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First, let me start by saying, please no statements about "Why don't you put her in a home?". For reasons I will not discuss here, that is not practical or possible at this time.


My wife is her (nearly) 88 y.o. mother's legal guardian. Until recently, she was also her financial conservator. However, despite the fact that the court acknowledged the fact that there had been "no evidence of any malfeasance" on my wife's behalf, the judge decided to reassign the conservatorship in a futile attempt to stop my mother-in-law from complaining about how her finances are being managed (in fact, she is complaining because she, herself, does not have unlimited access to her money and assets). According to the GDS, she is about stage 4.


My MIL lives with us, in a home that my wife purchased for her mother with permission form the court (using her mother's finances) in order to preserve her mother's assets (it cost about $4k-$5K per month to keep her in an assisted living facility, vs. under $1k per month to pay the mortgage, plus my wife and I do the maintenance and grounds-keeping here and pay rent - into the conservator account - nearly equal to half the mortgage). She has fantasies and delusions of "going home", back to either the town she grew up in or to the town where she lived with her late husband. She is also prone to paranoia.


We have been trying to do things to help her settle in and settle down including getting her to participate in things like gardening (my MIL was formerly a Master Gardener) or going to the senior center. We even found a way to get her to a church she likes.


Problem is, whenever my MIL is upset, she calls up various friends and family and complains to them. She often, whether intentionally in order to get sympathy, or simply due to the dementia, will lie to the people she calls about how things are for her here, or twist things that are said to her (for example, she tries to insist that this house is for sale and demands that my wife and I "buy it from her" and "send her back home", and I tried to tell her that since she has a conservator, she does not have the legal authority to sell the house. She twisted that into me telling her that she "has no rights here" - which is NOT what I said at all!).


She has had a friend for many years, who she especially likes to call and complain to. This friend has been apprised of my MIL's mental state by several different people, but she seems to be in complete denial over it. She also gives my MIL some very bad advice, including telling her not to trust my wife or cooperate with her or participate in any activities. She even called the probate court's Guardian Ad Litem (my MIL gave his number to her friend!) just prior to the hearing in which the conservatorship was transferred to a professional, and left a message on HIS answering service telling HIM that my wife can't be trusted. Since this woman has never even met my wife, I believe that this legally constitutes an act of slander.


I believe my MIL would be MUCH better off if she could not communicate with this "friend". I know we could block the number on her cell phone, but I have no idea if or how it could be blocked on the cell phone. It would also mean making sure no letters from my MIL could make it to the "friend", or letters coming from the "friend" made it to my MIL. What can we do about this trouble-making individual? My wife's lawyer supposedly sent a letter to this individual but it doesn't seen to have done any good. Considering this "friend" is 72 years old I wonder, frankly, if she also is suffering from dementia.

Welcome to the wonderful world of dementia. It is common that the ones helping the most are the largest targets, it is also common that they are accusing the caregivers of some type of abuse. Their brains are broken and they are confused, but don't think they are, it must be you.

I took my dad on a 3 week trip and I didn't even get a holiday out of it taking care of his needs and when we got home he told his caregivers that nobody fed him the whole trip. What?!?! You ungrateful old reprobate.

I can only say that you are going to have to let her blabber roll off your back, keep good documentation, if she is telling doozies I would start keeping a daily journal to protect myself. Whatever false accusation should be noted, as well as what the day actually looked like.

I would not interfere with her contact with troublesome friends or family, it throws up red flags and looks like you guys are doing something wrong. Let her talk all she wants, you have nothing to worry about if you aren't doing anything wrong. She can sit at home and do nothing all she wants, she doesn't have to trust you guys, you just have to be trustworthy.

This is a rotten disease and it gets worse before it gets over.

Hugs to you and your wife, it is a tough position you are in.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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While my Mom was living in the nursing home, she became extremely mad at me and thought that I had stolen a lot of money (1 million dollars) from her.   She called me and ordered me to come to the nursing home to talk with her.  By the time I got to the nursing home, she had called a good family friend several times.  After Mom and I talked and I denied everything that she was accusing me of, Mom exploded into a RAGE and screaming obscenities at me.  I had never seen her that MAD before.  It took 4 (four) nursing staff members to get her to bed after the meeting.

I noticed that Mom had called this family friend on her cellphone and that this friend had left some voice messages.  So I took Mom's cellphone home with me that night so that I could listen to the messages and then call the friend back to explain what was happening.  I forgot that I had the cellphone.  The next afternoon the Social Service Assistant (SS) called me and angrily ordered me to return my Mom's cellphone IMMEDIATELY because I was preventing her from calling her family or friends (even though Mom could use the facility's phone and she had the phone numbers of family members and this friend in her address book that was in her bedside table.)  The SS Assistant informed me that since I had taken Mom's cellphone that I was "a danger to my Mom" and that ALL of my visits had to be supervised.  Two days later the SS Assistant helped Mom call our family attorney and change her DPOA from ME to our family attorney.  I had to petition for guardianship and conservatorship of Mom.  Eventually Mom's Attorney Ad Litem decided that Mom did NOT know what she was doing when she changed her DPOA and the Attorney Ad Litem returned the DPOA to me and informed the LTC facility that my visits no longer had to be supervised. 

Your wife has already had her Mother's financial conservatorship reassigned by a judge because of her Mother's (your MIL's) complaints.  If the judge finds out that your wife is blocking her Mother's phone(s) so that she could not call or receive calls from specific friends OR is blocking the sending and receiving of letters from these same friends; then the judge might consider that action as "evidence of malfeasance" by your wife and remove her as her Mother's (your MIL's) Guardian.  The judge might also decide to remove your MIL from your home because your wife is NOT caring for the Best Interest of her Mother and even though it is more expensive, the judge might place your MIL in a LTC facility and restrict your wife's ability to visit her Mother in order to PROTECT MIL from your Wife!

Just something to think about before you and your wife decide to prohibit her Mother (your MIL) from contact via phone and letters with her friends.
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Reply to DeeAnna
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I am not certain, with this level of dementia, how Mom is making and receiving all these calls and able to use a cell phone, but apparently she is. You cannot rob her of her phone or her friends.Your wife is still the legal guardian, and the guardian works to protect rights, not to remove them. Removing friends doesn't work with teens and it won't work with elders. You say she once loved gardening; well now she loves her cell phone and complaining to her friends. It's an option. What isn't necessarily an option, after you explain Mom's condition once, is for those friends to contact YOU. Do not argue, do not explain. Tell them you are sorry but you don't have time to discuss things with them. They are not YOUR friends. You say that there is a reason that Mom cannot go into care. I cannot imagine what that would be, but it certainly does cut off at the pass many options open otherwise. It sounds as though as long as your MIL is living with you this will be the way of it. Honestly, there is no other answer to a peaceful and happy life for you both, it sounds like to me. I myself would be giving up my legal as well as my financial guardianship at this point, and moving on with my own life in my own home. Mom is already unhappy in "her" new home, anyway. Yes, this is cheaper for all of you, and were it working out it could be ideal. But it sounds as though it isn't working out.
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MiSonInLaw Jul 3, 2019
My MIL is, unfortunately, one of those people who is NEVER happy for long, ANYWHERE. She has a past history of complaining about and causing trouble for ANYONE who is her guardian and/or conservator. My wife is the THIRD to have had that position (and my MIL is now on her FOURTH conservator). We can deal with my MIL's complaints: once she gets on a roll, she will complain to the air if she doesn't have an immediate audience. It's when she gets other people involved, and they take her seriously instead of doing the right thing and just "smiling and nodding" that there is a problem. And since my MIL CAN sound quite lucid when talking to other people, she snows them completely under and they think she IS "normal". THEY, however, don't live with her and see and hear the off-beat (and sometimes hazardous!) things she does and says, like we do. Even her doctor said (and also wrote to the court) that she should not live alone.
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My MIL does this same sort of thing. Last week she said that her daughter paid $7 for an RX at the pharmacy and "That's way too much, I usually pay about $3" Today when she told the bank teller the story, the daughter paid $700 for the script! Our next stop was the pharmacy, so I asked quietly and was told . . . . .it was 27 cents.

The only way we have been able to get friends, neighbors and other family to understand that she lies/exaggerates/gets mixed up is to tell them the lies she says about them. Somehow, THAT makes the lightbulb go on.

If she hasn't told a story on the friend yet, and you can think of one - maybe it would count as a therapeutic lie. Something not outrageous, but enough to get the friend to sit back and say "Gee, if Gertie would tell that lie about ME, maybe all that she says about her daughter isn't 100% true either?"

Now, as you say, if friend has some dementia going on also, then this tactic might not be effective. But if she's all there, it's worth a try.

Best of luck, this is soooo frustrating. We are doing our best, and sometimes our loved ones makes it so doggone hard!!!
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Reply to calicokat
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Unfortunately your MIL has the "right" to call whomever she wants and to send letters to whomever she wants.  So by blocking her calls to and from this friend AND by refusing to send letters to this friend and refusing to give your MIL the letters from this friend might jeopardize your wife's status as legal guardian.  You need to talk to your attorney and ask him/her what to do.
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AlvaDeer Jul 1, 2019
I am afraid I agree with this, DeeAnna. The legal guardian works to protect the rights of the person, not to strip those rights away. It is as simple I think that the family not talking to Mom's friends. Let them speak with her and call who they wish; folks will soon get tired of fielding their complaints.
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Relax.

The court did your wife an enormous favour by relieving her of the conservatorship. Your wife need never again fear that anyone can ever suspect her of financial abuse - no matter what your MIL, her fellow coven-member, or anybody else has to say.

Here is a little exercise for you. You say: "The friend, in turn, makes the situation WORSE by telling my MIL to not participate in any activities my wife tries to get her mother involved in, and to not trust my wife at all."

And you say this just after you have commented: "...and told her that I said that she "has no rights here", which was NOT what I said at all!"

Not what you said at all. Probably, not what the friend said, either. Who is the little furry gremlin in the communication network, I wonder?! My money's on MIL, all by herself, with friend as audience and cheerleader.

Your MIL is powerless to sell the house from under you; this decision is in the hands of the conservator. True. So what need to discuss it? When your MIL starts off on one of these blusterings, let her. Don't join in.

The friend left an allegedly defamatory message on the guardian ad litem's voicemail (I think you'll find it wasn't defamatory, it was fair comment - the woman was expressing her opinion, however groundless that opinion might have been). Okay. And what did the guardian ad litem do about it? Did it result in anything except annoyance and fleeting inconvenience?

MIL can say anything she likes to anyone she likes, but she is now disconnected from the power to take action, and the friend never had any. It would indeed be unethical to restrict MIL's communication with her social circle, but actually the point is there's no need. Ignore it.

I am extremely sorry that you find yourself quartered with a woman of this sort and unable - for now, I hope - to change it. How easily can you avoid her when you're at home? Not engaging with her seems to be the answer, but I don't mean sending her to Coventry (that would be abusive), I mean detaching emotionally from the world inside her head.
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MiSonInLaw Jul 2, 2019
The two of them feed off each other. That is a big part of the problem.

I can easily avoid my MIL, as I work 50 hours a week, and she spends MOST of her time hiding in her room, usually only coming out during mealtimes. She is usually sweet when dealt with face-to-face - at least, when she deals with me (she gives my wife all sorts of grief, much of it coming down to "I'm your mother, you should be doing what **I** say!", and "You think you're so smart, but you don't know everything!"), but once she goes into her room, and gets on the phone, it's like she's an entirely different woman. Loud yammering and complaining and crocodile tears, lies and distorted versions of the truth, all seemingly calculated to try to get her friends to "rescue" her and "help her get back home".
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My problem is not a friends of moms, none of her friends from her old area ever call her,, to our dismay. But when she visits my Aunt ,, aunt has a friend who "knows everything" She is in her 70s with 7 children, who help her out. Aunt and Mom are in late 80s.. but Aunt is smart enough to cut out the bullcrap. Friend is always full of advice for both of them.. she bought a new car,, Aunt and mom need one ( Aunt is about to stop driving, mom has not had a licence in 5 years..) Mom needs to move in with Aunt... both need watching and not by each other! When we meet Aunt for the "swap" a few times a year this friend is always along. I catch her whispering to Mom,, I can only imagine! At least my Aunt says.."do I do what she says.. NO!!" But my mom is maybe not so savvy.
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I briefly read your alternative post, and have one further observation.

Your MIL particularly likes calling this friend because this friends swallows what your MIL says hook, line and sinker and provides the correct, gratifying response. It *isn't* the friend who's the problem. It's MIL. Cut MIL off from her friend and she will just look for other ways to get the same feedback, and that could make things worse.

It's very sad.

How's your wife coping?
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MiSonInLaw Jul 2, 2019
Well, my wife feels - and, believe it or not, the new conservator agrees - that it was not a good decision on behalf of the court. It actually makes it HARDER for my wife, because when she had the conservatorship, if her mother needed to have anything purchased (hygiene needs, foods specifically and exclusively for her use, etc.), she had a debit card linked to the conservator account so those things could be quickly gotten for her mother. Now she has to go through the conservator and ask for the money in some way or form.

The troublesome "friend" has also told my MIL to tell the court (just prior to the last hearing) that I should be made to leave the house. My MIL is VERY confused, due to the dementia - she told the Guardian Ad Litem and the DHHS agent that I "intimidate" her, but then in the same breath she said that having me around was like having a son again (my wife's brother, older than her by 13 years, died several years ago of cancer). My MIL is easily swayed and influenced by people who tell her what she wants to hear - and utterly ignores people who tell her what she DOESN'T want to hear (which is why she has a conservator - she fell prey to a scam artist years ago and lost tens of thousands of dollars, and STILL thinks she won the "Jamaican lottery").
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MiSLW, the last thing I'd want is for you to feel unheard. What you're going through is hell-in-Spades.

Look. You can't take your MIL's phone away. You can't sue or silence the batty old friend. You'll just have to cope with those bits.

But, so, *given* that; what changes might happen that would make life better for all three of you? Do you and your wife ever get a break?
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All I can say "and this too will pass". Her Dementia will progress to the point she will forget how to use a phone. In Moms room I had a phone on the wall that looked as much like an old one Mom had used. Just pick up the receiver and put it down. Nothing fancy. I had a long cord on it so she could sit and talk. She had forgotten how to call out. She received a call one day, i handed her the receiver and left her room. I watched her later walk to the phone and stand there trying to figure out how to hang it up. So sad.

Your wife has to stop fighting her. Her mothers brain is broken. She probably doesn't remember what she said or did the next day. Ur MIL maybe looking at your wife as a child not an adult. Even though it may not work, she needs to quietly say, yes I know your my mother but I now am an Adult caring for my own family and home so I do it my way. She also needs to tell mom the hollering has to stop or she won't acknowledge her. I actually think they become like children. As such, you tell them what is not exceptable. I used to hate it when I heard someone talking to An elderly person like a child. But visiting in LTC I saw where the residents responded better when spoke to like a child. Just simply.

You may have to start considering LTC for Mom. Caregiving wears a person down. Mom will not be near a phone in a facility and will not need a cell. If she has no money apply for Medicaid. If she does, spend it.
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tacy022 Jul 3, 2019
You may want to look at this:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/what-to-do-about-mother-in-law-lying-outsider-meddling-449237.htm?orderby=recent

She was in a facility. They uprooted her, moved her hours away up to BFE where the main excitement is bingo or looking at roadkill at the Call of the Wild Museum since I doubt she can ski. Then they used her money to buy a home for them to live in and pay rent to her. Why have an 88 year old take out a mortgage? If I was her, I'd be mad too...dementia or not. Also, they go to dinners and such, leaving her home alone. Thats just not right and I can see where her friends are concerned.

Her money was for her care and Michigan Medicaid pays for AL when funds run out.
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