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My in-laws are very independent and do not need much from us. Recently however my father-in-law has been hospitalized and will not be returning home for quite a while. My mother-in-law is getting lost,forgetting where she has put things and will even blame us for stealing things if she can not find them. This is also making my FIL very impatient to return home and may hinder his healing. We are not quite sure where to start in order to keep her safe. What can we do?

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JJ, can you enlist your MIL's doctor to suggest a visit to a geriatric neurologist who specializes in dementia evaluations? It sounds as though she's past the beginning stages if she's accusing others of stealing.

You need also to start an ongoing conversation with FIL ' s doctors about what kind of care he will need when he's released. It would seem sensible to start making a plan for them to be placed in the same facility.

As mentioned above, getting poa for both of them is a key element. It won't allow you to force them to do anything they don't want to, but a medical poa will allow the doctor's and rehab places to talk to you.
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The POA issue is vital. If FIL is still competent but MIL is in early stage dementia they may cooperate in helping you and husband get POA , will, finances etc in order so you can take care of there affairs as things progress.
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Do have Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare POA for her and your FIL? I would try to get them signed fast so you will have the authority to act on her behalf. If she refuses to sign, then it will be more difficult. You will then have to take legal action to get appointed as her guardian, assuming she is advanced enough with the dementia to be found incompetent. I would get the papers signed before she's found to be incompetent.

Once you have those, I would figure out what help your MIL needs. Obviously, she is not going to be able to be the caretaker for her husband when he comes home from the hospital. I would see who else is available. Check into having someone come into the home to help. Keep in mind that if your MIL does have dementia, it will progress and at some point, she can't be left unattended.

I think I might look into an assisted living facility that could take them both. Chances are your FIL does know about her condition, but has been covering for her.
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Contact an Assisted Living facility near by for short-term care. Tell her she is going on a vacation...
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