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Considering living with mother-in-law (MIL)
Old 12-20-2018, 08:43 AM   #1
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Considering living with mother-in-law (MIL)

Wanted to get some advice and maybe illuminate some unknown unknowns as we consider what our next steps are in life.

Current situation;

MIL: 78 yo. dealing with COPD and heart failure. Is living on her own, but shouldn't. Lonely and depressed. On oxygen 100% of the time. Still drives but shouldn't. Lives in MD. No debt. Plenty of money. Will NOT consider assisted living. But needs it.

Us: 52&48. moving to TX in Jan for job. 2 years from FI or we could be FI now if we really wanted to.

We are a family first kind of family (the department of redundancy dept). We have talked to MIL endlessly about her need to go to assisted living and she will not. So, instead of fighting her all the time on it, we have decided to consider how we could make her life as wonderful as possible. We floated the idea of her moving into our TX home (we bought one with an in-law suite) and she said heck no. Will not leave MD. Ok, what if we moved to MD and bought a house with an in-law suite? That was not rejected, but no commitment.

We will be with her over the holidays and I want to get a vision in place. I have no beef moving to MD and buying a house that works for all of us (just me and my wife, kids are out on their own). We could afford to buy the house and cover all expenses with just our money. But if we shared the expenses with MIL, then we would be FI and I could retire. Seems like a win-win if we share the expenses.

That's as much clarity I have at this moment. What should we be considering as we approach her about making this a reality vs. just a thought?
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Old 12-20-2018, 08:55 AM   #2
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I think with her own suite you would still have privacy but she wouldn’t be lonely. However, I would make sure she commits before making the move. What if she ended up in a nursing home shortly after you move for example she breaks a hip. What does that do to your retirement plan without her paying half the expenses? Frankly I wouldn’t move there. You have offered her to move to Texas with you and that’s generous.
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Old 12-20-2018, 08:56 AM   #3
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Big step. Just consider what if kind sweet Dr. Jekyll starts to turn into abusive Mrs. Hyde due to dementia/senility personality changes and what that would mean being under the same roof 24/7. Kudos to you if you can do it.
As yourself would you still want to be in MD (nothing like TX) if MIL goes into a facility a year after you set the plan in motion.
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:06 AM   #4
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Only you can decide if the family relationships can support this. We built an addition for MIL in 2006 because at 80 she could no longer work to support herself, nothing but $1200 a month in SS. Can't say we wish we had not, but it turned out to be a real burden (I've posted before). After a year she had colon cancer, surgery, and survived it but it began a 7 year slide that did not end well. She was never grateful, or helpful, but that's OK.

One thing I'd highly recommend is up front set some basic rules. Our biggest mistake was to let the move become like an extended visit. If had to do over we'd set that once a week we'd go out to dinner WITHOUT HER. We slid into the adult diapers and wife being full time caretaker. In retrospect not sure there was any real alternative unless we shelled out for the care. Anyway, I'll just close with a "be careful and think this through." It never became a strain between DW and me, but it was just a real damper on my last years of work and then retirement. When we finally placed her in care last year of her life she was very resentful and bitter that we no longer would devote our lives to her care. Anyway.
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:11 AM   #5
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When my sister let DF move in they never considered when/how the relationship would terminate. It caused a problem when they knew it's time for assisted living.
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:13 AM   #6
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Once someone needs diapers it’s time for a nursing home. I am surprised that your MIL wasn’t grateful for all that you did. She also should have given you guys some privacy and not expected to go out to dinner with you all the time.
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:15 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by H2ODude View Post
Only you can decide if the family relationships can support this. We built an addition for MIL in 2006 because at 80 she could no longer work to support herself, nothing but $1200 a month in SS. Can't say we wish we had not, but it turned out to be a real burden (I've posted before). After a year she had colon cancer, surgery, and survived it but it began a 7 year slide that did not end well. She was never grateful, or helpful, but that's OK.

One thing I'd highly recommend is up front set some basic rules. Our biggest mistake was to let the move become like an extended visit. If had to do over we'd set that once a week we'd go out to dinner WITHOUT HER. We slid into the adult diapers and wife being full time caretaker. In retrospect not sure there was any real alternative unless we shelled out for the care. Anyway, I'll just close with a "be careful and think this through." It never became a strain between DW and me, but it was just a real damper on my last years of work and then retirement. When we finally placed her in care last year of her life she was very resentful and bitter that we no longer would devote our lives to her care. Anyway.
This is very helpful. The downsides are known, but we have never actually experienced them, so this is a known unknown. I do not think her passing will be easy or graceful and she is STUBBORN. But I asked my wife if we were ok with leaving her in her current state and living with the inevitable call that something happened and now we have to figure out what to do from TX.

I would do anything for my mom or her mom. Including putting my life on hold, suffering through the immense strain of being her caregiver and giving up years of my life to make her more comfortable. I hadn't thought about her being ungrateful or even spiteful or bitter. That is a new angle. She is a wonderful person, but age and illness can change people into something different.

MIL has a large nest egg. And plenty of income from a pension and SS. But what if she loses her faculties and things change? We don't need her money, but dealing with that friction and God forbid it turns into resentment, would be heart breaking.

But the other option of just leaving her there to die just breaks my heart. I want to help.
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:15 AM   #8
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Kudos to you for being so adaptable. Giving up the car (mobility) is a tuff thing for anyone. All you can do as offer and try to get her buyin ...good luck
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:20 AM   #9
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It sounds like your Mother needs to be looking at a lifestyle community were you start out in Independent living and then progress to assisted living or the nursing home as needed .If she moves with you she will require more and more of your time until your whole life will revolve around her care .My Mom was living independently .She then moved in with my Sister . It was a disaster . Mom hated it and My Sister hated it . My mom constantly complained about being lonely and wanted my sister to spend all her time with her . My Mom eventually moved into an independent living facility . She had her own apartment and made lots of friends . She never complained about being lonely while she was there .
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:27 AM   #10
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Have you thought about hiring a visiting nurse to come to your MIL's home and check on her/be with her for a few hours each day? Not cheap, but you and your wife would know there is a medical professional evaluating her each day. And for your MIL, it should improve her quality of life as well. Just a thought.
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:47 AM   #11
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Is your MIL okay with sharing of the expenses?
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:52 AM   #12
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Is your MIL okay with sharing of the expenses?
Haven't asked yet. That's a topic for our visit. If not, we can still afford to make the move, buy the house, pay all the expenses, but I would have to keep working to do that.
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Old 12-20-2018, 10:07 AM   #13
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You really need to ascertain, and understand the ramifications, of what care your MIL will need over the next few years. Medical and otherwise.

It might not be worth moving her to your environment if you believe that her health or personal care requirements will be outside of your abilities within a short time. This is as much a head decision as a heart decision. And you need to arrive at the decision with your eyes wide open. Is is possible for you to have this discussion with her medical team? They may provide you with data that she might otherwise hold back.
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Old 12-20-2018, 10:07 AM   #14
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Tough times Corn, My MIL had COPD also and was HORRIBLE watching her struggle breathing... I'm sure you are doing the right thing, Family first as you said.

I'll welcome you back at PAX....
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Old 12-20-2018, 10:22 AM   #15
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My dad had COPD, heart failure and lived at home with my mom and with lots of assistance from us kids. Donít underestimate the amount of care needed as the disease progresses. It was an honor caring for my dad. I had much flexibility with my job and ended up taking a leave his last months. There were 6 of us caring for him, and it was a lot of work. He was pleasant and grateful right to the end. Always thankful and just a joy to be around. I canít imagine how hard it wouldíve been with just 1 or 2 caregivers nor with someone who would be difficult. Think long and hard before you jump in.
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Old 12-20-2018, 10:27 AM   #16
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Tough, tough situation for sure. Back in 2012, I moved "back" to Atlanta to help my Dad take care of my Mom who had COPD and had been put in hospice (at home). I was lucky in that I was able to transfer (was still w/ the Air Force) to an assignment that was 20 minutes from their place. Mom was in hospice for exactly 364 days and it was a tough time. My Dad (who was 85 at the time) was her primary caretaker, but for about 7 months, I lived with them and helped as best as I could. The last couple of months were especially difficult because her dementia was getting worse and there was a lot of resentment, hallucinations, and just plain anger. I knew what was happening and I could "deal" (as best as you can) but it really affected my Dad...he was a fixer of all things and just couldn't understand why/what was going on with her. Anyway, she passed in 2013 and Dad continued to live independently on his own (DW and I lived about 15 minutes away)

So, fast forward to 2017-2018. Dad too had COPD and as expected, it was getting worse. He had frequent doctor's appointments and since his hearing wasn't very good, I usually went with him. He had a bum knee and I was concerned about him falling. Thankfully, even though he wasn't very steady, he never fell. Anyway, the beginning of 2018, his health was in further decline and the doctor's appointments became more frequent. We tried to convince him to move in with us, but instead he wanted us to move in with him. It's a long, long story (and I know it already is...sorry!) but ultimately he stayed in house until the end. The last month, I did move in with him (which coincided with his admission to in home hospice) expecting that he would be around for at least 6 months. But, it didn't work out that way...he passed about a month after I moved it. The last couple of months were rough because before I moved in with him, I was at his house almost everyday. It would have been much easier had we all lived together, but it just didn't work out.

All that said, I am thankful that I was in the position to be home to help my Mom and Dad in their end of life. I miss them so very much, and the last few years have been an emotional roller coaster, but I couldn't fathom what it would have been like if I was 1000+ miles away. I know there are financial implications with what you will ultimately do, and I know not to summarily discount them, but when it's all said and done...you might kick yourself if you go to Texas.

One last thought. I watched both Mom and Dad die of COPD. It is a very cruel disease, and the timeline is difficult to figure out. The medical folks have come up with pretty good life expectancy tables for most cancers, but COPD is very hard to pin down. I read many, many studies that showed that someone in stage 4 (end stage) COPD with a FEV1 of less than 30% can live for several years. So, it could be a very long, drawn out illness.
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:05 AM   #17
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Going thru something similar with my mother right now. She has dementia and could no longer live on her own. She moved in with my sister earlier this year. We expected that to be an arrangement to last 5 years or more but her mental state is declining rapidly. We think she may need to move to a facility in late 2019. I guess my point is similar to what others have said. Don't establish a plan that is too elaborate...moving cross-country, building an addition, etc....expecting it to be 10 year thing. As others have said, things can change very quickly....and once the decline starts, it can go very fast. I'll also second the attitude change. Totally different dynamic being daughter/son vs. caregiver. My mother has been very resentful and nasty at times. Much worse than we expected. Good luck!
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:13 AM   #18
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My grandmother lived with us most of my childhood. I can only have one comment:

DON'T DO IT!!!!!!

While I was just a baby when she came to live with us, and I only remember the later years, what I can tell you is it was hell for everyone! While I am sure she was a nice lady, it resulted in two mothers in the house, or three parents! After she passed away, both my father and my mother agreed that although it seemed the only thing to do, they would never move in with one of us.
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:16 AM   #19
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Just so many red flags flying in your post.

Is your MIL mentally incompetent? If not her desire is to live out her days in her own home. You might not think it's the best option for her, but it's what she wants. She doesn't want to move, she doesn't want assisted living, she's not sure she even wants to live in the same house as you do. You might call it stubborn but perhaps she see you as the stubborn bossy ones. And who are you to override someone's decision about how she wants to live the rest of her life? I'm speaking as someone who has lived this and came to realize that taking over control of someone's life because you know what's better for them in your mind is just a form of trying to control something that's uncontrollable. You see her a ungrateful when in fact she isn't ready to give up control of her life and in fact a lot of her dignity.

My DH Uncle at 92 is going thru this right now and insisted on being discharged from the NH with the full awareness that a slip and fall at home, which has a good change of happening could kill him. He wants to be home and doesn't care that he might have longer life in the NH, he's ready to accept whatever happens. He sons freaked out and they had huge arguments over his decision that could very well linger and cast a shadow over whatever days he does have remaining.

If your MIL is mentally compromised you have other issues to contend with. In that case see an elder care attorney about the pitfalls of caring for someone in a compromised state and protecting yourself from misuse of funds issues.

Let me say you are not just leaving her there to die. Honoring her wishes and letting her have a say about the rest of her life is one final tribute you can give her.


You're putting too much pressure on yourself by saying you are a "family first kind of family" what does that even mean? You will have failed some internal test if you simply let your MIL's life play out the way she wants it to?

My last bit of advice would be to tell you to love her and respect her wishes and tell her if she ever wants to change her circumstances your family will be there with bells on to make that happen. Don't make it you vs her and perhaps when she thinks it her call she will be willing to open her mind to life improvements.

Enjoy your holiday with her and don't even bring this up. Make it about family and Christmas just dial back and see what happens.
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:41 AM   #20
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No advice.... but what I might try.

A face to face sit down, and just listening.
No offers, no suggestions, no what if's, just... "What do YOU want?"
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