Mother in law in assisted living: family's expectations of us to foot the bill are unrealistic. Any advice? -

Mother in law in assisted living: family's expectations of us to foot the bill are unrealistic. Any advice?


I am a somewhat newly wed to my husband of 11 months. So far our marriage has been wonderful. He's active duty and we recently found out I am pregnant. There have been some complications which have kept me from working. Mind you, I have every intention of going back to work after I recover from pregnancy. Recently, his mother has taken a fall and cannot care for herself. At 60 years old, she has a history of epilepsy and stroke (among other health conditions). This keeps her from using one side of her body. She has been on disability for years and offered to go to assisted living (but refused). With her recent fall, it has been impossible for her to care for herself. She barely could before. Meanwhile, we are states apart, and cannot be there to take care of her. We can't sign anything for her. We can't oversee much, but we help out financially where we can. When my husband was recently near his family's town (for 2 months training) the family agreed that my husband's mother needed assisted living. His mother also agreed that at some point she would as well. What a milestone! We were happy she finally understood she needed help. Within a week, the grandmother (husband's mother's mother) had picked out an assisted care facility, did not consult my husband, myself or even her daughter (my husband's mother) about the expenses. It was the best (and most expensive) the area had to offer (and that's why she chose it). Instead of waiting for Medicaid and Medicare to kick in to cover the expenses (husband's mother is on a waiting list), the grandmother and sister of my husband's mother signed her over to a room at this place and she was moved in quickly. This all happened within a week. My husband and I were confused by this. None the less, we agreed to pay $1200 for the first month, and only the first month, to cover half of the expenses. This came out of our savings. Meanwhile, we were left confused as to why this decision was made so quickly. Usually assistance takes time to set in. My husband's grandmother (his mother's mother) is still able minded and able bodied, but meanwhile expects us (newly married, baby on the way, student loans, and moved twice in one year) to pay help pay for half of these expenses. The total expense of the facility is 2000 dollars a month and we are expected to pay for 1000 of that. It's something we did not sign for and have no way to pay for regardless. We have no legal contract with the facility. Meanwhile, my husband has an older sister (also states away) that's helping out where she can, but also cannot afford the amount. The mother's side of the family doesn't ask her for her money, because they know she doesn't have it. My husband has long taken care of his mother where he can, being active duty, but he simply cannot be there. He may have had more money to spend freely while single but can no longer do this as a husband and soon to be father. His mother's side of the family places expectations on him that can no longer be met. Meanwhile, we were waiting to make our pregnancy a surprise for everyone. The plan was to wait until he returned home with me and we would call everyone with the good news. Unfortunately, my husband and I agreed to reveal this to his mother's side of the family about the pregnancy. This was in order to explain why we couldn't pay that 1000 dollars a month. Naturally, my husband's mother was delighted, however the grandmother didn't congratulate us and stated that "babies/children are not that expensive!" The grandmother tried to guilt trip my husband, threw things at him, and tried to slap him, when he would not agree to pay for something he did not sign for or conditions that were not agreed to. I, my husband, and the rest of our family (on both sides) feel the grandmother is trying to take advantage of us (specifically my husband) for something that was done in haste and without anyone's consideration. She signed the contract and it is now her responsibility. Meanwhile, the grandmother, and my husband's mother's siblings are upper middle class (with summer homes) and live close by. Although I do not know what bills they have to pay, they're not starting out in life with a new marriage and babies on the way. However, we are still expected (as a one income family) to foot the bill. And we refuse. I understand his grandmother is elderly and desperate to get help for her daughter, but doing things in haste and expecting others pay with a baby on the way is thoughtless. My husband is upset that I was not even considered in this decision making and his grandmother does not care about our family. Meanwhile his mother does not expect us to pay for a place she doesn't even want to be in. At this point in time, my husband and I have decided to make visits to his mother's side of the family short (only with this mother) for the lack of concern for our child, finances, and marriage. What a mess.



"I'm sorry, we cannot afford this." No other explanation is necessary. Repeat this statement as often as necessary.
Helpful Answer (32)
Reply to jjariz

Yup, no need to feel guilty. This is called "boundaries". It is good to set them early in your marriage.
Helpful Answer (26)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

You and your husband are absolutely right!

Grandma can foot the bill herself since she didn't bother to consult or ask anyone to help her.

I feel bad for his poor mom. It sounds like she's caught in the middle.
Helpful Answer (21)
Reply to SueC1957

Wow! Your husband has a strong back bone! He defended you both against his own grandma. He's a real man. Do make sure he knows that. Some guys would just roll over and let their mom/dad/relatives walk all over them and their families. But you picked a good strong guy to marry. 

Now, just be firm and don't waiver. You are in the right.

Congratulations on your soon to come baby. Enjoy your pregnancy. It will only last a few more months. Once it's over, you probably will miss the baby kicking in your stomach.
Helpful Answer (21)
Reply to polarbear

GM is a bully - I'm glad you and your husband are learning how to set boundaries.
Helpful Answer (19)
Reply to Kimber166

Hi Frustrated (and I see what an appropriate name you chose!). Yes, what a mess! But it isn't one that YOU created, nor one you should feel guilty about not being able to clean up. One approach might be to formulate a thoughtful well written letter and send it to the appropriate folks --- certainly hubby's mother and grandmother. NO Guilt, just a clear, thanks but no thanks, we can't help with this ongoing VERY expensive choice. Since you are currently at home (and if you even want to do this) you might present the alternative of making calls to identify a less expensive option; research medicaid rules or things that you can do with a phone in your hand. Some folks are SO-o very clueless about choosing care places and the need for (YOU) to plan for the future. At your stage of life, I'm impressed that you were able/willing to come up with the $1200.
Recently, a family member was heading towards permanent long term care in a SNF. The adult daughters contacted me and asked for direction. One think I told them was NOT to sign anything ---They touted that they were going to pay for it! I told them SNFs in our area ran $12,000/month and they almost had heart failure! I suggested they put anything they were willing to help with in a separate account under their name and it would then be available to their mom at a later date. The Dad passed away before entering a SNF so it became a moot point. Feel VERY fortunate that you weren't in the area to sign anything. Drop the guilt Grandma made a HUGE mistake and the solution will be to move her daughter to a more affordable place AND to apply for medicaid. Let us know how this all works out.
Helpful Answer (15)
Reply to geewiz

You have no obligation to pay for something of which you had no part in making a decision. And that's the critical issue - you're not legally obligated (unless the state in which your MIL lives initiates a filial obligation action).

GM can't make decisions and impose consequences of payment on others, especially when those others were consulted. This should have been a family decision, or GM and the one family member who was part of the decision should accept responsibility themselves and not impose on any others in the family.

I'm wondering if GM is a domineering woman, regardless of this incident, and expects the family to "tow the line" when she makes a decision. I have the impression she dominates her daughter (your MIL?) and controls her life.

Stand your ground, advise GM if you have to that you weren't a party to the decision and can't afford to contribute to HER choice of facilities. Expect to be chastised if not criticized if not other action as she learns that she's not the decision maker for the rest of the family.
Helpful Answer (15)
Reply to GardenArtist

I’m pleased you and your husband are presenting a strong united front.
For extended family to expect $1K monthly from a newlywed & newly expecting couple is just wrong.
You should stick to planning for your impending addition & stand your ground. This should be a Happy Time for you & husband right now.
Helpful Answer (15)
Reply to Shane1124

Assisted Living does not accept they are private pay. You said she was on SSI disability so she does have some income. That should be put towards her expenses. But I agree that you are under no obligation and sticking to your boundaries are critical. No one can manipulate you unless you allow it. Get the book titled "Learning to Love Difficult Parents" by PAUL Chavetz, PhD. He’s a psychologist whose practice centers on this issue. It is so helpful and valuable. Thin book, fast read and full of gems. On Amazon.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Harpcat

Tell her - she signed her in, she signed the papers - she can also foot the bill.

Don't be 'guilted' into something you had no part of.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to RayLinStephens

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