in wars, suffered monetary setbacks and weathered so much life, all to be 'told' they can't handle it and be forced into something they don't want. So they become more difficult, secretive and worrisome. My BIL, husband's only sib, is a bully and has forced her into a place I wouldn't put my dog. Let's just say he has his own issues, but he is 'there' and we are not.
I have found with her that she has been amenable to suggestions when she is treated with respect and given what she considers to be options. I wish we would have been able to convince her to join us in the place we live as it is a much larger city with many more options than her small town provides. But she also had some guilt issues working on her - her sisters died of Alz. in this awful place years ago, she 'put' her husband there for the last year of his life, and she seems absolutely full of remorse for many things she has done in her life. She is not a bad person but was always a 'force' and regrets I think some of her bulldozing ways. My husband tells her daily what a good mother she was, how much she and his dad did for him growing up, etc. He builds her up and never reminds her of her past, unchangeable 'shortcomings'. In short he is a wonderful, loving son.
Not being there, we know we can't trump the BIL. In fact, I think he is really punishing her under the auspices of "I have to do everything since you aren't here". Many of his moves do not seem to have a thing to do with really caring or loving. But he feels like a big shot in his small community and is a 'good work do-er' at his church. I can't judge him but I can see through him as can my husband.
I think our approach had we been there all this time would have been to find resources that would have allowed them to stay in their home as she has the money and 'managed' more behind the scenes so she felt she haws making all the decisions for the most part.
It is very hard when you see an elderly caretaker disintegrating. During my FIL's last year and her daily visits to the LTC, she lost about 35 pounds just going there all the time, not eating or sleeping well, and her home was not well cared for because she is just too tight to spend money on getting proper assistance. If I were you, I would line up a back up plan with a few options and get ready to 'catch the ball' when it flies. One way or another, it will. Gently find her or both some counseling that possibly you can attend with them. And be gentle. Just remember one day you will 'be' her and treat her accordingly. As per my BIL vs. my husband, it is easy to see you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Oh yeah! This is sooo true. Don't give up! I know it's easy to say and hard to do, but with God's help and the guidance of professionals and the ideas you can gather from this site, you will survive.
teresa49, I strongly suggest you try helping arrange some in-home help first. If that isn't sufficient, then it is time to consider placement in a care center of some kind. Having professional help with a needs assessment would be a good start. Contact your state's agency on aging for some guidance.

Remove as much of the impersonal tasks from your MIL's shoulders, so "all" she has to do is take care of her husband. Anyone can clean her house, do her laundry, provide meals. Her strength should be most directed where it matters most -- toward loving care of her spouse. Then try to remove the most physically demanding parts of FIL's care. A bath aide coming once or twice a week can be a godsend. Having an OT and/or PT some out and assess FIL's mobility situation and make suggestions for improvement can be a help.

And if all this is not enough, several hours of in-home aides and perhaps another hour at bedtime is another level of care to try at home.

And if this isn't enough -- and it might not be -- then FIL is probably not a candidate for Assisted Living and will need something more than that. But by trying the other options first they both should be more ready to accept the reality of the situation.

And if finances are going to be an issue, applying for Medicaid sooner rather than later is a good idea. There is a program within Medicaid that helps seniors who would otherwise qualify for nursing homes stay in their own homes as long as possible.
Very good advice from jeannegibbs.

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