Escalation in memory problems ...

Discussion in 'Memory concerns and seeking a diagnosis' started by kingmidas1962, Oct 29, 2015.

  1. kingmidas1962

    kingmidas1962 Registered User

    Jun 10, 2012
    South Gloucs
    ... I have already lost my dad to dementia, have my mum with severe mental health issues (depression and anxiety) and now mum in law is really starting to struggle with her memory.

    She moved into sheltered housing some time ago now but the sale of the family home has just gone through. She has got herself in the most almighty mess with utilities (cancelling supplies for the wrong house etc) despite my husband going to help her as often as he can. We live 50 miles away, but there are 3 other siblings nearby - sibling one (daughter) no longer speaks to mum - they have always grated on each other but now can't seem to even be in the same room without war breaking out. Sibling 2 (brother) works away a lot and sibling 3 (brother) has behavioural problems and MIL wont 'let' him help because 'he does everything wrong', So she phones my husband (who suffers from depression himself) and talks for ages going over the same things. I'm also worried about the impact it is having on him!

    Having been through dementia with my dad I think it's time for them to have the 'talk' and to acknowledge that she has problems, and make plans accordingly BUT they either don't want to, won't discuss it or don't want to go behind her back.

    I know how hard it is to accept that a parent has problems and I have always been the kind of person to face things head on - and they (generally, as a family) would prefer to avoid the issues ... but central to all this is her wellbeing and safety.

    I dont want to take it on - my mum is enough for one person to cope with - but wondered if I could start the ball rolling (but being aware that I might end up carrying said ball) and I was wondering if anyone had any bright ideas about who I might speak to / write to (her GP?) about getting her some kind of assessment.
  2. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    I totally get what you are saying, and I was also Cassandra in OH's family in the early days. You can't push them to change their way of interacting with each other. Family dynamics were formed long before you joined them. One person tends to be less respected by the others, one raises their voice and intimidates, one makes it all about themself, one is afraid that mummy won't love them anymore, and each one thinks they understand mum's feelings better than the others do.:rolleyes:

    Your OH will resist anything you do that he's not comfortable with. Your in-laws won't thank you for appearing to know more than them just because you've had your parents issues to deal with. You DO know more than them, but they need to come to a better understanding in their own time.

    For the moment, focus on OH, not on MIL. You are worried that pressure from his mum might cause a bout of depression. Can you agree with him that he will become less instantly available? Screen incoming calls and say "I will tell him you called." OH could plan to have perhaps 2 planned telephone calls or visits a week with his mum. This will help him feel in control.

    You could offer to have a family meal for the siblings. This was our starting point for 'the talk'. People feel less embarrassed and put on the spot if the meeting has a social element.

    The family will respect you more, and be more amenable to advice, if you give them the message "I'm ready to talk when you are". I made the mistake of exploring options and sharing information with a family who were not ready for this. It made them angry; it made them think I was betraying their mum by talking to strangers about her (even though I kept my enquiries anonymous). It was like "how can you even think these things about our mum". :(

    At worst, you can even get the blame for causing the problems. MIL used to complain that she would be perfectly all right if I would stop interfering, and this message was shared around the family, so that I became the problem for a while. The groupthink was "She means well, but she doesn't understand how we do things in this family". Objectively the siblings knew this wasn't true, but in the heat of the moment with their mum complaining about me, they would agree to 'have a word'.

    Clever MIL. Divert attention away from the reason why interventions were required. She would smirk at me and tell me I was just one of those people who needed to sort other people's lives out to give myself a sense of achievement. :mad:
  3. kingmidas1962

    kingmidas1962 Registered User

    Jun 10, 2012
    South Gloucs
    Very wise words. I already half screen her calls, and say OH is in the bath/not home etc, but a scheduled arrangement is a great idea. The family meal would also be a great starting point, if any of them were prepared to put themselves out to actually come ....

    The daughter/mother dynamics are a battle of wills with neither prepared to 'give in'!

    I recognise myself as a rescuer (previous counselling!) and have to rein myself in when I get the urge to try and make everything right!
  4. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    Oh Katrine. That was me, a year and a half ago, too.

    I too had been through it all with Mum and my OH handled all her finances, but he got really annoyed when i suggested he needed to get things like a LPA sorted out for his mum and have 'the talk' with his sisters. I just couldn't understand how he could be so blinkered.

    But I can see in hindsight that I was a little more detached than he and his siblings were. It was their mum, not mine, and that REALLY makes a difference.

    They had to get to the acceptance stage in their own time and I had no choice other than to butt out. I did some behind the scenes planning so I had the relevant info available when necessary, but I had to bide my time and wait until I was asked. We 'rescuers' find that hard, don't we? :D

    Good luck, KM.
  5. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK
    Oh my goodness, this SO chimes with me, too! Katrine, you have offered me some comfort and advice before, for which I thank you. As an in-law, I too see myself as the Cassandra in my family situation, (caring for both parents-in-law, both with dementia), destined to forever not be heard.

    Chemmy, I so agree with you, being an in-law does give me a certain sense of detachment and the ability to think the unthinkable. I too feel as if I'm forever waiting for family members to get on to the 'moving on' phase, without giving them enough time to go through the 'shock', 'denial', and 'acceptance' phases.

    KM, I don't know what to say to advise you, but it does sound as if you have some insight into how the family dynamics will play out. I'm sure this will stand you in good stead.

    This thread has been an epiphany for me tonight. Thank you. :)

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