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My 94-year old mother in law still lives alone in her own house which is right around the corner from us. While she can still take care of herself with regards to hygiene and bathroom tasks, she is becoming more and more confused and dependent upon us (my husband especially). She is sad, lonely, scared and spends a great deal of her time sitting alone crying. We suspect that she is no longer eating much, unless we go over and fix her something. She has lost all interest in her hobbies, and doesn't even watch much TV any more.

Both my husband and I work full time, and we have no other family to share in the care giving. We do have an in-home aid that comes twice a week for a few hours just to keep her company. That seems to have helped some, but only on the days she is there.

After a lot of research and speaking with professionals (and great input from this forum) we have decided that an assisted living environment would be a good choice for her. It's a beautiful place. We have been told that having company and activities really help perk up people like her, helping to decrease the confusion and loneliness. We found a beautiful AL place not far from us, which offers a lot of activities and seems like a perfect fit (if there can be such a thing under these circumstances).

After a forceful discussion, my husband finally convinced her to go on a tour of the AL facility. While there she was pleasant and seemed impressed with what she saw. Once we left she stated that she was not going to live there. Several days of hell followed in which we tried to talk to her about all that was offered and how much it would enrich her life. Being a stubborn person by nature, coupled with her confusion (she thinks they want her to be a waitress at the AL) we are getting no where. We finally had to back off because everyone was so upset and stressed out.

I'm sure this is not an unusual situation, but we just don't know what would be best. Do we just leave her in her own because she says that's what she wants, even though she no longer is thinking rationally? Or do we force the issue? My husband is considering going to court to be made her guardian, but that is a last resort. Any input/suggestions would be appreciated.

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My view is "We're all in this together." Our parents get to choose how they want to live as long as it doesn't impact our lives to the point it's too much stress for us.

My mom didn't want people coming in to give her meds. I let that go on for a while until I discovered she had missed her meds for three days straight. At that point, I couldn't handle the stress it was putting on me, to try to keep mom going, so I put my foot down. Now they come in twice a day and she's fine with it. But it took me putting my foot down as her only caregiver.

If your mom's wish to live on her own is severely impacting your life (never-mind her safety and loneliness), then I think as a family, you have a right to step in and tell mom it's time for her to get more help. Whether that means a live-in caregiver or moving her to AL doesn't matter. She needs to understand that she doesn't live in a vacuum and all of the help that magically appears comes with some strings attached. Those strings are borne of love and should be honored, just like you're trying to honor your mother-in-law by letting her live as she wishes - to a point.
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We didn't give our mom a choice. Of course, she is an adult, but she couldn't live alone and we were no longer able to live with her. So, we drove her to the ALF, (moved her furniture and pictures in first) and showed her the results. She was mad, and we had to stay with her for the first 30 days. But after that, things went very well until she progressed further than AL and needed dementia care.
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My friend is an 85 year old widow with a very bad hip. It took her doctor and I six months to convince her she needed AL. We took her around to visit all the places around here. The dr finally told her that she needed to go now while she can make the choice or someday, others will make it for her. But when she made the call, she had to go on a waiting list. In the meantime, my husband and I act as her caregivers. You might try that with your mother: visiting them asking her to make the choice while she can.
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lscho818, you gave your mother-in-law a choice and she made her decision.... and as a therapist had told me, one's parents are adults and they need to live with the choices they make. Maybe your MIL isn't ready this week, maybe she will be ready at a later time.

Try to tell your MIL that she would have more control over her life if she moved to this new community.... and image all the new best friends she could make. Depending on the size of this place, she might find someone she even knows from the past.

It's tough, I've been trying to get my parents. who are in their 90's, to move to a outstanding retirement community.... the place is so nice I am ready to move there !!! My Dad is ready to pack, but Mom refuses to move without even wanting to take a tour of the complex. Some people are scared of change, apparently my Mom is one of them. I have to remember that my parents only had moved a couple times throughout their life, compared to my dozen of moves, thus have packing box will travel :0
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Well for now until you have found a more permanent solution get a video security system that will allow you to see what she is or is not doing while you aren't there. If you are concerned about her not eating then get he
r signed up for meals on wheels. Maybe you may opt to have her over for
mealtime even if it is only dinner in the eve. Keep healthly snacks around her home such as fruit, yogurt cheese, cut the cheese in bite size pieces or cubes.Have crackers for her to eat with the cheese. Keep peanut butter and jelly on hand, and bread. Have around her at home the things you know that require little as possible preparation . If you are feeding her dinner each night in your home and she is consuming the healthy foods you make sure are around the house, then she should be okay. Give her water to drink when she comes over . She may not be drinking enough on her own.
Another route to go is to start by placing her in adult daycare. It could be the first step in her beginning to make an adjustment to permanent placement.
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Guardianship should be a last resort, you're right about that.

Moving an elderly person is a process. Sometimes a very long process. Talking about it with her constantly won't help and like looloo said, let it lie for a while.

Another thing to think of: If your MIL's confusion is such that she thinks she's going to be a waitress at this AL facility she may not qualify for this AL if you can ever get her talked into it. She may need more care.

Unfortunately, we can't force our elderly parents to do anything they don't want to do (unless we get guardianship). You may have to wait for an emergency to come up and have your MIL discharged from the hospital into a facility.

But after considering all of your options and based upon how dangerous it is for your MIL to live alone you might want to consult an elder law attorney regarding guardianship. But be prepared, it costs about $8,000.
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Take her to the events at the ALF, like a 4th of July, card playing. Ease her into it gradually. Sometimes they offer one month half-off on a trial basis and it's like going on a cruise. Three meals, bus trips, activities and socialization, it's just the boat never leaves the dock.
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We had to leave mother alone, until the very last moment. Her bath lady thought that she was having a heart attack and called 911. From there, she was no longer able to live alone. We stressed to the doctor that she was alone.

You are right that she will be healthier and happier in AL. Although, at 94 my mother prefers the nursing home. There are still activities, but she gets more help.
In her case ass't living and the NH, were all in the same building.
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Hi Ischo818 - I took the advice of several experts I spoke to when I went through this w/my mother, which is to drop the discussion for the time being. Can the in-home aid come a few more days a week, in the meantime?
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