Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 53

Thread: Drunkenness, Dementia & Dysfunction in a Big Cloud of Cigarette Smoke

  1. #1
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Eastern Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,319

    Drunkenness, Dementia & Dysfunction in a Big Cloud of Cigarette Smoke

    The situation with my MIL is getting pretty dire. DSIL & her husband live with MIL. MIL presents as being quite rational, but according to SIL, she is urinating in wastebaskets, not attending to personal hygiene, and seems a bit phobic about the bathroom in general. MIL has started bouncing checks and when SIL wanted to help her balance her checkbook, MIL refused and hid checkbook saying everything was fine. MIL drinks a large bottle of wine daily and smoke 3 cartons of cigarettes a week. She uses a cane and walker since breaking her hip last July, and did not cooperate with PT so probably won't progress with her ambulation. She smokes in bed, and BIL recently pulled her away from the stove when she was leaning her face into a lit gas burner to light a cigarette (looked like her hair was going to catch fire). BIL says she doesn't wash her hands so they are concerned about food safety with shared things such as a loaf of bread.
    SIL and BIL are on a steady diet of whiskey and cigarettes. SIL is unemployed and has some health issues. She is not terribly nurturing (nor is MIL), but I would say she is trying to do right by her mother to the best of her ability, but she isn't cut out to be a caretaker.
    MIL is belligerent, mistrustful and uncooperative, and wants to be just left alone to do her own thing in her own home. SIL & BIL are talking about just moving out.
    MIL cannot safely live alone, but is a hazard for anyone living with her due to smoke and fire risk. How and at what point can she be made to accept different living arrangements against her will? Would withholding (or at least decreasing) wine and cigarettes be an act of cruelty or the responsible thing to do?
    Brothers are all angry that SIL isn't doing a better job managing the situation, but nobody is really jumping in to help. There is a bad dynamic because MIL said SIL will get the house when she dies. SIL and BIL are paying very little towards living expenses, so brothers think they are taking advantage. SIL says she doesn't even care about getting the house at this point, she just wants out of this servitude.
    I am going to ask SIL what I can do to lend support. I do get along well with all partied involved. Any advice?

  2. #2
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8,306
    Oh wow rosarugosa! Hmmm.......Not sure what anyone can do for this group. Just curious how you can "get along well" with these people. I'm sorry if I'm having trouble figuring out their relation to you. Is there a brother in this? I would venture to say to just stay clear.......

  3. #3
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    11,746
    Aw sweetie, this is a bad bad situation. Have you been to Al Alon? That group will reinforce coping skills of setting boundaries.

    Please do not even go down the path of trying to withold cigs and drink, it will not work. Dont put yourself in that situation.

    How big is this house of hers?If big enough, and with separate bathrooms, I might negotiate with her zones where she stays in one and she can trash it to her hearts cOntent with only occasional cleaning while the other zone is for whoever lives with her. But sure, this is impractical because they have to share a kitchen.

    But the reality is that she likely has some dementia, she will live in squalor and be content doing it for the rest of her life. Smoking and drinking will hasten her death and that may not be a bad thing. How old is she?

    The brothers live how far away? You all need to be on the same page in handling MIL. Group counseling would go far.

    wait...this is your brother’s wife’s mother? If so, you are in luck. You have no responsibility. Stay completely out of it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    1,478
    The next of kin can go to probate and family court and try to be appointed a guardian. From observing such procedures during the days when I was frequently there with my ex over child issues it appears these petitions are usually granted. Any supporting documentation from doctor(s) will be helpful.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    2,522
    Husband's mother who presents as quite rational. Legally, I doubt there is anything you (your husband and his brothers) can do. Your SIL and husband have to make their own decisions regarding just how much they are willing to give up for the hope of getting the house. If I was in the other brother's shoes, I would be jumping up and down with joy that there is someone willing to stay in the house and monitor your MIL. It would be worth giving them the house because this is a multi year situation and is never going to get better.

    Dysfunction all the way around. Al Anon is a good suggestion. You are dealing with a group of drinkers and need to understand your boundaries and what is and more important is not possible.

    BEFORE you raise any issues with SIL, what are you willing to do? Move in, stay for weeks, give a short term respite (that might involve them never coming back, providing $$, etc. Dont go in having to say no if you dont want to do something.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Posts
    4,529
    Quote Originally Posted by rosarugosa View Post
    Brothers are all angry that SIL isn't doing a better job managing the situation, but nobody is really jumping in to help.
    If the brothers think managing this situation is so easy, they should know they are welcome at any time to jump in and actively help -- not just "supervise". If SiL is to be the "primary caregiver" and executor of the decisions, however, I believe her votes in what to do should have a little extra weight.

    Quote Originally Posted by rosarugosa View Post
    There is a bad dynamic because MIL said SIL will get the house when she dies. SIL and BIL are paying very little towards living expenses, so brothers think they are taking advantage. SIL says she doesn't even care about getting the house at this point, she just wants out of this servitude.
    MiL says SiL will get the house. Is that in official writing somewhere?

    Quote Originally Posted by rosarugosa View Post
    I am going to ask SIL what I can do to lend support. I do get along well with all partied involved. Any advice?
    If there's one lesson that keeps coming back to me in life, it's that you can't push a rope.

    Being a level away from this dysfunction, I don't believe you have the leverage needed to do anything beyond illuminate choices and consequences. Despite what SiL says, if she and her DH are not actively working to get out of the situation (saving for and looking for their own place, etc.), they're generally OK with the situation and are just griping to your friendly ear.

    About the only thing I would suggest is that SiL/her husband let MiL's medical-care team know about the most dangerous behaviors (cigarette-lighting, hygiene issues). As mandated reporters, they may be able to move MiL toward a care solution that works (better) for all involved.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  7. #7
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Eastern Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,319
    CathyA: This is my husband's mother, and his sister and her husband live with MIL.
    IL: It's a big old house with 3 - 4 bedrooms, but only 1 bath. Not conducive to zoning off without major work, which nobody can afford. One of the brothers criticizes SIL for buying MIL's wine and butts, since she can't get out of the house. I do think they might have to curb her a bit if she wants more than she has money to afford. MIL is 85, and I think it's amazing she has made it this far. We live 2 miles away, and the other 2 brothers live 1 hr away and 2 hrs away. The 1 hour away brother works in this area though. SIL says were are the only ones she can talk to that don't treat her like she is a total a$$hole. There is a definite lack of family cooperation here.
    My Mom is having memory issues, but she is happy and cooperative, trusts us and is thankful for everything we do for her. Sister & I are totally on the same page. Mom is still quite independent at 83, but the family dynamics make this such a better scenario.

  8. #8
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    4,531
    All you can do is investigate the options, as many as possible, for care now and in the future. Make copies and hand them to each of the family responsible, ie., your DH and his siblings and then get out of the way. Do not intrude or make any offers of aid beyond that as you are not, as far as I can tell, the decision-maker in any way, merely the rational supportive loving onlooker. That alone is a very valuable role.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  9. #9
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    11,746
    Another point to consider is that SIL and BIL need to understand that they will not necessarily “get the house“ regardless of what a will says (and we dont even know if that is stated.) If MIL has to go into a nursing home and she has no resources to pay for that, the house will go to pay her expenses in the nursing home, that is dictated by the government.

    But in my experience, limited though it is, heavy smokers go down pretty fast once they start that spiral slide, so years spent in a nursing home isnt the norm.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Price County, WI
    Posts
    556
    Rosarugosa,

    It sounds like your mother-in-law and your husband's siblings have a difficult situation to cope with. You are well-connected with these people, and you are asking your husband's sister what you can do to help. As you say, the family cooperation is lacking (MIL's suspicions, your husband's sister's feeling that "she is treated as a total a$$hole" by her 2 other brothers, etc.)

    I wonder if your husband has a clear and deep understanding of your feelings about the situation... and your impressions of the level of sibling cooperation that is called for, versus the level of cooperation you perceive to be present. Perhaps a frank and open dialog with him is essential. In the discussion, you would hopefully be able to clarify: How does your husband view his mother's decline? What does he believe constitute the most immediate and serious threats to her health and well-being? What changes does he believe need to be made in his mother's routine? -- and who (if anyone) would be able to take responsibility for these changes, subject to agreement by the siblings? Who in the family should be acting differently than they are now, and in what ways?

    As you may gather, rosarugosa, I believe it may be valuable to clarify what is the nature of the problem, and whose problem it is. If it is primarily a problem for the four siblings and their mother, then you might be able to help with communication (gatekeeping?) and building trust among the siblings. The issues are complex, and the feelings could be volatile. So, do you think it would be sufficient to host 3 or 4 meetings of the four siblings?

    Before the siblings meet for the first time, I would suggest designating your husband to speak for both of you... thus, your role in meetings would be to facilitate communication and encourage consensus, while the siblings exchange information, examine alternatives, and make decisions about what is to be done, and by whom.

    Of course, there may be resistance to the idea of "meetings, bloody meetings". If siblings don't like the idea of meeting to reach a consensus about the problem, then I would ask them to suggest a better idea.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •