Looking for advice re Care for in-laws

Hi there… I am just looking for a bit of advice with regards to my wife and her parents, and am asking on her behalf

This may be a bit long and convoluted but bear with me…

Basically my wife has been a carer for her Mum now for a couple of years… Her Mum was in a car accident some years ago and is disabled. She is wheelchair bound and is not at all mobile without assistance, and also is type 1 diabetic and has liver problems.

Her Father used to be her main carer and has been since the accident, but he himself was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer last year, so at that time my wife stepped in to assist…

Unfortunately over the last few weeks my wife herself has developed a serious medical problem and has crippling back pain and is awaiting a consultants follow up appointment to see how this will progress. Her mobility is severely restricted and the medication prescribed does not allow her to drive once taken. As such she has told both her parents that she can no longer act as a carer for either of them as she is not physically able to… She also suffers with mental health issues which are also being affected

Her Father has recently been admitted to hospital with a chest and lung infection, so for the time he was in, my wife ended up looking after her Mum full time (moving in), despite telling them both she was not able to… On discharge from hospital her Dad has already cancelled the Social Services Assessment, as he felt it was not needed, and they did not want to spend any of their savings on Social Care. I believe that Social Services do not have any idea what the current situation is.

My wife is now despairing that they will expect her to carry on being her carer, and this is causing huge problems with her mental health. They don’t seem to want to put any plans in place and just expect things to carry on as previous…

I am just after advice on the next steps we can take so any help would be greatly appreciated

Many thanks

Hi Carl, welcome to the forum.

FIL should never have been sent home for your wife to care for, a complete failure of the hospital discharge process. Thank goodness you are around to fight for your wife!

NO ONE CAN BE FORCED TO CARE, not even for a spouse.

Your wife must now write to Social Services, and tell them that she CANNOT care for them any more, with IMMEDIATE EFFECT. Her parents have a choice, residential care, or social care. If they choose not to have either, that is their choice, but there is NO OTHER CHOICE.

Hi Carl and welcome,
I’m going to add a couple of suggestions which may be helpful.
Your FIL may have cancelled his SS assessment but that doesn’t mean that your wife cannot have a Carer’s assessment. Or even an assessment in her own right. The former will alert SS to the elderly couple and your wife’s inability to do the hands on Care for the foreseeable future. The latter might result in a visit, to your wife, from an Occupational Therapist, who could provide on ‘free loan’ all sorts of aids to help your wife in her present painful difficulties. Something like a shower chair springs to mind. This applies to the in-laws as well of course and maybe FIL will consider aids that are ‘free’. Play the ‘you’ve paid your taxes and you are entitled’ card.
You or they are not obliged to act on any recommendations from SS, but should FIL be persuaded to have one then it would be advisable to be present to stop any ‘my daughter will do that’ comments.
You could do the ‘good cop, bad cop’ act and you yourself make it clear to the in-laws that Your Wife will not be doing any more physical care for them because You are worried about Your Wife’s health while your wife does the ‘so sorry parents, but I’m ill and Carl won’t let me hurt myself.’
Is FIL on the radar of the nearest hospice? Has anyone contacted MacMillan?
Sit down with your wife and visualise the best situation possible given the in-laws failing health. Try to get her to realise that although she feels that she ‘ought’ or ‘must’ look after them, there’s no ‘ought’ or ‘must’ about it. A phrase often found on here is ‘Care Manager’. That means that you organise and oversee the Care the parents need but do not do the actual physical work. Another phrase is ‘need’ trumps ‘want’. Do they both ‘need’ to be in a Nursing Home now, perhaps even though neither they nor your wife would want that?
There’s loads more you need to know re finances, and available support. Many more pertinent questions regarding those savings, (what does he think he has saved up for), home ownership and so on but have a good look round this forum and check out the information available then ask questions. Lots of people here have ‘been there and bought the biscuits’ and will try to help or can point you at the experts.

What the parents need to know…

There has to now be a back up plan for their current care and future issues that will occur.

Notice I say will occur…

This can only be done through social service and/or independent care agencies. Which will cost a lot more. The family now need additional individuals to provide care. Try and get some idea of care costs. Show the parents the costs and that these will increase if they delay. Putting a care plan or package. Prevention is better than cure so to speak.

I know it sounds horrible but when an emergency occurs. Call an ambulance don’t keep rushing over. Or nothing will charge.

Believe me when a couple of times an ambulance has been call. People start to change the minds.

NOTHING will change unless you force change, because sadly, your in laws have lost, through age, the ability to see how much others are doing for them. This is a well known trait of the very elderly, i.e. over 85, but where illness and disability are concerned it may be a lot earlier. They become “self focussed” rather than “selfish”. I certainly saw this with my own disabled mum, I knew that she loved me but had a funny way of showing it at times.

Once you and your wife realise that the only power they have over you is the power you let them have. things get a lot easier. Investing in some good counselling is also a good idea, helping your wife dump the guilt and concentrate on her own well being at last.