What do you do when siblings disagree on hospice?

Asked by

My amazing mother-in-law will be 76 next week and has has had ALS for over 15 years. Last Sunday she was hospitalized with pneumonia and a torn rotator cuff. Now, a week later, she is at home. She is very upset she can no longer enjoy her coffee and all her meals are now looking and tasting like wallpaper paste (her words). She says she's done. Three out of 5 of her children are in agreement she should be allowed to have all she chooses. (Her coffee and solid foods) My Spouse says this is elderly abuse because it's not in her best interest. He thinks we should be doing all we can to prolong her life. And since she's usually very emotional he feels she's not thinking clearly. This IS all happening very quickly and lots of feelings will be hurt. My main concern is doing what she wishes. Most of her children are understanding of this and since mine is one of the minority, (He's also her favorite and resented by the others) my words to him need to be very compassionate but still convey HER needs first. LOTS of bad things will be happening and I want to be the best and most understanding of everyones feelings I can. Whats the best way to reach all involved?

Answers 1 to 2 of 2
Top Answer
Who has her medical POA? What orders for her care did the doctor give upon her discharge from the hospital. Does she have a living will? What is her mental state? What is she eating now? My mother had pneumonia and went back to the nursing home with a very restrictive diet which was rather bland until a speech therapist was able to help her get better control of her swallowing. Now, my mother is eating basically what she wants to. She came down with pneumonia because she was breathing her food into her lungs instead of swallowing it into her stomach. Did your husband's mother have asparatic pneumonia?

If your husband is her medical POA then he just might use that as his defense for his position. If the doctor gave these sorts of orders and his siblings either don't know that or understand that, then that is it and they need to be informed.

I would be careful getting triangulated with the inlaws unless you already are because that is a painful place to be. This is going to be hard, but try to view this as your husband and his siblings problem about their mom. If you try to play referee, you'll get crucified in the process. I would strongly suggest that your husband get on this site as well. Even if you disagree with your husband's opinion, try not to let that create a wall between the two of you. People can remain close in their relationships without having to have the other person to have the same opinion on things just like theirs.

It is stories like yours that make me glad that I'm an only child although my step-dad sort of resents me having medical and durable POA over my mom and not him.
Cmagnum has given you some insightful advice regarding your role in this. Certainly discuss your views with your husband, and respect where he is coming from. Don't let this become a devisive factor.

Cmagnum also raised questions that would help us understand the situation. Is MIL of sound mind? Who has medical POA? Is she competent to make her own decisions, or would POA apply now?

You mention hospice. Is she in the final stage of life? If not, are these feeding orders intended to be temporary until she gets her strength back, or permanent? Aside from the eating issues, what quality of life level is she at?

I applaud you for caring.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

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