Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How would you explain?

It's not very often I discuss super in depth family matters on here, but today is an exception.  I'm going to give a super quick background and then get to asking for the advice I need.  I'm hoping someone out there is going through a similar situation and can offer some good advice.

Here's the back story.  My in-laws recently got divorced.  They were married for 40 years and it's been hard on all of us during this time.  All of this aside, my Mother in law has never been on her own.  You see, she went straight from her Dad's house, to my Father in law's house and now she is living with Chuck's very single younger brother.  My MIL has mentioned on more than one occasion that she really wants to move closer to Chuck and I to be near her only grand-kids and well, to get away from the super small town her now ex-husband lives in.  Chuck and I are quite excited about this because he really misses having any family near him.  Oh, all of my family lives near us, but most of his is on the other side of the state, in the East, and out in Utah/Idaho area.  My MIL and Brother in law's lease is about to expire at the apartment they live in.  MIL just shared that information with us and we think that this gives her the best opportunity to move!

Well, MIL came down this weekend to visit.  Chuck and I actually called her and ask her come down.  Why?  Well, she's been sending us pictures and links of houses in our area that she is interested in buying.  That's a good start right?  You'd think so.  When she got down here we ask her if she wanted to go and look at them with her realtor.  Initially she said yes, but then her answer changed to no.  On the flip side of this coin, Chuck and I have been doing a little investigating ourselves, into retirement communities.  Now, you may be asking why and the answer is simple (well, it seems simple anyhow).  Having NEVER lived on her own in 60-plus years, MIL has mentioned on phone conversations that when she moves down here to buy a home that Chuck will have to do the maintenance, cut the lawn, etc.  While Chuck is willing to help in some areas, he feels he has his own home to take care of and isn't wanting the added stress of another.  I get it.  So, we started checking out retirement communities.  There are several of them in our area that are brand new, well maintained and still very close to us.  They have the options of a single family home, condos or apartments and everything is done for you!  Heck, in a couple of places they are still building them so if you get into them now you can customize everything.  We thought she'd jump on that seeing as in the divorce she allowed my FIL to keep the newer, huge house they lived in.  Oh boy, were we wrong.

When Chuck and I brought up the idea of a retirement community the answer we got was "well, I'm not ready to retire and plus, your brother still needs me around".  Oh boy, here is the sticky part.  Chuck's brother is 27!  He has made it more than clear to us that he wants to be on his own.  He has a girlfriend and wants to live his single, bachelor life.  I can't say as I blame him.  I remember being young and NOT wanting my parents around all the time.  When BIL came to visit us over the summer, we got into a chat about MIL.  He said he's noticing things that are worrisome about her.  I've noticed too, but Chuck is blind to it I'm assuming.  My MIL, for all her fabulousness, is getting forgetful.  I'm not talking the little forgetful things everyone has, but a forgetfulness of the more serious variety.  While BIL was visiting for example, MIL called at least 2 times each day to see when he was driving back to their apartment.  Each time he would tell her the day, approximate time he was leaving and when to expect him home.  A couple hours later and the phone would ring with the exact same set of questions and answers.  You all, I'm no doctor, not by a long shot, but I know when something more serious than age related forgetfulness is happening.

Which is why we thought we had come up with a great solution with the retirement community.  I'm not sure how they work everywhere, but around here you can begin in what they call independent living.  No nurses, no check-ons, and you are free to come and go as you please.  It's basically like living on your own, although if you need help it's not far away.  After independent living, you can go into semi-independent living which is where you can still do almost everything on your own, but you may need some reminders or help here and there.  From there it's usually into an on-site nursing home.  Now, I'm not saying MIL needs to go to that extreme, but the independent living sounds like a winner!  She could still work if she wanted to, visit with her friends who live nearby, plus participate in all the local activities the community has (like going on weekend escapes, clubs, organizations and volunteering).

Now, my question is how do you tell someone you think this is the best opportunity for them?  How do you have the talk with your parents about aging?  How do you look someone in the face and tell them they need help and you are wanting to help them?  For all of the reasons I adore Chuck and my brother in law, let's face it, they are men.  I've tried time and again to get them to sit down with their Mom and express their concerns, but they won't.  I sometimes feel like a fool because I will ask questions or suggest things that neither of them thought of.  I also understand that it is their Mom and having that talk with someone can be hard.  I just feel so...lost.

Suggestions are greatly appreciated because the whole "helping out the aging parents" thing is really new to us (me especially since my grandmother is only a few years older than Chuck's parents).

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure what the answer is to this. I do know that my grandfather recently passed away and now my Father and Uncle are faced with the issue as well. 1. My Babcia (grandmother) lives in Poland, we live in the US and my Uncle in Germany. 2. None of us believe that retirement homes are the right thing to do to show love for a family member, only having a family member live with and care for the elder family member. 3. My Babcia is losing memory as well, much worse than your MiL but does not want to have anyone live with her. 4. Having such talks as the children of the elder parent means that everyone has to face the fact that time has passed and all involved are getting old and that eventually this loved one will pass away and nobody wants to think about such a thing. 5. Men are not good at this sort of thing.

    All I can say is, perhaps have a serious sit down talk with them addressing this, acknowledging why they are reluctant to address this but not addressing it does not make the situation go away, it just makes it worse when it can no longer be addressed. But in the end, it is their parent and they are the ones who have to address this. Prayers for you all!