Call 888-734-8645 today for Home Instead Senior Care dementia care services in your area.

How do I help my father-in-law understand he needs caregiving help?

Answered by Karen Garner

May 27, 2015

How do I make my father-in-law understand that 1.) His wife is not going to "bounce back" from Alzheimer's? 2.) He needs help (he is her only caregiver and he truly neglects his own care) 3.) There's nothing wrong with having someone come in to his home to help care for my mother-in-law?

My husband and I live on the Eastern side of the state and are 4 hours away. We go over every-other weekend to help and spend time with both of them. My mother-in-law has had several mini strokes and has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's/Dementia. She can not walk on her own, has no control of her bowels, cannot make complete sentences. She is in need of 100% care. My father-in-law is massively in denial of her rapid decline, and my husband and I cannot seem to help him see that he need professional help - not only for her sake but his as well. My husband is almost at his wit's end, and I don't blame him, but there has to be something we can do. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Hi Jessica,

Thank you for taking the time to write. Wow! You are in the midst of a huge conundrum. It seems sometimes spouses find a world of denial a much easier place to live in for the moment. Recognizing and admitting that someone you love and rely on for everyday happiness is leaving you in some capacity is very difficult. It is easier to put it off for a day, which turns into a week, which turns into a month...

Your father in law either already knows even better than you do what is happening and just doesn't want to admit any form of "defeat" or he, himself is having some mental health issues as well. Is it possible to get him involved in a support group? The Alzheimer's Association in your are should have several to choose from. Please reach out to them for help.

Please have your husband remind his father how important he is to your family, how much he is loved and tell him in very black and white terms that he needs to take care of himself because HE is important to many others and your family would be devastated if something happened to him. It is not uncommon for caregivers to have health issues due to the stress of caregiving. He will feel like a failure if he gives up control of her care. There is a fine line of letting him feel this way and getting him to understand how hurt you all would be to lose him too.

One thing to try is to bring a home caregiver in, as a "friend" visiting for your mother in law. As she comes to know her as a "friend", she may rely on her more and more to provide basic care needs. This has worked for others in the past, and if you can find someone, then introduce this concept to your father in law; it may work. You may need to have several "friends" start coming around. There have also been others who "volunteered" to help the person coming to their home with small tasks and it made it much more manageable. I am not sure your mother in law is at this place, but if so, please consider being a little creative with home care introductions. It could make all the difference. Good Luck!

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. June 6, 2015 at 10:19 am
    Posted by MommaD

    I found it difficult getting my FIL to accept help from caregivers. Being calm & caring in tone of voice it helped when I said "I" need the help in the home cleaning and caring for him. I added in that "someday" we will need more help, and this helps get us ready to know how to take care of him in the future. All with the emphasis that it is our weaknesses & his care we are more concerned about. That we all get down times (i.e.. illnesses, injuries, or other people we need to help care for).

Share your thoughts, stories and comments

Your email address will not be published.

Ask an Expert a Question

Fill out the form below to get your own question answered by one of our experts. They’ll respond to your questions here.

If you have a comment rather than a question, you can submit your comment in the form below.

Read how we protect your information.

*All form fields are required.

Do you want to ask a specific expert?

By submitting this question, you agree to the Terms of Use and disclaimer for this site.

Rocket Fuel