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View Full Version : Serious family situation - Need Advice Badly!


JackB1
01-20-2011, 07:42 AM
OK....where do I begin? I will try to keep this as short as possible. Last week, my wife's father passed away. My wife has 2 other
sisters. One lives in FL where her Mom still is and one is in CA. They are all there in FL right now trying to figure out
what do do with their Mom and he is where the HUGE problem is. Thier Mom has lost it mentally for a few month's now and isn't
able to live without someone babysitting her 24/7. One of my wife's sisters has been living with her at her house for about 3 months
and she can't handle it anymore and says "I'm done". My wife has been trying to watch her the past week, but it has become too much
of a burden and my wife is going insane and we don't know what to do. She can't sleep and her Mom is constantly driving her crazy because
she is pretty much insane and can't be spoken too logically. I can't even go into all the things she does to drive my wife crazy, but my wife
calls me several times a day and she is crying...literally sobbing uncontrollably, because she can't deal with it anymore. She can't sleep and she
can't stand staying in the house where her Dad just was before he died. There are memories of him everywhere. Her sister's think that she
has to "put in her time" now and suffer through it, because they each took turns watching their mother and now they think my wife has to go
through it. In the meantime, they are trying to figure out what to do with their Mom....put her in a retirement home or in the meanwhile get someone
to come watch her and live with her at her house. The other problem is that some of these places have waiting lists and their Mom is aware that
her kids are wanting to put her in a home and she resents it and says she won't go. This whole situation is a nightmare beyond belief. The 3 sisters
cannot agree on a plan for the Mom and nothing seems to be getting done and my wife is slowly crumbling as each passing day goes by. I am
very worried about her and cannot think about anything else other that what's going on down there. The other 2 sister's have "power of attorney" over the
Mom and my wife feels like she is a prisoner and has no say over her other sisters.

So what should we do? I told my wife that if the other sisters won't get something decided soon and won't agree on anything, then she should just come home.
I can't stand to hear her been tortured every day and night in that house with her Mom. It is killing me. I want to step in and bring her home but I know it's not
my business...but my wife's well-being is my business. My wife wants to hire professional help to help sort out matter with their parents finances and also with the
Mom's situation, but the other sisters are in no hurry to decide and want my wife to stay there taking care of the Mom, while they decide what to do with her.
The Mom is insane and no normal non-profl person should be forced to stay with her and take care of her at this point. I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone and
if anyone has any advice on what we or my wife should do at this point, please please let me know. Thanks.

bad_call
01-20-2011, 07:55 AM
sorry to read about this. suggest that if her sister's can't decide then she should tell them that she is leaving and suggest seeking a professional (counselor or whatever). maybe tell your wife (which might put it in perspective) heaven help that she or you might be in that position one day.

theyhatethecans
01-20-2011, 08:07 AM
Bummer. Without knowing what all the sister's responsibilities are outside of taking care of their mother , it is hard to say. In a perfect world, you would think the 3 sisters would try to support eachother thru this and work towards finding a solution quickly. It definitely sounds like caring for their mother in rotation isn't sustainable long term. Any chance your wife's mom can come back to your house while the 2 sisters are in the decision making proces?. May add stress to your household but could take some weight off your wife.

r2473
01-20-2011, 08:52 AM
Ollinger pops on a few times a day. He should offer the best advice.

rommil
01-20-2011, 08:53 AM
Jack, sorry to hear about your situation. Am i to presume the mother has dementia which would explain why her mother is acting that way? I can only imagine that everybody is emotional after the death of a family member. Also we have to think that it is tough for the sisters to see their mother act this way. Having a live in companion is an option depending on how functional and mobile the mom is. If they were to put her in a home, that will be a bigger adjustment to be made but I presume the mother would be in a vicinity closer to whoever has POA over her. Either way, there will be a lot of guilt feelings involved and how they're dynamics between family members will play a big role. Suggest to your wife talking to her siblings about the live in companion first and see how that works. At least the mom will be in a familiar surrounding. Hope this helps.

PeterPanda
01-20-2011, 09:03 AM
Wow my parents have a close issue to dealwith my grandparents like that. Have you considered a in house person that would stay there take care of her in exchange for a room, food and just a little cash each month. There are things out there like that. And they stay in there own houses so you mother in law does'nt become uncomfortable.

JackB1
01-20-2011, 09:18 AM
To answer a few questions...the Mom has dementia and isn't able to understand normal reasoning or logic.
She is a huge handful to take care of and I don't know if one live-in person is even capable of taking care of her. She won't let you get any sleep and you can't even leave the house or leave her alone for more that 5 minutes.

rommil
01-20-2011, 09:27 AM
Have your wife while she is there and her sisters bring mom to her primary MD or better yet a psychiatrist.

Dags
01-20-2011, 09:39 AM
The issue you've identified is that there is no plan going forwards. Until that is resolved, no one will be happy.

The role for you as a husband is to be able to support your wife fully. As things are so emotionally charged at the mother's house, you need to get her away from there, even if only temporarily, to discuss what she wants to do. I would agree that you need to be careful not be be seen as interfering in the decision as to what will happen to the mother, but at the same time, you can be quite clear that your wife leaving home to look after her indefinitely is not one of the options.

Fee
01-20-2011, 11:19 AM
They have to get professional caretakers involved. This is a very serious situation and grieving family members cannot provide the care that your mother in law needs. Sometimes, this is a very hard situation for siblings to deal with, accepting that a parent is not the same person they grew up with, that the situation is truly out of their control, and the guilt they may be feeling as well. On top of that, they are all grieving the loss of their father. The emotional stress of these three women must be astronomical, and it sounds like they are taking it out on each other.

Perhaps you can help your wife by researching mental health associations and getting an objective 3rd party counselor for your wife and her sisters. There might be a low-cost or no-cost service that can help guide them to appropriate services in their area. If they do get live in help for your MIL, it should be someone who is experienced in Dementia care, not just someone who is looking for a room.

Good luck, this is such a sad situation.

ollinger
01-20-2011, 11:27 AM
If the mother has lost it in the last few months as you describe, it's not just dementia, which evolves over a much slower period of time. More likely a superimposed severe depression, maybe psychotic, related to losing her husband. The mother needs to be in a psych unit for some time to see how much of her problem is reversible. Things like this are usually easy to do in Florida where medical treatment tends to be very aggressive. This might lead to her transitioning into something like an assisted living facility, also something Florida leads the league in.
Additionally, if there is a document that gives two sisters power of attorney, you can bet the document determines which of them has primary decision-making capacity. The law abhors a tie, and always sets down in writing whose POA trumps the other's. If the three sisters can't agree, that's the person who makes the decisions.
It may also be necessary to get mom out of Florida for a time if the above fails. One sister is from Cali and sounds like you don't live near Florida. The current situation has two of the sisters putting their lives on hold a plane ride away. This is not tenable. Someone could take mom to their home for a while and deal with her on home court.

JackB1
01-20-2011, 11:59 AM
If the mother has lost it in the last few months as you describe, it's not just dementia, which evolves over a much slower period of time. More likely a superimposed severe depression, maybe psychotic, related to losing her husband. The mother needs to be in a psych unit for some time to see how much of her problem is reversible. Things like this are usually easy to do in Florida where medical treatment tends to be very aggressive. This might lead to her transitioning into something like an assisted living facility, also something Florida leads the league in.
Additionally, if there is a document that gives two sisters power of attorney, you can bet the document determines which of them has primary decision-making capacity. The law abhors a tie, and always sets down in writing whose POA trumps the other's. If the three sisters can't agree, that's the person who makes the decisions.
It may also be necessary to get mom out of Florida for a time if the above fails. One sister is from Cali and sounds like you don't live near Florida. The current situation has two of the sisters putting their lives on hold a plane ride away. This is not tenable. Someone could take mom to their home for a while and deal with her on home court.

The mother's mental state has been deteriorating for over 5 years now. It's only recently that she has crossed over into an area where she doesn't remember who people are and cannot reason or understand logic. Some examples... She has a cat and puts food out for it every 10 minutes. We tell her the cat just ate and she doesn't realize it. She won't allow my wife to watch TV at night because she thinks the TV will be left on and will cause a fire. She repeaditly comes over and pulls the plug out. She thinks it's 3 in the morning and it's only 9 pm. The Mom was in this state before he father passed away and his passing has not had any effect or changed anything about her mental state. It was like this before.

The problem with the 3 sister's and the POA is that the 2 other sisters both have it and my wife doesn't. They are leveraging this against her and not being argumentative about what to do about everything and my wife feels powerless because she can't stay there much longer. I don't see how bringing her Mom to our home (in Atlanta) will solve anything. The only positive will be that it gets my wife out of the house where her Dad's memories are, but then having her Mom at our house may put a severe strain on our marriage and I don't think I will be able to handle it. I will have to spend most of my time away from the house. I feel like they need to get the Mom somehere out of the house immediately so they can concentrate on everything else, but I don't know hwo to do that.

aceX
01-20-2011, 12:01 PM
So what should we do?

Well, what can you and your wife do?

I think the first thing is that there needs to be a deadline for your wife staying there. Nobody can be virtually locked in a house with a person with Dementia, getting no sleep for any extended period of time. You would think that because the sisters have already suffered through staying in the house they would be keen to sort out a permanent solution as quickly as possible.

Your wife is probably doing this already but she needs to call all kind of services and people in the area to get advice for moving forward and ideas for dealing with the situation at hand.

The best thing you can do is give your wife the emotional support she needs. Do you ever talk to your wifes sisters? It might be bad to get mixed up in the family relationships but on the other hand communication will be key to moving forward.

Here's what I would do:
Next time wife calls just listen and validate that she's allowed to feel stressed/close to breakdown and that I'm just a phone call away. Gently suggest that I talk to her sisters. May or may not be appropriate depending on relationships. Wife may not like the suggestion but I would say that I feel that communication is key in getting this situation sorted. If she emotionally 'walls up' and 'shuts out' that suggestion quickly drop it and I would say that I'm just desperate to get her out of that house and that you would be willing to make uncomfortable phone calls to ensure her well-being.

If I get to the point of phoning the sisters I would be very careful not to get them on the defensive. Would probably start by opening up about you feel distressed about your wife staying in the house. They may jump on defensive about how its her turn. I would agree and say of course its fair but it's so tough on me emotionally not knowing what to do for her. Hopefully get to the point where she feels like I'm confiding in her and she lowers her defences because probably her knee-jerk reaction is to say “its your wife’s turn” and to slam down the phone. Would honestly praise the sisters for taking care of their mum thus far.

Seems to me like things won't progress without communication but when emotions run high attempts at communication can seem like personal attacks. I would try to take on the role as the wise elder who will reassure others that the emotions they feel are natural and to avoid bringing my own emotions into conversations because that will only hinder progress and be more detrimental to wife’s wellbeing.

atatu
01-20-2011, 12:42 PM
Unfortunately, your wife needs to force her sister's to act. She should give them a deadline to find a home or professional carekeeper for the mom and if they don't do something, pack her bags, put the mom in the car and drive over to her sisters house. I know this sounds overly simplistic, but she cannot let her sisters take advantage of her any longer.

aceX
01-20-2011, 12:45 PM
I don't think a knee-jerk reaction is going to work in the long term

angharad
01-20-2011, 12:48 PM
It seems like there are two options for your mother-in-law's care: Either an in-home service or putting her in an assisted living center. Family providing the care at this point just doesn't seem to be a possibility. I'd get her checked out by her MD and evaluated to see just how much her mind has deteriorated, and if her dementia is related to Alzheimer's or another syndrome.

As far as your wife's sisters go: They've had it rough, too. If they've both spent time living with their mother, I'm sure they're both frustrated, exhausted, and heartbroken. It's sad that a plan wasn't in place sooner for their mother's care, but it can be difficult to implement that kind of plan. It doesn't excuse holding the POA over your wife's head, but I'm sure they're both at the end of their ropes.

In the short-term, I'd suggest looking for senior day centers, in-home care (either daytime or nighttime), or some combination of the two. It wouldn't solve the problem long-term, but it would give everyone a little break each day. I'm really sorry you and your wife are going through this. I went through something similar with a relative not that long ago, and it's difficult. Best of luck to you both.

Kobble
01-20-2011, 01:29 PM
Sometimes I think we should just let the crazy be. Get them a cabin out where nobody will bother them. My point of view is I don't care if I am crazy, leave me alone.

Nursing homes aren't any treat. If you think that is the end of the nightmare, forget it. It is just a new beginning. Expect phone calls routinely from the facility about all their needs, money issues, behavior problems. When they are dead, their estate is settled, and everyone is happy, then it is over. As long as someone is not happy, it isn't over.