Why can’t my mother-in-law stay in her own house?

My mother-in-law is a little forgetful and needs helps to take her pills and make some meals. She is able to dress herself but she has some difficulty getting in and out of the house because the stairs are steep. The HCCSS - Home & Community Care Support Services (formerly the LHIN) sends a worker in to give her a bath twice a week and has assessed the home so that we can put in a ramp for her which we are willing to do. She has lived in her home for 50 years, the last 15 as a widow. She has close neighbours, a garden that she loves and she goes to church with DARTS that she calls on her own. I recognize she isn't as safe with the stove as she used to be and she does need additional help.

Now the HCCSS case manager has suggested that she go into a retirement home or a nursing home and I am pretty sad about this. My wife and I live 30 minutes away and so does my sister-in-law. We want to help my mother-in-law stay at home but we are also a bit afraid of how much time this will take and we may be selfish but we do want a bit of a life for ourselves at this stage. I said to my wife, I can't see her in that room after living in her own little house all her life. My wife hasn't slept in a week, she is so worried. What can we do to help my mother in law stay safe and happy in her own home?

Thanks so much for your question! First of all, I want to tell you that you are not alone and that I am so glad that you are being thoughtful about the long term consequences to your mother-in-law's emotional health in terms of leaving familiar surroundings. There are many people who feel the same way. They know that their loved one is needing a little bit more help than the HCCSS can offer but they are reluctant to see her removed from her home. If the HCCSS have assessed your mother-in-law and cannot provide more care, you can call any of the Home Care Ontario members to discuss what kind of services your mother-in-law needs to stay at home. You can be assured that our members will take your situation seriously and work with you to design a care plan that fits your families needs. There are also additional community supports that could be brought into the home such as transportation and friendly visiting. The costs to stay at home will almost certainly be less than the monthly costs for a retirement home and you will have peace of mind when you see how well your mother-in-law does when she gets a little bit of consistent extra care in the place where she feels most comfortable. Best of all, your wife will be able to sleep well, knowing that she has done the right thing to keep her mother as independent as possible for as long as possible.

 Questions and responses that reflect the nature of inquiry received. Names and circumstances have been changed.
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