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My in-laws, in their 80s, live in a rural area with no family near by. Their children are estranged from their parents and each other. Dad's an abusive alcoholic and Mom's an enabler.


His father has physical issues and needs help getting around. His mother seems to be failing mentally - she somehow cancelled their phone service a few months ago, leaving them truly isolated. They insist they will age in place, but they refuse to hire help or to modify their house.


During our most recent visit, my MIL told my husband that she can't manage on her own and she plans to move in with us when her husband passes. I wasn't there, so I don't know if she meant she wants to move to our town or if she thinks she's going to live in our home. The messed up part is that there's no reason to think her husband won't outlive her. She already clearly cannot cope and knows this, but she won't do anything her husband doesn't want to.


This has been weighing on me for weeks. Part of it is that I wound up caring for my own abusive parent at the end of life not too long ago. It just makes me mad that parents can treat you like crap, but then they expect you to just drop everything in your life to deal with their problems because they couldn't be bothered to do it themselves.

The alternative that your husband is going to want to have in his head in order to say NO is this: If his mother comes to your town, you will say no and she will be forced to live in a medicare funded assisted living in a place where she knows no one. Hubby will need to find some funds to pay for those first months until she qualifies as a resident of your state. And if she moves in to your house, he will need to pay for you a nice house instead of his mom's nursing home.

If she knows the answer is NO, he can be involved in the planning of her selecting a medicare nursing home in her home state. If he does not want to have anything to do with her, then the state can be her guardian. It all works out if she stays out of your house.
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Reply to surprise
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It's a united 'no' to her moving in with us, but I have no idea what he said to her at the time. I think he was too shocked to say anything at all. He doesn't even want her to move to our town and had assumed she'd want to move near one of her daughters to be by grandkids. He's the only one of the kids that visits or calls and was looking forward to it being someone else's turn for a while.

I don't have a separate relationship with them i.e. he talks to them on the phone, not me, so I just have to hope that he passes along the message that our house is not an option. At a separate point during the visit she was talking to me about the senior apartment her own mother had, so I'm hoping that's what she wants herself. Neither of his parents took on any responsibility for caring for their own parents, interestingly.

I know that I have to just back right away from this situation and not take it on (or the worrying about what will happen). Like golden said, a crisis will likely force their hand at some point. They will wind up having fewer options than they would if they planned ahead, but that's the route they want to take.
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Reply to faranlee
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Yes - my husband didn't really want his parents to live with us. He just didn't have the strength to tell them no and sort of avoided the conversation - which left them assuming we had agreed to sell our house and move in with them in a bigger, multi-generational house. When they asked me about getting our house on the market, I was the one who told them we weren't doing this.

Yes - they were very angry that we said "NO" to living together - but the situation was even uglier due to my husband waffling for a couple of months letting them talk and plan as if this were really going to happen.

They are still extraordinarily angry and often try to guilt trip us.

I can see us revisiting this fight if my FIL passes away first. My MIL is from another country, has always had someone take care of her, and will likely expect to live with us. My husband is going to feel sorry for her and feel guilty. I will be the one saying "NO" and bear the brunt from family - especially the family overseas because I'm abandoning the poor old widow. BUT - no way, no how could I live with her. NO there will not be a "let's try it and see if it works out" because we know once the little old widow is here - there is no turfing her out and my husband would not have the strength.

Say NO now. Get it out in the air.
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Reply to Kimber166
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Kimber166,
I remember you went through some really tough talks with your husband regarding care for his parents and how his parents expected you to step up. I was really mad as I read and found myself rooting and cheering for you as you succeeded in convincing your husband to stand up to his parents.

You should post a link to that thread here or send it to faralee. I think it will be beneficial for her to read.
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Reply to polarbear
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They can EXPECT all they want - it doesn't mean that you have to take her in. I would have the chat with your husband now so that he can help her start looking at alternatives - assisted living etc.
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Reply to Kimber166
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Hi faranlee. What a distressing situation. You have already been bitten once and now you are, reasonably, afraid of been bitten twice, What is your husband's take on this? His parents will eventually need help. It would be best if the two of you could discuss this and come up with some boundaries that work for both of you. Considering their attitudes it will likely be a health crisis that brings the need for change. If you really think they are in danger, you can ask the police to do a wellness check. or call APS and say they are vulnerable seniors. You could visit your local Agency for Aging and ask for ideas. Unfortunately this is not an unusual situation.

"It just makes me mad that parents can treat you like crap, but then they expect you to just drop everything in your life to deal with their problems because they couldn't be bothered to do it themselves." I totally agree and understand. (((((hugs))))
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Reply to golden23
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Thank you, I need to print that and frame it. It's not my responsibility and I need to stop acting and thinking like it is.
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Reply to faranlee
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No one can use you if you don’t let yourself be used. Make it clear to everyone who thinks MIL will be moving in with you that this is NOT going to be the case.

It is not your responsibility to figure out, provide or pay for care for your in-laws. There is a family,albeit a toxic one. It’s their responsibility, not your’s to make a plan. Step back, don't get involved and don’t participate in any plans or decisions unless those plans involve you directly. And then put your foot down.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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