My mother in law is obese, depressed and will no longer leave her house. She cannot be caring for herself well, as she can barely walk. She has not made any plans for care, we have given her information and she has done nothing, as she says she is poor and there are no options. What are our options? As I am worried for her well being.

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It may be helpful to explain to her how things will go if she decides not to make decisions. I found this helpful with my stepFIL who was in denial about his Parkinson's, financial situation and caregiving options (not us!). I explained that if he didn't give PoA to someone then he would become a ward of the county and he'd have no say in what happened to him after that point, and we'd have no say either. He refused to apply for Medicaid and wouldn't assign a PoA. Guess what? He became a ward of the county and a Medicaid recipient. He didn't like it but I didn't feel bad because I had informed him in advance. Therefore, he OWNED what happened to him. Wishing you peace as you navigate this challenge!
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I hope everything can work smoothly for you. There are really no perfect solutions because the wretched truth is that what we all want is to be young and strong again. I hope you can find some help to get your mother in law moving in a good direction. It will continue to be difficult because your MIL's health is unlikely to return to what it was 10 or 20 years ago. However, if you can get into a place where she takes some of the responsibility for her own care, or finds an agency to assist her in some of those decisions it will be much easier for you to find small ways in which you can make her life better without taking on what seems like the weight of the world. Let us know how it works out, I love to hear of any progress in these tough situations.
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Thank you for all your helpful answers. You gave me some direction.
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Yes, that was a good post and oh so true.

You may what to call APS or Office of Aging and ask if they could do an evaluation on MIL. They maybe able to offer her services.

You can't do for someone who won't do for themselves.

Your MIL probably needs an evaluation. She could be diabetic or have a thyroid problem.

You have got to tell her that you can't help her if she doesn't help herself. I am big on if u ask me for help then u make it easy for me.
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Geaton777 Nov 2019
Yes to "could be diabetic". Also, I don't have enough experience with clinical depression, but is that the one area that the family should try to get her help, like with medications or therapy? It's not like non-clinical depression...
Littleorchid - what a well-thought out and terrific answer.
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I agree with LittleOrchid. Your MIL has the ability to change her life and her situation by losing weight and allowing herself to become more mobile, thereby warding off dire complications. She chooses not to. If you go in and 'save her from herself', YOU become the slave, enabling her to continue overeating and lying around doing nothing, carrying on the pity party at YOUR expense.

What will likely happen is she will fall and hurt herself one of these days due to her limited mobility issues. She will be hospitalized as a result; the hospitalist will release her to Rehab where she may or may not make the required 'progress' that Medicare requires in order to continue paying the rates. If she doesn't make progress and is unable to care for herself independently, Rehab will refuse to release her back to independent living and she will be required to stay in Long Term Care. You will then apply for Medicaid since she is 'poor' and go from there.

When a person refuses to take responsibility for themselves, decisions are often made FOR them that they might not find so attractive. It is what it is.

Best of luck.
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I am in complete sympathy with your frustration. My own mother has a long history of stubbornly refusing both her increasing limitations and reasonable suggestions for help. What I am about to suggest will sound cruel, but I wish we had heard and taken this advice 20 years ago: do nothing. This will force her to come to a decision herself. If you start doing her housework, fixing her meals, suggesting outings which you will fund, you are enabling her to enslave you to guessing how to please her. It sounds like you have provided her with ample information for making a decision. Give it a few weeks or a month. Then ask her again what her decision is. Let her know that if she will not make a decision about her care that you (and your sibs, if applicable) will call a social worker who will work toward a solution toward her. If she has few or no resources, and requires care then the social worker can arrange a medicaid bed in a care facility.

My mom was still in her 70's when my older sister started "helping" her because Mom seemed to need a little help and would not do anything about it. My older sister is now 70 and the "helping" that she started 20 years ago has become a terrible burden. My sister is asking the rest of us to take on some of the chores that she has accumulated over the years. None of us can do more. Mom has manipulated each of us to do much more caretaking than any of us can physically or financially handle. Guess what? She still stubbornly refuses to even contemplate making decisions for her own care. She wants her daughters to show up every day and do whatever needs doing without any planning.

It was our mistake to start the guesswork of providing "help" that seemed required without any key planning. We should have set that expectation to begin with that she would need to have plans and that we would see how we might help, but that the overall plan for her care would need to be hers--or that of a trained social worker who understands what resources may be available. We now need to back out of this unhealthy relationship with our 96 yo mother and it will be much more difficult and confusing for her than if we had insisted that Mom take an active role in planning for her own future in the beginning.
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againx100 Nov 2019
Ugh, I made that same mistake. Doing too much for my mom created a monster. She loves to be waited on. So not happening anymore. Someone here suggested that maybe I was enabling her and that was a real rude awakening. Because it was all too true. This mistake started 6 or 7 years ago with going to her house to clean out the attic, to do the hard things, spending untold weekends (me, hubby and kids) to do more and more and then finally move them into my house.

I WISH I had been more savvy. I WISH I had pushed them to do the things they needed to do to be able to better take care of themselves instead of me offering to do and do and do. I still have not forgiven myself for being so ignorant. This revelation is only a couple of months old so I am still coming to terms with it. I'm getting there but it's still a bitter pill to swallow.

Sometimes we have to let them suffer the consequences of their own bad decisions. Or lack of doing anything that lets them decline and decline and decline to the point where they can no longer take care of themselves.

I wish I had left the decisions to my parents who were quite able to make them. I wish I had suggested different things. Like finding out WHY their mobility was soooo poor. I wish I had pushed for knee replacements and things like that instead of doing for them what they could no longer do for themselves. So many mistakes, on my end.

OK, done whining now.
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