Wanting to help ...

wymondham Posts: 6,354 Forumite
First Anniversary First Post Photogenic Mortgage-free Glee!
edited 11 September 2015 at 11:30PM in Over 50s MoneySaving
Hi All

I'm new to this area of the forum and I hope you can help me??

My Mother and Father in law are in their late 70's/early 80's and live by themselves in a large 5 bed house with large gardens in a tiny village with no amenities. Mother in law had a stroke 2 years ago and has limited mobility/sight but they are both unsteady on their feet. Father in law had a prostate operation earlier this year and since then has felt weak and uninterested in pretty much everything.

My father in law wont move (although mother in law has said she would like to as she is often scared and overwhelmed by things but ultimately always goes along with her husband). They have few visitors and my father in law is having problems taking their dog out for walks (they have a large unsuitable dog). We've suggested and they have now got a cleaner and a gardener, but they do need to move nearer to us so we can all help them (we live 30 mins away).

My father in law has a car, but uses it less and less and this we see as indication he is not as confident as before. They use internet shopping which has helped enormously.

They are a stubborn pair and we worry about them constantly, but can't seem to be of help unless they realise their position. My wife worries about her parents no end... We dread the next call which will probably be one of them has fallen down the stairs or father in law doesn't come back from dog walking....

This is really a question for those who are around this age. What would you suggest is our best course of action? How can we help people who don't seem to realise they need it? any snippets greatly received!!

Basically, reading all of these inspirational posts on how people have prepared for more relaxing years has made us realise how my wife's parents don't seem to have done anything to prepare - everything seems to have come as a complete shock!


  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,013 Forumite
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    Well, I'm not around that age, but sadly until they realise they need help, there's precious little you can do.

    My parents 'down-sized' to a ridiculously large house which would have been completely impossible if either of them had needed a wheelchair. Any discussion about moving again was fruitless: mum thought anything available in sheltered housing was too small, and anything else was pointless.

    They did agree to a gardener and a cleaner who were both very good, but Mum was deeply offended when I suggested getting help with de-cluttering. I gave up, although seeds were sown: she often told me what she'd done with a view to sorting things out after Dad died.

    There was still an awful lot of 'stuff' left when Mum died. Mercifully she'd remained mobile!
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • That is a very difficult situation wymondham. I am not that age yet but am getting ready to spend my older years in my own home, where I am now. I just want to say, well done for caring so much. I am sure that someone with experience will appear here soon

    You have the gardener and the cleaner. The unsuitable dog would in my mind be the next to try and sort out, re -homing would probably be best for all concerned, including the dog and would take away an extra trip hazard. Actually moving away would seem like too much for them to cope with, so a bit at a time perhaps. I have older relatives who simply cannot face the whole process of packing up, getting rid of stuff etc so they stay put and ignore the fact that children worry about them, The moving process is very traumatic even at a younger age, so is overwhelming at old age

    I am thinking that maybe you have to sow the seed into your father in law`s brain and then back away while he thinks it through ie how would his wife cope on her own
  • Wymondham

    My parents were exactly the same. They refused point blank to make a move. It made life extremely difficult not just for them but for my sister and I.

    We are still dealing with the aftermath.

    What are their fiances like. A 5 bed house will be a massive drain not just physically but financially too because as they get older they will be unable to keep it clean, warm and well maintained. They will have to pay for every simple bit of diy that perhaps up until now they have done themselves.

    It will just crumble around them, like my parents house did. We sold my father's house this year at a good 20 per cent less than it would have fetched if it had been properly maintained.

    This money could have been used to make them really comfortable in their final years, buying them extra care within their own home. . And of course I still maintain that we could have kept mum out of a nursing home for much longer if they had moved to more suitable accommodation.

    As it was the move into a nursing home was truly awful, my mum hated it so much (we tried 3) she begged to come home and when she realised that was it, that she would never come home again, she begged to die. It was heart breaking .........

    With a house that size they should have enough equity to buy somewhere far more suitable and have it fully equipped with every labour saving device and mod con to make their lives so much easier and have enough left over to afford to buy in extra care when the time comes.

    I kniw that your position as the DIL makes it a bit more tricky but perhaps your husband, their son, might be able to discuss things with them.

    In my parents case it was my mum who got sick first (my dad is still reasonable well for his age - 89) and it was up to,him to care for mum for many years. He did his best but he couldnt cook, wasn't prepared to learn and their diet at the end was truly awful.

    Given that your MIL has already had a couple of strokes it could well be that FIL becomes the carer and ourlives MIL (Thjs was exactly my parents scenario, mum had a series of strokes, eventually leading to Vascular Dementia and more or less total paralysis).

    How would FIL cope with being a carer in such a difficult house.......

    I tried several times to discuss my parents moving but they got really cross and actually rather nasty so I did back down. I wished I had been more forceful.......

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing. My father often tells me now that I was right and that he wished he had listened to me.

    Cold comfort .......
  • Gers
    Gers Posts: 12,004 Forumite
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    It's a situation which we will all probably have to face.

    My late father was ill for five years with a slow growing tumour and for most of that time refused to move out of his three-bedroomed house. Eventually he agreed to sign the forms for sheltered accommodation and then tore up the papers - twice! Then I got him to agree again, he couldn't easily get upstairs for the bathroom / toilet or to bed, and this time I sat with him as he signed and took them away immediately.

    He had exactly one year in his lovely little bungalow and was so happy, even admitted that he should have moved long before. It was sad that he didn't have longer in it but at least he had that short time.

    My mother, aged 87, is still in her own home and would not move. It's a flat so so problems about getting around in it. She would be too overwhelmed to even think about packing up etc.

    I think it's a case of them being reluctant to give away more independence than they want. Whilst I understand the use of the word 'stubborn' it's not quite how I would look at their stance. Perhaps 'scared' is how it seemed to me with my father. He actually said that he didn't want to go there as the only way to leave is in a box - I did point out that that was exactly the way he was going to leave his house!

    This phase you your family's life, and yours too, is always difficult. I don't have any answers for you but wish you and your family the best for whatever happens.
  • wymondham
    wymondham Posts: 6,354 Forumite
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    edited 12 September 2015 at 10:52AM
    Thanks for all the responses.

    The dog is a bit essential to them as they view him as a surrogate child! In fact we are dreading the day the dog dies (which is being hastened by lack of exercise) - probably within the next few years I think! We've recommended the cinnamon trust to help, but again he refuses this.

    FIL is now MIL's carer since her stroke and does all the meals etc. I think he almost resents the change in his lifestyle brought about by the stroke?

    They are in the fortunate position of being able to buy a bungalow outright if they wanted, which would make moving much easier as we could be left with the old house to sort, but even this, along with me offering to help financially and practically won't change his mind.

    My wife visits them regularly and we do as a family often also, but we are always still 'guests', with all offers of help turned down. Its so sad as we are just watching them both fade away without any joy in their lives when we feel we could do so much to help if only they'd 'press the button!'

    I wrote them a frank letter last year stating how we all feel and how all want to help, but never had a reply and it has never been discussed although I do know they got it.

    The frustrating things for us is that MIL always says she does not want to go in a home and it would be the worst outcome for her, but their actions are responsible for this being almost a certainty!

    We feel this is just a 'spectator' sport of watching and waiting.....
  • ancientofdays
    ancientofdays Posts: 2,913 Forumite
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    edited 12 September 2015 at 1:35PM
    Just a small suggestion as I have no helpful suggestions for the larger issue - would your parents in law consider a dog walking service? Several of my friends use this type of service if they want the companionship of a dog but cannot manage the walks.
    I was jumping to conclusions and one of them jumped back
  • wymondham
    wymondham Posts: 6,354 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Photogenic Mortgage-free Glee!
    Just a small suggestion as I have no helpful suggestions for the larger issue - would your parents in law consider a dog walking service? Several of my friends use this type of service if they want the companionship of a dog but cannot manage the walks.

    Thanks, yes we have suggested the Cinnamon Trust (http://www.cinnamon.org.uk/) who would walk the dog, but my FIL has said no to this idea unfortunately....

    The dog is now out of shape and unable to walk long distances due to this, so their love for it is unfortunately speeding up its demise...
  • pmlindyloo
    pmlindyloo Posts: 13,049 Forumite
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    I think you and your wife need to be realistic about this.

    Moving to a new house would certainly be a huge thing for them and, quite honestly, if your FIL doesn't want to do this then you have no choice but to respect his wishes.

    To be honest if they did move nearer to you there is absolutely no guarantee that one of them might fall or whatever when you were around. it is just 'sod's law' but it does help to put things into perspective. Unless you are prepared for them to move in with you or you move in with them then there is no way that you can guarantee their safety as regards your 'monitoring them'.

    30 minutes away is not that far and you obviously visit often. They agreed to a cleaner and gardener and internet shopping so they are not totally adverse to having help. Some older folk absolutely refuse this kind of help.

    All you can do is carry on as you are and find ways to improve their safety and welfare so some suggestions (I expect you have alreaqdy thought of them)

    get an adult social services assessment so that they have all the aids etc that they need to improve their quality of life
    get the cleaner to go in more often - keeps an 'eye' on them - make sure the cleaner has your mobile number
    get them some kind of alarm system which they can use for an emergency - make sure their telephone has your number on and is easily usable
    consider contacting the Red Cross - they have volunteers who befriend elderly people
    make sure they have regular check ups with their doctor
    google for day centres which they could attend

    I'm sure you get the drift!
  • wymondham
    wymondham Posts: 6,354 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Photogenic Mortgage-free Glee!
    thanks for the comments... looks like we just need to take a back seat and be there if needed....
  • margaretclare
    margaretclare Posts: 10,789 Forumite
    edited 12 September 2015 at 5:17PM
    Wymondham, you ask for opinions from 'those who are about this age' i.e. your parents' ages.

    DH and I are both 80, but I don't know that I can be very helpful.
    Put it this way - no way would I live in a 5-bedroom house! Nor would I have a dog of any size. When our cat died a few years ago we took the decision not to have any more pets. Toooo much responsibility, too much lack of freedom, too difficult to organise pet care when we go away (as we like to do).

    Can't understand why Dad is not more energetic following prostate surgery. DH had surgery for enlarged prostate a couple of years ago now and it has been great. No longer having to get up a dozen times a night to pee!

    My late first husband and I moved to this 2-bed Essex bungalow 25 years ago, from a 3-storey cottage in the Pennines. Although he didn't live long to enjoy it, it was a choice that I've absolutely never regretted. What would we do with 5 bedrooms - the mind boggles.

    So, not all of us of the same age are of the same mind.

    PS: About driving, you lose your confidence if you don't do it. I guess Mum is not allowed to drive anyway following her stroke. DH has a problem in that he can only get into the driver's side of the car - his L leg will not bend enough to get it past the A-frame in the passenger side. Consequently, I don't drive as much as I used to. He can't be a passenger, so I'm forced to go out and just drive around to maintain my skills and my confidence. Otherwise, it could be a disaster if I've packed in driving and something happened to DH (plenty has happened in the last few years, and I ended up having to drive to the hospital in the middle of the night!) Confidence is everything. I agree about internet shopping, though. Internet shopping and banking has been an absolute godsend for us.
    [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Æ[/FONT]r ic wisdom funde, [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]æ[/FONT]r wear[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ð[/FONT] ic eald.
    Before I found wisdom, I became old.
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