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How Can I Help My Mother in Law?

Community Member
Hi everyone, I'm a newbie.
My 85 mother in law (MIL) became an amputee (above leg) ten years ago. She’s never recovered, physically or emotionally. She lives with hubby, 83 (FIL) in a 3 bedroom townhouse high on a hill. She doesn’t drive and he won’t for long.
She walks with a cane (rarely) or uses a wheelchair and is housebound due to the hill.
Recently I found a 1.5 bedroom unit in an independent living situation, five minutes from where they currently live. It is immaculate and highly regarded. It is north facing with a beautiful garden outlook, on the ground floor, with flat access from the unit less than 50 metres to the dining room, library, and more. Every person I watched or talked to there told me how much they love living there, and staff greeted residents by name.
The grounds are extensive, with beautiful gardens, lots of activities and places to be outside. Her best friend lives 5 minutes away and is allowed to dine with them any time.
A deposit has been made at the request of FIL, who changed his mind the following day. He said he’s “not ready to move yet” because he wants to watch his potted pansies flower and listen to the races without headphones.
We have about six weeks to decide and want to proceed. The quality of life for my MIL, particularly when she is a widow, will not present itself again. Alternative options require two-year waiting lists and cannot compare to the safety, security and happiness that this arrangement will provide to a severely incapacitated person.
We have tried every gentle way we can to help them to see what great advantages there would be living in this place. I said they would only need a full fridge and overnight bags and I would do the rest. They also have six months grace in case they change their mind and can get all their money back, except the rent used to date.
The MIL won’t say anything, and does what FIL says. He is quite brash and overbearing and has not taken her needs into account at all, or maybe is just unable to.
Ongoing ACAT care has been arranged, so life will be comfortable and easy with many benefits they don’t currently have. They can do as much or little as they like, fully supported. They can even take a bus to visit their well-loved shops to do their errands, no driving required.
How do we convince them (FIL)to take the chance, without browbeating them?
Thanks in advance for your helpful suggestions xoxo
4 Replies 4

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Deniseisascorpio welcome and thanks for posting

This is a difficult for you especially knowing what great benefits they'd have.

Fil could probably take his potted Pansies so could still look after them and he'd be able to hear the races without earphones being in a unit of their own?

I think its too good an opportunity to pass by so keeping at it would be the way to go although the resistance would be difficult theres so many advantages for them both.

I think whats in your favour is that they have 6 mths to pull out if they wanted but doubt they would from the sounds of it.

Do you think a visit from someone in management could help sway them or maybe involve their GP?

Lovely that their friend can have a meal with them too.

Do you think writing a list of the advantages that they could look at could help as there really seems to be so many plusses.

I imagine moving is unsettling at this age even though you so kindly are willing to do that for them.

How much longer do you have before a decisions made I'd think maybe not too long. Thing is this is going to benefit them both and they'd be around people similar ages and so much to do.

Very best of luck darl they're lucky to have you by their sides.

Be interested in hearing how you get on ☺

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Deniseisascorpio~

Well, I'm sure to a person outside looking on it would seem a no-brainer that your in-laws should move, and your post sets this out and your frustration that this opportunity, and all your work in setting it up has stalled.

So I guess you have to ask yourself what is really going on. I'm not sure that the reasons your FIL gave are the entire picture. People when they are nearing the end of their lives have a different view of things and their values are not what one might expect.

On of the things that many older folk wish is to remain in their home, and would put up with a fair degree of privation to do so. Another of course is reluctance so change something that sort of works for the unknown.

I would image the two people that might have the most influence in this situation are their daughter your partner, and your MIL.

Your MIL is as you say someone who has suffered a great and limiting disability, and may before that have been used to deferring to her husband. As you know many of that generation did so as a matter of course. Under the circumstances she may feel very reluctant to go against his wishes, and may in fact not feel entitled to do so.

May I ask what your wife feels about all this?

If you and your wife are of one mind the only thing I can suggest is trying to change you FIL's mind, perhaps by letting him see things in the new situation that he wants or will enjoy. A silly example would be a race-track next door, yes I know - but I'm trying to give you the idea. Does he have peers he associates with, friends who might admire his choice in moving, regarding him as canny?

With your MIL, for many of her age family looms very large, might she be persuaded if the move meant increased access to family, perhaps grandchildren if there are any?

I'm sorry if this seems a rather negative reply, however one cannot always persuade people to do what seems to be in their own best interest. If one can grab a scrap of comfort from all this, two people of that age who know their own minds is pretty good. Some would not have sufficient mental faculties, a most upsetting circumstance, one I experience with my own MIL.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
Hi Deniseisascorpio, can I welcome you.

Looking on the outside, what you are doing is looking after your MIL and FIL best interests which is very kind of you and when I was younger I would totally support you.

I have actually convinced two different people to go into a village where they would be looked after, meals cooked, clothes cleaned and no responsibilities as the rent money would automatically be paid.

They could wander through the gardens and catch a bus that had been organised to visit shops etc.

The problem is once you get old yourself (63) your thoughts completely change, even though I'm 20 years younger, but I do understand your kind thoughts and probably in 20years, my sons will be saying exactly the same.

Elderly people just love where they are living and any thought of moving house horrifies them, a change of circumstances upsets them, although I know you are looking out for them, that's very kind of you. Geoff.

Community Member
Thanks everyone for your kind, helpful words. There's some great suggestions there 🐵