Hello! My fiancé and I live with his parents. After covid their health has declined dramatically. And my MIL has recently been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. In the past few months we see her mental clarity decreasing rapidly. And my FIL is physically deteriorating from diabetes, he can’t see well, he can’t use his hands, and has trouble walking from several toe amputations.

My fiancé doesn’t have any family to support him through this and I feel like I’m the only one who can support him in the day to day. I just have no idea what to do, I don’t want to overstep since it’s not my parents and family. I feel that we need additional support but the parents are very adamant that they don’t want people in their house.

Any tips or advice would be appreciated.

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Start by having conversations - a lot of talks - with your fiance. You need to discuss what kinds of help each of you can provide to his parents. You may find that there is some types of care neither of you is able or willing to provide. Brainstorm about how to have those difficult needs met - other family members, friends, members of faith community, paid help...

After talks with your loved one, then he will need to talk with his parents. It would help if you were there to be supportive to him. He needs to let his parents know what kinds of help you both will provide and what kinds of help others will need to provide. Let them know about resources (other people) who you have already contacted that can give help. Then give them the choice on how to meet those needs.
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Reply to Taarna

Many of us have years of experience.
Depending on their cognitive functioning (do they have dementia? Have they been tested? - you will both, as a united unit - make decisions on their behalf for their safety and well-being.

They will argue and resist.

If you can, enlist the services of a social worker or a medical social worker.
I could go on for hours about caregiving and care management (which I have done for over 12-15 years now).

I would encourage you to read through some older responses here (find by subject matter).

In addition, do google / read Teepa Snow's website and watch her You Tubes or study / take her webinars (as I did for 1-1/2 hours). The information is some of the best in the country in how to manage / work with people with dementia.

With your fiance:

* Be open with him. Share how you feel about contributing, boundaries, over-stepping, not knowing what to do.

* You want to present a united front in talking to his parents.

* Write down what you (and fiance) feel / believe care is needed: medical, nursing, caregivers, how many hours.

* It sounds to me like they may be ready to be in an assisted living facilitiy.
Have you discussed this with your fiance? So much depends on finances and the level / degree of care needed.

* Expect them to be 'adamant' - they will resist. If your fiance does not have POA or any legal backing to make decisions in their behalf, there may not be much you can do. Hopefully, he (or another family member has some legal authority to make needed decisions, when they need to be made).

* Be clear or be aware of how much you want to be involved / it is an emotionally and psychologically draining situation to be in - since these are not your parents. How he feels, his anxiety, how he manages what responsibilities he has will also affect your relationship with him.
- Be sure to discuss these things with him.
- Find a professional care manager (which is what I do) to work with you. Start with a social worker if possible. Tell that person (or their MD-ask for referrals).

Get everything in writing.
If / when you hire caregivers: interview them, ask for criminal record check (which will be done - or should be if you hire through an agency). Ask for references.

Write down duties, hours, payments.

It sounds to me like they need to be in a facility where more professionally trained staff is available on-call or 24/7. They will not want to change their life - style / leave their home. Do some research first. When you speak to them, you are dealing with people with dementia - meaning their brain chemistry has / is changing and they do not have the cognitive abilities they used to have. You need to understand that you cannot talk to them as you (he) used to. They will argue and resist.

Gena / Touch Matters
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Reply to TouchMatters

You’ve gotten great guidance from other responders. I agree that you should not live with them.

Your fiancée can call social services for their county to get his parents an assessment for in-home services. It won’t be a lot but better than nothing.

Is your fiancée the PoA for either parent? If not, then he legally won’t be able to make them accept help or move to a care facility. Most likely the county will eventually acquire guardianship and then will move them. He can talk to the social worker about this.

No one can force or assume someone into a caregiving role but it happens all the time. Your fiancée will suffer burnout if he attempts care for 2 very needy & ill people — even with your help. There is an entire care topic for Burnout on this website that you should both read. I wish you much wisdom and clarity and peace in your hearts!
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Reply to Geaton777

My tip is to move out ASAP. You are not responsible for his parents and the very last thing you should be doing is caring for them, you are not clinically trained, nor is your BF.

Reading your other comments it would seem that you two also need some financial planning help, four years and you are still living with his parents? Does not compute, are you not working?

Time to get your lives together, move on as responsible adults. His parents are to be responsible for themselves as well, either hire a caretaker or they move into a home.
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Reply to MeDolly
TouchMatters Jun 14, 2023
Good advice. Thank you.
What to do? Talk this through with a good friend or family member whose insight you trust about the pitfalls for you to enter into such a difficult caregiving situation. IMHO your fiancé is not in a position to commit to a marriage when he has this situation going on with no resolution of how it should be managed.

This is not a good way to start out. I know this sounds callous to a young person who is in love, but there are red flags here. Don’t set a date just yet . You can get in over your head if you are not careful.
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Reply to Hothouseflower
TouchMatters Jun 14, 2023
Good advice. Another angle I didn't consider.
Yes, she doesn't want to get in over her head and that can happen so quickly if she isn't aware of decisions and longer term commitments she is making.
Thank you.
Callahan: Perhaps you and your fiancé aren't qualified to care for two older individuals, especially one with dementia. More than likely they require managed care facility living.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Llamalover47
TouchMatters Jun 14, 2023
Yes. This is what I recommended. Thank you.
You cannot and should not take on this responsibility. From what you describe, his parents belong in a care facility. Please encourage this
line of thinking with your fiancé.

Do you value your relationship and hope for a happy future together? If you do, it needs to be the two of you together without a demented mom and a blind diabetic toeless dad whose deteriorating health will control your lives.

I hope you can get out from under this burden that neither you nor fiancé deserve.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Fawnby

How does your fiance feel about this? Has he spoken to parents about the fact that they are approaching needing more help than he can provide, since he has to work?
Any hired help should be paid for by the parents, otherwise perhaps they would be better off in assisted living.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Way2tired
TouchMatters Jun 14, 2023
Yes. Parents pay for their own care.
Thank you.
You moved in with them, making this a situation that is different from what we usually seem to see on here.

It's more often the aging parents move in with the kids.

So, is this arrangement permanent? Or just until you can get out on your own? It's definitely a difficult way to start a marriage.

If the choice is yours to stay and take care of his folks until...whenever, you need to sit down and establish boundaries and schedules that everyone can abide by.
For example: Are you prepared to live in basically somone else's home and be responsible for their well being and medical care? Right now, you don't have an awful lot on your hands, but you are smart enough to see that both parents are rapidly declining. It may take years before they pass--and are you prepared to do that end of life care? All while probably (?) wanting to start your OWN family.

A marriage of long standing would have a hard time navigating this kind of living arrnagement. One that has basically just begun--you guys need your own space and the time to grow as a couple.

Not saying you cannot do that AND take care of his parents--but don't let love blind you to the truth. It's going to be hard and it will get harder.

I think pre-marital counseling is a really, really good idea. This can work if you and your fiance can work together--and you are on the same page about his parent's care.

Be honest and open with your fiance. If he wants to do the hands on care and doesn't expect you to, that would be nice, but I bet he's hoping you will take 50% of the work off him.

I cared for both of my parents and my FIL at the ends of their lives. My MIL is now declining and I refused to have anything to do with her care. (Long story)..

Really think this through. How is your relationship with his folks? If it's rocky now, that will get worse. If it's loving and kind, that's in your favor.

Take a few minutes and read some of the posts that are about CG for elderly parents who live with their primary CG's. It will open your eyes a lot. And may help you to see down the road a little bit.

In the end, it's your decision.

Personally, I would never live with my inlaws, nor my own parents after I was married. We needed space in our togetherness.

Good Luck.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Midkid58

Eventually, a mother bird has to stop vomiting into its child's mouth, kick it out of the nest, and hope it flies. Your fiance needs to spread his wings and fly out of this living situation.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to ZippyZee
Callahan May 29, 2023
Yes I agree we need to move out immediately.
I am an only child so family support was never an option in my case. One of the reasons I made the decision to never cohabitate with my parents and do hands on caregiving for them in their old age. Had I done that, my husband would've been roped into doing a lot of the caring, and w dementia at play, BOTH of us would've been in over our heads.

Did you and your fiancee not speak of your caregiver roles prior to moving in with his parents? Regardless of their wishes, there comes a time when children are simply not qualified TO care for elders. Especially children who work full time for elders who require full time care.

I suggest you get a needs assessment done by the Area on Aging in your city, and then sit down for a heart to heart talk with your fiance about your responsibilities moving forward. How it's likely more than either of you realized it'd be and not doable long term.

With dementia involved, educate yourself so you know what's coming down the road. I suggest you read this 33 page booklet online about managing dementia and what to expect with an elder who's been diagnosed with it.

Understanding the Dementia Experience, by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller

Jennifer is a nurse who worked for many years as an educator and counsellor for people with dementia and their families, as well as others in caring roles. She addresses the emotional and grief issues in the contexts in which they arise for families living with dementia. The reviews for her books are phenomenal b/c they are written in plain English & very easy to read/understand. Her writings have been VERY helpful for me.

The full copy of her book is available here:

Best of luck to you.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to lealonnie1
Callahan May 29, 2023
Thank you for your words and resources! We moved in with them in 2019 to save up for our own house, and unfortunately covid happened and that created a domino effect of delays. They became more dependent on us since they were scared to go to the grocery stores, and they both had surgeries. Little by little becoming more dependent on their son. Looking back I feel naive for thinking things would go as planned.

I have scheduled for us to meet a therapist next month and hopefully sort things out in a healthy manner.
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My advice would be that love isn't enough.

You need a sit down with your fiancee and you two need to come to a hard and fast agreement about what you will and what you won't do regarding his family.

Will you move in with them? Ever? Under ANY circumstances? Even temporarily?
Will you give up your job and care for them?Will the move into your home? Ever. Under any circumstances? Even temporarily?
Does he intend to be POA?
Would he ever use his funds for their care?
If you intend to have children does he see his first obligation to you and his children, or to his parents, or does he see it equally?

I would get serious pre- marital counseling to decide ALL of these issues; and I think you need first to see someone on your own to decide if you would EVER consider giving elder care to anyone's family. I would never have; I could never have; I was a nurse and I still knew my limitations in that regard. That would NEVER have for a single second entered my mind to do. Nor to see my future husband do such 24/7 care.

If you don't know where you stand on these issues the time to settle them is with a clear understanding first of your own limitations and boundaries, and second of whether you and your future husband agree.As I said, love is not enough. And you have serious deficits in understanding and information you need to have make an informed decision on spending your life and making babies with this man.

Life interferes with love all too quickly and all too certainly. It is time now to get real lest you make the mistake of your life.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to AlvaDeer
lealonnie1 May 29, 2023
First line of ops post: My fiancée and I live with his parents.
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