Don’t know what to do for the best!

My mother in law died just before Xmas, sadly we were almost prepared for this because she’d been suffering from cancer and she passed very peacefully. My father in law Bob is now alone after 63 years of marriage and he has vascular dementia (very forgetful with his short term memory, but nothing else) Bob has been with us at our house now since Xmas day (funeral was Xmas eve) initially we didn’t want him alone at Xmas nor new year and nobody else in our family offered, using covid as their main reason which I totally respect. However we then had the lock down and Bob is still living with us because we thought it was easier to keep him here, than travel to his home every day as visitors. My husband and I work full time as do my son and his girlfriend and our youngest (18) is in his final year at sixth form. When lock down finishes, there will be no one in our house from 7.30am -6.30pm
We’ve tried to take Bob home so he can spend some time in his home, where he’s familiar and can use all his skills for cooking and making tea, housework etc that he did so well while his wife Mavis was ill. Now he refuses to go back and says he’s staying with us because he sees no point going to a home, where his wife is no longer there. It’s so very sad but I feel it’s starting to get quite stressful.
I have to work from home and I sit on out top landing to work (no spare rooms for luxury if have office) and I feel terrible because I see and hear Bob walking around the house all day not knowing what to do with himself, I’ve labelled all the doors so he knows he finds his bedroom and sees there’s a downstairs loo (other wise he climbs up 3 flights of stairs to the top loo) I’ll suggest he walks the dog for 10mins each day which he does, but after that he sits looking into space sat on the sofa for the rest of the day. I go downstairs for coffee and lunch breaks, but that’s all I can do and it’s just making me feel so sad seeing him as he is and then having to be all cheery on the phone at work. Everyone else is out at work and I’m almost climbing the walls by the time everyone’s home.
I’ve taken advice from the admiral nurses who say we need to get bob home a couple of days each week and build on this,or he’ll lose his skills, so we’ve tried this and he won’t go back, he says “ I’ve no interest going back there it’s not home anymore, this is my home” My husband is struggling, after all he lost his mum and now he has his dad living with us and Bob is happy to sit on a sofa all day, have his meals and cups of tea made and do nothing else. I have this awful guilt too, am i being too pushy/hard trying to get him back home? We had a smashing rotar prior to the lock down, whereby Bob had a family member visit every day (usually around 4pm to make sure he ate a good tea) day from a member we had planned to incorporate a carer to call each lunch time, just for company and to check up on him really, but this has all gone by the wayside now since the lock down. Can anyone give me some advice, if I bring the subject up with my husband about taking him home again to just to try another couple of days, he just clams up. When I suggest my husband takes professional advice from an Admiral nurse he says “what do they know, they’ve never met my dad” I can’t be seen to drive this or both my husband, father in law and kids will resent me
Meanwhile I haven’t seen my own elderly parents since March they have to shield and they live a distance away
I’m worried

Thanks for reading

Hi Chrissy,

welcome to the forum. It sounds very stressful as unlike everyone else in your family, you are not getting a break from your FIL. Even when working, you are aware of him sat on the sofa or wondering about.

In no particular order, my thoughts are if you and your husband don’t do something, your FIL will lose his skills and then his only option will be residential care. I am wondering though, if your MIL was prompting him a lot and that was what counteracted his short term memory loss and enabled him to function as he did.

Whilst the Admiral nurses are still involved, I think I would ask them if they could take FIL to his house and spend time with him there? Also, your husband could suggest to FIL that he needs to go back to his parent’s house to help him grieve/ get closure (you can probably think of better words/ terminology) and use this as an excuse for him to take FIL back there.


You CANNOT be forced to care. It may be your husband’s dad but he’s also an elderly man with dementia who is completely disrupting your normal life in YOUR home!
If he cannot manage in his own home, then he needs to move somewhere where he has the appropriate support, sooner rather than later, because the day is fast approaching when he is going to need 24/7 care.
Nothing can halt dementia, the slow decline. I was widowed at 54, I know how tough it is.
Your husband needs to understand the impact this is having on you.
Even the “him or me” conversation??

From a purely practical point-of-view, the comment that stands out in your post is that your father-in-law will be left by himself for a huge proportion of the day and this will almost certainly not work. Your husband needs to take this onboard and work with you to find some solution to the problem.

I wonder if you have heard of/considered extra-care housing? Details here:

If you don’t stick up for yourself, no one else will.

Your husband goes to work all day. So he doesn’t see how dad behaves while you are trying to work.
I’ve worked from home for many years, now retired, writing a magazine. It was impossible to work efficiently if the family were around, too many distractions, and it sounds that dad is a constant distraction!

My in laws and mum didn’t see working from home as “real” work, neither did Social Services! I was home, and when my husband was alive, he worked from home a lot too, we ran a business together. If we were home it was assumed by everyone that we were available to just do this, or that. No one saw me working until 1am trying to catch up to meet a printing deadline. Every year I ran a lorry show 250 miles away, come hell or high water I HAD to go.

As far as dad is concerned, he’s landed in a cosy nest, hasn’t he? He knows that you are always around (but doesn’t respect your working), it’s warm he’s got absolutely everything he needs now.
Your son is undoubtedly not very happy about it, and your own parents need a share of your time too.

You MUST push this one. Tell dad he must go home as soon as lockdown ends. Tell Social Services he will need carers from then on, so he should have a Needs Assessment and Financial Assessment.

Does you husband have Power of Attorney?
If dad still has some mental capacity, sort this out asap, or it will make life so much more complicated.
Does dad own or rent his home?
Claiming Attendance Allowance?
Claiming exemption from Council Tax due to dementia, classed as a “severe mental impairment”.
Does dad have over £23,000 in savings? (The limit for SSD care)
Has he sorted out his single pension now mum has died?
Who is looking after his place in his absence???

Hello Chrissy,
It’s still early days since Bob’s wife passed away (only a month or so). It is a very sad time for him. You and your husband have been very kind towards him - letting him stay with you during Christmas, the New year and beyond.
I reckon he is worried about feeling lonely on his own in his house every day, but I think that that is the best option for the time being.
Try to encourage him to return to his home - there must be things there that he needs such as his letters and clothes etc. My guess is that he will want to go home soon - there must be things to sort out such as documents to do with his late wife eg her pension and bank account.
When he returns home then it’s really your husbands responsibility to visit/check on Bob regularly.
You mention that ‘other family members ’ used to visit Bob every day’ - perhaps that could be arranged again.
Hope this helps,
Karen x

Maybe a family conference is needed?

Oh dear, you do sound badly sandwiched!
I agree with bowlingbun and Karen Dee, find out about all the options, and where he could go instead of going home. It does actually sound as if going home alone is not a good idea - my father had vascular dementia and for the last three years of his life he couldn’t live alone safely. The only reason he didn’t go into a home or sheltered accommodation was that my mother out-lived him.
I think it may be a question of simply saying to your family, ‘I am only human, and therefore I cannot cope with this.’ No one can care 24/7, it’s not a question of driving a rational process of moving your FIL out, or being selfish or anything of that sort. The whole thing seems by default to have landed on your shoulders, and that’s not sustainable.

Suggest to the rest of the family that they care for him instead as you are working and have children, and their response will tell you everything!! They don’t want to do it either.
Realistically, the time has come when he can’t live on his own any more.
Whatever happens, he is going to end up in residential care.
Make this his last ever move. Don’t let him end up getting shuffled around.
Many residential care homes have a “care” section for people who just need a bit of help, and a “nursing” section, which has to have a qualified nurse on duty at all times, and is more expensive.
If he owns his home, this can be sold to pay for care.
If he doesn’t, and has under £23,000 Social Services will pay for some or all of his care.
Finding out full details of his finances is now absolutely vital.