How do I respect my mother-in-law wishes, of living independently and moving her into assisted living?

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My mother in law has Alzheimer's. She wants to live independently. We want to respect that. She has 4 cats that run the house and the house, her clothes all stink. The smell is overwhelming. The family has stopped doing everything with her within the last year. My wife and 2 boys are all allergic to cats. Mom will not move without the cats. Bringing up the topic of moving without the cats it gets her arguing and then she'll say "I will hate you if you make me move without them". She has opened up several times about moving. Stating the neighborhood is lonely now and has changed. Then she starts thinking about the cats and her mode changes to I can't move. We have always done things with her, holiday dinners, taken her to Europe with us for vacation to walks in the botanical gardens. We want to get back to that and see her more often and enjoy the years we have left with her. How do we separate her from the cats and move her?

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I take it that the odor problem is she is not able to properly care for the cats, clean their litter boxes, etc.?

How old is your mother? How long has she had AZ? How severe is it at this time? How old are the cats?

The time may come when the dementia will make it unsafe for her to live alone. If the smell is such that family members have dropped back their visiting, it is not going to be easy to bring in in-home care. So Assisted Living, particularly one with a memory-care unit, does seem a good option. And moving before the dementia forces a move also seems like the best approach.

I guess I'm just agreeing with your goals. But I don't have advice about the cat obstacle. Have visited a nice ALF? Can you bring her notices and bulletins about activities she might enjoy at the ALF? Try to get her thinking more and more about the advantages of moving.

If it comes down to it and she doesn't move on her own before her ability to live on her own declines too much then I suppose you'll have to let her "hate you." I hope it dosn't come to that, but dementia and failing abilities forces many sad choices.
I am going to play the Devil's Advocate here, and you probably won't do any of this, but I am a cat lover myself... the idea of not having my cat would send me into an emotional melt down, with that being said, is there a possibilty you can hire a professional cleaning crew to come in and get the house nice again?? With talking to her first about it and telling her the conditions are that she will have to have someone come in and help her with her daily routine. Now I would clean a litter box, and vacuum hair off the furniture, I doubt many other caregivers would do the same...but maybe the family could help out a little more in that area... not pleasant I know, but neither is changing baby diapers, and we all did that too.... It is so hard to explain the attatchments to the pets , Then there will come a time when placement is neccessary and she won't remember she had the cats.... difficult situation for you to say the least.... just simply another suggestion to consider... I know her health is the primary concern....
And I am not trying to be ugly here, but how is that the house became so unmanagable, why was it allowed to go unattened to for so long... surely the family could have contributed to the health standards of the house in the meantime... just asking.
I know it may come down to having to place her regardless, but my heart does go out to her and the sense of loss she will feel.... she won't really hate you... but she will be very sad.... and lonesome... if the family makes it a point to visit often , especailly at the beginning of placement that will really help the transition... I do appreciate your situation, and also appreciate that you are taking her feelings about her cats into consideration... wishing you a good outcome .Hugs...
This is extremely sad to say the least - hugs to you and to your mother. I agree with Ladee that the bond and attachment to ones pets is so important to understand. She had great advice and do hope it works out that your mother does not have to give up her cats just yet. Tough decisions. Take care.
I know that Watercrest at Bryan has independent living apartments that offer 24 hour non-medical care to residents (bathing, medication reminders, ect). The community is very nice and clean and the staff is excellent. This is not an assisted living facility, but rather an independent living community with extra services available. Best of luck with your situation!

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