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My husband is the sole surviving family of his Mother. His dad died in 2018 at age 92 and his only brother died young in 2014. All the legal paperwork is in place...Durable POA, will, etc. Last month, my MIL (who is 92) elected to have a hysterectomy due to uterine tumor and cancer. She is on hormone therapy for the cancer. She went thru the whole ordeal alone because of Covid. And because she lives in a retirement apartment building, she has also been under lockdown. My husband stayed in close touch with her doctors and surgeon, the hospital and management at her community. She lied to her surgeon (told him she no longer drove, but she does) and when she was sufficiently "recovered" she broke the rules and drove herself to Walmart to have her hair done and do some shopping and she drove herself to a doctor appt. (The community insists that THEY arrange transportation to keep residents safe from the virus.) She was severely reprimanded by management and quarantined to her apt for 2 weeks. She was so mad at my husband for checking on her condition and treatment with her surgeon, and for tipping off management that she was going to go out and about as she pleased, that she told my husband to stay out of her business, that she was independent and could do what she wants to. So my husband has basically left her be.


She is a narcissist and a liar. She has alienated everyone (including 2 grandchildren) and no one will help her shop. We do order things she needs on Amazon and have it shipped directly to her but that is all. She broke the rules yet again 2 weeks ago and was quarantined again.


As she has told my husband to stay out of her life, how much responsibility does he have for her if she gets kicked out of her place? She forbids him to speak to her doctors or management any more. The surgeon had indicated she probably has a year to live as the cancer will return and spread and they did not get it all in surgery. My husband had previously asked all her doctors if she can still safely drive and they said yes. But this will probably change as the cancer spreads. If an elderly person insists their only child stay out of their life, is it okay for the child to accept that at just let things happen as they will? We will no longer celebrate holidays with her or visit her as she is shutting her son out of her life in every other way. (And with Covid we cannot anyway.) If management calls and says they are kicking her out, can my husband tell them he is not responsible anymore per her wishes?

Honestly, she is quite amazing, isn't she? I don't say she is doing it "right" but she sure is doing it "her way" and she is not making herself a burden on you. My partner was raised by just such a narcissist, and at the end they were down to 1/2 hour call every Sunday. That said she took care of herself, hired her own help, stayed in her own home, fed the feral pigs and even in last days had her room with a view on the dribbling hose the coyotes and pigs came out of the desert to use. She had her vodka bottle at her side, and seemed to have known when she could not drive, depended upon the kindness of "friends", neighbors. She died as she wished to.
I think you are doing a good job. Your husband has the needed work in papers at the ready. He is doing as he feels he must (I think I would actually step away; I would think residents will report her going out and exposing them to problems quickly enough). She has seen herself through her own treatment. She will either pass in the allotted time or go on forever. Who can tell.
I think you will know for certain when you have to step up/step in, but I think she will never accept help and any move would be a terrific struggle. I would leave it be. I think you all, in your own ways, are doing great (or as great as it can be given the present circumstances).
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Dosmo13 Sep 16, 2020
This independent 92 yr. old is NOT a narcissist. She may be considered a problem by the facility she calls home, but she definitely is not expecting anyone to cater to her. Her son may be annoyed, but he should be grateful.
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A spunky gal isn't she? She obviously envisions years of longer life if she had a hysterectomy at 92! She seems to be of sound mind so if the facility evicts her (have they suggested they might?) I don't believe he has any responsibilty as long as she's competent. At this point I would just let her have her way.
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I'm with Mom, here. I'm only 80, but this Covid19 lockdown at my senior residence had got me climbing the walls. I'm on independent living, got that? Independent! I haven't been able to drive for some time, but I can take a taxi. Always wear a mask when I do. We have been told we can leave for medical reasons
only (is this legally enforceable?) and friends and family are NOT allowed to visit. All planned social activities have been cancelled. The dining room is closed (food is delivered to our apartment). We have had a solid six months of this!
To make matters worse, someone puts up posters, supposedly from "residents" stating how grateful "we" are that they (the management or employees, I guess) are "keeping us safe". There is even a little tree in the lobby to which we can attach thank you notes. I don't know who is doing this, but it just feels like outright manipulation to me. If I'm grateful (which, admittedly, I'm not right now) I can thank someone personally.
I was an R.N. for 30 yrs. Saved lives because it was my job, never considered it "heroic"!

So if your mom gets "kicked out", don't rush to her aid. She is independent. Allow her some dignity. I don't mean to leave her stranded, but it wouldn't hurt to let HER ask for help. That's what independent adults do.
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Isthisrealyreal Sep 16, 2020
Such good points.

I have family that will manipulate people into offering help and you can be sure they will say that they never asked you for anything, you offered. I don't offer anymore, need something? Ask!!
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Stay out of it and let her lead her own life. No you are not responsible if she gets kicked out of her retirement building. Sounds like she is competent. Hysterectomy at 92?? That is amazing!! That woman wants to live!! Let her live and face her own consequences.

I am in the same predicament. My 96 year old mother lives alone in her house. She doesn’t want any help. She doesn’t drive but takes call a bus wherever she wants to go.

Last week she went to the laundromat. She does things HER way. I leave her alone. I visit once a week as her daughter not her caregiver. My son goes over twice a week to bring in the mail and take out the garbage.

Leave MIL be!!
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Reply to elaine1962
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If your MIL doesn't have dementia and hasn't been declared incompetent then your husband has no choice but to step back and let things happen as the gods will them to. He is not responsible for her if she's still in charge of her own affairs. If the time comes when she can't manage for herself then either your husband or someone else will have to be appointed to be her conservator to make decisions for her. It will probably be your husband, but if he doesn't want to do it the court will appoint someone. If she's still getting around and is mentally competent, then your husband should not try to intervene on her behalf with her housing. She violated their rules so she can take the heat for it.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
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If your MIL is a competent adult, he should stay out of her business. If he has not made any contracts, legally he is probably not responsible for her debts. If she is incompetent to make her own decisions, he should check with an elder law attorney. But short of incompetency, your husband has no right to substitute his decision making for hers, even if it is in her best interests.
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He has DPOA and should act on her behalf when she is no longer mentally competent or can no longer express her wishes (stroke, coma, etc.). Please keep communication lines open with management of her living situation and her doctors. At some point he will need to step in to help her, but it obviously is not now. In the meantime, allow her to make decisions and live with the consequences.
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Reply to Taarna
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I agree that her son should just step back at this time since she does seem competent. Even though she seems quite independent she is not facing reality (whether she is just a rule breaker, doesn't care, or doesn't believe in the pandemic) because she is endangering herself & others by continuing to go out, exposing herself & others unnecessarily to COVID-19. The management should take her keys away if they can since she has been caught by them while in lockdown. Is she aware that she could be kicked out & need to find another place on her own? She will have to deal with this soon if she doesn't obey the rules.
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Dosmo13 Sep 16, 2020
The management has NO authority to take her keys. Neither do you (you can try if you ever think she's truly incompetent, but good luck with that!) Why is she not allowed to go out with a mask? ( The management could provide one and urge her to use it). Everyone else has that privilege. If she does not have the virus, she is not endangering anyone. At her age, COVID-19 is a greater risk to HER health, but do you think she doesn't know that?
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She's having a rough time and has lashed out. It sounds like your son is still able to get medical info, so he should continue to do so. If she gets kicked out of current facility for failing to follow the rules, she will end up in another facility. If management calls, I would simply ask for the social worker to determine what the plan is for her. While your son may not be allowed by mom to make decisions, he should at least be aware.

As for that sentence of 'will no longer celebrate holidays with her or visit', that seems a little extreme to me. Don't discuss her situation or act as though you are trying to make decisions - but do include her for the last holidays of her life.
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Thank you to everyone for the encouraging responses. I truly appreciate them all!!
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