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I have a developing situation I am not sure how to handle. Any help giving me ideas would be appreciated. First off a little back ground. My Father took ill about two years ago. He passed away about a year ago. For one year I moved him near me in Florida and took care of him. The one thing he had going for him was he had some money so it was not on me. I had to liquidate his assets and took it on the nose because he lived in Michigan and things there are stupid hard to sell at any kind of fair price. But I did it and my wife helped me along the way.

Now to the existential problem today. My wife's family father and mother are ill. Her Mother has Alzheimer, I know unless there is an autopsy you can not know this but it sure fits the bill. She is 75 and forgets things from moment to moment. Her father is 79 and is doing his best to take care of her. They live about 600 miles away in a small town in Tenn. They bought an old farm house and my wife's sister and two kids 21 and 17 live with her all in the same small farm house. Her sister and two kids get the down stairs and her parents live in the attic they converted into a small one bed apt with bath and small kitchenette. It is getting to a point that they are going to have a hard time making it up and down the stairs. They also have no funds as they were and still are Jehovah's Witnesses. I can remember arguing years ago they needed to save money for retirement and was told the end was near so they did not need to worry about this. I can not say much as spilt milk is spilt milk and to say I told you so does nothing to fix problems. It just makes me mad as I left this cult many years ago over just this kind of crap and started to save money for retirement albeit later than I should have. My father in law quit his job back in the 70s at General Motors and moved to Northern Michigan to "spread the word" I.E BS of the cult. He would have about 1700 a month extra if he would have stayed in and retired from GM.

That said My wife's sister does not work, she is 45 years old and stays in bed for most of the day every day and supposedly suffers from depression. I can not say this is not so but it seems she is very lazy. I used to arguer with her also years ago that you need to plan for the future and was told the end was near bla bla bla. Now she is divorced with one kid who she gets a small amount of money a month for the next year till she is 18. She lives off of my wife's parents. They only bring in 1600 a month on SS.

My wife went to visit a few weeks ago and her father was asking in a round about way to help. I refuse to help her sister or kids not out of any malice but out of our preservation. I also am not going to let her throw money at her parents due to this being a temporary fix that will not fix anything but delay the inevitable. I do not know if it would even help for her to move near them to help take care of her mother. I just do not see a good way to help. We were looking at retiring to Arkansas and bought property there and could build the house with a finished basement to move her parents but I don't think they will move.

I told my wife off the top of my head that her parents need to call the local social worker to see what is available. People who are on Medicaid can get medicare and on social security can get SSI if they are desperate enough. Also meals on wheels and if one of her sisters kids can take care of their grandmother sometimes they can qualify to get paid to do so if they are in need of special care. First off they need to exhaust the provisions of the Government. I feel I owe my wife but I also know you row a boat into the middle of drowning people and you will get swamped and drown yourself. I feel this is a no win situation.

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You are correct - throwing money at them is the easy solution.... for THEM. Unless they feel the pinch - they won't make any changes. DO NOT GIVE THEM MONEY - but help them find services through local services, medicare, Medicaid. They are adults and can certainly find sources to help them - don't let them be lazy and play on your wife's sympathy. You have worked hard and have been smart and should not have to pay for that, because you have some resources and they don't. Help them fish. Don't give them fish. This topic always rubs me the wrong way because my husbands mom always wants us to help dead beat brother in law pay his mortgage, or pay so he can get a lien off his car, etc. "because he is family". The words "no, I can't give you money but I'm willing to help you become self sufficient" are not what they want to hear, but you need to protect yourselves. Otherwise, you have some pretty heavy, long term boat anchors that will be around your necks.
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EDteach, I think your instincts are correct and that throwing money at the situation is a temporary measure that is not going to make much of a difference in the grand scheme of the matter. It might make your wife feel better, but I would strongly encourage you to get legal advice before doing anything. Giving them money could cause them to be disqualified from one or more programs.

And even if only one of the parents has dementia, it's unlikely that the other senior, who has limited mobility, would be able to care for a dementia patient in the home. And it's also unlikely that a bedbound depressed person, like your wife's sister, would be able to provide complete care in the home for a dementia patient.

I would seek legal counsel from an attorney in their state who knows Medicaid and Social Security Law (disability) to see just what resources all of the parties may have. For example, when calculating for Medicaid purposes, how many incomes are included? They may include all the money that comes into the house, even their adult daughter.)

Plus, there may be issues of the people who are living in the house when the parents have to go to long term care. Can they continue to live there? Who pays the taxes?

I guess the parents don't have a Durable Power of Attorney. If not, there may be issues of taking control and seeing that the parents get appropriate care and there is the sister who is depressed and in bed. It may be sensitive, but if the parties were to receive the resources that they are entitled to, maybe the burden would be lifted and your wife wouldn't feel so helpless.
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You're right Ed. Do not row your boat into this mess. I came from a similar family situation. I'm now the sole caregiver for my folks who are 600 miles away. I do all I can but I won't sacrifice my life and life savings for the cause. This may be hard for your wife but hopefully you can convince her not to sacrifice your lives because her family made terrible life choices and is dysfunctional. You're not going to fix this. Do what you can but keep a healthy distance and keep your life and money.
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This is a complicated situation, made so in part by the involvement of the JW. Whatever you might say, think or recommend is probably going to be filtered through the JW beliefs.

Frankly, I think your wife's aunt has allowed her situation to evolve b/c of her own actions or inactions, and I agree that consideration of helping her shouldn't be done. She isn't going to change.

As to your in-laws, I suspect the same situation exists. If your wife were to move closer, she'd not only be away from you and intellectual stability, but would be so much under the influence of her parents who don't think independently and haven't made good plans for their retirement. This would be like an emotional, psychological and financial quicksand for your wife.

I do think that what she can do is assist them in applying for Medicaid and to research other programs that might help. Tennessee may have an elder law state agency, there should be an Area Agency on Aging in their area. Both are good resources for what programs might be available.

I would say let you and your wife's contribution be the research, contacts and channeling her parents toward assistance. But don't do more than that; don't move there, don't invite them to your home or even your area as I suspect you will quickly regret that.

(I've read your post 2 -3 times, so I hope I have understood all the dynamics and issues, but am really not sure that I have!)
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Ed, Your in laws live in a home they can no longer maintain or navigate. Living in the attic (no matter how nice it may be) can't go on for ever for people this age. Not saving for the future is a poor plan, no matter what faith you happen to be. Many people haven't saved anything and it has nothing to do with their faith. They need assisted living. They nee help with daily chores, bathing, medicine management, food etc. I don't know if Tenn. has a program for seniors to assist them financially with this, but your wife needs to do some inquiring. As for her sister, she needs to see a Dr. yesterday for her depression needs. Throwing money at this situation won't fix anything. Pitching in to seek placement for the folks is what's needed. They need a home all on one level with assistance. Get going on this. So much can be done over the internet and phone. You guys can to this
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Here's my 2 cents....why are the elderly parents in the attic and the 45 year old daughter and her son on the first floor? That really needs to change...but are the parents willing to change this or will the simply roll over when their daughter complains? Exactly how dysfunctional are they? It seems to me that sister is more than willing to stay with the status quo, and why not? Stay in bed all day, have someone else pay for everything and she doesn't need to be responsible for anything. Sounds like she has a pretty sweet set-up. Please DO NOT start paying for them, they will bleed you dry and then the resentment comes and your own marriage may suffer.
If the sister is really that depressed perhaps she should be hospitalized....leaving her untreated could be really scary - if only to her son. I'm guessing your wife feels that she (and you?) should be helping fix this situation, but I don't see how you could help....if your in-laws are unwilling to change the situation and are willing to let their daughter and her son continue to mooch off them....there is NOTHING that you do that will change the situation, except you will be poorer for trying (and not just monetarily!).
I really hope you take the others advice, find and send them the information on programs available to them in their state and then just back off and let them do something for themselves.
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If you have to move her parents,, and I am not suggesting this.. do NOT move the sil and her kids also. If she is only 45 and stays in bed all day.. she will become your leach too! I call BS on this , she needs to get some help or the end that is coming will be sooner for her than she expects! Wake up call for her! The time may come when the parents can;t be left to make that decision for themselves.. but she does not need to be part of the package. And it does not sound as if she is helping...
But my best advice is as stated several times above.. don't do it!!
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edteach, I agree with the others not to throw money at a situation that is not working. Instead, turn your energy toward finding a good solution. They have a house and land that is not suited to them anymore. Could it be made ready for market and get a decent price? Your SIL should be able to qualify for disability if her depression is bad enough that she cannot work. Her children would qualify for some assistance, as well. They could move into their own subsidized apartment, so your parents could sell their home.

Trouble is that a lot of parents will say no, they aren't going to move. When that happens you just have to wait until the right time. Until they are ready it may make more sense for the SIL to move upstairs and let them have the downstairs. Falls in the elderly can be the start of major problems -- loss of mobility, brain damage. You can have an occupational therapist (Medicare allows) to come in and assess for safety.

I wish you didn't have to be so involved. Depression is real. One of the symptoms of it is lethargy that looks an awful lot like laziness. I don't know her, so can't say one way or the other. I hope you can get this worked out without driving yourself crazy. I wouldn't want to have to untangle the mess you're dealing with. You have my sympathy. Big hugs to you and your wife.
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Take it from someone that has seen and experienced JW's. The cult will suck the life out of anyone and anything they can get there claws in and then abandon anyone or anything once the money is gone. If your wife can get POA then she can get Govt. assistance, Medicaid, or whatever is needed to care for her parents. The sis and kids will be on their own, as they should be. The fact that her parents are living in the attic and having to deal with the stairs and sis's family downstairs speaks volumes. Get control then assist. No other solution makes sense. Otherwise you both will be dragged down into the JW run vacuum.
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Nutty religion aside, it is quite true that many folks, religious or not, make horrible life choices, don't plan for old age and become horrible burdens to families and our shredded government agencies. There is a thread here somewhere on that very subject. However I'm very sympathetic to Eds situation and don't doubt the inlaws religious beliefs contributed to this mess. We probably should discuss religion elsewhere and get back to how Ed can best deal with the issues at hand. Check your message board Ed.
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