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Hello All!


I have read so many forums and posts over the years and have posted a few times asking for help under usernames I cannot remember but you all have helped me tremendously over the years!


I am reaching out to see how you all have handled and managed to help someone who refuses to let us get them outside help or put them into a NH after we have explained many times that their needs are greater then we can take on?


Every time we mention getting in outside help, the answer is always a hard no and they get very argumentative saying they have a plan and they don’t need our help either. This clearly is not the truth as we are always getting phone calls and being put into situations we do not want to be in.


The level of care we are willing to provide and are comfortable offering is cleaning, laundry, food shopping, companionship and assisting with medical appointments. We have made it very clear that we will never help with hands on care taking needs.


We are now being put into situations of helping with toileting and other things that we do not want to do. I understand that these are parts of life and many people help with these things but this is completely out of the realm of my comfort level.


She is offended and hurt that we will not let her live with us and we have explained to her many times that it’s not personal, this is not something we can handle. Caretaking is a 24/7 job and as her health continues to decline rapidly we would like to get her the help she needs but she refuses. She wants us to drop everything and devote ourselves to her and all of her needs with open arms.


She does not have dementia as far as we know.


Any pointers on how to get a combative, stubborn elderly loved one to comply and accept they need help and we cannot provide it.


TYIA and have a blessed day!

You leave her to her own devices, and stop providing help. When an emergency occurs (and it will) and she ends up in the hospital, you work with the social workers there to get her placed.

Take a giant step back and wait for the inevitable.
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Reply to ZippyZee
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Thank you all for taking the time to respond. I should have mentioned that I am not on her beckoning call but DH has been in the past and is getting better at saying no and not offering.

When things get bad and ugly, he mainly deals with it. I am just there as support to him and offering the level of care and help I am comfortable with to her.

I have spent many years untangling her web of deceit and manipulation and no longer break or bend to her heinous requests. DH is getting better at being able to recognize what is happening and saying no but it is coming in forms of rage and anger of years of not appropriately handling or communicating expectations on both his end and his mother’s end.

I sit back and watch as an outsider with no real input and keeping my mouth shut (as I have learned is best to do with in laws) and keeping my own internal peace.

Thank you for all of your suggestions on where to turn next as I do feel bad that her health is declining rapidly and she is having difficulty taking care of herself but I do not feel bad for the bad mistakes she has made her entire life, continues to make and the levels of manipulation and narcissism she will stoop to get what she wants.

Its taken years of mindfulness to get to this point, but I am happy I am finally here. Thank you all again!
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Reply to NeedAdvice2021
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Thank you again everyone!

I am at a place of solace with the situation. I try to mind my own business for the most part of let my husband be on her beckon call if he so chooses. After years of resentment, I have learned to let it go and am grateful my immediate family does not operate in this manner. There is only so much say and leverage you have when it’s not your family. I know marriage is supposed to integrate you together as a family but let’s get real, my in laws will not receive the same amount of attention and care from me that my mother and father will. I don’t expect my husband to pitch in and help in the same degree as he does for his mother either.

You are all wonderful. Thank you for your advice from experience! I am glad to know I am not alone in this crazy, messy life.
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Reply to NeedAdvice2021
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Just read your reply. Please stop listening to all nasty and berating comments. Each and every time this happens either leave immediately or get off the phone saying you’ll talk later. Neither you or your husband deserves to be talked to like this not matter her situation. Something that actually worked with my dad when he desperately needed help in his home—we told him he had to hire someone or he’d have to move out, to some kind of assisted living. He had a sound mind, we couldn’t actually force him to do either, but somehow he believed us, and was desperate to stay in his home. He decided to hire help, which I found and put in place. He’d been beyond hesitant but when it actually happened, the helper became a cherished friend to him. I give her a lot of credit for her skill at winning him over. Sometimes it works to state without reservation that this is the way it has to be and not talk about it over and over
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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I've said this before and I'll say it again. Does she have a weapon she is holding on you or is this just a guilt cruise? I imagine the latter, and in that case, you don't have to go. I believe people are obligated to see that their parents are cared for in their old age, but they are not required to completely turn their lives upside down to do it. And nobody should ever put up with any kind of abuse, physical or verbal.
The crappy part about getting old is that you don't always get to make choices about your life. That is your mother's case. It's sad, but she will have to accept it.
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Reply to OkieGranny
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Continue to do what you are willing to do and nothing more. In fact, back off on things she is capable of doing herself but has managed to get you to do. My aunt would get mad at me for not cleaning my father's apartment. This was not the 1950s and I had a job and my own home to tend to. Plus he was perfectly capable to clean himself He just chose not to. Not my problem.

If she gets nasty, end the visit right then and there. Don't care if you are in the middle of something. Just brought the groceries in and she gets nasty....leave them for her to put away. (my aunt did that to my grandmother once)

And wait for that emergency. Tell the ER she lives alone and shouldn't be. And no you cannot take her. Let them be the bad guys.
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Frances73 Mar 1, 2021
I told my parents that I didn’t like to clean and had hired a cleaning company to do it, so why would I be willing to scrub their kitchen floor on my hands and knees! That convinced them to hire help.
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If husband is POA, is he actively using this to manage her finances? If so, can he hire someone to be there at the times that one of you is there doing other agreeable tasks (laundry, cleaning, etc)? If the person comes in with one of you, then you don't have to rely on her letting them in. Let her scream and yell. Do what you came to do. If she asks for help with bathroom anything, aide is there, if she's any good, she'll work it out!

NOTE: Medicare does sometimes pay for a limited number of hours for help with personal care, if someone is house-bound. Not much, but take what you can get! They can likely help with bathing and some toileting.

(for others, this was NOT a question about legit activation, just IS it happening? POAs CAN be activated without someone being declared incompetent - all depends on the documents. IF he's already managing her finances, he can hire aides.)

The only other real option is to present the ONLY options available to her. Your choice mom/MIL!

First, present the list, in writing, of those things you ARE willing to do:
1) cleaning
2) laundry
3) shopping
4) appts

The first 3 items should have a scheduling restraint, like weekly.
Appts happen whenever, so no real way to "schedule" those.

Then the ultimatum, ALSO in writing:

1) hire help for any other needs
2) move to AL
3) wait for emergency, state takes over, none of us have any say in how or where you live or get treated.

Give her both of these, in writing so she can't say she doesn't remember or didn't hear you. Have copies available if/when she throws them out.

Discussion can be limited to accept or not. If you do not accept the help we are offering in list #1, then you are left with 3+ choices. Hire ALL the help you need, move to AL or let the state take care of you.

(I realize limiting outside help to the times one of you would be there wouldn't be enough if she needs toileting help all day, but cross that bridge later IF you can get someone IN the door AND helping her. Once you have someone there, on a regular basis, maybe she'd get used to the person? Heavens to Murgatroyd, what if she actually likes the person!?!?

But, those should be your lines in the sand. She crosses them, all bets are off. She starts nonsense, either in person or on the phone, leave or hang up (you'll have to work on hubby with this! My daughter was 5yo when she taught this to me!!!) If you leave mid-clean, mid-laundry, mid-grocery delivery, I would leave it ALL as is at that moment (maybe put away fridge/freezer items, but the rest stays where it is at that moment.) Stay away until the next scheduled trip to clean, food shop, do laundry, but repeat the Exit, Stage Left if she starts again.

It sounds rude to hang up or walk out on someone, but if they are haranguing you/him and upsetting both of you, then it is no longer rude, it is self-preservation. Just cut her off or talk over her saying something like Sorry mom, gotta go and just hang up (don't slam it down) or leave, without slamming the door. DON'T take any calls from her. Turn off the cell phone, get out of your own house if you have a home phone, then you don't even hear it ring!

Stand tough. If she really doesn't have dementia, at some point it should sink in that she's NOT going to get her way. If it doesn't, maybe cutback on the schedule, go every 2 weeks instead of weekly.

It's good not to try to get in the middle between him and her, but DO be extra supportive of him, while he navigates these uncharted waters.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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Sounds like DH is a little afraid of mama.

We have that going on.

DH will (well, used to, we're trying a new tack, which is we don't talk to or see MIL AT ALL anymore and it's working nicely)--tell his Sis that 'we'd' be happy to do this and such for MIL. We show up to do said job and MIL at some point throws a high holy fit. Screaming, crying, slapping at me---b/c I am there in her actual HOUSE--how dare I?? But DH wanted me there for that quick trip to Home Depot for some piece of pipe or something, or to hold something while he nailed it, or just to drown out the sounds of his mother. Mostly so he could have an 'escape'.

ONCE I had to go alone and fix her sprinkle system and every time I went outside (the turn on/off valve was IN the house) she'd lock me out. I mean, I was doing her a HUGE favor, I am not a sprinkler repair person by trade! I was on the phone with DH as he guided me through fixing the problem. The sprinklers were nothing compared to his crazy mother who would lock me out and then refuse to answer the door. So DH had to call her, over and over to PLEASE open the door for me.

At first it was funny, really. But then I needed to use the bathroom and she refused to let me in. I drove 2 blocks to my sister's house to use her bathroom.

Then the job became her against me. No longer funny, or amusing. I fixed the problem, wrote her a note on the receipt and added $300 to the total and wrote "amt now due". (No, of course I didn't charge her, I was just sooooo mad.)

That was the LAST job I helped with. Slowly I backed completely out of her life in every way imaginable and DH finally did too. Without me as a buffer, he found he could not deal with her crazy.

Sad it's all on SIL now, but she insists she's fine, and I imagine she will be. MIL is kind to one person and that's SIL. Thank goodness for that.

It's OK to say no. It's hard after 40+ years of ALWAYS saying 'ok'.
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NeedAdvice2021 Mar 3, 2021
What you said about without you as buffer he couldn’t deal with her crazy hit the nail on the head! I have been her punching bag for the past 25+ years and after stepping back a few years ago, DH started to see her true colors!
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You say no.
You mean no.
Your actions support that no.

Sounds easy right?

The problems is when you say no but end up doing it anyway. Sending the message you WILL do it.

Then your LO will keep at you because *They know you will do it*.

Maybe it would help to find out what the roadblocks are?

1. Only trust you - distrust others
2. Unable to plan alternatives
3. Hate or fearful of change
4. Denial of their needs
5. Lack of insight

In my lot are a mixed bag. MIL only trusts family so warnings there. Mother hates change. Sis OK with change & trust but limited planning & lack of insight. The sum of all that is they all expect us to be at their beck & call.

This site, counselling & boundaries! Three cheers for those!

They built up my NO muscle to an effective size to be of use.

I say no.
I offer an alternative.
The consequences are theirs.
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disgustedtoo Mar 2, 2021
"You say no.
You mean no.
Your actions support that no.

Sounds easy right?

The problems is when you say no but end up doing it anyway. Sending the message you WILL do it."

Inadvertently I learned this when my kids were young. I really wasn't one to say no, then do it anyway, but it all dawned on me while grocery shopping - it is the line in the sand stuff from Looney Tunes! Say no and stick to it, otherwise, might as well just say yes.

Kids in particular will test the "lines", often. The key is to make lines you CAN stick to, and then STICK to them! It also doesn't always have to be no no no no. Sometimes yes is helpful, esp if they haven't crossed the line!

For us, we were in the second aisle. "Can we get some candy?" Typical response when mind is engaged elsewhere is "I'll think about it." Next aisle, "Can we get some candy?" Mind engages, response is "If you ask me again, the answer is NO." So, the line is drawn and firm. Do it, you get nothing. Don't do it, maybe, juuuuussst maybe....

My kids were smart enough to get it. IF they remembered when we got to checkout (where ALL that candy is on display!), they would quietly ask "Did you think about it?" Sometimes I would say yes, other times no, so it was still a crap shoot. I did NOT have to repeat the lesson. They even used it elsewhere, knowing I wouldn't cave, but they could keep the door open, a little, and maybe get something, but know full well maybe they won't!

Funny, years later I was standing behind a woman in a checkout line. She had two young'uns and a nice low candy display in front of us. Mommy, can I have this? No. Mom, can I get that? No. This went on for a few minutes until it was her turn to checkout. She promptly told them to pick out something! I had to restrain myself because I wanted to slap her across the backside of her head and say YOU'RE TEACHING THEM TO DO THIS TO YOU!!! I didn't, but I can only imagine what life was like for her in 10 years, when they'd be teens!!! OI!

With dementia at play, if it's early stages this might work, a bit. But later, all bets are off. The short term memory can't retain to learn the "game", so it doesn't really work. IF it's just an elder who's being difficult, absolutely. Yes, you are old, yes, we should cut you *some* slack, but not to the point where you are walking all over me and demanding that I do what YOU determine I should do. Helping I don't mind, being treated like unpaid help I DO mind. If these parents (InLaws) are in the latter, just older and needy group, then lines it is!

BTW, this technique can apply to most any obnoxious person (friend, relative, foe) out there who tries to keep taking whatever they can from you, time, money, patience, etc. after you've been generously helping them. Draw the line(s) and stick to them. True friends and good relatives will get it. The others will hopefully drift away, looking for an easier mark!
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The best thing to do is make a list and tape it to her refrigerator door of things you're willing to do and stick to it.

If you can't handle helping her to the bathroom then don't.

Once she sees that you aren't going to help with physical care, she will have to accept the fact when she can't manage them herself.

You can't time when you're going to need to go to the bathroom so that would mean she would need 24 7 Care and that cost lots of money like minimum $12 an hour.

Let her know she can't move in with ya'll so once she can't do for herself. Her only options are to get outside help or move in to a Retirement Center.

If she lives in her own home, she may consider hiring a Live In which you can get for about $2,000 a month plus Room and Board.

That would be 1/3 the cost of hiring 24 7 Caregivers.

The key here is to not do anything for her that is not on your comfort list because if you do it once, she'll think you'll do it again.

You can have help bars put up in the bathroom to help her and keep her safe using the shower, tub and toilet.

She could also wear an Alert necklace or watch in case of an emergency.
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