My MiL suffers from a rare genetic disorder that impairs her mobility and cognitive functions (think Parkinson's plus Alzheimer's), the degree of damage for either depends on the individual. She walks with chorea - constant movement - but we're more afraid for her cognitive decline: she can't or won't make financial decisions in her best interest. It's putting an enormous strain on my BiL's family, as she is bouncing around between them and her house because my husband and I are 300 miles away. I know this isn't an uncommon experience, but we're feeling so lost. Every time my husband and BiL are in a room with her, they get beat down and despair within an hour.

Some details:
- MiL's son has access to her bank account. He "lives with her," which really means he shares a space with her. He's not there all the time and the most he's done for her is drive her to the hospital once. When asked about her home, she says she lives with her son, even though he doesn't take care of her.
- BiL is using MiL's money for his own purchases. He occasionally goes to the grocery store, but comparatively speaking the money he uses is mostly for himself.
- MiL allows him to steal from her under the guise of "he'll pay her back." We estimate he's stolen thousands of dollars from her since their dad died a year and a half ago. When we tell her that he is definitely not going to pay her back, she won't hear anything of it.
- Because nobody has kept up with her bank accounts, it's fallen on everybody's shoulders to pay for her medication, food, groceries, etc., which nobody can do for very long. This has been a massive burden on my in-law's family.
- She also can't or won't make decisions in her best physical interest: recently she has been in and out of the hospital because of a spat of diarrhea. It has been a continuous cycle of: her coming home -> her not drinking water because going to the bathroom takes too long for her -> her being constipated because she won't drink water -> taking a stool softener for the medication -> having diarrhea and going to the hospital for dehydration. She's been in and out of the hospital for months because of this.
- She cannot be reasoned with on any of the previous points. I could wave the transactions until I'm blue in the face and it wouldn't matter. If somebody points out that they're glad she's drinking something, she'll put the glass down and refuse to drink more.
- My husband and I live three hundred miles away, in a second-story, two bedroom apartment, in a city a fraction of the size of the one she's currently in. I'm terrified of her coming down here to stay with us because 1) the recent spate of hospital visits means there is a pretty good chance if she were to come to us, she would end up in the hospital, in another state; 2) us living in a second-floor apartment terrifies me when an elderly person is coming to stay with us; 3) our city is relatively small, with a fraction of the options of the city she's currently living in - what little help she has up there would be almost nil here; and 4) there is no telling what her hospital stays will lead to, and whether she would stay with us permanently. Her entire family lives within two hours of her, and even if they're unhelpful at all, she still wants to be near them.

I don't know what to do. Every time my husband and BiL are in a room with her, any kind of talk about assisted living devolves within an hour. She can't take care of herself and she can't admit that. She has a home, but the boys are terrified of any kind of healthcare worker seeing it and calling DFACS because it's in such a state of disrepair.

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Do not bring her to your apartment. You know it is not a good idea so just do not do it.

Sound like a serious bunch of issues going on here. What a mess! I would withdraw financial support. Does anyone have DPOA? Has she been deemed incompetent?

Sounds like she very much needs to be in a facility. No one is going to want to deal with those poop issues and being in and out of the hospital it not a great plan.

If the authorities have to be called in and deem that her living arrangements are unsafe, so be it. There is only so much you and your hubby can do. Sometimes you have to let the situation come to a crisis so that a much better future for all can begin.

I know this hard and I'm sorry your family is dealing with this. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (1)

Maybe calling APS would be your best bet to get her the help she needs. Don't be afraid to let them know about your brother stealing funds from her and other family members are subsidizing her needs like food and medication due to it. Basically telling them about financial abuse. If she were living alone, I would say let her fail. She might very well need care in a professional care in a facility. She might not want it, you might not want it but what someone needs is not always going to be what they want.
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Swampwitch, what is the solution that your husband and his family wants? That she is well-cared for in her home? To stop having to fund her expenses? To stop the son from robbing from her?

If the answer is that they don't want her in a NH, then "someone" in the family will need to be her daily caregiver. "Someone" in the family will need to continue to fund her expenses (and at only 67 this can go on for quite a while and keeping increasing as her costs go up and up). "Someone" in the family will need to deal with the robber brother. "Someone" will have to clean her house... do you get where this is going?

In no way should anyone in that family be funding her expenses, especially as her son is allegedly borrowing/robbing from her. This needs to stop immediately. It is unsustainable. If she has not ever assigned anyone as durable PoA, this should happen first. If she has already been formally diagnosed with dementia without a PoA, then "someone" is going to have to pursue guardianship to get control in order to act in her own best interests. This needs to happen through the courts and will take time, effort and money.

I recommend that the family meet (via phone is ok) and including the brother who "lives" with her to discuss family concerns. This meeting must have a 1 designated person to lead it and a brief agenda with a goal. The meeting shouldn't end without everyone agreeing on next steps to solve whatever they see as the main problem. The live-in brother may freak out if he is asked to provide an information about her bank balances, etc. The leader of the meeting keeps everyone calm and not going off on tangents or attacking anyone. The MIL is not included in this meeting because she can no longer afford to live as she is or seemingly make good judgements. The meeting, if it doesn't totally devolve into emotional pandemonium, should end with an agreement on assigned tasks for each person (like researching NHs, getting info from brother, etc) and the next meeting date. My sense is that the live-in brother will stop communicating and attempt to isolate your MIL so he can continue to control things and financially abuse her. In this instance the family may need to agree on pursuing guardianship of her.

Personally I would plan a 1-week unannounced trip to visit her and stay in the house. This will help fact-gathering immensely and give your husband (hopefully) the ability to catch live-in brother off guard and ask to see bank statements, see living conditions, TAKE PICTURES, etc. If no family member is willing to subsidize and house the mom, the mom needs to apply for Medicaid and live in a NH. They are nicer nowadays and she will be cared for, get proper medical attention and have some healthier social interaction. I wish you and your family much success in helping her, even if she isn't able or willing to help herself.
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