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What do I do when we can no longer mentally or physically be caregivers?

What do I do when my husband and I can no longer mentally or physically take care of his mother? She has 4 other sons that do absolutely nothing to help us. She was just released from a rehab for third time and can’t even stand on her own. She does nothing to help us help her examples are going to dr. staying on meds etc.. In 2007 I quit my job to take care of her so she didn’t have to go in a nursing home. We moved in with her in 2000 when she was diagnosed with CHF and had stents placed because she was scared of living alone, she needs to be in a skilled nursing facility. When Medicare will no longer pay for the rehab my brother in law who also is her power of attorney has her brought back here because they want her to sign over her home to pay for long term care and as he puts it that is their inheritance. She has been home 2 days and is already refusing to go to doc. Her health has gotten to this point because of her refusal to do what dr. wants. I am tired of fighting the person I’m trying to help. I've spent my savings on mine and husbands daily needs since quitting my job. They just started paying me 700.00 a month for taking care of her and the only reason they did that was fear of what it would cost for someone else. My husband just had quadruple bypass surgery last year his health is starting to decline, we are still in our forties. I cannot lift her by myself and honestly I need to start worrying about my husband and I before it’s too late. What am I supposed to do?

Status: Open    Apr 04, 2016 - 08:29 AM

Caregiving, Relationships

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Apr 06, 2016 - 08:40 AM

Hi, I feel for your situation. This is always a very difficult and delicate time when adult children adapting their own lives to care for their parents or the parents of their spouse. It is further complicated when siblings are less than cooperative in the process. My first recommendation to you would be to call a family meeting "requiring" all of the siblings and relevant family members to be present. Often in family meeting like these, views and positions that are often unreasonable and motive driven change when the issues are discussed openly in front of everyone. Interesting, those whose motives are completely or partially driven by personal financial gain do seem to be more cooperative and flexible when these issues are discussed in detail and aired out in front of all family members including your mother-in-law.

Of course this does not always work and can be unproductive and resolve little, but it is a first step that should be taken. My second recommendation would be to have those cooperative in the family have a sit down with the the mother. If she is of sound mind, often simply detailing the situation to her and explaining the pros and cons of each approach may convince her to make decisions that are best for her own interests, especially since your own husband (her son) has mounting health issues himself.

Of course if none of the aboved measures workd, unfortunately legal recourse may be your only option. I am aware that the expense of this route and the time it may take may make it unappealing to you, but it may be the only way to force uncooperative siblings to do the right thing. If you were to go this route, its a good idea to see if there are any close friends or relative who are attorneys that might be willing to offer their time and expertise to pursue whatever legal options required.

I hope these tips gives you some ideas and a bit of hope that all is not lost and that there are things you can try to make the situation better for everyone.

All the best to you and your family.

-Darryl Duncan
Aria Musicholistics

Apr 06, 2016 - 08:43 AM

You are in a common situation and are having very normal feelings. Clearly, your mother-in-law needs more help than you can provide. It isn't fair to HER to try and keep doing it yourself.

First, this is not "your" problem to solve. It is the family's issue to resolve. You need to issue a directive to everyone that you are quitting this job, effective XX date. Perhaps hire a geriatric care manager to guide the family through making decisions that everyone can live with. They can help with identifying alternatives, helping identify sources to cover fees, and so on.

You should not feel guilty - as you said, they aren't doing anything.


May 14, 2016 - 10:04 PM

700 a month for caregiving is cheap if you gave up a good job to do it full time. You need respite too, and if you cannot physically take care of her needs you should not be doing it without help in any event, as that could get you in trouble for neglect. Medicaid, which is what she would need for long-term care, will require estate recovery though the home is an exempt asset as long as she expresses an intent to return, but they are NOT in the business of prserving anyone's inheritance.

Either your family bites the bullet and recognizes that the "inheritance" will be spent down or recovered for care, or everybody pitches in and supports either the real cost of adequate caregiving for her in your home, OR the cost of her assisted living facility, which will be 2-3 times what they want to pay you at a minimum, or skilled nursing that will be even more. Consider getting an eldercare legal consultation or at leat meet with an estate planner together. It is appropriate to use Mom's funds to pay for this too. Possibly there could be an eldercare waiver program that would work better than facility care. Possibly, her income or assets would be too high for regular Medicaid, in which case you ask about a Miller trust. Possibly you are not too late to consider a transfer of assets but the "look-back" periods are at least 5 years, so probably not a good option now.

What you are NOT supposed to do is ruin your own life and health while giving Mom suboptimal care so that her family can eventually sell her house when she passes on and get a share of proceeds and any other assets as an inheritance! Depending how the will is written (and who is executor) don't put it past your uninvolved siblings to count on their equal shares even though you have done all the care...or even to deduct what they are paying for care from your share when the time comes. Sorry to be harsh, but this is the sort of thing you her way too much about. I never did have to put my mom on Medicaid, but we did use all the assets and proceeds from selling her home, and we were beneficiaries of some life insurances she had, but that was it as far as any "inheritance", and we'd spent a lot more of our own money traveling and visiting and all. I understand that it didn't used to be like this, but care is now too expensive and this is the new reality!
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