Follow
Share

I started this discussion last year. Really appreciate everyone's advice, but never really resolved it: https://www.agingcare.com/questions/father-in-law-less-independent-181558.htm. Long story short, we've been suspicious there's been some underlying health issues with my ILs. FIL acts odd and needy when we visit. My MIL's parents are both still alive (96 and 99). They seem to be able to get around and even drive still, but my MIL is taking care of a bulk of their medical arrangements. I think the stress is wearing her down at the least...possibly killing her slowing. She used to call me up and sometimes cry about it, but she never talks about it fully to her own son (DH is an only). This year she has become very aloof and that is what worries us most. I think DH is scared. He oscillates between calling them every day to every other day to going a couple weeks without really talking. We were supposed to all visit in a couple weeks with DD (she is 7) and our dogs. MIL has told us they don't want dogs over. She mentioned she worries the cats will puke up their meds and the dogs will eat them, but I think it's truly FIL has become more and more fearful of the dogs hurting the cats—even though two of them have have visited before and are gentle with our cats (the third is big and we don't take him to their house). She's also said there are loads of appointments they are going to. I believe the last. I think they are very stressed and perhaps this is not a good time to visit with DD (as much as everyone wants to see one another). But maybe it'd be a good idea DH go up on his own? He could talk to MIL then (they've always had trouble finding time to talk when DD is there with us). I think his parents need to see him (and perhaps vice versa). Are there quick resources I can send him that can give openings into these discussions? Also, what kinds of things should he look for when he visits?

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Ditto. ditto.

So happy to hear this. Sounds like you can exhale a bit.
(0)
Report

Greta, ditto what Bablou said. Sounds like it was a productive fact-finding mission. Glad to hear that the conversation was an "opener" (and not a "closer" as it is in so many of our families -- no matter how delicately we choose our words). You have a good info and a good foundation for future visits. Those oldsters are blessed to have you! It's rough that you are so far away, but that's modern life. Keep us posted.
(2)
Report

Greta, kt sounds like someone needs to get fil to a geriatric psychiatrist or neurologist to take a closer look and his day to day functioning.
(3)
Report

DH went up for a 4-day visit and had a conversation with his folks. It was really positive, and made them happy. Communication is finally happening.

Concerns about the cats are being addressed. Sounds like MIL has similar worries about FIL as we do, but FIL's doctor has been blowing her off claiming its just aging and "guy stuff."

Then DH's grandmother is really unhappy (probably bored) due to lost mobility—even with support. People from her church and family visit and help out but she is still very unhappy as she can't walk easily due to pain. She is the type of person who is always on the go and this is making it very hard for her to do what she loves which is making her miserable.

Hubby is going up again, and we are all going up a little later and staying at a hotel for a longer period. The plan is to stay late one or more nights and talk, but my husband is at least getting it started. My MIL very much has things together (as much as a person can in that kind of situation), but she is tired, angry, sad, and overwhelmed—and it is wearing her away.

We want to keep talking with her to help her and the rest of the family.
(4)
Report

Thank you, All. I really appreciate your help. This is very emotionally draining. The worst part is this thing in me...my instinct...I've come to terms with that it is never wrong. If I realized how strong it was and trusted it when I was younger I would have had a very different life (in a positive way). I just can't ignore it anymore.

We're working things out currently and trying to stay positive. Counseling is definitely in our future. We have a happy marriage beyond all this, but issues with our parents (mine make his look like a heart-warming sitcom) have been shaking things up. Will update later.
(2)
Report

The thing I have experienced it that it is a great deal of time. Time just sitting, walking and more just sitting in their comfortable environment. Answers to questions eventually come out or observations ultimately reveal themselves.
(2)
Report

I wish it was easier for you. But the people telling you what is likely coming are probably right. Would hubby listen if heart to heart you tell him how conflicted you are, how this is eating you up with anxiety, and how real the possibility is that something will fall apart in the near future? Tell him you HAVE to go just to give yourself peace of mind? One of those brick walls has to give way!
(1)
Report

Great advice above, imo. I would try to avoid the panic of getting a surprise phone call from some agency, financial office, police or medical office saying there is a crisis and you are needed pronto.
(1)
Report

Thank you, Linda 22.

Greta, this IS support. You wanted support and we are giving you the green light. Mobilize. Now.

And stay in touch. Let us know how you are doing. Your status, as many know, is critical. You are not alone in this. There are lot so people in your situation.
(2)
Report

Greta, you're not stuck. You know there's a problem and you've hit that point most of do where emergencies will be coming up with your parents and inlaws. So now you get to work on the emergency bug out list. Worst case scenario - you need to leave town ASAP, without dogs or your daughter (assume that you will be so immersed that you can't also tend to your daughter). Make a list of everything you'd need to do to be ready to hit the road in an hour. Who to call, what to do, petcare, childcare, what to pack. Then you get the plan rolling - find petcare, arrange childcare with a close friend, set aside a small supply of meds for you and your husband (if needed), make a list with all needed phone numbers. I'd advise having a smartphone or iPad with you because you'll need to research things on the fly. I've even kept a backpack ready for long days at the hospital and had a list of things my MIL needed every hospital stay so I could have them there the first day. I kept some frequent flyer miles available at all times because my emergencies were long distance. Until you and your husband are able to go there and assess, this will at least help you deal with the inevitable emergencies when they arise.
(4)
Report

On top of that, there's only so much I can interfere as these are my inlaws. I have to get my husband to acknowledge something is off before we can take action. He does *not* want me going up alone and that would make for a crapload of drama with his family. Even if I saw something wrong, he will deny it unless he sees it himself without his blinders on. Until he can get to that point, we are stuck.
(0)
Report

Excuse me, but part of why I came here was for support and advice and to find a safe place to vent—not to be yelled at. I deal with enough conflict even getting my husband to acknowledge this is an issue—and half the time he won't. Even after he agrees something his up, he talks to his parents and magically forgets everything we talked about seeing. I feel like I'm getting gaslighted about it from him and if I push too hard it will wreck our marriage. I don't need this from strangers right now.
(0)
Report

This is what I said on June 14th: It is time. What you are describing is very common: children have an inkling but are far away and visit only every few months.
Move. Act. Trust me on this. Right now you are up in arms about dogs and cats. But as you say, there is more and it is already happening. Snap into action! Don't wait until they have done something irrevocable with money. Then you will truly be singing the blues. It can be ruinous.

QUIT WRINGING YOUR HANDS AND DO SOMETHING -- OR FORGET ALL ABOUT IT.
(2)
Report

Okay... That makes sense. I'll talk to him in the next couple nights, and I'm thinking of having him join here. He keeps telling me his dad has always been weird, but I really think this has been over the top the past few years. His dad has had quirky moments before, but he used to seem able-bodied, more easy-going and more kind (though he can be judgmental and has a short fuse about some things). His family is my family and it is important to me to be respectful of their relationship with each other. However, it is really hard when I can see how disruptive things are going to be if (when) they blow up on us. And I will be doing my part to be supportive and pick up the pieces without saying "I told you so" or being angry, because that's what people who love each other should do in emergencies—even ones that could have been prevented. For all I gripe, my husband has done that for me in the past and I cannot begin to express gratitude for his kindness for it, but I will return it when he needs me. But I'd like to at least try to avoid things becoming worse than they need to be—especially since I've seen it tear my mom's family apart, KWIM?
(2)
Report

Not to be macabre, but if you & hubby were both in the hospital at the same time, someone would take care of your daughter and dogs, right? Marshall those resources now -- and visit the in-laws as a couple.


I forget how far it is; perhaps you could drive separately? Do your recon together....then you could shoot home and husband could stay a little longer?


If this sounds like logistical insanity, at least it's logistical insanity that you and your husband planned in advance. Someday the phone will ring, and you'll need to upend your household like this without warning. And with 4 elders in their various states, your phone and your suitcase will get a workout in upcoming years.


You and husband really need to make a pre-emergency assessment of all this. As soon as possible. And -- this is crucial -- you must evaluate what IS. Not what you wish for. Not what they were capable of 1 year ago or 10 years ago. It's all about now. And the future.
(3)
Report

I wonder if your husband needed the support from you to go with him. Since, you said that's not possible, he lost the courage. You said you could only go if it was an emergency. I would think it was an emergency. At any rate, there is likely to be a crisis if the situation continues, so I might figure out dog and child care arrangements now, because I would anticipate the need to get there in the not too distant future. Having to arrive, access the situation and then find resources on the heels of a crisis isn't fun. I'd do it sooner, if possible.
(2)
Report

He's got his head in the sand. You have two possible routes - one is you go up there, and whether he goes or not is up to him, realizing that overstepping your bounds a little could be the lesser of two evils in this situation; two is you let him keep his head in the sand until something bad happens, and prepare to bite your tongue to hold back that "I told you so" when it does. I sense you identify with and feel sorry for MIL and wish fervently he would do something to get help for her, but it does not look like he is going to, because that would mean he has to face a difficult conversation and acknowledge that his dad is failing while risking his wrath. So, don't hassle him. Since he is not feeling well, you'll go and see what you can do until he is feeling better. And remember, you will see with clearer eyes; - it seems that he cannot face his own parents' decline, and at best that's never easy for anyone. Being "supportive" may mean understanding that, and not judging...but OTOH, it does not mean letting him walk off a cliff blindfolded either.
(3)
Report

I don't want to hassel him about all this. I want to be supportive. But it is so d@mn hard when he does this. He doesn't seem to understand how it can hurt all of us and *why*.
(1)
Report

And when I tried to re-bring up what we discussed? It was like he magically forgot it all. WTF?!
(1)
Report

Well, I should have known it was too easy. My husband is making up excuses not to visit his parents. First he had a cold about a week and a half ago and claims he's only going to visit if he feels okay (and why do I have a feeling he'll not magically feel well enough). When I called him on that, he claimed he was going down two weeks later than planned to help his parents declutter.
(1)
Report

Our daughter is 5 (if I said 9 that's a typo). MIL has had multiple surgeries for orthopedic issues. FIL says he'll take over responsibilities. Within a day or less, she's doing all the feeding/medicating/cleaning after the cats. Hubby thinks it's a generation thing (his dad has always been a bit dependent), but I remember he used to heat up his own food for lunch and do a better job taking on part of the responsibilities. Seeing MIL limp horribly to fix him plates for lunch or take care of the cats really is painful to watch.

I do *not* ever tell her what to do. I can't even begin to grok what she's going through. It is never my place to judge or make decisions for her. When she's not overwhelmed, she has amazing common sense and I'm usually the one asking her for advice. I get the sense she is overwhelmed—or possibly—we are both too busy and cross like ships in the night. There is always the third possibility she comes here herself and has seen my first thread, but I don't get any sense/clues that is what is happening.

No, her mind isn't going at all, but I think she is depressed and burnt out. I worry for her physical health as well. If she wasn't already having some mobility pain issues it'd be a lot different, but I saw my own grandmother die from caretaking. It will kill me to watch it happen to another family member and just do nothing about it. :(

I'm hoping my husband starts to see things for what they are without distractions. I'm hoping he can get a conversation started with his parents—or at least his mom—about what *they* are planning to do (or want to do) if/when someone becomes incapacitated or worse. We will go from there. We want to be as supportive of them as we can, but realistically. For example? Their cats are willed to us, yet there is no way we can care for them all—even if we didn't have our own pets. If we can start a conversation—a real one—I think we can work things out. Maybe my MIL will look into getting help or reveal she's getting it. Would also like her to come clean about whatever is going on with FIL. If his mind is going or he has a serious/terminal condition, we really should know so we can help them (the way they want/need) and/or prepare ourselves.
(3)
Report

I am wondering what exactly you hope will happen with your inlaws? You are very concerned, yet you don't seem to have a concrete solution other than 'something has to change. At 66 I doubt that MIL is suffering from anything worse than mental anguish and burnout, FIL sounds deluded and demanding, but perhaps he has always been this way? I will repeat what I said earlier, MIL needs to acknowledge that she is stretched too thin and she needs to be willing to accept help. You can assist by investigating what options are available for homecare for her parents, you can express concern over FIL and encourage him to have a cognitive assessment, you can make a few phone calls to this vet about the cats (that whole situation sounds off to me). It would also be good to go armed with information she can read and consider about POAs, Wills and financial planning after retirement.

Is there perhaps another reason your MIL has stopped confiding in you? Has she found another confidant? Have you encouraged her to give up caring for her parents a little too often, or been less than supportive of her choices?

I understand you have made the decision about the problems with the dogs and your child. In the future she would probably love to stay with a friend for a holiday, didn't you say she is 9? Also unless FIL is violent or totally off his rocker there is nothing there that she can't be exposed to, it will teach her compassion.
(2)
Report

Health & cognitive issues notwithstanding, your FIL's generation is awash with grown-azz men who can't live on their own because they Have No Idea How To brew a pot of coffee, cook a meal, wash a dish, buy groceries, do laundry, change the sheets or make a doctor/dentist appointment. I suspect FIL falls into this camp. And his health setbacks and cognitive/neuro issues make it all the worse.

Investigate the cost and feasibility of every care option for the grandparents and MIL & FIL. For the couples as couples, and for the individuals. Even if it's the wrong time to discuss it with them (because they will freak out and resist), you & hubby need to know where to go, who to call and where to sign -- and how long the waiting list is -- when it flips to crisis-mode. And with this cast of characters, there will be more than one crisis.

Good luck to you. Research, research, research. The internet is your best friend. And tell that vet to take a flying leap. In person. He or she is terribly irresponsible.
(3)
Report

Thank you, Vstefans. We can not board all of our dogs. One of them is 15, she has loads of disabilities and gets stress seizures if she is boarded. At this point, if we boarded her she will possibly die from the stress. The other dog has super separation anxiety disorder, and it would be cruel to board him. Best we have come up with is staying at a hotel if we all go together (and having the dogs stay there together when we visit)—which is really for the best. My IL's house is hot this time of year.

So, the dogs are not the issue anymore.

But our daughter is. She is very young to be staying on her own with someone else (though I have several wonderful friends available if an emergency arrises).

My FIL completely occupies my husband's time 70% of the time we are there. When he's not talking his ear off (and a lot of times when he does—though I try to keep her busy), my daughter clings to her daddy. I can only keep the kid busy for so long. Sheis a wonderful kid—very intelligent and sweet, but she's very young and high-energy. This leaves my husband very distracted (and tired). By the time we can talk with my MIL alone, the two of us are ready for bed.

This is why he is going without me this time. It's not ideal, but hopefully will give him a better clue into things and he can really see the situation with his own eyes without our little monkey daughter swinging off him. :)

Maybe he can get his folks to open up with him or at least start a dialog. Then we can come up later as a family and actually have a good talk together. It really benefits everyone, and we should have done it a good 5-10 years ago.

If something happens to his mom (and the way this is going it will), it will be very difficult for us to fulfill their needs/wishes if they don't even give us a voice as to what they want. Even if they *do*, it's not fair for us not to know until the emergency happens. FIL may or may not be able to live on his own, but it would be terrible to simply expect this and find out after-the-fact he can't. Hubby's uncle may be fine caring for the grands on his own, but that also is not fair to expect. There's also the issue with the cats. We had initially promised to take all of them (back when there were just a couple). Now that is not a realistic solution for anyone—including all the cats. It would be terrible to dump them in the shelter (and as much I'd be tempted to hoist them on the vets—it'd be so much better they go to good homes). So we need a plan.
(0)
Report

Oh Greta. Hubby is deep in wishful thinking. Board the dogs and go with him if you can. It can be so hard emotionally to see that your own parents really are declining. Print this all off and give it to him too, or get him to post on here himself! Talk to the vets yourself on her behalf, maybe...and it seems odd they are pushing extra cats on them, I'd rather suspect she's not able to say no or she indicates she wants them (?).
(2)
Report

Thank you, Babalou. Yes, I was quoting him.

We had a big talk tonight that almost ended in an argument. He tried to divert it again. Instead of pushing things I walked away, wrote a numbered list of the weird things that have happened this year, and handed it to him. He actually read it! Then he put it in his wallet. He said he's keeping it to say focused when he sees visits. I will ask him if he can come with to a doctor visit for the grands. He doesn't think the cat flow will continue. I disagree. MIL has loads of common sense, but it's been like she's worked overtime to do anything possible to keep her husband happy—even if it goes against her beliefs (another reason I think something odd is going down). It doesn't help the vets try to pressure them to adopt more cats sometimes.

Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping he can keep his rose-tinted glasses off when he visits.
(1)
Report

Greta, are you quoting your husband? Are the cats part of the decluttering effort?

I agree with Linda. Someone in their 60s, caring for two elders in their 90s, a gazillion cats and a husband who frankly sounds a bit unhinged? It's a recipe for a stroke or heart attack. Who is going to have to step up to care for these folks if your MiL winds up in the hospital for several weeks, or worse?

Try to get your husband to see that by solving some of these problems now, he's acting out of self protection, as well as in his mom's interests,

Someone should contact the vet and stop the flow of cats...and money. Someone should get in touch with the Area Agency on Aging and see what services are available for his grandparents. Perhaps DH could accompany grands to their next dr appointment.

And someone needs to get MiL to her doctor for a checkup, and to see if these stressors have already done damage.
(6)
Report

"My parents are attending a decluttering seminar. I talked to them for over an hour. I think they are okay."
(1)
Report

Greta, setting all the pets aside, I don't know that one person can take care of two parents in their 90's and a spouse, without completely burning out. A poster on this forum, frequentflyer, comes to mind - she ran herself ragged doing for her parents so they could stay in their home. I think once your husband sees what his granddparents situation is and how they are dealing with it, he'll have a handle on whether his mom can transfer some of their care to others. It makes a difference whether it's their unwillingness to make changes, or her reluctance to not be doing it all herself (being a good daughter).
(3)
Report

I would think that from what you describe you husband needs for you to see what he sees upon his arrival, so you can discuss it and intervene if necessary. Just because things happened a certain way with the dogs before, doesn't mean it will ever again, if the family member's conditions have declined. I wouldn't maintain plans of future visits with the dogs based on your description of their household. It sounds like things are ripe for a crisis, if not already there.
(3)
Report

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.