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View Full Version : Alcoholism, dementia, feeling helpless


alletahg
08-29-2015, 06:40 AM
My father in law has always been an alcoholic. Over the past couple of years, his drinking got out of control and his behavior was increasingly strange. My mother in law left him several times, but returned with his promises to cut back on the booze. Right around this past Christmas, we managed to keep him sober for several days, long enough to see that his behavior problems were not the result of being drunk. He was diagnosed with alcohol induced dementia.

Since then, we've been on a roller coaster of good and bad days, but the bad days are now the norm. He lives with my MIL, who is younger than him and in good health. He does a lot of screaming at her, says he hates her and wants her to die. He says he wants a divorce and wants to move to be near his favorite drinking spot. Usually these fits are preceded by his request to go out for a drink, which she denies.

A few months ago, my FIL figured out he could walk to a somewhat close area of restaurants and liquor stores. He will provoke my MIL until she gets fed up and leaves for a break, then he starts the long walk to get a drink. MIL used to follow him in her car and go into the liquor stores and restaurants ahead of him and ask that he not be served alcohol. This would lead to him calling her and screaming at her. Now she just lets him go but refuses to pick him up and drive him home after he has his drinks. Once, she wasn't home when he arrived from a drinking binge so he took all of her clothes and threw them in the back yard. He tried to dismantle her computer and threw away any food in the house that he saw as "hers." We are very concerned for his safety, obviously, and for MIL's emotional and mental well being.

Lately MIL is at her breaking point. She wants to leave. FIL is very demanding, verbally abusive. We try to give MIL a break by taking FIL shopping, going over for meals, taking the kids to see him, etc. He can't live on his own because he can't manage his meds (yesterday he took two days of his blood pressure, antipsychotic, and antianxiety meds because he kicked MIL out of the house and she wasn't there to help him). He does OK cooking for himself but can't pay bills, no longer can drive, needs help shopping, and is just starting to have issues with managing his own hygiene. His short term memory is bad. He will call each of us in the family over and over again, especially when he's been drinking. He seems to want to have MIL around to entertain him and drive him places, but then drives her away so he can attempt to drink. He has fallen more than once -- one time, he fell while walking home from the liquor store and a passing driver called an ambulance.

FIL is not bad enough to qualify for any services, even home care. He flat out refuses to cooperate with any sort of caregiver or adult day care. He thinks the doctors are wrong about the dementia and insists he can take care of himself. Every attempt at getting help for him has been a dead end, from social services to Alz. support groups. MIL is working on getting POA and conservatorship so she can control his access to money. She is thinking of getting FIL his own small place (which he wants), managing his finances, and giving him a small allowance that we all know he will quickly spend on booze (he averages $30 a day on "lunch" when he is alone and walks to restaurants). We feel like we can't control him and have no options and just have to wait for him to decline further or land himself in the hospital. MIL will have to go back to work, at least part time, to be able to afford to support him as well as have her own place.

Does anyone who's been through this have any ideas on options for us? FIL can't live with any of us because we have kids, jobs, etc. and aren't around to monitor him. I also can't have him behaving and talking the way he does around my kids -- it's bad enough what they see and hear when we visit. My in laws' income is limited to social security (less than 2500/mo total), plus my MIL has about $60,000 in a retirement fund. They don't own their home.

Any ideas on how to keep FIL safe and MIL healthy and sane are welcome!

midwest1
08-29-2015, 09:19 AM
Al-Anon (for family and friends of problem drinkers) may be helpful for her.
No one can 'control' a problem drinker but the drinker.

I had an alcoholic uncle who went in and out of remission as a member of AA. During those ups and downs, his wife and children found understanding and comfort for themselves at Al-Anon.
His alcoholic brother got to the same point as your FIL ... Dementia induced by alcohol, plus liver and other physical problems. After his wife divorced him and his kids abandoned him, he was fortunate to find a home with a compassionate niece who nursed him to the end.

It's not easy deciding what one will tolerate from an alcoholic without losing one's self. I wish your family peace.

alletahg
08-29-2015, 10:30 AM
Thank you for the response.

My MIL did go to a few AlAnon meetings, but didn't care for it.