Elderly in Laws Now What?

Updated on February 02, 2019
E.C. asks from Rancho Cucamonga, CA
15 answers

Hey moms! Really struggling lately with my in laws. They are not only elderly but my mother in law is ill & she cannot get up, or do much of anything. She has Marfans & weak. My father in law is an alcoholic & recently had a bad fall which ended him up in ICU.
My husband is extremely worried & stressed out about their well being. It’s starting to cause issues between us.
He has a sister & she claims she lived 45 mins too far to help them out. We are about 20. They live in a senior living but the center didn’t Renés their lease do will have to move in a month or two.

My husband & i have Spent weekend with them & help as much as we can. But we have full time jobs & 5 children combined. His sister insiste husband be st their beckon call.
Just this past week his dad had fallen again & he rushed they’re st 2 am to help.
He has been released now from hospital but no one can take care of them. He used to care for his wife but now can’t he can barley walk.

Not sure what to do. I’m stressing out now. Any ideas ??

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So What Happened?

Hi moms much appreciated feedback thank you
His sister is very evil she is harassing us to care for them. His mom is in the hospital due to infection & the dad doesn’t seem ok. She left him or our front gate even after we said no & left. So now my husband has been caring for him at his home.

We will start to look into options together.

Featured Answers



answers from Washington DC on

Talk with the social worker at the hospital and be perfectly honest with them. Tell them you cannot keep them. Tell them that they didn’t renew the lease.
They will help you find a place for them.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Atlanta on

When we moved to Georgia from Southern California after my husband retired from the military, we moved knowing we would want a place big enough to take care of our in-laws. My parents are fine. I have siblings that live close to them and at this point, while they are in their 80's, they are fine and taking good care of themselves.

My husband, his brothers and parents all sat down after we moved out here to discuss how we would care for their aging parents. We all agreed it would be us. As we have the means should their insurance not cover them, etc. With my husband's job after the military we chose to partake in the Aetna Elderly Care insurance his company offers. It's a nominal fee each pay period like with any insurance, but it covers most (not all) living expenses and care for dementia patients and elderly care.

Then my Father in law died unexpectedly a few years ago. It was devastating for all of us. My MIL, whom I love to death, is starting to show signs of dementia. When we bought our home, we bought it with a "guest house", we were VERY fortunate to find this place, lots of land and a big house. The guest house is a one bedroom with a living room and small kitchen (refrigerator, stove top, microwave, sink) and bath. I think it's about 500 square feet, not big at all. We showed it to then prior to us buying to ensure they felt this would be a place they could stay after they couldn't really be on their own. The loved it.

My brother's in law and their wives all participate in their mom's lives. None of them say "you're 20 minutes closer". A lot of the responsibility is on me as we are literally 10 minutes from her home and I take her to doctor's appointments and shopping.

Your husband, his siblings and parents MUST sit down and discuss this. They need to know how much money is available for their care and WHO will be responsible. A living will and a trust MUST be set up to ensure the money isn't squandered. They must agree who is going to do what. If they cannot handle the situation, then they must stand up and say "I'm not equipped to handle them in my home" and either contribute financially to the situation or help in some other way.

You and your husband MUST be on the same page about the care of his parents. You have to tell him what you can deal with and what you expect to happen and you both need to agree about this. Then you need to be a united front with the family and get this resolved. You cannot let it fester any longer. If his siblings are not willing to participate your husband needs to ensure that his parents have a will, give HIM power of attorney and ensure HE is in charge.

I wish luck and peace in this hard time of making decisions for your in-laws.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It sounds like they need assisted living, not senior housing. I don't know why their lease wasn't renewed, but if either or both of them are unsafe at home,the facility may not want the liability.Is yuur husband the medical proxy for his parents? If not, can he get that? He needs to talk to their primary care doctors and say that these are elders at risk.The hospital social worker may or may not have gotten involved when your father-in-law was in ICU - your husband needs to find out.

There are a number of solutions besides moving them in with you, and besides being at their beck and call. There needs to be professional involvement. Their city may have an elder affairs office, but if not, the state does. Around here there is an organization called Safe At Home which helps keep people in their homes by having trained advocates go in to help with a variety of tasks. Our elderly cousin had someone to drive him places, make sure he had food in the fridge, remind him to take meds, and remind him to get a shower. He gook our cousin to the senior center 5 days a week for the hot lunch and some activities. My mother had in-home aides. She had visiting nurses after some surgery, then aides to help with dressing and cooking and so on.

Your husband can and should have a talk with his parents doctors even if he doesn't have a medical proxy -he can provide info even if the doctor doesn't have parental permission to talk to your husband. You should consider having your husband write a detailed letter indicating the problems. Have someone really good in English (grammar, spelling, editing) look it over first to make sure it's clear - it's easy to make mistakes when you're emotional. You want to be sure the letter is organized, you know? The doctor has the right and the obligation to intervene, at least to ask better questions and to ask them to come in for a check-up, after which referrals can be made.

Ignore your husband's sister. She's not dealing with this and she's making it all your problem. You can't fix her, so you have to work around her. Getting a neutral professional (or several) involved takes the explaining off your plate.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Assisted Living might not be enough. They may need a nursing home.

Talk to the social worker at the hospital. Medicare will cover the first 90 days, and then Medicaid kicks in.

Make sure that your husband has medical power of attorney. If your parents tell the nursing home that they want to leave, the nursing home has to comply if you don’t have medical power of attorney. People in their circumstance sometimes can’t think straight about things and can cause themselves all kinds of problems. Take care of things now. A financial power of attorney is important too so that your husband can manage their financial affairs.

If you haven’t discussed a DNR, this needs to be discussed as well. Another thing to talk to the social worker at the hospital about.

I’m sorry this is happening. I know it’s hard.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Like the others said, you would need to talk to the social worker at the hospital while one of them is there for a fall or something (that's the best time to do it - they are harder to get to help when you are just calling out of the blue). I'm not trying to offend you by guessing at your financial situation, but if you or they don't have much in the way of money/retirement/etc to pay for a nursing home or assisted living situation, it isn't as easy as just calling one up and making an appointment to move in. I also don't know what the laws/rules are in CA so I can't speak to exactly how it works there, but in the state I live in (not where MP lists me due to an error at sign up I never fixed), very few places have what is called a "waivered bed." Some places are required to have one (depending on where their funding comes from), but either it is always full or it really doesn't exist - only on paper. Sure, your inlaws would contribute to the cost by forfeiting their social security and retirement (if any) to the facility, but you need to understand that would only cover a fraction of the cost of one of these places. Hence the need for the waiver to cover the remainder of the cost. My dad was in a skilled nursing care unit for 5 years and we were private pay. His monthly bill the last year of his life was $10k . . . a MONTH.

Call the county where your inlaws reside and ask if there is an application for Long Term Care coverage through the medicare/medicaide services. Also, that county may have an Elderly Support line you can call to find out about services for elderly people with addiction issues.

Good luck.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

1) Is your FIL a veteran and does he have benefits?

2) The adult children need to sit with the parents and their attorney and go over their legal affairs. If the don’t have an attorney that specializes in elder care, call now. It’s important that all immediate family are present so that everyone has the opportunity to be on same page.

3) Your husband and his siblings must have a meeting regarding the parent’s care. If you can do research or ask the attorney what to expect. It’s a lot more then most realize.

4) You have been given so many good suggestions, that honestly, I would get a steno notebook just for your in-laws affairs and start writing all of them down because it gets overwhelming fast and you won’t believe the negative emotions and tensions this is going to bring out. Every unresolved childhood issue between all of your in-laws will come out, especially with the history of alcoholism.

I am so sorry you have to go through this. My parents both declined drastically at the same time. We were at the hospital every month for one of them, scrambling for care and wondering what to do and what would come next. Soon as we got one settled an issue came up with the other one. It was exhausting and put so much stress on my already fractured family that we no longer speak. It’s quite sad. My parents died 10 months apart, five years ago.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Im assuming they are living in Senior housing for "active" seniors but it sounds like they need to be in an "assisted living" venue instead. I've recently researched much of this due to my mom being "of age" and having health issues.
Assisted living can be very awesome but it's pretty pricey. Most of them are all inclusive tho, so even tho the monthly rent sounds high you have to take into consideration that includes all utilities, cable, and usually transportation to town or to doc appts.
Being a sole caregiver is extremely emotionally difficult as I am currently the caregiver for my 100 year old grandfather, he is lucky enough to be able to still get around in his own home. I dont get paid for it though, Grandpa is old school and feels that a roof over my head is enough. It has pretty much drained me financially as I've depended a lot on my savings when I got here for anything extra I need. He only contributes 300 per month for groceries.
Anyway, good luck with this adventure.
My mom was recently in a skilled nursing facility for 6 weeks after a bout of pneumonia and she actually liked it there. Sometimes we might feel guilty about them going into a nursing home but I've seen with my own eyes that many of them thrive due to the fact that they have comradery with others and nurses are only a pull string away.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Start with the hospital social worker. She should be able to help you explore options. It sounds to me like they need assisted living or in-home care, but that decision depends on a combination of what they need and what they can afford. There’s also an agency called A Place for Mom that can help with the search. Some cities have services for the elderly where they will come out and do an assessment and try to put things in place for them. There are options if you have money, and options for people who have no money. If you google “senior citizen services” or something similar you should be able to find what your area has. You’ll also want to find a lawyer who specializes in elder issues, so that your husband can get power of attorney to help manage their finances and health care. Caring for aging parents is a lot. Get help!

If your father in law's alcoholism is the issue with his falls and getting thrown out of his apartment, then that will need to be addressed. Try Al-Anon for yourselves for understanding alcoholism and for ideas on how to help him at this stage of his life. It might be that he and your mother-in-law need to be separated.

Try not to let this cause tension between you and your husband. You guys are doing the right thing by helping his parents, and it’s not his fault that his sister is lame. You and your husband will always have each other and your family and the knowledge that you did the best you could to help his parents. I don’t know what her deal is, but some people rise to the occasion in a crisis, and others just don’t have it in them. She might be selfish, she might have unresolved issues with her alcoholic father, she might have problems in her own life. Try to be forgiving because when the in-laws are gone, she will be the only family your husband has. Sometimes people don’t feel confident in their ability to help, so they deal with it with avoidance. If this is the case, you can try giving her a specific task to do, and see if she can do it. But it will be less frustrating for you, I think, if you and your husband just get the help you need to manage this.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it's such a terrible dilemma, isn't it?

i have no easy answers for you.

my in-laws are also old and infirm. they live in a lovely apartment in my SIL's basement, but they are fairly isolated there as my SIL has a full-time job and a lot of responsibilities. we all pitch in to make sure we get them to doctor appts (my FIL is on dialysis so that's 3x per week right there) and church and grocery shopping, but as their health and mobility continues to deteriorate it's getting harder and harder. plus, without friends or a community, there's clearly some depression at work.

but no one can afford the sort of assisted living they would require if they were to move out.

my dad, on the other hand, squirreled away $ and got good long-term disability care. he lives in a nice retirement community and stays busy. he has a horror (which i share) of being a burden to his kids and took steps to make sure it would never happen.

what is their insurance situation? can they afford assisted living? if not, can you and they and your SIL afford to get some nursing care in for them? we have someone come in 3x per week to get my FIL showered, and their house cleaned. but hoo, buddy, full time care is expensive.

i hope you're able to come up with a workable solution. it's a tough place to be.

ETA be careful with 'a place for mom'. i called them when things started going south with my in-laws. the only places they suggested were catastrophically out of our price range, but then i couldn't get rid of them. they called us several times a day. i finally had to threaten them with legal action to get rid of them.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

There are separate issues going on here. The fact that his father is an alcoholic and your husband is rushing to his beck and call after every injury is a problem. That isn't going to get better and your husband needs to decide if he's going to continue to enable his father. It sounds like his sister has created some boundaries. Perhaps the mother needs to be moved into a higher care situation since it seems like the father isn't going to be able to care for her any longer.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My friend lived in an adult foster home. She needed several services. She moved there from assisted living because she needed more services than assisted living could provide. She was an alcoholic. She had Parkinsons. Essentially, they evicted her because they weren't able to provide for the help she needed. She was not able to take care of herself. She was on Medicare. She self paid the foster home until her money was gone then Medicaid paid the foster home. She received a small amount from Medicare or Medicaid for personal expences. The money may have come from another source. Just know it's available in some circumstances.

My friends niece said putting this all together was complicated and took time and many phone calls to work it all out. I suggest you start by calling the Medicare or Medicaid office. Her county did have an office that provided information and help in providing service for seniors. Agency that is mentioned by another post.

We learned that the term nursing home is not used when listing available housing. There is a different term. I don't remember what it's called now.

My friend was an alcoholic. It was important that she lived in a place that did not provide alcoholic drinks. She was able to stop drinking with the help of AA.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I think what Wild Woman said is so important. Your husband and his sister (and any other siblings) need to sit down together and talk about this. Do whatever you can to support them, but they need to (at least try) to work together.

My parents have been so fortunate, healthwise, but I know that won't last forever. My brother and I and our spouses all work full-time, and our kids are in middle school. It does concern me that we will also struggle with what to do to take care of them.

My grandfathers both passed away before my grandmothers. I both cases, one or two people were hired to come into their home and care for them. One of my grandmothers lived near us, and my parents hired one person to come Monday morning and stay into Wednesday and another person to come Wednesday and stay until Friday evening. My parents stayed Friday evening through Monday morning. It was not easy, but at least all of us kids were out of the house.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would like into assisted living homes (ones that then turn into nursing homes) - they can come combined - different floors. It's time for that. They may have to live separately but could visit as they progress at different stages - that's life unfortunately.

Get on it - it's unfortunate they did not plan for this (not sure what was up with not renewing lease) but a lot of places will take them if they get in at a certain plan level, and then they can change it later on. You can get it on at 'respite' I think it is called - often a good rest kind of situation (with care - often good care) after falls and coming out of hospital. It costs more but may be what they need.

Then your family and his sister can visit.

I don't think you want them moving in with you since that would add stress to your marriage.

Another option however would be moving to a home with an in-law suite and having in home care (have a separate bedroom for in-home care nurse to live there). This all depends on how much money they have available for all this. Time for your hubby, his sister and their parents to sit down and talk about all this.

In meantime, respite would be a good place for them to rest and a good place (they have rooms to meet) for these talks to take place.

Good luck and I hope they recover :) Try to not to stress.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

First of all try not to let it cause stress in your marriage, give your husband the space he needs to care for his aging parents, he loves them just as you love your own parents and your own kids love you, so he will always be willing to jump up and run out at 2am, as he should be.

As for the care situation, it sounds like you need to find them a new retirement home since it sounds like moving them in with you or your SIL are both no go's. If he used to care for his wife you may now need to hire a home aid nurse or caregiver to help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

My husband and I are also sandwiched between our kids and aging parents. It is really stressful and can feel overwhelming. The huge thing is that you and your husband have to be a team so that the stress brings you closer together, rather than pushes you apart.

Never mind arguing with or about his sister because that is not useful. You can certainly try talking with her to come up with a game plan for the parents, but her participation can't be forced so consider if it is worth the time to try.

Encourage your in-laws to get some paperwork done. POA for medical, living will (life support stuff), POA for financial, etc. The forms are usually found on the state website. They all need third party witness signatures but only the POA for financial has to be notarized. It is really important they do it while of sound mind. If they become unable to handle their own stuff, no one will have the legal authority to help without going through the courts which is time consuming and expensive.

The issue of where they live sounds quite urgent. You said 'senior living' which is ambiguous. It sounds like they need Assisted Living at least, but possibly skilled nursing. If they need daily care, it is time to look into arranging it. The lease ending may be the perfect opportunity to move them to a residence facility that is in your town, if they consent to a small move. (My MIL refused to move closer, so we long-distanced it the best we could.)

Contact their local (probably county) center for aging and disability. They know so much about services, places to live, processes to take, etc. What the parents need depends on many factors so personalized information is needed.

3 moms found this helpful
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