Spinoff of Aging Inlaws Question

Updated on January 01, 2013
J.K. asks from Kalamazoo, MI
10 answers

My inlaws are not in very good health. My MIL esoecially, she is extremely overweight, and has diabetes, among other things. Neither one has a job and they are living off FILs disability. They inherited a house when MILs mother passed away. It is very old.and in need of repairs. I have not been there in a few years due to the dirty condition inside, I am allergic to dust and mold and have asthma.

The house now needs a new roof, new electricity and plumbing, along with many updates, such as paint and carpet. They are not finacially able to afford these things and we are not in a posistion to help them with money, nor do we want to. In my opinion the house is not safe for them. MIL has already broken her foot falling down the basement stairs, which have no rail.

My husband went to clear some things of his from the basement and said it was filthy. He insists the rest of the house is clean, which I doubt. I think they need to sell the house and move to assisted living. My dh has suggested this to them and they are very resistant to this idea. I tried to.talk with him about getting some sort of power of attorney and moving them. He refused to discuss this. I am worried about their living conditions and also worried that if we continue to wait, the house will be so dilapidated that it will.have no worth and they really need that money to pay for another place to live.

Anyone been through something like this? Im not even sure if its my place to step into this mess, I would like some resources to.help my dh, and point him in the right direction with all this before it gets worse.

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So What Happened?

I have no interest in taking their house. In an ideal situation they would move into some sort of subsidized senoir living and sell the house, then use that money to improve their quality of life. The house is not worth much, my guess around 40,000 at the most and they still owe money on it. My dh and I are under no impression that we will ever receive any money from them or the sale of this home. I am more worried about how bad this situation is going to get before my dh is willing to step in and do something.

More Answers



answers from St. Louis on

nope, you can't take over....it's your husband's job & responsibility. As you said, find the resources & point him in the right direction. Good Luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you are truly worried about their health you can call adult protective services and they can to do a wellness check on them. If they find the house too dirty or unlivable they will force them to move to a place that is safer and healthier.

They can do this by court order if they have to. The house can always be repaired or cleaned up. Minimal repairs would be nice of course but chances are they will lost the house when they go into an assisted living situation. They often take the property of the people who are on disability and that is what pays for their care until it is all gone. Then the fee for their care is just covered by their disability or medicaid. So I would not plan on ever getting anything from their estate/home/anything. Maybe a few personal items they can't take with them.

Worrying about having to take care of this home and trying to sell it won't likely ever come to you. It will go to the state for payment for their care.

I would try to talk to them if you care at all. Some people just don't get along and I understand that. It is sort of expected that older people who don't have means will end up in nursing home care or some other sort of assisted care. That's not out of the ideal for them. BUT they could live at home until the very end if they wanted to with the help of a home health aide, an RN through that agency, and other sorts of care that helps older people live in the comfort of their own home.

I suggest you take some time and talk with hubby about calling protective services. It could be a huge help to them because they could get assistance they need to clean and get repairs done by local community agencies for free. I know the Boy Scouts do stuff around our town all the time. They build ramps, do repairs, fix stuff, all sorts of things to get their Eagles. One of my friends kids put a whole new roof on a church members home for part of their Eagle project.

Christmas in April is a program that goes in and redoes a home for people that have been nominated by someone. They come in and do all the stuff that is needed by that family. My mom got this done and they didn't do such a great job. It was redone and they did much better.

So if they got a worker that had the job of helping them get their home to a point they could live in it they might be much better off that before.
Habitat for Humanity might help but chances are they will not. They don't fix up peoples homes they build homes for families that they purchase through them. It starts a big mess if they try to go in to a home owned by someone else and then they go in to do repairs. If they get hurt or break something they can sue the home owner and that starts a whole other issue.

So they should not even consider coming in and doing this. The whole program is something different. They build homes for people who are living in substandard buildings, they don't do repair work on someone else's homes. The local one might do this if someone on the board is friends with the family but it really is frowned on by Habitat's main business. That is not the business they are in.

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answers from Miami on

Lots of people go through this, mom.

If your husband is not willing to try to get a power of attorney, there is nothing you can do. What I'd recommend is talking to an eldercare social worker in your inlaw's area. She can give you good advice that can help your husband. I do think that asking if they have a medical power of attorney would be a good start. That is so they can have their wishes granted in case of ending up in the hospital. Do they want to be put on a breathing machines? Their chest opened up to restart their hearts? The social worker can explain what NOT having a POA means in terms of leaving them in a hospital long term and wracking up huge medical bills for their spouse. I personally have a POA that says that I don't want to be kept on a breathing machine if I am brain dead and I don't want extraordinary measures taken if it won't save me from death.

If you can just get that done, it is a huge deal. First go to the social worker, and then maybe her info can help your husband at least ask them to sign a medical POA. Once that is done, perhaps he can ask if them if they have a will, and if they have funeral and burial arrangements made already. (He'd hate to put them somewhere they don't want to be if they've already made arrangements and he doesn't know...)

Sometimes you have to do these things in stages - start with the easiest one first. A financial POA is one of the hardest because people don't want someone to force their hand.

Good luck,

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answers from Boston on

I'm dealing with an elderly, stubborn mother, so I get it!

Your husband, on some level, is familiar with this situation because it's not outside the personalities of the parents he's known all his life. He may be in denial because the task is so overwhelming and they are so resistant. However, he may understand (better than you) that THEY are in the driver's seat, regardless of how frustrating that is.

If they do not give him power of attorney or guardianship, he can't just grab it without having them declared incompetent. That's tough to do when there are 2 of them.

I think you should consult your local (town, county) elder services or family services agency. Your MIL may be eligible for some medical services (visiting nurse, home health aides) and a lot may be covered by their insurance or medicare. There is a huge movement called "aging in place" which helps seniors stay in their homes by making those homes safer and more accessible - sometimes some small modifications are doable and the sort of things that seniors will agree to. Look into non-profits too, and don't be put off by the names. For example, in my area, Jewish Family Service has a huge program for elder care and elder guardianship for people who aren't Jewish, and Catholic Charities serves a lot of non-Catholics. Go for the quality of service, not the name.

Your in-laws may do well in independent living, and may not need assisted living. For example, my mother moved into a complex that offers independent living apartments (which she paid for with part of the proceeds from the sale of her house. The apartments are handicapped accessible but there are many people there who are totally independent. Services can be added as people need them. Sometimes one meal a day is included, but people have their own kitchens and get their own meals the other two times. My mother started with no meals, but now has added one meal (usually dinner). Temporary services are available as needed - for example, if someone needs their blood pressure taken for a while, or if they break a leg and need some personal care or nursing services for 6 weeks, they can take that on "a la carte" and then go back to independent living.

For my mother, the best thing has been all the activities in a structured and safe environment, and the exposure to people who are worse off than she is. The more she's exposed to walkers and life-alert pendants and health aides, the more willing she is to view those as acceptable in her own life. The van to the supermarket and the mall, the move nights and the concerts, the cocktail hours and the holiday parties.... and so on....all add up to a rich and independent life without the hassle of home ownership. You might look into communities in their area. Are they members of a church? Sometimes pastors are connected and can be good advocates.

Otherwise - and I am so sorry to say this - it's not your call.

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answers from Detroit on

asssisted living costs$2,000 to $6,000 a month.. I doubt thety have money for assisted living. they might be able to get into a subsidized senior apartment.. -everying on one floor.. no stairs.. usually a hot meal is available once per day.

I would not step in.. these are hubs parents.. he should handle. you have stated your opinion.. and hub didnt want the advice. no older person wants to move from their house. they usually do not move until a medical emergency forces them to move. so most likely they will stay in the house untill one of them lands in the hospital for some medical issue.. and then it will be decidede they are too sick to go home alone.

Note..many older folks do not take their medicine as prescribed.. i didnt know my mother was not taking her meds till she fell and broke a leg. then I realizeed she was only picking up her high blood pressure prescription every 2 or 3 months.. I dont knwo if she forgot .. or if she was pinching pennies and ddint want to spend the money.. so ask hub to see if they are taking their meds.

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answers from Portland on

Unless your husband's parents are senile neither one of you should be telling them how to live. Your husband said the rest of the house is reasonably clean. You haven't seen it. I urge you to accept your husband's judgment. They do not have to live with the same standards of housekeeping that you have for yourself.

You and your husband need to help them live in the manner in which they want to live. I was concerned about my parents because of health issues, too. Having lived in their house for 30 or so years, it was too full, very cluttered, but basically clean. I suggest that may be the case with your in-laws. Unless there is garbage laying around or it's so full of stacks of boxes and papers that it's a fire hazard, it is OK for them to live there.

What I found with my parents is that when it came time to do something because they couldn't live alone anymore they were then willing to do something but not before. When they move, if they are still managing, is their decision.

I was anxious about what would happen but learned that it was best to wait and see. His parents need to be in agreement over a move. It may be time to slowly begin to talk about alternatives for when the time comes. Gradually influence them to consider options. Talk about what they are now able to do and what they'd like to have happen when they're no longer able to do basic things. Do this kindly, with humor, and in a relaxed manner.

I looked at various senior living places and talked about them with my parents. They weren't interested and I backed off. I read about how to help elderly parents. You can find many sources for reading material, including on the Internet.

As the condition of the house. It is not your house. It is still their house and I suggest you have no right to plan for taking over the house so that you'll have less expenses. They have earned the right to live in it as long as they're able. You nagging them will only make them and you unhappy and possibly hasten their death.

You say you don't have the money to make repairs while they're living in it. Where will the money come from when they move out? I suggest that you use that resource now and make repairs while they're still in it.

BTW my parents lived in their house most of their lives. My father became bed ridden and moved to a foster home when he was 80. My mother still lived in the house when she died at 86. My unmarried brother moved in with them. He was able to take over financial matters when they, on their own, realized that they were no longer able to manage. This worked out this way, in large part, because none of their children told them what they had to do. We guided them in a helpful direction.

My neighbors of 30 years were forced to move to assisted living and he died within a couple of months. She became less lucid and had to move to a memory unit. I saw them daily before they moved and they were getting along just fine. They had a practical nurse and a housekeeper coming in every week. The move killed their spirit.

Since they are in poor health and if they're on SS they probably qualify for health and housekeeping services. My aunt lived with me and we had a personal aid come in for a half day every week.

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answers from Dallas on

Assisted living is extremely expensive. Much more than the repairs on their house. Power of attorney is only given by their permission. Gaurdianship can be granted by the court and it is extremely hard to get.

http://mikegamble.websitetoolbox.com/ can help you. Still, unless the house is uninhabitable, and theirs does not qualify for that, then you can not do anything with them. You can call social services in your county and try to find charities to help make their house safer for them install a rail for them.
Put on a respirator mask and do some cleaning. They may be more interested in your help if they see you invested in their actual care.

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answers from Appleton on

Contact Habitat for Humanity, they will help low income people fix up their homes. I do not know the details but they will be able to answer questions for you.

Assisted living in my area costs $2500/month (nursing home $5000/month). Check with an Estate Attorney but in Wisconsin when an elderly person moves into an assisted living facility or nursing home all assets are signed over to the facility. They start to take a debit from any bank accounts, then investments then the equity on the home until it's gone. Then the person can get MA to cover costs. The elderly person can sign the home over to his/her children but if the house is signed over in less than 7 years the facility can still attach the family home.

As far as your in law's home it may look in bad shape but it could be mostly cosmetic. The bones of the house may be really good. A hand rail is easy to install and a good dust mask some plain ole soap and water and you (personally) could have this home sparkling again. Their eyes are probably failing them and they can't see how dirty it really is.

Put yourself in their shoes and in a snap of your finger ---- you will be there, old, somewhat unable to care for yourself and home. Wouldn't you expect your daughter-in-law to help out?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Let your husband handle his parents. My husband is headed in this direction with his mom, who has dementia. I listen to him, make suggestions and that's it. My mom's house (which is in foreclosure) needs ample repairs. She's moved to an apartment hat she can afford (fixed income) and us paying to fix her home NEVER crossed my mind. That would only add a financial burden on us and I am not willing to do that at all. Having said that, she needed to move and the only reason she did was because she couldn't make the mortgage payments. Otherwise, she would have stayed. She has failing health (dialysis patient) and getting her to understand logical and practical solutions is sometimes a challenge. I'm sure this will increase as he gets older and I am not looking forward to that, but am prepared to help how I can without losing my sanity. This must be hard on your hubby, but stay out of it and follow his lead. If you don't, this could backfire somehow on you.

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answers from Detroit on

My sisters and I are in this very situation with our mom. Not that the house is filthy, but she isn't getting out, isn't keeping up the cleaning, it's too risky with climbing stairs, yada yada yada.
Parents are resistant to leaving the home they've known. But often it's the case that when they see the amenities that independent living or retirement facilities have these days, it makes it easier to consider. My mom's scared stiff of the possibility of being in a nursing home. Because she saw how it was for HER mom, and it wasn't good. But back in the 60s that's all there was. Times have changed and these retirement places are fantastic.
So go online and do some research. Google in, e.g., A Place for Mom. You'll get lots of help. Go do a tour on your own and see how the places would meet your folks' needs.

I myself live in a 55years and older community. It's quiet, there's a clubhouse, access to transportation. It's a community of condos, so you buy the condo, and pay a monthly association fee. That's it. I'm on a fixed income that would probably make your inlaws look very wealthy. But it works for me, they maintain independence, like I said there's access to their needs, activities available. So that's another possibility. Meals on Wheels is available too.

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