Help with stubborn father-in-law. We would be happy to do the work to help mom move to assisted living and give him a break, but he won't let us.


About 2 years ago my mother-in-law had a stroke. Fairly minor, but she needs some help and her short term memory is sketchy. She volunteered (and still does from time to time) at a senior center and they love her. They would love to have her living there. The roadblock in my father-in-law. He's basically mourning his still living wife. My husband, his brother and myself have offered help, given him resources to talk to, web sites to go to and he does nothing. Can't even get him to do a simple will. He's overwhelmed, lost, angry and has largely given up. He has even said he is not cut out to be a caregiver. We would be happy to do a lot of the work for him - filling out online forms, making phone calls - to get her into assisted living and give him a break, but he won't let us. Won't give us their financial info that would be needed. He's otherwise healthy and perfectly able to function. And I don't mean to paint him as a villain in this situation. Has anyone else run into this? What can we do? We want to get help for both of them without destroying the family. Any ideas? Suggestions?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing


IDK if he has enough money but those who do not fear losing the S.S. of the one who may go to a home .. just sayin .
Helpful Answer (0)

I and my daughter have the opposite problem. My 88 year old father doesn’t want to have to lift a finger as we’ve dealt with my mom’s depression and dementia. I have to do everything and I’m in poor health myself. We’ve finally gotten a beautiful assisted living facility to accept mom and I had to go home (150 miles away) because of illness. Tomorrow she’s to be admitted and he’s called repeatedly for me or my daughter (who works) come up just to get her things together to go. It’s just incredibly infuriating.
Helpful Answer (0)

You need to get your mother's family doctor onside.
Make sure that getting your mother into the centre is what she really wants, then ask your doctor to find medical reasons for her to go there. First of all every day, then as a resident (assuming there is a room for her). So the doctor explains to your father that his wife's condition will get steadily worse if he refuses her this care.

Sad truth is that parents rarely listen to their kids offering good advice, but many of that generation will spring to obey a doctor.
Helpful Answer (3)

As he will age, why don't the two of them go to the AL together? It's quite doubtful that he'll be able to rally to look at any computer link, let alone know what one is. He is angry because his life is changing dramatically.
Helpful Answer (0)

I can think of a couple of possible approaches here, first possibility is someone other than his kids coming in to asses and help. This could be suggested by a family doctor he trusts even. There are services in most areas now I think for elders specifically and given your MIL stroke an easy in but once my mom realized they were "free" and could help guide us to other "free" services or help and that while they are free to her now she has really paid for them through taxes etc during her life she felt more inclined to take advantage. But there are various avenues for getting someone outside of the family who is an "expert" in services to talk to them. The other outsider possibility to start approaching some of this is a family attorney if there is one. As frustrating as it feels when you are bending over backwards to help sometimes our parents just hear it differently from someone outside of the family or worse act like they mistrust your motives for "pushing" these things on them especially when it comes to finances.

The other option and maybe you should work them both, is to talk about what someone else did or what happened to someone else, something you heard on Oprah or the news So when presenting an idea for instance sending Mom to adult day care instead of making the suggestion directly you could say, "a woman I work with just found this place for her mom, who has X, to go to a few days a week. It sounds great, I guess her mom loves it and is really happy and it gives Ann time to get her own stuff done too..." I find as well with my mom that new big ideas need to be presented several times in various way and preferably by various people.

That brings me to my other suggestion, might you get him to take her to her Senior Center once or twice a week even to get warmed up to it? She took such pleasure and pride out of volunteering there and probably knows people there so it might be really helpful for her both mentally and physically. So it's less about what's easier for him or even someone else being better at caring for her and more about actually caring for her. A little at a time it might help him adjust to letting go and living life outside of her. I'm not sure if the center you were talking about is a day thing where seniors go to hang out with each other and take classes etc or more of a residence. I am suggesting the part time center where he could even go with her some of the time and then perhaps work him into how a living situation might work. Sometimes you do just need to do some things and ask for forgiveness instead of permission but slowly a little at a time and try to choose things that wont be as confrontational at first, things that don't make him feel like he's loosing control or loosing his way of life. Your right he is overwhelmed, overwhelmed and frozen in place trying to keep his head above water and hold on to life as he knows it. If you can find ways to just do things that don't feel as threatening to him as asking to delve into finances and move his wife away from him, you probably can help him find a way out from under his pile. Maybe it's cleaning the kitchen or doing something for your MIL that she likes or always did. Like someone said making dinner. Maybe your husband, his son or sons can show up and do work on the house or take him to do something they used to do together while you stay with your MIL just to get things started. Say you are doing it for you not to take care of him. Lot's of changes are happening and probably need to happen here, try not to ask or force him to do them all at once. I have full confidence you will all work through this, you obviously love them a lot and want to as evidenced by you being here asking and that is more than half the battle. The rest is PIA logistics and there will be some hair pulling, just remember to tap into that place of love and understanding when you feel like your reaching your limit. Tag team each other, all of you of that next generation and give each other respite and a place to vent.
Helpful Answer (1)

I absolutely refused to entertain the thought of a facility for my husband, even though I found myself sitting on the couch wrapped in blankets more and more often. Recently my husband's day care offered to move a bed for me into his room if I choose the facility for long term care. Knowing I could stay with him as much as I want has made me start to actually consider...
Helpful Answer (3)

The age he is probably has bad ideas about what 'those places' are like - take him to see them - she volunteers not him so he probably has no clue how nice they are - my mom thought they were warehouses for those whose families didn't care enough about them & that is what most 80 & 90 year old think

Also he is of an age 'for better or worse' meant he should shoulder the responsibility of her care personally - can you get a dr/clergy to talk to him about sometimes true care means letting others help? - my surgeon father was caretaker of mom at 89 & his hands shook so bad he couldn't give her insulin any more - my sister & I intervened when it was obvious that he should be in hospital & that was best thing we could do for them both
Helpful Answer (2)

The help you're offering is not help. Your FIL is not stubborn - he is ill. He is showing signs of Alzheimers. He cannot do research on the computer so your links might as well be rocks.

You want to help him? Get him to his doctor to have the needed tests ordered.

A friend of mine relates a story. Her husband told his wife (her) that his wife was dead.

Your FIL needs help and a lot of love.
Helpful Answer (1)

Sal, I've been through this ...been there, done that, and still doing it. If it's any consolation to put it into perspective, something happened on the first Econ exam I took. My mind was literally a massive traffic jam; no thoughts could remain for more than a second, and I was unable to think clearly until I could redirect my thoughts to nature settings and finally clear the fog from my brain.

That's a much different situation, but over the years I've tried to figure out how and why this happens, and what to do when it does.

I now call it my "Superconducting Super Collider" problem. I wasn't searching for the Higgs Bosun, just trying to keep my thoughts from stumbling and bombarding each other to the point that I could think clearly. A friend described it as "meeting myself coming and going."

It's sometimes like those massive grab all fights people get into on Black Friday, when shoppers are literally bumping into and stumbling all over each other to get cheap consumer goods. Mass chaos.

It's happened a lot more since I've become a caregiver. There are times when it's as if all my thoughts have ganged up on each and are staging a massive riot in my brain.

When that happens, I have to "chill out" - read a good engrossing novel, read gardening magazines, visit my material stash and think about what I'd like to sew if I had the time - just something relaxing and redirecting my thoughts. Sounds simple, but it's not always easy to do, especially in caregiving.

I think your FIL is facing a similar collision of caregiving thoughts - too much going on, too many issues, uncertainties and more. It is in fact overwhelming. And being a man, he may realize he needs assistance but denies it because that's how some men (and women) are. It's an admission of not being in control of your life, of your world.

So try a different, back door entry. I've learned not to ask or suggest, but to propose, sometimes get concurrence, then do it.

This isn't criticism, but suggesting that FIL do some research, via websites or other routes, creates too many options, too many choices. Narrow them down for him; keep it simple and just do the work for him, make a few decisions (such as a facility, after the family checks it out), and casually raise the issue with him, after a nice quiet relaxing session of listening to music, walking, or just visiting. Create the moment first, and be prepared to stop at a moment's notice and shift to an issue less complex or threatening.

Making a decision on an AL facility is a major life changing event. What decisions can you help make that are pleasurable, and at a much more simple level? I.e., would he like to go out for a meal? Would he like to take a color tour? And don't discuss the subject again until you can sense that he's becoming more comfortable considering options.

And start small. What is something that you could easily step in and do? Are you getting groceries, making meals? Is he having a problem with that? If so, suggest that you would like to be involved (don't say you want to "help") and ask if he would mind if you did some shopping or brought some meals. Something simple to start with, then gradually increase and expand your involvement to get up to bill management, and work up to financial and estate planning.

Know when to stop and back away; recognize when he's getting overwhelmed. And when he is, change the subject; again, go for a walk, color tour, put on one of his favorite CDs or DVDs, and create a down time.

It's taken me a long time to figure all this out; probably other caregivers moved faster than I did in recognizing what was happening. But I hope my experience helps you put things in perspective, and I wish you all the luck and success you can achieve.
Helpful Answer (6)

Salgeogal, this is a tough situation as your Father-in-law doesn't want the love of his life to be living elsewhere, without him, and that is understandable.

Now, if you could find a place where both he and his wife can live together, that might help. Maybe an Independent Living facility that has "assisted living" options. Such places had 24 nurses, weekly housekeeping, weekly linen service, meals in the dining room, etc. And the apartments are usually quite roomy. Such places some times have physically therapy which would help Mom-in-law.

Ah yes, pulling of teeth to get financial information. Many elders refuse to let their grown children know about even one penny. If the in-laws own a house that has a lot of equity, that equity could be used to help pay for Independent Living. My Dad was paying around $5k per month, which isn't cheap but the benefits were well worth the cost.

Or would Father-in-law allow a caregiver to come into the house to help for a few hours per day? Many elders don't like strangers in their home, so that may be an issue. The cost from a professional Agency could run around $30/hour for the care of one person.

If your in-laws don't have a Will chances are they don't have a Power of Attorney, both of which are really important. I got my parents to update their Wills by using a "theraputic fibs" by telling my Dad that his Will is out of date and half of the money would go to the State. Boy, that got Dad to get not only the Wills but the POA's updated very quickly.
Helpful Answer (9)

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.