What am I dealing with? My 74-year-old mother-in-law will not take her diabetes seriously.


In short, there is no family and I am the only one who would be caregiver to my MIL, which I really can't do much of because I have three teens. My MIL has always been a "eccentric", sort of a woman-child, but has always held a job and was functioning (though living with others and never on her own). She retired several years ago. Oh, I am 44, female and I don't work.

She has high blood pressure, diabetes (type II not well controlled I believe; she doesnt believe she has diabetes) and anxiety. She currently lives alone in a house (her relative who owned the house died last year and left it to her).

I spent the weekend with her and we went to visit my relatives out of town. This is when I started realizing that something is wrong. She talked NON STOP. I mean, manic compulsively NON STOP every minute of the day. I mean, I TIMED her. she couldn't go more than a minute and a half without words having to be spoken. We were NOT having a conversation. Her sentences made sense, but were random and weird and at one point she started just like naming all the thing she saw: "look at that tree. wow, that's a green tree. it is a pine tree. the pine tree is tall. I wonder how tall the pine tree is. i dont like pine trees because they get sap all over cars." ETC.

I also discovered she is incontinent. I knew she was using Poise pads, but I didn't know she apparently is continuously incontinent. She left the used pads sitting on top of the garbage can and it stunk up everything. She used to be a clean freak.

My husband and my contact at her doctor's office seem to think this is because she is lonely or is grieving her relative she lived with who died over a year ago. I don't believe that because when she wasnt talking to fill up dead space, she was SINGING and talking non stop to her dog. I had told her I had a headache so I could go lie down and get some quite time when she started singing.

She also is getting a little confused. She INSISTED a few weeks ago that my kids must have saturday school because she thought it was saturday. I maintain what is called "medium chill" in tone in my voice and I simply said, "No it is Friday. The kids are at school." and then she would again insist it is Saturday.

On the ride home this weekend, I called a friend of mine who is having to move schools for her younger son. My MIL kept arguing with me that my friend's older son is "Ted" (younger son's name) and the younger son is "Alex" (older son). I kept calm and said, "No, Alex is the older son and Ted is the younger son" and she kept insisting she was right.

What is going on here?

Last night she called to tell me that My kids' friend's mother was getting recalled from the school board and that her photo was on the front page. My kids' friend's mother is not on the school board and the woman in the photo didn't even look like my kids' friend's mother. But they had the same first name, so it was a match.

I called MIL today to ask her if she told her primary care doctor about her incontinence and that maybe she could make an appointment and I'd go with her and she admitted that she never told him and she isn't going to make an appointment.

I have called her numerous times to invite her over for regular week night dinners and she says no and I have invited her to come sit at our house on the weekend and watch TV with us and she says no.

She sleeps about 12 hours a day, awakening at noon and then watches reality TV the other time, except for about 1-2 hours where she runs errands. She still drives.

She also had a hypoglycemia attack the other day while at the grocery because she took her diabetes medicine and then didn't eat. She solved that by drinking a coke and eating a chocolate muffin. She also bought herself a large 12 inch coffee cake a few weeks ago.

I'm at a loss as to handle this. She is an adult and I can't make her take her diabetes seriously. She is super needy and sucks the life out of you, but then when I try to get her out the house, she doesn't want to do anything.

Can anyone relate to this? Where do I go from here? I can't deal with much because of my kids, but we do have some money where I could maybe do some private sitter things, etc, but I don't think she'd go for that either.

Thanks so much for reading this!


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Thank you for your reply. I agree he needs to step up. I told him last night this makes me worried about how he will care for me if I ever need it. Ya know? His mother has always been strange, but there s severe mental illness in her family, so we have to take it seriously. I'll let you all know how tonight goes.

southernwave, time to tell hubby to get off his rear and get involved with his mother. What you described is NOT just being lonely, there's something medical or even mental going on here. She needs to be seen by a doctor to rule out a UTI or whatever the heck is going on. And her SON needs to be putting his foot down by TAKING her to her doctor. He needs to stop with the second hand information, and see for himself how his mother is. If she were your mother, wouldn't you want to see first hand what someone was saying about her? Me too.

My husband doesn't take it seriously. At all. He works a hugely demanding job and works insane hours and barely has time for us, so I suspect some of it is that he just prefers this isn't happening (don't we all). He doesn't have time for it. Believe me, I wish for this to go away now! But that doesn't make it better. MIL is coming over tonight for dessert. This will be the longest he has been around her in a while, so maybe he will take it seriously when he sees it.

Thanks for the reply.

Is your husband taking her problems seriously-he must be aware of what is going on-she should not be driving with her BS being uncontrolled -it sounds like she is not able to be living alone-your husband has to get involved -maybe she needs to go to AL or a nursing home-I know this upsets you greatly but it is too much for you to deal-my husband was a diabetic who thought it was my problem-he would ask for sugar-free soda and eat two pieces of cake when at someones home.

Thank you, Jeanne. My biggest concern is the behavior. Thank you for mentioning that it doesn't sound like grief to you either, and I also think it could be a different issue triggered by the death of her relative and change of lifestyle.

The non stop talking was so bad that by the time I got home on Sunday I was nearly in tears. It felt so abusive-- to be denied even your thoughts for 2 days. I was not allowed quiet time because she had to fill up every minute with talk. I didn't know how to approach it. Next time I will tell her that I need 30 minutes of quiet so I can meditate or something like that.

Thanks for responding.


You are a kind and caring person to keep attempting to help MIL. I hope you succeed in at least some measure.

You have to accept that she is an adult and you can't prevent her from making poor decisions or from risky behaviors. You can suggest and offer to help, but you have to accept that you don't have control.

Personally, I don't buy the "she's lonely" explanation. The death of her relative may have triggered some behavior changes, but what you describe does not sound like normal grieving to me. I hope that you can talk her into some kind of medical appointment, maybe to get her flu shot or shingles shot, etc., and for you to go with her. Send the doctor a note ahead of time explaining your concerns.

Good luck!

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