Hi, all. Glad I found this site.
My husband and I are newly married (2.5 months), and have been together for a year and a half total.
A couple weeks ago, his 89-year-old grandmother was sent to us after her daughter-in-law (my husband's mom) was burned out from taking care of her. Grandma's son (my father-in-law) had passed away last year, and gram had nowhere else to go. Her mobility is very limited, and she's mentally and physically declining more everyday.
We're getting into a routine with her, though ideally, her living in our home is not going to be a permanent solution, as we both work full-time. However, we're going to have to start from scratch in order to get her qualified for AL, as nothing of the sort had been done for her yet. We don't have medical directive or POA over her yet.
I'd appreciate any tips and advice from the more seasoned caretakers on here!

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This is a heavy burden on a new marriage. You're not just still in the honeymoon phase of your marriage, you're still in the honeymoon phase of your entire 1.5-year relationship. But it's noble of you to make a go of it.

My only advice is to make your marriage a priority, as much as is possible in a situation like this. Don't put it on autopilot until you have the house to yourselves again, but really work at it, just the same as if grandma hadn't moved in. And if it starts to affect your marriage in ways that will be hard to undo, do not feel bad about saying "We gave it our best shot, but grandma needs to live elsewhere now." There are options, and you'll learn all about them here.
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MavisBacon Jun 8, 2022
Thank you! And yes, we're definitely doing our best to prioritize our marriage. We've installed cameras that connect to our phones so we can leave the house and go spend time together for a bit, and we've recruited his teenaged sister to watch grandma this weekend while we go to a concert in Vegas
Oh my...this could easily become a full-time job. After having burnt out your mother-in-law, she is no good news. Do not think that it will be like babysitting for a child. Old people grow down, not up. They don't learn, they have fixed unchangeable old habits. They are heavy to carry and they do get worse with time physically and mentally. You might have to hire people to watch her while you are at work. Make sure the arrangement is temporary, do not let other family members dump her on you and run away.
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MavisBacon Jun 9, 2022
Thankfully, my mom has worked with seniors for most of her adult life, so I was able to witness secondhand what that world entails. My husband is new to all this, and is understandably overwhelmed (he's still freshly grieving his dad, and now this).
The POA documents must be done NOW. They have to be done when she is competent. Make an appoint with an elder law attorney at once. Same hold true for MPOA. These will be impossible to get. You don't get POA "over" someone. You get it FROM them and they must be competent to give them to you in the attorney's office. Do look up what you want in the POA document. For instance if she has property you should have the power to sell it for her care should funds be needed.
Discuss with this attorney a care contract in which it is set out in black and white exactly what the Grandmother's contribution to household costs are. This cannot be considered gifting in case she needs further care in future with Gv assistance.
Make an agreement between all members of the household to have every six month checkins and checkups on how this is working for everyone. If it isn't working for everyone that's a deal breaker. Discuss everything including expectations of privacy, who does what and etc.
That's for the beginning. Step one, the attorney appointment.
Then go to the blue line at the top of AgingCare page and look for CARE TOPICS. You will find any number of items there to start looking and to start triggering questions you may have.
Good luck.
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MavisBacon Jun 9, 2022
I've drafted up documents for POA, MPOA, and living will for our state, naming my husband as the agent. Please send prayers and well-wishes that she'll agree to sign them.
Hi Mavis, contact the Maricopa County Counsel of Aging. This is the agency that can get a needs assessment done, that will be required for any facility she goes to. They have all of the local resources available and they can hook you up with a senior placement specialist, this person can help you find a facility that meets grandma's needs and she might be able to pay for without ALTCS, which is AZ Medicaid for long term care.

You say in your profile that she has Alzheimer/dementia, depending on her ability to comprehend, the POA boat may have sailed. Along with the AL boat, any ALs that I found that would accept ALZ/Dem were cost prohibitive and ALTCS wouldn't pay. This was 4 years ago and I don't know the current rules, MCCA will be able to guide you.

I downloaded the DPOA, DMCPOA and Mental Health POA from the AZ Attorney General website and didn't have any problems with them being accepted, make sure you do Durable and not just General POA. UPS stores have notaries.

How is grandmas functioning? Can she do things for and by herself?
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MavisBacon Jun 8, 2022
Great info! Thank you!
She can only do things by herself sometimes. Most days, she can barely get off the couch without assistance. But every now and then, she'll have a good day and wander all over the house. As recently as four months ago, she was able to do household chores like washing dishes and doing the laundry. Nowadays, though, she's unable to do things like that.
Mavis, can grandma feed, dress, go to the bathroom and all other activities of daily living (ADLs, you will become very familiar with that acronym) by herself?

Is she being left alone while you both work? Is she able to comprehend if she is in danger? Like can she exit the house if there is a fire? Can she have a sensible conversation? Does she use any mobility device?

You are really fortunate to be in Phoenix, there are literally thousands of facilities there. So you have a great chance of finding something that works.

I highly recommend board and care homes, they are more like a home environment, they cost less and most of them allow the residents to stay through hospice. Not all facilities accommodate the elder through end of life, this is something you want to ask of every place you interview.

I, also recommend getting her a chair that has arms that she can get herself up from. The more she does for herself the better.

She lost her son and that probably threw her into a depression, has she been seen by a doctor recently to make sure that her medical needs are being addressed? I would definitely do that asap. Loss is hard for elders and change is especially hard for dementia, finding her base line will help you guys be better advocates for her, no matter where she lives.

Sorry, I know I have kinda bounced around but, I can't get my copy/paste to work and don't want to rewrite everything.

Oh yeah, you are getting ready to find out how much you didn't know you didn't know. That's something all of us find at the beginning of our caregiving journey. :-)
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MavisBacon Jun 9, 2022
To answer your questions, she can feed herself, and use the toilet herself. She does have a hard time standing up, and needs to use a walker to get around. As far as exiting the house if there were a fire, I don't have much confidence in that. Her conversations makes sense about half the time.

She's been in for a checkup recently, with bloodwork and everything. A cancer center just called my husband and said we needed to make an appointment for gram. Not sure what that's about, so we'll see.
Mavis, none of this is a complete do it yourself project. I

Get her to an elder law attorney. If she came from out of state you will have plenty of legal entanglements to deal with.
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Immediately get in touch with Elder Law Attorney to help advise you on placing grandma...........I'm surprised that grandma is being treated like the potato in the "Hot Potato" game. It's unfortunate that your mother-in-law didn't invest in getting her placed instead of waiting for the next burn-out victim to show up.

Protect your marriage and grandma by placing her with professional help.
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Get POA and talk to an attorney first, one that specializes in elder law. If you cannot afford one, contact or legal aid in your state and maybe they can point you in the direction of some qualified attorneys that are affordable. Most attorneys will give a free hour long consultation to get you started.

As for daily care for the time being, I’d say get all the details from your husbands mom. She’s the one who has been with gram and she’ll know what she likes, doesn’t like and how to handle daily tasks that she needs. If you can afford a part time home care, that would also alleviate some of your work. However, finding one you can afford may not be easy. Even one day a week would help while you get the AL figured out.

Also, it must be so hard as newly weds to have this responsibility, Find her AL as soon as possible. An elder care attorney can help. Your gran is very old and as you said, declining. It will be a huge test for you and your new husband. Stick together and get gran into someplace that will care for her on a level that most family caregivers can’t handle.
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- It’s hard to watch a human being deteriorate and harder to be the caregiver
- It’s a slippery slope that brings more heartache than joy.
- Get POA. Otherwise she has to okay every time you call a doctor or bank on her behalf. Understand her medical coverage so you know what is and isn’t covered.
- Say thank you for the little things even if it’s not exactly what or how you wanted. It might be all the appreciation you or your husband get.
- Don’t let work and caregiving take over your marriage.
- Find things that make you happy. Make sure DH (dear husband) does too.
- Be patient because it’s easy to ramp up expectations from a spouse when we get overwhelmed.
- Look for humor and joy.
- You might want to have an agreed upon time to process negativity. The idea isn’t that you can turn on and off emotions, but you can agree not to wallow in them or have an unspecified expectation that doesn’t match your spouse’s.
- Sometimes it’s not worth going down the rabbit hole when your instinct is to correct grandma’s misunderstanding.
- Don’t expect help from family members who should and readily could help.
- Don’t let family members tell you what you need to do (while they pat themselves on the back for calling once a month).
- Check out local resources. Btw, you might want to see if there’s a local a buy nothing group on Facebook if you need things for grandma.
- Understand grandma might live longer than you thought (when the 18 month plan is on year 4 ….)
- Accept there may come a time when you or DH can’t handle it and grandma needs a nursing home.

God bless.
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One day at a time Sweet Jesus!
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