My mother-in-law still insists on living in huge house 4 hours from us. How can we convince her it's time to move? -

My mother-in-law still insists on living in huge house 4 hours from us. How can we convince her it's time to move?


She will not agree to move to where we live or where her oldest grandson lives, nor will she move into a retirement community in the city where she lives now. Now she has scheduled cataract surgery and wants my husband and me to come down to help her out. Her house reeks of mildew (I have posted about this previously), and we don't want to stay there so we would have to be in a hotel. Also, the weather could be a problem. We don't want to risk our necks on icy roads or end up stuck there for days on end. I'm really angry that she expects us to do this and stubbornly refuses to move out of her huge old house that is too big for her, needs constant repair, and eats up a lot of her money. I will feel guilty if we don't go, but I don't want to go. How can we convince her that it's time to move out of the house and either closer to us or into a retirement community? She is 87 years old.

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Tell her you cannot go - she will make other arrangements. when it gets to be too difficult for her to live in her house - she will be forced to make decisions. Her bad decisions (not to move) do not have to force you and your husband into something you do not want (staying with her)
Helpful Answer (11)

OkieGranny, just because Mom-in-law wants to maintain her lifestyle doesn't mean that you and her son have to change your own. I can understand your guilt about not wanting to be there when she has eye surgery, but you need to look out for your own safety.

A team of wild horse wouldn't not make my Mom budge from the house she shared with my Dad. Dad, bless his heart, would pack immediately to move to senior living. He was tried trying to maintain the house. I even brought home brochures of really nice resort looking retirement villages... Mom pretty much said she was too young to move there. Earth to Mom, you and Dad are in your 90's. Oh well.

I really believe our parents still view us as just the "kid" and what do we know.... and also view us being in our 20's and 30's with a lot of energy to help. My own Mom just couldn't understand why I would be having my own age related declines. Hello, I am a senior citizen, too. Who is going to pick ME up off the floor when I can't get up???

You and hubby will have to do what many of us here needed to do.... wait for a serious medical emergency. Sadly Mom won't get to choose where she lives if she needs rehab and nursing home care. It will be where ever there is an open bed.
Helpful Answer (9)

Wow, I don't know why, but I thought people would tell me I should just suck it up and go. Must be my own perception that I am a bad person if we don't go. I have told her if she falls and isn't discovered for a while, it could mean she might spend days in agony or end up in a nursing home for the remainder of her years. That happened to a great aunt of mine. She had a stroke and wasn't found for 2 or 3 days. She survived but spent the rest of her life in a nursing home unable to do anything for herself.
Thanks very much for your replies. I hope my husband and I have the fortitude to use tough love. I agree, freqflyer, it's not so easy for us at our age to do what she asks of us. We aren't spring chickens either.
Helpful Answer (8)

Wow, I have to start getting up earlier if I want to give any good advice!

These three ladies have said it all! You say "no, no can do, grandma; it's too dangerous for us. You'll have to hire someone local".

And DO call APS. Someone with  authority is going to have to take the reins here.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (8)

You need to have a little “Come to Jesus Meeting “ with hubs. And then he needs to have one with mommie dearest.

This is his responsibility, not yours. Mommy needs to have some new ground rules.

Even though she doesn’t have dementia at her age stubbornness increases and judgement decreases. No one will change her or be able to reason with her.

And don’t move her in with you. One of two things will happen. She will have a fall or medical crisis and/or the local authorities will force her to move due to the mold.

Don’t spent your money on her house or care.If she’s broke, sell The house as is and get her on Medicaid.

Sorry to sound so hardass but I’ve been watching my parents do this same thing for over 5 years.  My wife is very understanding and supportive but she’s not about to take on the care of my parents.  That’s my job and I totally accept that.
Helpful Answer (7)

Does MIL have a medical alert button? Does she carry a cell phone with her at all times? Either/both of those can ensure she isn't found for days after a fall. And, of course, she can fall if she lives close to you, or in a retirement community, or in her own home. I'm not sure the fall issue is the most convincing one regarding moving. But that assumes she agrees to a med alert and/or the cell phone on her person.

Has anything been done about the mildew?

Have you contacted her doctor about your concerns?

Your profile says she has dementia. Is that a medical diagnosis or based on your observation? A person beyond the very early stage of dementia should not live alone. I doubt that a retirement community would be sufficient for long if she has dementia. Some kind of care center would be more appropriate -- perhaps assisted living.

I wonder if calling APS would be appropriate at this point (especially if she has dementia.) You can explain that you fear she is vulnerable because of her age and also some cognitive decline, and you are worried about the health risks of her environment. And you can mention that she will be having cataract surgery and no one to help her with drops after she gets home. They will investigate.

It is really difficult and frustrating to want to help someone who doesn't want help, isn't it?
Helpful Answer (5)

The cataract surgeon will require her to have someone there to drive her home. They may ask her who is going to help her when she gets home.
APS is definitely the way to go. Be aware, though, that if they find significant mold in her home they may be required to report it. Mold abatement (necessary to eventually sell the house) isn't cheap.
Helpful Answer (5)

Good advice here so far! Set your boundaries. It sounds great that you have a good reason not to drive that far. My 75 year old mother had cataract surgery this year and made the biggest deal out of it. She whined that she had to put in eye drops by herself for the weeks following the surgery and implied that I am not attentive enough to have driven over to her house a couple of times a day to put in the drops. The last thing I need is to adopt a dependent for the next 20 years. Oh, and the eye surgery center she went to offered free pick up and drop off which I was very grateful that my mother chose to do.
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Okay, not to be a Debbie Downer (apologies to all Debbies) but my dad had the surgery. Somehow when he went back for the follow up, his eye was in trouble and then he had to go to a hospital three hours away and have emergency surgery to save his sight. So things CAN go wrong. That was in this century so it does happen. Not sure what the solution is here but MIL does need supervision during this time. Her sight is very important I think we will all agree. Why not call the place where she is to have the cataract surgery and ask their advice? If you can't be trusted with the name of the doctor then all bets are off.
About the mildew. I discovered something black on an inside closet wall at my mothers one day. I freaked. I knew this was the discovery that would require her to move. Meanwhile I put on a mask, got the correct solution of clorox to water and washed the wall. It has never come back. That's been at least five years ago. Maybe more.
I sound like a broken record these days to anyone who reads my post but please Okiegranny, check out the book, 'Being Mortal' by Atul Gawande and soak up some really good advice on dealing with elders. Let us know how the surgery goes and what you decide to do.
Helpful Answer (5)

Thanks everyone. 97yearoldmom, I'll check out that book. Thanks for the tip. My MIL refuses to believe there even is mildew in her "perfect" house, so she would never let anyone clean it. I also think at this point, it's so bad that it will take more than a good cleaning to eliminate it. Our daughter thinks everything will have to be ripped out down to the studs.
I will ask her (if she's still speaking to us) if she wants us to call her to remind her about the drops. I'm sure she will give us the cold shoulder, but at least we will have made the effort. She only wants help on her terms. She will often tell us how wonderful other people are at helping her, but when my husband offers to do something, she tells him not to bother. Then later she tells him how awful and ungrateful he is for this, that, or the other. Example: When her mother was ill with cancer, my husband flew up to see her before she died. When my husband's grandmother died, he was asking his mom about flying to a distant city for the funeral. His mother told him not to go to the expense, because he had already come up to visit her when she was ill. Years later, when my husband's mother was ticked off at us, she said, "You never even came to your grandmother's funeral and everyone asked where you were." This is the kind of crap we deal with in our relationship with her.
If I had any advice for young ladies, it would be never to marry an only child, because you will be taking care of your aging in-laws.
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