Advice? Future MIL may be moving in with us.

realitykraftAugust 11, 2005

We just signed the contract for the sale of our apartment in order to move into a bigger one so my fiance's 83 year mom can live with us. I think her greatest troubles come from her isolation and bordom. She is diabetic and has had a heartattack and a very mild stroke. She doesn't really havr the where with all to take care of herself and she is housebound. We feel that our attention and a very accessable neighborhood will promote better health both physically and mentally.

She agreed to our plan, but is now beginning to put the brakes on the whole thing. She is quite and unintrusive. I know she is fond of me. I think that we will be able to live well together. We just need to get past this hurdle of moving her out of her home on LI into an apartment in Manhattan.

I think that it is great that a place exists where I can talk about this. No one I know is in this position.

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I am sure that you can understand that she doesn't want to give up the freedom of being in her own home among familiar surroundings. If she has flowers, a nice view out the windows, etc, she will not like moving into an apartment. Have you planned where she will put furniture, etc? Do you work? If so, she might be worried about being alone in the apartment or needing care that would make you give up your job.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 8:19AM
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I respect her concerns. But her worrying does not change her reality. She still needs help with meal prep, medications, shopping, housekeeping, plus someone to make sure the stove is off or she hasn't passd out in a diabetic coma. It is very scary to loose control of your life- but we are here and willing to help. We have the support of my Fiance's siblings and some other relatives.
We are offering her this plan as a trial period and if she wants to go back she can. So we are not touching anything in her house- her room will have new furnture and linens and mabe even some new cloths- plus anything she wants to feel comfortable. She respondes quite well to any special treatment and is actually pretty willing to have people do things for. She treats the woman who lives with her almost like a servant even though she is actually a friend. We are so grateful for her. It is her departure that has prompted us to realuate her living situation.
She has never had a lot of input in her children's lives, she doesn't even really know what we all do for a living. Her life at this point is pretty empty with few visitors and few of her own diversions other than watching TV morning noon and night. We are out to see her everyother weekend, alternating with my fiance's Brother, their sister only goes out once or twice a year.
The new apartment complex is is surrounded by English Gardens and overlooks the Hudson River. There are lovely quiet paths. A park across the street is filled with children and older people laughing playing games and talking. We will see her evenings and she will get good food and live in a cleanish home. We will be working with a social worker to get her the help she needs. If she stays where she is her life will be grim at best and truly dangerous.
It feels strange to make an arguement for her to come and live with us when we are not yet married and I am 29 years old. My grandparents are still alive and quite well in their mid 80s, they both still drive, and shop, and ride bicycles. I thought this would be something to deal with when I am in my fifties. So here we are, getting ready to move, looking foward to renovating another apartment, planning our wedding, situating the FMIL into our life, working, and trying to have everyone be happy.
And for better or worse I have already had my share of very awkward moments with her in the bathroom, helping her get the job done. It guess it is a good thing that she completely trusts me. It will only get more fun- right?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 12:22PM
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hmmmm, I agree. It sounds as if she really should move. Perhaps she would feel better about it if she could have some old familiar things like her bedroom furniture, favorite chair, doodads, pictures, etc. Have you asked her if she would rather have new things or move the old? If she sounds as if she might like the old, reassure her that she can move it back too.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 2:16PM
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I do not think anything should be done before you are married and at least 6 months have passed. It seems that she is secure with someone living with her, and if she moved would she be by herself all day, or most of the day. Most elderly people do not want new things, they want their own things with memories. Does she own her own place, and who is going to take care of it and pay her bills. If it is an apt, you may not have a choice. Usually they require you to give up the apt immediately. Insurance purposes. Who will take care or her in the daytime, and take her out. She might be better in a assisted living situation. There are legal questions involved, as to all the children. Who takes care of her legal stuff now. Is the person who did take care of her leaving-- and why?
Lots of questions to be answered first. I would suggest you talk to all the brothers and sisters, and get things lined up with a lawyer. Is there a will and who is in charged? Is there medical in your new area that is related to the elderly? Are you prepared to take off work to take her to the Dr--dentist- etc. Lots of things to work out Personally, I would not want to live with any of my kids, I would want a assit living. I am in mid 70's and like my own life. And yes I do have good relationship with all my kids and grand kids. I also have a husband that is diabetic and has had open heart surgery and had wonderful care with my kids helping. I just like my own space.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 5:05PM
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Ther is no greater responsibility in our lives than taking on the day to day realities of an elder's life. Legalities are important, but once you deal with them the "real nitty gritty" is infinitely more complicated.

How do you keep them mentally stimulated? (WHEN do you go to the library, WHEN do you get to the art exhibits, WHEN do you make time for a L O N G trip to the art museum?!) When do you go out for breakfast, lunch, dinner? When do you go SHOPPING? I HATE shopping... what the hell do we buy? she can't walk around stores and I have only a finite amount of time to shove a wheelchair around only to hear, "I don't like that..."

It's not easy... but knowing someone you love is close, well cared for and safe means a lot.

I don't want to discourage you, but what you've read are my worries/aggravations.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 9:26PM
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Realitykraft, one line in your post has me concerned: "She treats the woman who lives with her almost like a servant even though she is actually a friend." Makes me wonder how she'll treat YOU!

My Mother lived with us for just over 12 years; we went from a joyful Mom, full of wit and humour to a Mom who barely recognizes me now. We just placed her in a nursing home because it became impossible for me to leave the house or get thru a full nights' sleep, as she needed bathroom care each time she used it. (which became often) I don't want to discourage you, but you're so young, you will have a new marriage with its own inherent adjustment time and having your MIL move in with you will add stress to the mix you'd never anticipate.

IF this is the only solution, then the absolute FIRST thing to do is get Power of Attorney for her health! If a snap decision is to be made on her behalf, then you or your DH must be able to make those decisions for her. Secondly, you must get home-care in each day to attend to her daily needs, shower her or assist her (or BE THERE if she falls), take her for a walk, etc, etc. Also, get her assessed for dementia; if that's starting, yes the "fun" has just begun. She may require additional meds, or even a physiotherapist to assess your apt (no loose rugs, handrails in the shower, etc). They merely make suggestions, so don't worry about that, it's just for your own peace of mind.

Also: you must allow her a piece or two of her favourite furniture, likely a chair she usually sits in at home, into your apartment. It probably won't "fit" with your decor, but even in the nursing home, each resident has their own rocker/recliner/glider brought in from home. This really helps. If her bedroom is large enough to accommodate it, then place it there for her to watch her own tv shows. I know she'll have new bedding and linens, but her own pillow is important, and a blanket she's familiar with. Also her own pictures from her bedroom at home, or chatchkis, or photos for her walls. The transition shouldn't be a shock to should be made gently.

Once again, I imagine she'll be alone in the apartment during the day...does she like to read (large print magazines, books, perhaps would help), does she knit or have a craft to occupy her time? My Mom loved those word-search books while watching tv, or even doing a puzzle with larger pieces, like 24 count-puzzles, etc. If she has dementia, she'll need a care-giver or even meals-on-wheels for her lunch time.

This will be a big responsibility for you and your new DH. Sometimes siblings drop from sight, thinking she's cared for and they can neglect seeing her as often. Negotiate visits so they start right away. Make sure her friends keep in touch by phone or visits. You WILL turn into a chauffeur for all her appointments.

If we haven't discouraged you, and you plan to go ahead with the move, then all the very best to the three of you! There will be good and bad times, and you will instantly have a "child" to care for. Take our advice: we've all been there/done that, or are still caring for someone we love.

Move slowly, but get assistance in place immediately, esp POA for her health. You don't need to call everyone and negotiate treatment for her if it's an emergency, right?

Take care, and remember we're here when you need us!


    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 9:47AM
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Dear REalitykraft, first let me welcome you to our wonderful caring "family"! Being a caregiver to my husband who is also a diabetic, i do know what it like caring for him, giving those insulin needles 4 times a day, checking his bloodsugar levels and making sure he eats on time, and giving out those numerous medications. I do know that you have probably made up your own mind, but, (isn't there always a but! - lol), if i knew now that MY life was going to be like this i wouldn't have married him the first place(so sorry for being so honest here), this past year my dh has been in the hospital atleast 9 times for heart problems - either conjestive heart failure or mild heart attacks, he also has cateracs and cannot read anymore. i do care for him 24 hours a day 7 days awaeek. i also had his realives say that they would be there to help out,(read some of my other posts) and all i can say that this has been a really big disappointment, they figure if he is home he is fine, in the hospital they are there pretending they have been there all along. you are so young and soon i suspect starting a new life with a fantastic man who you will hopefully spend the rest of your life with, and just starting out will be such a huge adjustment to begin with, i am 49 and have been doing this only for about 5 years or so and i will admit i am exhausted. there is so much to think about, and i agree with all of the other posts here. if you're still thinking about taking her in could you try it for awhile say on the weekends for a couple of months. i do wish you the best at whatever you decide, you're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't, you do seem to be a loving, caring person to decide to do this at such a young age!!!! debbie

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 10:50PM
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Thanks for all of the responses! I realize that this is a huge undertaking, and it is really overwelming. And about getting married- I know it will be different when we are married- we have been together five years and managed through many a fiasco(renovation and job problems). The honeymoon is over- although we are looking foward to a nice long vacation.
I would not consider this if I thoguht I would be doing this alone. DIY works only sometimes. We are meeting with an attorney who specialises in Elderly people- from finances to medical directives. We are going to talk to some one about our own finaces. Columbia Presbyterian is minutes away from our new apt-they have tons of resources for caretakers and various programs to organise healthcare providers and all the other people who may need to get involved.
The Siblings- well, they have their own troubles and labor to keep their own lives on an even keel. So while we would like their help- we are not really anticipating it.
About the servant comment- I believe it comes from the woman who lives with feeling indebted to FMIL, and a little bit a "old-fashioned" stereotypes. The family friend falls into the roll, and has never fought back or questioned it. I am happily a little more pugnacious and she knows it.
The ultimate reality is that she is suspicious of strangers. She is reluctant at best to say something is not right. It is impossible to get any real information from her over the phone. Considering these things- arranging for care in her home seems more challenging than having her live with us. Her finances are not such that assisted living is even being considered- we are in the NYC metropolitan area and places that are respectable are around 40K are year- we could keep that up for 6 yearsif she has no medical costs. And we are hoping that she will live longer than that. Thank goodness there is not sign of dementia, she is totally with it and aware. She has nothing in her life now, she has no impetious to get and do anything. We, maybe, foolishly believe, we can make her life more stimulating and fun. I don't think she should hold on to her house and neighborhood for a ten minute visit from a neighbor every two weeks. We are going to di everything we can to make her feel at home and comfortable- we are doing this for her sake and wellbeing. I am doing this because I love my future husband, and want him to be able to do what ever it takes to care for his mother. And he knows that I will not loose myself in process.
And in a total bout of romanticisim- we will mostly likely have a baby at some point- and she has had little interaction with her other grandchildren- so we thought that we would be able to give her a real grandmothering experience. An additional plus is that we want to learn as much as we can about we she is from. Her life growing up is a millions miles from what growing up is like today. We want to have some record of her stories from Mayo.
How can sitting alone all day and all night- eating disintergrating frozen vegs and oatmeal, and watching TV be a life? She doesn't want the spotlight. I think that we could improve the life she is leading, while maintaining our own identity. Delusional in NYC?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 11:23PM
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Not delusional at all: you and your future DH seem to have all your ducks in a row. I think those of us who have gone through this simply wanted you to be aprised of the huge responsibility this will be you both of you, but having read your last email, you both seem to be well grounded.
Yes, living a life of solitude at her age isn't really living, it's existing. What I want to make sure of, is that you take any support that's available, as far as homecare while you're at work, or meals on wheels for her lunches (and to check up on her), or whatever....I imagine you'll be taking her to whatever functions there are for seniors in your area, but look into what volunteer transportation there is while you're at work. Right now you two can leave to go out to dinner/movie, etc, but there will come a time when she can't be left alone. Do you have someone who would be willing to 'sit' with her so that you two can have breaks or a weekend away?

There's much to consider, and your heart is obviously in the right place. You're good people with big hearts, but there will be trying times ahead.

Please consider bringing her favourite things into your home/her bedroom. You know what it's like to travel and then come home to "your own bed!"'s the same with them...they're accustomed to their own things/comforters/blankets/pillows, etc....make sure any changes are gradual in this respect, okay?'s obvious we haven't discouraged you..;-), so all the best with her move. Remember we're here when you need us! Keep us aprised of her move to your home....


    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 8:44AM
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Our plan all along was to put ourselves in a position to be able to take her into our home if that was what needed to to be done. FMIL has a knack for last minute saviors to come to her rescue- just when she needs it the most. Somehow she has always been able to stay in her house. There may be a new woman, a friend of the woman who is leaving, who needs a place to stay and is willing to take care of her. I will keep my fingers crossed. FMIL's family has always had people living in the basement or staying in a spare room, and now I guess you could say that generosity is paying off.
This could buy us some more time on our own, some time that we could plan our wedding, and maybe be newlyweds(if you can be newly wed after five years of living together) in privacy.
I am still trying to butter her up to the idea of living with us- I really believe the community in our new neighborhood would be of some interest to her, and I some ways our new area in Manhattan is closer to nature than she is in LI.
But it is frustrating- We want her to be a little more engaged in the world around her- we would like her to go out and see things in her own area. Last week tried to get her to go to a movie- March of the Penguins. She hasn't seen a movie in 20 years. The movie theatre is 3 blocks away- seconds by car. She would have none of it. Quietly, she sunk deep into her sofa- like she all of a sudden became three hundred pounds, and said that people like her do not go to movies. That was that. And that was that, for the evening, we couldn't get her out to dinner, we couldn't get her agree to cooking on the BBQ, we couldn't even get her to stray from her boiled drum sticks and broccoli dinner. So we all sat silently, eating yucky chicken, watching "Keeping up Appearances" until the sun went down and my fiance and I drove home oddly exhausted.
I have been under a rock all day- working. The news of the hurricane just hit me- I can't even imagine the losses.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 9:51PM
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