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We recently found out from MIL that FIL is indeed having memory loss and hallucinations to boot. MIL has kept this from us for a decade. We started noticing it about 9 years ago (FIL has been acting weird and off), but DH was scared to do anything aside from opening a dialog with his mom last year, and that went no where really. She briefly said he had memory issues and that she talked to his doctor, but nothing else. They live a day's drive from us.


It's good MIL opened up to us. It probably took a lot of courage for her. The thing is she doesn't want us to inform other family members who are close by even though they have been very supportive to other aging family members.


In fact, she avoids her family now most of the time because she is afraid they will notice—and this is very sad as she had been so close with them before. She told us last year and this past time around that FIL's doctor blows her off (after having a normal MRI), but she won't let DH talk to the doctor either. I've sent her some links for help, but we feel they really need outside help—not to take away their independence—but to insure whatever is causing FIL's conditions (especially if they are actually dementia-related) are addressed ASAP so they have as many options as possible to keep their independence, and as a family we don't have to make the biggest decisions during the worst emergency.


To add to the chaos, MIL has had a recent semi-serious injury. She and FIL told us two different stories about how it happened. It impacts her mobility a lot so we are worried about how she got it—as well as her safety. She said it's very difficult to clean. She can't drive on her own until she heals (this will take weeks to months) so has FIL do it. She swears they are safe, because the hallucinations are not often and mostly he has short-term memory issues. We fear that it would only take one time to cause an accident.


We want to be kind, respectful and upfront with MIL, but we know we need to help them so they are safe, getting the assistance/medication/therapy need, and FIL's condition is not swept under the rug again for another year. I have so much love and respect for MIL taking on everything by herself and I cannot imagine how scared and even embarrassed she may feel (though I wish she didn't feel too embarrassed—it's not her fault or his), but their situation has the potential to impact us immensely. My husband is an only child, and we are taking care of a young child of our own. What should we do?

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Oh my gosh, your MIL is also taking care of her own parents. Boy, she has a lot on her plate. Thank goodness other family members and neighbors are helping out. I didn't know about the pets, that is fully understandable wanting to be with them. And you and hubby trying to do logistical help for them.

Does MIL's parents live with her or are they in their own home or senior living?

Can MIL budget for an once a week cleaning service, that would be so very helpful for her. Have her try it one time to give the service a chance. That would take a huge load off her plate.

Bringing in caregivers is always a challenge especially if one's parents say "no". You can always use the "we worry about you so much and please try a caregiver for a few hours a week". My Dad welcomed caregivers and eventually found two from the Agency that he really enjoyed having them helping him. Sometimes one has to try a dozen caregivers before finding the perfect match.

The caregiver Agency I used charged $30/hour and my Dad had 3 shifts per day. That came up to over $20k per month. I know, yikes. Then Dad decided to move to senior living and his expense was cut in half per month. Dad brought with him his favorite caregiver and she worked 6 hours in the morning. Dad saved for those "rainy days", now it was pouring.
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Thank you so much for your advice and the information. I will have my husband read this thread with me.

I've asked MIL about UTIs. She said they already checked and had addressed it—as well as some bloodwork. It sounds like something else.

I fear they will not want to ever leave their house without being forced—which we want to avoid at all costs. They are very attached to their pets (most of whom are geriatric and could not be rehomed)—especially my FIL who has always been a bit more of an animal person than a people person. MIL is not only caring for the animals and FIL, but her 90+ YO parents...though since she hurt herself, it sounds like her siblings and parents' neighbor's have stepped in.D

So there's really big incentive for them not to move (aside from living in the same house nearly 50 years). I believe my MIL could actually care for herself easily. She's got all her wits about her and is much younger than my FIL (in his early 80s), but every time she gets injured or has orthopedic surgery she is almost immediately up and about caring for him and the pets when she comes home with very little time to rest and heal.

I also read somewhere that people who have memory issues do best to stay at home as long as possible. Isn't that true? Couldn't we get an inhome professional to help? 

The difficult thing is getting them to allow people coming over. MIL has been trying to do it gradually (having someone cut the lawn), but it doesn't seem like enough.

Ideas? Also should we considering informing outside family we trust? What about professionals? How do we do this in an open and honest way and how can we help address MIL's fears about it all? We want to help her in a way that is loving and non-deceiving. It took a lot for her to open up, and we don't want to hurt that trust.
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Greta, oh my gosh, the journey of dealing with elderly parents who are in denial of their situation. My parents were the same way, anyway my Mom was. My Mom was of the era where a good wife made sure her husband was healthy and safe. Heaven forbid if anyone found out, otherwise.

People hate to lose their independence. When my Dad had to stop driving, he's idea was for Mom to drive but Mom was now legally blind... Dad said no problem, he would tell her when to go, when to stop, when to turn.... ah, Dad, are you forgetting that Mom has lost most of her hearing?

Eventually your Mom-in-law will crash and burn due to the caregiving. About 40% of caregivers die leaving behind the love ones they were caring. I know this won't be easy, you might want to take MIL to visit some Independent Living complexes, maybe make an excuse you are doing this for a friend and they want MIL's opinion. These places have lovely apartments with a full kitchen, living room, bedroom and maybe a den.

It all depends on your in-law's budget as the cost could be around $5k per month. The rent usually includes 3 meals in the main dining room, weekly linen service, weekly housekeeping service. And imagine all the new friends they would meet, usually friends who has a spouse that has memory issues. Moving in sooner than later would help FIL learn his way around and to learn the Staff. Finding a place that has optional care would be best, or the complex has its only Assisted Living/Memory Care.

Oh, the hallucinations could be from an urinary tract infection... which can mimic dementia. The UTI test is easy, pee in a cup at the doctor's office. You can have this done at a urgent care. Antibiotics will cure the UTI.
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