My 90 year-old MIL has been living with us for several months now. At first she was recovering from a minor injury so she was pretty much bed/chair ridden the first 6-8 weeks. Now she can pretty much take care of herself. The problem is that we didn't really set any type of boundaries because we wanted her to be comfortable and feel better when she moved in. I don't have a problem with her making her own lunch or helping herself to snacks - but I do have a problem with her eating directly out of the containers. She either eats the entire item (ice cream, jelly, etc) or she puts it back after she has been eating and digging in it. Also, she NEVER washes her hands. Even after toileting. She has used my kitchen utensils to scratch various parts of her body and then put them back or used them to get something out of a container, lick the utensil and put it back in the drawer. She makes it a point to search through the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets looking for things to eat. And she never washes her hands!!! There are several other disgusting things she does, but now, I need help in figuring out how to approach this. She ONLY DOES these things when my husband and I are NOT home. I walked in on her scratching her head with a butter knife and she hid it behind her back. I didn't say anything because I was shocked!!! Now I'm afraid I have waited too long to bring any of it up - and there are more things going on. We installed cameras in different rooms of the house because she had fallen early on. I'm afraid that I have seen more than I ever should have... Can somebody PLEASE tell me an approach to use with her. My husband and I have only been married for a little over a year. She has lived with us now for over seven months and I don't see her leaving any time soon...

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She probably knows what she's doing but probably feels it's acceptable because of her age.
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Reply to shad250

im reminded of a child services case i read about . a couple indignant child services workers determined that kids should be removed from a parent because of bad housekeeping standards .
the indiana appeals court sided with the mother . they ruled that not everyone has the same standards of housekeeping .
if MIL wants to scratch her *ss and sniff her fingers , chances are it isnt going to kill everyone in a ten mile radius .
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Reply to anonymous158299

What does your husband say after watching what his mother is doing when she's alone in your home?

As a temporary measure, would it be possible to create a mini-kitchenette in her room? Small fridge on the bottom with a small microwave and some cabinet space above, stocked with individual serving drinks and foods and maybe good quality plastic ware?

I agree needs assessment and AL placement is probably appropriate.
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Reply to TNtechie

Put a small refrigerator in her room for snacks.
Close your kitchen to everyone, and you do the serving food.
Put up signs: "Wash your hands!".

Do this until you can find a place for her to live.
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Reply to Sendhelp

You need to have a serious talk with your husband about finding different living arrangements for your MIL. I understand that as a newlywed, you were very anxious to please your new husband and cooperate with whatever he wanted. And, he may even have told you that his mother was “part of the package” so to speak. And, you agreed. But, now that reality has set in, you’ve realized that your wish to please your husband has come at a high cost. Too high for you to create a healthy environment for your marriage to succeed. Will you continue to care for her when you have children? What about when she can no longer be left alone? Will you quit your job?

Maybe his mother has always been like this and he sees nothing wrong with it, or her. But, maybe she hasn’t and she’s suffering from dementia. In which case, it will only get worse. And, at some point, you could wind up being her sole caregiver; bathing her, toileting her, feeding her, supervising her. Sons are not known for their enthusiasm for doing those things.

The longer you tolerate this, the more convinced your husband (and his mother) will think you’re “ok” with it. Speak up now and tell him you need to work together to find her other living arrangements.
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Reply to Ahmijoy

She’s 90, change isn’t happening. Time for a serious talk with your husband about what you can live with
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Reply to Daughterof1930

She needs to be placed in AL, before she makes you very sick, my fathers MIL also had poor hygiene and she never washed her hands, my father ended up with Hepatitis, he was very sick. That was it for him, she was placed in AL and actually lived there for 8 years.

There is nothing that can be said to her that will make her change, she is mentally ill.

Whether she stays or leaves is up to you, give her notice and start looking for a home for her.
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Reply to DollyMe
NeedHelpWithMom Dec 10, 2019
Wow! Bad news. Hepatitis, geeeez.
Oh boy, I feel your pain. So sorry you have started off your married life this way.

First let me say that at her age with her health history she needs more than cameras watching over her. Call Council on Aging and allow them to do an assessment. She will receive help bathing, light cooking, tidying up her room, companionship and sitting with her for four hour shifts usually for a couple of times a month. Not a lot but better than nothing.

I would look into placing her into a facility. Speak to a social worker to help you.

I suppose you could post one of those cute signs with bathroom rules up.

She may appear to be able to care for herself but may be too weak to get things out, dish them up, place containers back, so she is managing the best way that she can.

Buy her a backscratcher and any other senior aids to help her. There are many catalogs for this online.

I wish you well and let us know how you are doing. Vent anytime! Hugs!
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

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