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

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToomuchStuff View Post
    "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?"

    Have her declared non competent and obtain guardianship.
    You can NOT make her accept them, but she will have to live with the consequences.
    If nothing else, make sure smoke/CO alarms are installed in the right places and functioning.

  2. #22
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    Be cautious about a doctor visit. She is the patient, it's doubtful that she will tell the doctor enough for s/he to get the picture that she is a danger to herself and others, and doctor can't discuss her issues with anyone else unless she gives permission. I know someone like this. She just checked herself into the hospital-took a cab- for a knee replacement on Monday, and intends to go home to her empty (of people) house on Friday! She has told the doctors that her niece lives with her- Not. Niece lives 260 miles away! This woman is 89, has AFib and COPD, had a hip replacement 6 months ago, and reportedly is very lax with her medication schedule. The family is sort of at their wits' ends with her- but have gotten no help from her doctors.

  3. #23
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    Sounds like MIL is content where she is, and she can't be placed in a nursing home against her will, unless she's declared imcompetant and placed in a locked ward. It is very difficult and time-consuming to have somebody declared incompetant...as it should be; this is depriving her of all freedom and autonomy. If she is content with her situation, and if the 89 year old with Afib and COPD who lives alone likes it that way, who is to say they don't have the right to live the way they want, even if we may think it's wrong? I think OP's intention to help out at MIL's home is a great solution.

  4. #24
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    It is fairly difficult to have someone declared incompetent. The judge will ask the date to include the year, who is president, etc. It is a pretty low bar. Yes her dementia may indeed be because of the alcohol but sometimes the damage is permanent. Most states have a 5 year look back period for Medicaid. When my friend recently died I had to show proof of all the funeral/death expenses I paid up front. I was allowed to spend that $ and that's about it. Medicaid had only helped out for less then a year but they wanted any $ that as left. The house was long gone as her DH sold it when he was dying and paid off all their debts.

  5. #25
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Update: SIL told MIL yesterday that I was coming over to help with her checking account. SIL said MIL did a complete 180 and was getting her records together and waiting for me to arrive. I found MIL to be very receptive to my help. I found one significant error where she had added something that should have been deducted, which of course has double the impact. I couldn't totally untangle things though, because I didn't have enough info, e.g. MIL hadn't kept her last account statement, and it appears that she wrote a check recently but didn't write it down, so we cannot know what that was until it clears. I proposed that she call me when she gets her monthly statements and I will reconcile with her checkbook ("I can be your accountant!"). I've certainly made errors in my own checkbook, but I reconcile every month and am able to catch things before they have impact. I am concerned that she has virtually no money. It occurred to me after the fact that she must have a property tax bill due on 2/1 (we live in the same town), and it would probably be for $1000 or more, and she has a lot less than that in the bank, and won't get anything more coming in until SS deposit on 2/1. I feel like this really requires some good sibling communication and cooperation, and I'm not optimistic about that happening.
    I don't think she could be declared incompetent. She is pretty sharp about most things, and it's hard to reconcile her demeanor with the whole urinating in wastebaskets thing. I think it would be best if she can stay in her home as she wants to, but I don't know that she can afford to do so, especially if SIL and BIL move out.
    SIL seemed to get some benefit from me just expressing verbally that I was an ally/resource for her. Apparently she told our other SIL to shut up and get out and that she was not part of the family when she tried to get involved. I think it helped that I approached her with "what can I do to help" rather than "I'm going to come in and straighten all you people out," which probably was the other SIL's approach (good intentions, but kind of a bossy, know-it-all presentation). I was talking to DH about the interpersonal dynamics and that I was just DIL/SIL and not one of the kids. He said, "you have more than DIL status in that household." There is kind of some truth to that, so I want to do what I can to help out with this sad situation. MIL pays a housekeeper $100 to come in once a month. I am pondering the possibility of offering to clean the house once a month for her, which would effectively put $100/month back in her pocket. Not sure yet if I want to commit to that, but it would be a way I could personally help.

  6. #26
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Rosa, you seem very practical about this. I dont know about the cleaning. Here is one way to look at this: if it is apparant that your MIL cannot now, or soon cannot, afford to live in a big house, your work to “help” her out by cleaning seems to be prolonging the inevitable.

    Showing her that she has no money to pay taxes is a useful lesson, it isnt scaring her unnecessarily, it is reality.

    With the elderly, a good philosophy (I think i learned it here!) is to show you value them by taking care of THEM but not their STUFF. I know it is hard to separate the two. But a big old house is just STUFF.

    good luck withh this.

  7. #27
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    rosa, I think you are handing this very practically and compassionately. I agree with IL, don't take on the house cleaning.

    I do think that if she's sharp, she'll be able to look at the numbers you've worked out and hopefully come to a conclusion on her own. If she were not alcoholic, I would actually suggest looking into a reverse mortgage. They're not great, but they can help some people. Not sure how old your MIL is?

    However, since she's alcoholic (which is why she pees in waste baskets even though she's compos mentis most of the time), and she may lose your SIL/BIL, a reverse mortgage may be a form of enabling.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  8. #28
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    That's the problem I see when you work to help to keep the elderly in their homes, especially when their homes are too big and too much for them to care for. Are you really helping, or are you enabling, and helping to keep a bad situation going?
    Alcoholism complicates this question, almost beyond unraveling.

  9. #29
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    My MIL is 85 years old and seems to have no interest in changing her ways, so if we could enable her until she shuffles off her mortal coil, I think that would be an excellent accomplishment. She is really thin, SIL says she won't eat much and with the smoking and drinking, I wouldn't expect her to have too many years left. It just seems like tough love and getting her to turn her life around isn't a realistic expectation at her age.
    I was thinking that a reverse mortgage might be a good idea for her.
    It probably hasn't come through with what I've written here, because I've tried to objectively share the facts, but I do really love my MIL, I believe she loves me, and we have always gotten along very well.

  10. #30
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosarugosa View Post
    My MIL is 85 years old and seems to have no interest in changing her ways, so if we could enable her until she shuffles off her mortal coil, I think that would be an excellent accomplishment. She is really thin, SIL says she won't eat much and with the smoking and drinking, I wouldn't expect her to have too many years left. It just seems like tough love and getting her to turn her life around isn't a realistic expectation at her age.
    I was thinking that a reverse mortgage might be a good idea for her.
    It probably hasn't come through with what I've written here, because I've tried to objectively share the facts, but I do really love my MIL, I believe she loves me, and we have always gotten along very well.
    OK. The fact that she's 85 leads me to agree with you. Why upset the apple cart at this point? She is who she is. As long as she can be kept reasonably safe, acceptance at this point won't hurt. I understand your affection, and your realistic assessment of her situation is laudable.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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