View Full Version : So What Do You Do?

January 21st, 2018, 02:26 PM
This may be a rant or just frustration. If you have an older family member like this I'd appreciate your story.

DH is the oldest son. The 2nd brother passed about 3 yrs. ago. 2nd brother financially helped their mom but didn't leave her anything when he passed. Youngest brother has been absent for several years due to the way she treats his wife. (MIL also dislikes me but I don't give a rat's behind & am still nice to her)

MIL lives in a 40 yr. old double wide mobile home. She isn't responsible with her money (bingo, giving money to non-working grandsons, buying expensive cars) & has large credit card debt. She has never set money aside for things like car repair, new furnace, water heater, water pump or home repair. The roof on the home is now falling in since she never does maintenance. It is to the point that nothing can be done due to time, water damage & termites. Every time DH goes over she mentions the roof. He has told her the last two times she mentioned it that the roof is beyond his ability of being able to fix.

Yesterday he came home & I could tell he was more upset than usual. It seems she is in worse financial shape than he realized. DH told her again he is retiring in December & we are moving to a different state. He said we were looking for a place with either a MIL space or mobile home on the property & she could go with us. She said she was like her mom & would not leave her place. Her mom rented the same duplex for 50 years & when she passed they condemned it! He mentioned her selling & renting a little apartment & that went over like a lead balloon. She also told him he would be the executor of her mess & youngest brother is to get nothing. When he asked to get a copy of the will she was evasive so whether one exists is a guess.

DH cares about what happens to her but we are not in a position to help her. She has always been the kind of person who thought if she ignored what was happening then the circumstance just didn't exist. She seems to think people will just fix things for her. Being the most stubborn human being I've ever met isn't helping the situation either.

What do you do with someone who refuses to see the forest for the trees?

January 21st, 2018, 02:32 PM
Pray......just pray!

January 21st, 2018, 02:39 PM
Phew. What a distressing situation. It sounds like she's been offered all of the reasonable options but she's digging in her heels to get what she wants which isn't a practical option. I'm not sure anyone can change her mind. Your poor DH, I hope he can accept the results of her decisions without feeling guilty.

Georgie Girl
January 21st, 2018, 03:02 PM
How generous of you both to offer to take her with you. She obviously has it in her mind to stay. Other than a healthcare provider finding her incompetent there is not much you can do. Unless there is a local ordinance condemning her residence or forcing her to fix it up but if she doesn't have the funds that's a mute subject. You and your DH have tried to do what is best for her and there is not much else to do but pray. Know in your heart you tried and continue with your plans for the future.

January 21st, 2018, 03:57 PM
This is extreme, but if you feel her living situation is unsafe you could file a report with elder services. They would send out a case worker to assess the situation. I worked in Alzheimer's research and remember a case with a couple who were hoarders. Their family tried repeatedly to get them out of the house and make repairs to no avail, so they had no choice but to report them. Elder services came in, the kids were called to come and get the parents and the city stepped in to declare the property unfit to be lived in. The house had to be totally rehab-ed. Very sad.

January 21st, 2018, 04:26 PM
You and your dh are to be commended for giving her the option of living with you. Your dh still has about 8 months to keep working on his Mom to see reason, although from what you describe I wouldn't get my hopes up. He needs to hammer on the point that her place is unsafe or at least getting there so whether she wants to stay or go does not matter. Maybe make a list of three options, tell her Mom these are your choices and this needs to be settled before the end of the year. Then tell her flat out if she will not consider anything but staying there, then you will report her and the city will force her out. Don't even try doing this behind her back, the consequences of that scenario would be really bad. It is so unfair she put you and your dh in this position. She needs to understand how serious this is and that your dh would feel responsible, or like he contributed to the problem, if anything happened to her after you move caused by her living conditions. My heart goes out to you. This is a tough road ahead and no easy solutions.

January 21st, 2018, 05:10 PM
How about getting the typical three estimates for the roof and tell her to get a loan, or tell her to sell some stuff. She needs to see how much it's going to cost to wake her up. That is nice about giving her a place to stay, she should take it.

January 21st, 2018, 05:28 PM
I think she's going to need someone else to hit her with the truth. I first thought of the local elder services too, or the United Way. Does she go to church? Is there a pastor who can talk with her?

It's really grand of y'all to look for space for her too when you move. But that won't fix her spending problem. Or her lack of a will. Having those two things would help your husband now and in the future.

You can't get her to change overnight, and big changes (new home, new budget, etc) aren't easy, especially with elderly people.

January 21st, 2018, 06:15 PM
It is very hard to try and help someone who won't help themselves. I offer up nothing but hugs, sorry.

January 21st, 2018, 08:00 PM
My heart goes out to you. You and your DH are up against a tough battle.

January 21st, 2018, 08:01 PM
Unless you want to get her declared unfit or go thru elder services or something similar like having her place declared unfit to live in which I doubt would endear her to you there is not really much you can do. I personally know how entrenched someone can get in their house. Just keep reaching out and making the offers to her help maybe she will reach a point that she will accept it.

January 21st, 2018, 08:42 PM
Ok, so I am the only one who is responding who had a similar situation. My mother (91 1/2) was offered to come live with me 30 yrs ago. And every year thereafter for 20 more years. She could not take care of her house..her money,..her car... and she continued to work until she was 85 at Walmart (not a greeter).
;20 yrs ago she mortgaged her home which was paid for and refinanced it at 27% interest. I told her not to. I also told her I would buy the house from her and let her live there. She wanted the money from the mort company and she gave it to my drug addicted sister. She moved to an apt with the sister and her young son. Then 10 yrs ago the sister od'd and left my mother with a 16 yr old to raise. She moved in with a grandson and then the little boy went off on his own. Again, I offered to have her come live with us. She said she didn't want to live in the south! (she lives in UTAH) THe grandson is providing a place for her in exchange for her social security check (about $2500 a month). She now has dementia and I call her weekly. I have called elder care to assess her situation and they assure me she is being cared for.
You and your DH must not feel guilty. You must go on with your lives as planned. Make the offer for her to come.. If she turns it down, tell her when she is ready, call. Do not...and this is important...don not give her money. She will only pass it on to a cause you do not believe in. She will not starve. There are enough programs in place in this country that they won't let her starve. Of course, it won't be the life you would want but this is her choice.
God bless you and I feel bad because your DH thinks there is a solution, but the truth is, some people don't want to be helped, they want to be given.

Carlie Wolf
January 21st, 2018, 08:56 PM
It doesn't appear you can control what she does. From your description it seems like she is an independent but manipulative person. I would guess this has worked for her for many years. You and your husband have presented her with a very generous and loving choice. (and in this you are a far better person then me!) You have done what you can. It is viable, considerate and loving. So basically you have already done what you can at this point.

If she cannot accept anything other then living in her former place, along with the mismanagement of her money that is her choice. At some point an agency will be involved and they do have various procedures where someone is selected to oversee the paying of her bills. I think the most difficult thing at this point is to not be drawn into the drama she will generate. You don't need that. It appears that this should be a wonderful time in your life, retirement can be fun and should be more relaxing. Don't let her drag you into the drama. You can repeat your offer to live with you when you move. You have nothing at all to feel guilty about, if she proceeds to want to go on and on about it you can, say, sorry I can't help you with that, I've offered to have you live with us but that's your decision.

I once had a therapist say to me regarding the family dramas that had plagued me my entire life that we seem to live in No Exit Plays. (yes like Groundhog Day reliving the same dramas over and over again albeit with a slightly different theme). One simply needs the realization that the solution is to simply step off the stage.

January 21st, 2018, 09:24 PM
My heart goes out to you, and I know the distress you two are living with. It won't end any time soon, and you must come to terms with that. She will not change her lifelong patterns as I think you recognize. I went through a similiar situation with my late mother when I was still married and in a very advantageous financial situation. I offered my mother to move her back to Ohio from San Diego and we planned to buy her a small one floor house and assume responsibility for the yardwork and cleaning help. She refused. Repeatedly. She was becoming more and more of a hoarder and it was awful. I did this even though she and I never got along my entire life, and she strongly favored my sister, who did not want her to live with her. Finally fate intervened. She visited my sister and while there she broke her hip. She ended up staying near my sister who found her a very good care facility. It was not ideal for either my sister or myself, but it was the way it had to be because she basically wanted us to cater to her and even wanted me to move across the country so she didn't have to. I tell you this because setting boundaries with her and drawing the line about what was safe (throwing away bulging canned goods and food in the freezer for years for example) was very hard, but had to be done. In your MIL's situation I agree with others that if her town has Senior Services that would be a good place to start, because they see these issues all the time, and the law is on their side. Clear communication is what you can do for her and your BILs, and support your husband's rational choices. Good luck.

January 21st, 2018, 09:27 PM
God bless you and yours. You can't help someone that doesn't want help. I doubt that you'll ever convince your DH that he's going to have to let her live her life. Reiterate her options and let it go.

I know, easier said than done. Keep on praying about it. There's a solution looming on the horizon.

January 21st, 2018, 11:25 PM
So much good advice here. I think one of your greatest challenges will be to support your DH and try to keep him from feeling guilty. Stick to your boundaries and go forward knowing that you are doing all that you can. It's painful to watch the consequences of your MIL's poor decision making, but that doesn't mean that you should start making poor decisions because you got sucked into the drama. Hugs to you and your DH.

January 22nd, 2018, 02:29 PM
Thanks to each of you. Your comments helped to think about this problem outside of what DH & I came up with. Two heads are better than one and lots of heads can help to sort out a problem!

Last night I sat & re-read all your comments a couple of times. When DH came in from work I asked him to read this thread. What all of your wrote reminded him of the decision we made early in our marriage, that we would not participate in the drama or dysfunction in either of our families. We then talked for a couple of hours late into the night.

He said he realizes his mom is difficult, stubborn, irrational & cares only about getting her way. He said he knows he can't reason with or issue ultimatums with her and she has a way of making him feel guilt. I asked if he would talk with a therapist to see if he can finally let go of the guilt & he's going to do that.

Everything is a life lesson. Between my mom & my MIL I've seen the example of the kind of person I never want to be. I decided years ago I would be the kind, sweet, giving & agreeable old lady that people love. So far I think I'm doing pretty good:-)

January 22nd, 2018, 04:46 PM
It is such a difficult situation. My DH live in the US, and when his mom got ill, we went down and luckily we were able to get a will, and powers of care and finance done, as she had her faculties. After she passed, nothing was as complicated to do as his dad was still alive. Now he's 94 and his great grandson has moved in the house to help with chores. The problem was that when we went down 6 years ago, it was like a scene from these hoarder shows. His mom had let things slide. There were bugs. We did what we could and disposed of food in cupboards, freezer and part basement. But we were working and flights were not changed cheaply.
So we know there will be a mess to deal with when his dad passes. Probably have to tear down the place also. It is sad as it was a really nice place 80 years ago.
Don't be too willing to offer to dig her out of her mess, as others have mentioned, she will not change her spots.

January 22nd, 2018, 05:10 PM
I have been keeping up with this thread and my heart goes out to you and your husband. Even though I do not know you, I do know of your circumstances and can relate. It is very difficult to see our loved ones make horrible decisions and choices in their lives knowing what the outcome will be and also realizing that basically there is nothing we can do to change their situation if they don't respond to reasoning. I will be praying for youand your husband in this situation and pray that you and your husband ejoy this new phase in your life.

January 22nd, 2018, 05:29 PM
My heart breaks for you and your husband. My prayers are with you. I would be talking to someone in Senior Services and see if there is an option you don't see right now. 149600