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My MIL is 95, has CHF, kidney failure, incontinence, AFib and her doctor recently ordered her to assisted living. Her son (my husband) who is her only child looked a long time and found a good place for her (a residential home healthcare assisted living place) but her room there is semi-private. She has a narcissist personality and always has had her way. Putting her in assisted living is first time we had to tell her "no" because she did not want to go. She is angry and cursing and pitting my son (her grandson) and her niece against us by working their emotions.


She is an extrovert and still has most of her mental abilities except for no common sense or ability to make an executive decision. She likes to talk to people and we tried to find the best place we could that had 2-3 other people besides the caregivers who she could talk to. She does not like that she is in a semi-private room (although that is all she can afford) and says others look like they're dying. She is crying to her niece in Louisiana and calling and crying to her grandson that she wants out and asking that they come get her. She hates her son and me for putting her in assisted living. She has always been a dominating and aggressive woman but she is now mean, vindictive and manipulative. When her grandson came to visit and take her to lunch, she used that time for him to take her to the hospital (saying her ankles were swollen) and he did not knowing what she was up to. This is about the 6th time she has been in the hospital for same issue in the last 2 years and been told she did not necessarily need to go to the hospital. She used that as an excuse with my grandson to get out of the assisted living home and go to the hospital where she told the nurses and doctors that she was not being treated well by her son and daughter in law and the assisted living home where she has only been for 1 week. Accordingly, we had a social worker and doctor separately take us aside in the emergency room to question our motives and find out if we or the assisted living home was abusing her or treating her badly. I've never felt so hurt or insulted in my life.


After each questioning, they realized she was using everyone and overreacting to the situation. However, while she was there in ER, they found her potassium and electrolyte levels needed to be balanced so they will be working on that until they release her tomorrow. My son understands our position but is making us feel guilty because he thinks she should be in a place where someone can converse with her. My MIL has not given it anytime to talk to anyone. Apparently, everyday she just stays in her room when she could have been out and mingling and talking to the others during activity time. Her niece called us crying saying my MIL called her saying she was in a place with dying people and she wanted to come and talk to her and take her away if possible! My MIL, whether she admits it or not, and whether she knowingly is doing it or not, is creating friction between us and our son and between us and her niece. I understand it is a hard thing to adjust to especially when she has always had her way, but my thought is that she should understand the position we are in, that we're doing our best and finding the best place possible, and attempt to take this new phase in her life with a little more grace or acceptance.


She lies, telling us one thing and others another thing and seems to want to conspire against us. What can my husband and I do? If she is so angry as to somehow get herself out of the assisted living place, do we have a right to throw up our hands and have someone else take over? Any other suggestions? Help!

Maybe because I miss my own mom but I find I often want to take up a bit for spicy elders.
From what I’m reading here it sounds like your MIL is unhappy because she has to do something she doesn’t want to do. I don’t blame her for being angry. It royally sucks to lose ones ability to manage their own life. And many people make poor financial decisions. Not just the elderly.

If she’s been managing her own life until 95 she’s done a great job. She is 95 after all. I suppose there was a reason she couldn’t have someone help her with her pills in the evening. Most lasix users need to have it taken by 2 pm. to prevent getting up all night. You will probably find that she will fall wherever she lives. The poopy pants I don’t have an answer for but I’ll be surprised if they get changed more frequently at the ALF.

But that doesn’t mean you should do a thing beyond what you have done. Relax. What was that you said about grace and acceptance. I assume you are better able to manage that than she is at this point.

If the grandson (your son) takes her out, it should be on him. Ditto the niece. If they want to look for a better place. Get busy. Did they want her to stay in the independent living?

I’m glad she got the medical care she needed. Potassium being off can kill her. It’s serious so it needed to be seen to. When was her medical work done last? When was it scheduled to be done? CHF must be managed regularly.

Not many hospitals will admit without a reason, although at 95 they probably can justify it to Medicare and find reasons.

Also, I don’t blame you for
being upset that the medical staff had to question you but realize that is their job they are doing. There ARE old people being mistreated. You can’t take it personal. That’s hard. But you can’t have it both ways. If she’s mentally ill. She will act out. If she’s not, she can live where she wants. A doctor signing a letter saying she should live in an ALF is not quiet the same as saying she is incompetent...or is it? I don’t know.

As much as you don’t care for her manipulation, she obviously is important to her grandson and her niece. We don’t always arrive at the same understanding at the same time. Each person has to handle things as they see fit or the law compels them.

Believe me, we can all sympathize with how difficult it is to make the best decision for our loved ones and I’m sure you have done more than your part for a long time.
DILs often do.

Truly I’m not unsympathetic and to be second guessed by family or medical staff is not pleasant. But if our decisions won’t bear scrutiny then we are wrapped a little tight ourselves. Or maybe we are just too worn out with caretaking.

I hope you find a way to all work together to help her acclimate. A week is hardly enough time.

Let us know how it goes.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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I’d have one last conversation with your son and niece and explain WHY she is where she is, why she isn’t in a private room and why she is where she needs to be. Lay it all out for them. Explain that she’s safe and cared for where she is. Explain your decision to place her once and once only. And then ask them what they want to do about it? Put the call in their court. Ask if they would like to take over for you. Your husband did his part as her POA. He got her placed when she could no longer live alone. After reading your replies, it sounds like at the very least she has age related cognitive decline, perhaps some dementia? Your husband had every right to place her without her consent. We regularly tell people to do it all the time when their relative refuses to go in to LTC-they are told to find a reason to have them hospitalized and then refuse to take them home citing the words “unsafe discharge”. I don’t know why you and your husband are being held to a different standard. And doctors can and do order assisted living. A lot of facilities REQUIRE a doctors order.
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Reply to worriedinCali
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Your MIL is 95 years old. She cannot manage medication, finances, or personal care. She has a longish list of chronic diseases. She is very unhappy. She must feel just really ill, all the time. She cannot really comprehend what is happening to herself, which is frightening. And you want her to see this from *your* point of view? She can't see it realistically from her own point of view, let alone anyone else's.

The letter her doctor signed presumably must have dealt with her legal competence, she couldn't otherwise have been admitted to the ALF against her will. My guess is that she is suffering from vascular dementia, which would be very common in someone with longstanding heart disease.

The only thing I can suggest is that your son and your husband's cousin need to educate themselves pdq about dementia and how reliable (i.e. not) a narrative can be expected from a person in your MIL's state of health. I shouldn't waste any time hoping to improve your MIL's attitude towards you; but you do want to repair the damage done to your relationship with other family members, and greater understanding of what is happening might help there.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Everyone is,in my humble opinion, trying to get her back in your own home and out of their hair. Sadly, she has not ended in a place she likes, and I have yet to see assisted living folk honestly quite happy in one. She might be better in her own room, but cannot afford that.
I would start putting things right back on the family. I would say her finances don't allow her a private room. Are they willing to telling you what they could monthly promise to contribute diligently toward cost of private room. Say just THAT to everyone. Now it is back on them.
Or, honestly and gently tell them that old age is painful. That she was never terribly happy and now has even less reason for happiness, as old age is a long and slow slide into oblivion with no upside. Tell them that this is the sad facts of life, and to start saving now so that at least when they reach this impass they will have funds for a private room. Tell them that you all feel the same about it. Just sad. I think it is that you are thinking that when they complain it is on you to fix it. It isn't. This cannot be fixed.
Now let us bow our heads and cry. Because none of this is pretty. It can't be fixed. It is painful for her, and painful to see her there.
As to the one who would like to come collect her and take her home. I would tell her to consider that very carefully before she does it.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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SandraDIL Sep 3, 2019
Thanks! I liked what you said. Her niece is one who she lent money to in the past. Her niece may want to take her to Louisiana but her husband surely will not want her -- he is all too familiar with her. I'm not even sure he knows about the money my MIL lent his wife! My husband and I will talk about this tonight and see what we can do.
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Do you have a right to wash your hands of her? Yes. You do.

Actually I'd go further than that. Strictly speaking, your husband had no right to move his mother into the ALF without her consent; and her doctor could not "order" her into Assisted Living.

The issue is that of mental capacity, and who is in charge of these key decisions. As long as it's your MIL, it's up to her where she lives. The upside of that is that you - more especially, your husband - have no responsibility for the consequences of her decisions. The downside I expect you've been familiar with for several years by now.

Where was your MIL living before?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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SandraDIL Sep 3, 2019
She was in an independent retirement apartment complex for 8 years. The last 2-3 years, she was falling all the time, dirtying her pants all the time, not taking her medication in the evenings because her caregivers were there only from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. She made several bad financial decisions and can't think straight to make an executive decision. The doctor then signed a letter that she needed to go into assisted living.
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So, is your husband her power of attorney for health and/or finances?

Why does he feel an obligation to someone who treats him so badly?

If he is not her guardian, he can, and possibly should walk away and let either other family or the state take guardianship of her.

I have no patience with elders who need assistance and who don't cooperate. Even less for folks who actively work against those who are trying to help them.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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SandraDIL Sep 3, 2019
Yes, he has Medical POA and Statutory Durable POA. We have had enough of her (sad to say).
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