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Should I ask hospice to help take care of my mother-in-law with dementia?

July 12, 2012

For three years I've been overseeing my mother-in-law's care. After living in one Assisted Living facility, she broke her hip and had to move to a memory care facility. Meanwhile, my husband and I moved farther away from her. Since her move and broken hip, she has gone from walking, eating, and socializing to being bed-bound, incontinent and needing feeding assistance. She seems to be entering her last days. We've decided to have Hospice help her in her facility, but I would like to bring her to our house, with hospice support, and let her spend her last days with us. My husband does not agree with me. Could you please give me some suggestions on how to better handle this situation?

How lucky your mother-in-law is to have someone like you in her life! Especially when caring happens at a distance, it's good to have a point person reviewing all the decisions. You are a wonderful daughter-in-law to be so engaged in her care.

I see a couple of issues here. An elder with dementia who breaks a hip faces a tough road back to health. Physical therapy can be difficult or impossible for them because they can't follow directions. As a result, people like your mother-in-law often face a shortened life expectancy.

I commend you for talking to hospice and considering all options for your loved one's care. It's certainly worth exploring the possibility of bringing your mother-in-law home. I've seen many families bring home loved ones, especially if they are cognitively aware of their surroundings. If that's not possible in your case, rest assured that caring hospice staff and the staff at your mother-in-law's assisted living community will help your mother die in dignity in what has become her home.

I can't give you an easy answer about how to manage the disagreement between you and your husband about his mother's care. I would suggest talking to the hospice group since they typically have counselors on staff who can visit with you and your husband and help you come to an agreement.

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