How can I be supportive, make sure action happens, but stay positive and respectful of boundaries?

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This is in regards to aging and declining inlaws and a husband who is scared and was in firm denial until a year ago. FIL has what may be dementia. MIL was in denial and hiding it (even normalizing weird and unhealthy behavior) until very recently.


I was raised in a family that had no healthy respect for boundaries. For my child's, spouse's, and my own safety, most of my relatives are not in our lives any more because of this. In my family of origin, how it worked was you either let people stomp on you or you bullied others to get things done.


I don't want that relationship with my husband and his parents, but so far I'm the only person who seems to realize what a serious situation they are in and who actually is trying to take action about it. So I'm very nervous about taking this on, but it seems like I don't have a choice...unless I want to turn away and let something horrible happen (BTDT—my grandma died horribly of a stress-induced stroke—never again).


The thing is I worry I will take over this too much. I don't want to take away my husband's and his parents' power to make choices for themselves (quite the opposite), and I want to make sure I take time for self care as well. Right now, they need someone to help them get over the first hurdle of denial and start to bring in outside helpers.


How can I do that without burning out from a self-induced self-reflective anxiety?


What helps you be calm, communicate well, and keep others' feelings in perspective (while still being realistic)?

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FIL had a physical and a number of other tests (including an MRI). They found nothing. I know some forms of dementia are not found on MRIs and other things can cause it (they already checked for UTIs and bloodwork—like B-levels and such).

MIL is very responsible about bills. She's always managed them even before this all went down. Maybe we need to talk with her about a POA or something like that, though? My big concern is the stress will kill her...possibly sooner than later, and that is so unnecessary.

I am not doing this alone, though. Not anymore. DH is completely on the same page now. We've been coming up with plans together this weekend.

Something, though, I can do that he can't. I get more information from his mom. She tells me so much more than she ever tells him. I don't know if it's she because feels safer talking to another woman or whether she wants to shield him since he is her child. Probably a bit of both.

I love them. I will look out for them...but not alone.
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I meant outpatient. Sorry, I am tired.

I feel we have enough information for now to know my ILs are not in a safe situation, and it can quickly escalate to a crisis if we don't get outside help soon.

We do not need to go digging in their house further. We did that a little last year already, and they *still* managed to hide things from us.

MIL has opened up, and we know enough (including details I'm not going to disclose on a forum at this time). That is a big step!

We are going to see if we can get their doctor to pay attention, and we will see if we can get MIL to understand why we need to bring in family members who live close by. Bringing up how this could negatively impact her grandchild seemed to give her pause.

I believe if we can get the doctor to cooperate, the ILs will follow through with testing and following directions (like maybe not driving)—especially FIL. He *loves* doctors.
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Husband has no siblings? My opinion here is it's husband's parents and he needs to step up. See, I hate where our culture primarily feels that the Wife is responsible in all respects. You can help him but as the Son he needs to handle his parents. The first thing you can do is have MIL put you on her bills as a contact if they aren't being paid. Check on them as much as possible. Keep track with what Dad is doing that make u think he is declining. The best thing to do is get him in for a physical. There r other reasons for a person's decline. UTI, dehydration, low potassium, and diabetes. Mom should have one too.
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"She had inpatient work done. ""She came home the same day as the surgery."

Where I live, those two statements are usually mutually exclusive.

Was she admitted to a hospital (inpatient).? Or did she have outpatient surgery?

Something doesn't seem to add up.
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I don't know how you are going to really know what is going on without a personal visit and for more than just a few hours. I'd plan on staying at least 2-3 days so you can see what is going on. Without seeing and knowing things yourself, I don't know how you or husband can get ahead of this.

It's great to get support and have supportive friends, but, I'd make sure MIL and FIL are safe. Sometimes, you have to look past your own comfort level and look out for your senior parents.

A professional assessment is a good idea, because they can determine what level of care your FIL and MIL may need, however, that is only valuable if the person taking the assessment knows the truth about the situation and is informed of their needs, challenges, abilities, etc. That's why someone who knows the truth is helpful when dealing with the doctor and evaluators. If MIL is holding back information, then the doctor and other professionals won't be able to properly recommend care or treatment.
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She had inpatient work done. She came home the same day of the surgery.

She is going to rehab. MIL and FIL are wonderful about following up with doctors over most health matters.

Hubby went up several days last year and this past November. We both have noticed pet smell (they have had pet incontinence issues). It was much better this time around. It was just in one room. It is difficult for us to get right now, because my husband has undergone some big changes at work. We'll find a way around it. It just will happen in a couple weeks versus this weekend.
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I'm still curious about who took care of FIL and the elderly grandparents while MIL was having surgery. And did she have rehab?

When was the last time one of you visited and saw what the situation was, in reality and not just via MIL's repoet, which frankly may be suspect?
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Right now I am very thankful for my friends (a couple of them have been really supportive) and the internet, too. Thank you, All, for the advice. It really helps me coordinate a plan and stick by it.
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My husband is taking this hard. It's finally really sinking in, but the stress internalizes and actually causes issues with his health. He gets respiratory problems and back pain from the stress from this. This is why I've approached it and backed off before.

In emergencies like the he has a tendency to freeze. He wants to believe his family is healthy happy, and normal.

Truthfully? I can't fault him for this? I had a similar issue with my family of origin's abusive nature. When we see horrible things happening to (or by) people we love, it's very easy to want to normalize and disregard—especially if you have seen it your whole life (like me) or it's come on gradually (as it has my FIL). I love him and want to do what I can to help as he has helped me through hell with my family, but I know I need to be mindful of myself in regards to my health and stress.

We both spoke with MIL this weekend to get a better clue about the situation. She has delusions about how we'd be able to care for FIL if she had an accident or worse. She thinks if something happens to her, we can simply call a temp agency and have someone live with FIL. She also doesn't want us to tell other family members who are closer because she doesn't want to "worry" them.

I also confirmed the injury she had was a kind that is very common in a fall (a doctor friend I spoke with pointed this out and warned me). She's telling us it's from lifting, though. Hubby doesn't believe she may be making this up since she cared for his grandfather after his fall. I am not so quick to buy that. Yes, I think it could be possible FIL hurt her—not necessarily on purpose.

They have an appointment with their doctor set up in a couple weeks. Hubby is going to talk with this person. Initially his plan was to tell them of his mother's concerns. I quickly told him, "No. You are going to tell them about *our* concerns and observations." He wants me to put dates on our list of things we noticed so that is what I will be doing tonight.

In the meantime, I may be researching help in their area more to see what resources MIL (or even we) could use. I friended a lot of family that lives near her. I haven't told them.

Hubby agreed to look into visiting a care-taker support group. I am considering helping him find a therapist. I'm seeing one myself. It was going so well I was going to stop, but this came up and she's been wonderful for advice. It may be a good idea to find someone he can talk with through this given it impacts his health.

We talk about moving much closer, but that will take a couple years and a lot can happen between now and then.
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I'd get the legal opinion from an Elder Law attorney in their jurisdiction. Make sure, it's someone who litigates in Guardianship/incompetency matters and knows what you need to prevail in court, IF it comes to that. If you aren't sure as to when to intervene, it might help to know what the court in their jurisdiction needs to see, before they think there should be intervention. An attorney can give you a check list of somethings to look for.

If your MIL is allowing a person with dementia to drive.....I'd be concerned with HER judgment and I'd want to make sure that FIL is a safe driver.

In light of your more recent post with new info, I'd also suggest the following. I'd arrange to go and stay in the house with FIL and MIL so you can see first hand what the situation is. If FIL is unmanageable, you need to know. ALSO, if MIL is in denial and not being reasonable about the care that FIL needs, then she may not be the person who can drive the train either. I'm a pretty pragmatic person. If a loved one is suffering and another loved one is not willing to allow them help, then, I'm going to be proactive. Of course, it's really your husband's responsibility. Why can't he step up? HE needs to get better informed and if the situation warrants, intervene.
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