Author Topic: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?  (Read 6638 times)

fallstoclimb

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1084
Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« on: December 26, 2015, 10:02:50 AM »
We have been happily on an early retirement path for a couple of years now.  We are 31 now and will be able to stop saving for retirement in our early 40s which will allow us to choose from many different paths at that point -- travel, major pay cut to work for community organizations, part time work, some combination of the above.  We could probably retire outright around 45 if everything goes as planned and we live frugally.

Our motivation for this is 1) we don't love work, and 2) we love freedom.  This is one of many reasons we are most likely not having kids.  All I really want to do is hike and bike and read and cook and spend time with my husband and try to limit life's complications.

Unfortunately limiting life's complications isn't always possible.

We found out yesterday that my FIL has a major drinking problem when he got into a minor fender bender on a short road trip and blew a .22.  This has been very difficult (and the worst Christmas ever) because we had literally no idea he had a problem.  It's come as a huge shock and surprise.

Obviously the first priority is getting him some help.  Because this happened on a road trip there's a lot we don't know yet and the details are trickling in.  I don't know if he needs detox, rehab, or just meetings.  A lot will be happening in the next few days as we try to figure this stuff out.  I believe he is open to getting help and he already went to a meeting this morning.

The other complication to this is that he is the caretaker for my MIL, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury 4 years ago when she was hit by a car.  She (luckily & amazingly) has no ADL limitations but she does have iADL limitations, mostly revolving around her judgment, and she is unable to drive ever again.  Dealing with that situation is clearly what lead to the drinking problem. 

I know I am getting ahead of myself here.  We only just found out about this and I am still shaking with adrenaline as more and more details come out.  It's awful and terrifying.  He is my husband's father and we trusted him and now we can't trust him. It's like neither of my in laws can be trusted as adults anymore, which in some ways is part of life but not usually at such a young age, not in a sudden traumatic way like this. 

And even though I know I'm getting ahead of myself I can't help thinking about the financial implications of this.

I have been a little worried about my FIL's finances since my MIL's accident, which involved a lot of very expensive care for a long time.  He was always very private about their finances even as we pushed for details and we never really got the full story.  He has made a good income for a long time but he also sent 3 kids to college and lives in a high COL area and I assume their retirement is OK but I really don't know.  My parents tell me enough about their finances that I know they are OK but he does not (to either his children or me).  I know that my parents also have long term care insurance.  I do not know (and sort of doubt) that my in laws do.

He did recently reference in a casual joking way that he was taking money out of their retirement account to pay for an expensive vacation this summer.  It was a little alarming to us but he's always had very good judgment and is not reckless and its their money so we didn't say anything.  Now that we understand how much he's been drinking and clearly has no judgment and is extremely reckless, I don't know what to think.  We are both a little worried that they are somehow broke but that is based on very little evidence.   

I am worried about the costs of treatment, but he does have insurance, and I think we can get through these immediate effects even if my in laws can't afford it.  We are light on cash like many mustachians but have 10K in an emergency fund that we can give most of (maybe 7-8k?).  We could probably also give $500 a month without affecting our early retirement track - we give $300/month to charity so we could just stop those contributions and give to the family instead, if that money is somehow needed. There's also the legal costs, which will probably be more than rehab -- I'm thinking around 15K?  But I don't really know.  However my FIL is part of a large family, all of whom seem to be in very solid financial positions so I think that a lot of money can come from his siblings, if money is needed. 

My even bigger fear is the longterm effects of this.  Will he even be able to continue working?  He is their sole income earner since my MIL is now disabled -- she does get disability but I don't think it is very much.  They live in a fairly upscale condo, but I would hate for them to have to move, because they are in one of those walkable communities which is perfect for my MIL who cannot drive.  (And, my FIL could also lose his license for a year because of this DUI, although my understanding is a lawyer can likely prevent that for a first offense - which is something I personally disagree with and if the option is there I will push for him to get a breathalyzer on his car.)

And what if he cannot be my MIL's caretaker anymore?  I don't think that is a likely outcome right now, but I don't know.  I guess I am more worried about this if he succeeds in killing himself, like it seems he was trying to do with that level of drinking.  I don't know what we will do with her then.  I don't think she can live alone.  She could possibly live in some sort of group home but is there money for that? 

I am so afraid this will end with us having to take her in or pay for her care somewhere.  One of the reasons I want early retirement and no kids is so as to not be sandwiched btwn two generations plus working full time - I see people go through this at work and it seems so so awful - but I wasn't envisioning taking in my MIL.  More like, I'll spend two days a week visiting my parents or in laws or whoever needs it.  But now will my options be caring for my MIL or working to pay for her to live somewhere?

I know that some people on this board probably think what is the point of money if you can't help family, and maybe we are (I am) just selfish.  In fact I know that I am selfish.  But this isn't really what I signed up for.  And I don't want to scrimp and save and work hard through this decade just to devote my next decade to my in laws.  I just don't.  And they are still fairly young -- it could be 30 years of my MIL needing care. 

If we continue on this path it would put us in the best position to help out of everyone, but that is not what I want from my life.  I want travel and exploring and being outside and being FREE.  But this looks less and less likely.  So now I am thinking -- maybe we save less now.  Maybe we pull back on retirement and put more money into the travel fund so we can travel more NOW.  (We do already travel a pretty good amount but if we redirected our savings to the travel fund we could travel a crazy amount.)  We can't really work less now, but depending on how this all shakes out, maybe we can never work less.  (But also like, how can we travel while the family is in such crisis and there is ongoing financial strain.)

The trauma of my MIL's TBI was one of those horrific experiences that changed my entire life outlook.  It used to seem like life was mostly good and then suddenly it seemed life was mostly bad.  I think this has a lot to do with why we are on the early retirement path and leaning towards no kids. 

And now there's another crisis.  I just don't know how we are going to get through something like this again.  I don't know how to do it.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8357
  • Age: 63
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2015, 10:11:21 AM »
So sorry to hear this. One thing I would counsel is not to do anything life-altering until the initial shock goes away and you can make an assessment in a spirit of calm. We tend to make terrible decisions under duress.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5739
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2015, 10:27:14 AM »
You are in shock now so don't make any decisions. Many people have drinking problems and get sober and are able to manage their own lives. If at some point your MIL needs supervised living their are options. I have good friends where he is dying from cancer and couldn't care for her, no kids, all family close are dead. We had to find all the resources for him and she has Alzheimer's so had to place her. Yes it was a lot of work but we worked it out.  They spent all their $ thru many years of her cancer and then his. In the end if too many bad things happen the $ gets used up.  We still were able to make it work and find her decent care that she could afford.  I think your MIL's accident shows that you need to balance your desire to save for the future with your needs to enjoy life now because none of us know if we will have a future. You are designing the life you want and there is nothing wrong with that and I would not change my plans to start helping support your inlaws. They may have to downsize their life/condo, etc but should live within their means whatever that means for them. Take a breath-you are panicking which is normal but they are adults and you don't have to solve their problems. Yes you can help them make good decisions but in the end responsible for themselves.  If the FIL dies trust me you can find help to get her placed. I would not sacrifice my life for hers. I have already told my kids-I am 61 that if something happens to me like that  and my hubby is dead not to ruin their lives but to place me somewhere for care.

Inkedup

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
  • Location: USA
  • Striving for FI.
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2015, 10:42:04 AM »
That's rough, fallstoclimb. I'm sorry that you're going through this. Correct me if I missread your post but it sounds like you're worried about bearing the full (or the majority of the) financial burden of your in-laws. However you mention that your FIL is part of a large family and that he has 3 kids, so there should be multiple lines of emotional and financial support. Has your husband spoken to his siblings about this? What do they say about it?

Maybe it's a good idea to hold off on making specific promises of financial support until your husband, his siblings, and FIL's family members come to a consensus about what will happen next. Since $500/month is the amount you and your husband can comfortably contribute without affecting your financial situation, I would start setting aside that money for them now, just in case. It might be a good idea to suspend charitable giving as the money might be needed more to help your in laws get through this. If continuing to give to charity is important to you then just reduce the amount you give for now.

Finally I would not peg you as selfish for not wanting a situation involving in laws to derail your FIRE goals. Illnesses and emergencies could happen to any of us and our immediate or extended family members. What would you do if this happened to you or your husband? It's frightening and unfair to consider how these things could jeopardize our plans. The upside is that if you were a spendy person you would be in no shape to deal with any of these things...and certainly wouldn't be able to part with $500 per month to help out which is actually really freaking generous when you consider how most people spend on cable bills, cell phones, etc. per month. You are in better shape than most people out there.

fallstoclimb

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1084
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2015, 11:52:51 AM »
Yes, the siblings are involved.  No one really has a plan as of right now.  I worry that we will bear the main brunt of it because his sister recently moved across the country, and as the youngest I don't think she really has any money yet, particularly after the costs of a move.  His brother is doing OK but has 3 kids, 2 in preschool/daycare, so their finances are tight as well and with 3 kids he has little free time - but he lives closest to the family, so I'm sure in reality most will fall on him.  We are an hour away.  Part of my fear and guilt and concern is trying to lift some of the burden from the brother.

Thank you to everyone for reminding me that humans are bad at making decisions under stress.  I should change nothing now, except maybe for directing some money for the family in case it is needed.  I really hate to stop the charitable contributions, though.  Perhaps I will wait and see if that is necessary.

Part of me thinks he should bear the full brunt of the immediate financial implications, as a further disincentive to ever drink again.  But I don't know if that's the best way to handle this or not.  I feel that my disabled MIL puts a kink in a lot of the "don't protect them from the consequences" advice. 

SwordGuy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5759
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2015, 01:44:56 PM »
After you and the other family members have gathered the information you need to make a good decision, I can only suggest that you "Begin as you mean to continue."

If you unilaterally shoulder the financial burden, unless the other family members are better than average, you will always be doing so.

Ditto for the in-person support.

If you need to take the point on the financial help, set up a schedule with the other family members at the start so they know when it will be their turn to start contributing.   Otherwise there may always be more important and pressing things for them to spend their money on, like eating out, vacations, fancier cars and clothes, etc.


okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8901
  • Location: Canada
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2015, 02:22:14 PM »
Hi fallstoclimb.  I'm so sorry for all that your family is going through.  I'll put in my $0.02 in the hopes that it may help a little.

Right now, conserve your emotional and mental energy.  You are in shock and need more information before having an idea of what is needed next.  Once you have thought through all the possible future scenarios (and I think you've already envisioned a lot of them), stop ruminating and continue to live your life until you get more information.  This could be the start of a very long road, and there's no use tiring yourself out to no purpose.

When you have more information, consider:

If your FIL's drinking problem is a result of caregiver strain (and not a long-term, well-hidden addiction), perhaps all that is needed now is treatment for the alcoholism and some outside caregiving help (family members, community programs, or hired help) to lighten his burden.  Does he have a counsellor or support group to help him with the strain of caregiving?  With more supports and breaks for him perhaps they can continue on (mostly) as before.

There needs to be a plan in place for your MIL, should anything happen to your FIL (a sudden heart attack or stroke, for instance).  This may double as a "what's next" if a day comes where your FIL can no longer care for your MIL at home.

Discuss with your husband to what extent you will change your life and make sacrifices in order to care for your parents.  Maybe you're willing to caregive full time for X number of years. Maybe it's two days/week and $500 a month.  Agree on what you can and want to do.  Wanting to have some kind of life of your own (and to take care of yourself) is justifiable selfishness.  It is also practical (if you wear yourself out caring for one set of parents, who will help the other set when it's time?  If one of you quits your career before FI to caregive, will that person have the ability to earn sufficient income if the other spouse becomes unable to work?)

In my own family, we are willing to provide monetary support, if needed, to either set of parents, but with the requirement they let us see the details of their current financial situation.  We are willing to work longer and live on less in order to support our parents, but only if we're sure it's truly needed and their financial life is otherwise optimized.  I can respect our parents' desire for privacy, but once they start asking for money there needs to be disclosure and a willingness to listen to advice.

A last (small) thought.  Yes, being sandwiched between offspring who need us and ill parents who need us is really hard.  But there are lots of times where the children are the only real bright spot in the grandparents' lives (and the main joy in the parents' lives).  So the people you see struggling to juggle both, hopefully it's not all bad.

Jim2001

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 203
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2015, 02:33:03 PM »
...And now there's another crisis.  I just don't know how we are going to get through something like this again.  I don't know how to do it.

Take a deep breath. 

It's not your crisis. 

Don't take ownership for things you didn't do and decisions you don't own.  When it comes to your mother in-law's care determine what needs to be done to keep her safe and healthy.  If it truly was a minor accident and no one was hurt, the courts may look leniently on him due to his wife's needs.

Offer your father in-law finds emotional support and help him get through what seems like a tough time and address the drinking and driving (that has to stop). But I personally wouldn't offer money until it was requested and then only the amount that wouldn't impact my life plans.

lizzzi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2103
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2015, 02:37:12 PM »
As my grandmother would have said..."Whoa, Nellie!"

First of all, I am very sorry to hear about this situation, but take a couple of long, deep breaths, take a step back, and try to get a little perspective and get a grip on the panic. For the moment, don't make any changes (other than possibly put a hold on your charitable donations, if you want), and do not make any promises to your in-laws or any other relatives.

I'm sure your first instinct is to jump right in there and rescue them, but I don't think there is any need for you to wreck your own life and your own financial plans. It is your f-i-l's problem really, and I would just let him deal with it. He has to want to control the drinking, and if he doesn't, that's his problem, not yours. Secondly, of course, is the situation with your m-i-l. If she is independent in ADLs and just needs supervision with IADLs related to judgement issues, then she is pretty high functioning. I would try to assess whether your f-i-l's drinking is going to affect his ability to supervise her or not. Maybe he just went on a big bender, and that is not the norm. In any case, if m-i-l cannot be maintained safely at home because of f-i-l's alcohol use, maybe m-i-l could be placed in some kind of independent but supervised living situation...like some kind of sheltered apartments. In the meantime, perhaps a homemaker could be hired to assist with (or just do) the light housekeeping, shopping, laundry, errands...that your m-i-l can't or shouldn't be doing...and that f-i-l may be having trouble handling.  None of this is really your responsibility...certainly not your financial responsibility. So relax, hold on to your wallet, and be as involved as makes sense for you in helping them plan for their management of the situation. It's not appropriate for you and your husband to ruin your own  family life and future together.

letired

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 823
  • Location: Texas
    • Needs More Glitter
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2015, 03:05:08 PM »
What everyone else said! Take about a million deep breaths, set aside a small amount of money if that is your main concern, and carry on as usual while you get the rest of the details. As with most problems, this is one they have to ultimately solve for themselves, and it will likely take some time to determine how you can best support both your FIL and MIL in solving this problem.

I think you should consider offering non-monetary support first, and financial support last. It sounds like they might need some help in the next little while either with daily household stuff or with advocating for help or researching treatment options. Think about the kinds of things you are willing and happy to offer. Think about the kinds of things you are unable  to offer or that would make you unhappy. Thing about the long-term effects of any assistance you might offer.

And finally, when it comes to treatment options for substance abuse, especially alcohol, the USA (I'm assuming you're in America) is particularly retrograde and often consists of 'rehab' or Alcoholics Anonymous, neither of which have a great track record/have been scientifically validated (though obviously it works for some subset of the population???). If your FIL does indeed have a long-term problem that requires treatment, your biggest contribution might be to advocate for more effective treatment options.

Some popsci links that might be relevant/get you started (I have most of these saved, if you can't get to any of them):
The Atlantic: The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous
Huffington Post: The Real Cause of Addiction
Washington Post: A simple fix for Drunken Driving

Spondulix

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 642
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2015, 03:25:49 PM »
Take a deep breath. 

It's not your crisis. 

Don't take ownership for things you didn't do and decisions you don't own.  When it comes to your mother in-law's care determine what needs to be done to keep her safe and healthy.  If it truly was a minor accident and no one was hurt, the courts may look leniently on him due to his wife's needs.
This x10. I say this kindly (since it is a family crisis), but ask yourself where the boundary is between help/support and rescuing. Here's a couple suggestions:

- look into (and exhaust) all possibilities for getting him support without you having to pay out of pocket. Insurance exists for a reason. It may take some navigating to get them to cover

- I unfortunately know a number of people who have DUIs. Getting a lawyer who specializes in it helps the sentence (because many have relationships with the judges) - in my area, that's $5k or more. But really ask, what is the reason for hiring a lawyer? Whats the standard sentence in your area for someone without a lawyer? Does he really need a drivers license? Is he physically/mentally capable of doing classes or community service, if that's the worst sentence?

- one major expense after a DUI is the insurance (SR-22, if I remember correctly). It can be triple the normal cost of insurance and lasts a couple years. Even with a great lawyer and light sentence you'll  still have to pay for that.

- people make mistakes. He might not be a raging alcoholic who needs to go to a treatment center (or maybe he is). In crisis we tend to want to fix the problem (or the person). I'd say the majority of my friends who have had DUIs were people who don't have a drinking issue - they are people who went out for a couple drinks, made a bad choice to drive, got caught, and have to spend years with the consequences. That doesn't mean they aren't responsible - it means there could be something else going on, and that night of drinking was how they coped with it. Maybe your FIL just needs some empathy right now, too.

Edit: I realize that drinking to cope with something could be seen as a form of alcoholism... But sometimes it's just a mistake. Judgement goes down after one or two drinks and that's when someone ends up on the road thinking they'll be fine to get home. I'm suggesting to find the root issue.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2015, 03:36:28 PM by Spondulix »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2015, 03:26:50 PM »
Hold up. Is he an alcoholic, or does he drink too much too often? There is a difference.

Blatant

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 175
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2015, 03:57:20 PM »
Did I miss the part where you made some sort of diagnosis? How do you know he has a "drinking problem"? Lots of folks make poor decisions regarding alcohol and driving. Maybe get some actual facts before you start screaming about a falling sky.

fallstoclimb

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1084
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2015, 03:59:06 PM »
Thank you for the support, everyone.  I have just been home alone all day while DH drove to pick up his dad, with few updates from him, so this is helping my anxieties from spiraling out of control.

The little additional pieces of information that I have received so far are that 1) he is very much ready to get and receive help, thank god, 2) this has been going on for a long time (coming from FIL himself - but I don't know if its been this bad that long) and 3) his hands are shaking so I believe he is likely an alcoholic.  I do not know for sure yet.  I don't really know how you determine the difference between alcoholic and problem drinker, really.  However it is so out of character for him to be so reckless as to get behind the wheel of a car while drunk (.22 -- the BAC charts I'm looking at don't even go that high for a man of his size, but I think we are basically talking about two CUPS of liquor in an hour).  I guess the more you drink the more tolerant you become but jesus effing christ. 

Thank god he is willing to receive help, though.

And yes I do believe this is all really caregiver strain.  He never had a drinking problem before my MIL's accident.  That said if its been going on for years he may need more intensive help.  A lot of the problem is that he would never ask us for help with caregiving. 

My MIL is pretty high functioning, but she is not able to help him solve this as she is cognitively limited.  I think that is everyone's concern with letting them "solve this themselves."

fallstoclimb

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1084
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2015, 04:03:59 PM »
Did I miss the part where you made some sort of diagnosis? How do you know he has a "drinking problem"? Lots of folks make poor decisions regarding alcohol and driving. Maybe get some actual facts before you start screaming about a falling sky.

Whoa dude.  I am obviously struggling with this and do not need someone to accuse me of screaming about a falling sky. 

I would argue that anyone who makes a poor decision regarding alcohol and driving does indeed have a problem.  However I am extremely confident that my FIL has a problem (unfortunately - believe me I wish this weren't happening).  He drank enough IN THE MORNING BY HIMSELF to blow a .22 at 11 am.  For a man his size that is more than 12 ounces of hard liquor in an hour.  Before a scheduled two hour drive to visit with family.  I do not think I am making a leap to say he has a drinking problem.  Besides, he has admitted it himself. 

Blatant

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 175
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2015, 04:16:05 PM »
Well, dude, you did make a deep-breath-free post on an Internet message board full of strangers in regards to a family crisis that you clearly do not have all the facts about.

I think any advice given in the area of "chill the fuck out until you really know what's happening" is good advice.

A .22 is pretty high. I've interacted with life-long alcoholics (actually, you know, professionally diagnosed) that walk around in the area of .45 to .50 for some perspective.

Where did the BAC number come from? And, no, just because this happens to a person does not in itself mean he or she has a problem. Maybe he does. Maybe it was an aberration. The point is to have some answers before you go making decisions about your own families future.

Good luck.

fallstoclimb

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1084
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2015, 04:26:54 PM »
I'm sure your first instinct is to jump right in there and rescue them, but I don't think there is any need for you to wreck your own life and your own financial plans. It is your f-i-l's problem really, and I would just let him deal with it. He has to want to control the drinking, and if he doesn't, that's his problem, not yours. Secondly, of course, is the situation with your m-i-l. If she is independent in ADLs and just needs supervision with IADLs related to judgement issues, then she is pretty high functioning. I would try to assess whether your f-i-l's drinking is going to affect his ability to supervise her or not. Maybe he just went on a big bender, and that is not the norm. In any case, if m-i-l cannot be maintained safely at home because of f-i-l's alcohol use, maybe m-i-l could be placed in some kind of independent but supervised living situation...like some kind of sheltered apartments. In the meantime, perhaps a homemaker could be hired to assist with (or just do) the light housekeeping, shopping, laundry, errands...that your m-i-l can't or shouldn't be doing...and that f-i-l may be having trouble handling.  None of this is really your responsibility...certainly not your financial responsibility. So relax, hold on to your wallet, and be as involved as makes sense for you in helping them plan for their management of the situation. It's not appropriate for you and your husband to ruin your own  family life and future together.

Lizzzi, since you seem familiar with the language --- what kind of "independent but supervised" living situations are there?  I think this would be perfect for MIL, if/when FIL can no longer care for her.  (I do not think that day is today, but it is likely it will come some day.)  She really is very high functioning, is very happy walking her dog around town, going to movies etc -- but her judgment just can't be trusted.  I'm not sure if its safe for her to cook....etc.  I suppose its almost like someone in the early stages of Alzheimers?  We just have no clue what is out there.  And it's a tough thing to raise with family because I don't really want to put it out there that we don't want her staying with us, unless/until it needs to be said. Most likely she has many more years of living with FIL.  (And for all we know she could pass before him, or WE could pass before either of them, or or or...)

Where did the BAC number come from?

The BAC was from the in field breathalyzer and was probably two hours after he'd been able to have his last drink.

lizzzi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2103
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2015, 04:48:12 PM »
What services are available for a TBI client or for sheltered housing will depend on the state, and perhaps the county that you live in, FallstoClimb. Probably your m-i-l's doctor's office would be the place to start--they are probably aware of what the programs are for your local TBI population. If M-i-l is old enough for services from your local Office for the Aging (may be called something different), you could try talking to them. Even if m-i-l isn't old enough to quality under OFA, the folks there could probably steer you toward programs or resources. Another option would be to call your county health department. They probably have some kind of intake person who could give you some information. You just need to get the right phone numbers and the right agencies...get m-i-l hooked into the system.

Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6376
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2015, 08:08:13 PM »
At the risk of not appearing to be sensitive I am going to point out that paying for your FIL's problems and you MIL care is not your responsibility.

Your job (as is his) is to prepare for your future, the fact that FIL has chosen a self destructive path in life is ot your concern.

My In laws have made just about every dumb choice in life, including my BIL has just nailed himself with a DUI while driving his full size truck. So if you want to go get a DUI while driving an 80,000lb misile, well sorry dude thats your problem not mine, I'm just glad you didn't kill somebody!

In your case I might have a little sympathy with your MIL's situation but honestly this is still not your problem, I might be willing to help some, but altering my fiancial goals no freaking way.

kite

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 592
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2015, 12:19:12 AM »
Did I miss the part where you made some sort of diagnosis? How do you know he has a "drinking problem"? Lots of folks make poor decisions regarding alcohol and driving. Maybe get some actual facts before you start screaming about a falling sky.

Whoa dude.  I am obviously struggling with this and do not need someone to accuse me of screaming about a falling sky. 

I would argue that anyone who makes a poor decision regarding alcohol and driving does indeed have a problem.  However I am extremely confident that my FIL has a problem (unfortunately - believe me I wish this weren't happening).  He drank enough IN THE MORNING BY HIMSELF to blow a .22 at 11 am.  For a man his size that is more than 12 ounces of hard liquor in an hour.  Before a scheduled two hour drive to visit with family.  I do not think I am making a leap to say he has a drinking problem.  Besides, he has admitted it himself.

Yep.  He has a problem.  A .08 or a .14 could happen to someone without a drinking problem, but a .22 has a problem.  They are flirting with death.
It is his problem, however.  Not yours. 

In the put-your-own-oxygen-mask-on-first philosophy, you really need to keep perspective and continue to take care of yourselves.  Don't let his alcoholism and her TBI be the reason you remain childless.  They will one day be dead, and the two of you will be without them, without the burden of worry or care for them.  What then?   Sorry to be blunt, but what FIL was doing (what his disease nearly did and still could do) is kill them suddenly and soon.
I'm not trying to tell someone who doesn't want kids that they should have them but make your life about you, not your husband's parents. 

Help is available for your FIL.  Encourage him to get it.

I have a disabled spouse and a slew of alcoholic inlaws and assorted relatives.  I know wherof I speak.  There will always be a reason you'll want to insulate them from the consequences.  There will always be that exception  (like the TBI).  Al Anon is a terrific resource.  So is NAMI.  So is the social worker or case worker who was involved after MIL's injury. 
Best of luck to you. 

justchristine

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 389
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2015, 05:46:58 AM »
As a child of an alcoholic that almost drank himself to death, I have to agree with everyone saying take a breath before you do anything.  I understand wanting to help someone that is so obviously hurting but helping an alcoholic can hurt you both emotionally and financially and doesn't always have the desired outcome.  I would strongly recommend offering encouragement, help in finding treatment options and help find care for MIL if needed.  Otherwisse, let him deal with his situation.  He  made the choices that got him in his current predicament, he needs to make the choices to fix the situation if he is going to have a real chance at a full recovery.

Mongoose

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2431
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2015, 08:27:40 AM »
I'm going to chime in with others advocating slowing down and not changing your course for awhile. It must have come as a shock to find out so suddenly that there are problems you were unaware of.

0.22 is high but certainly not unusually so. The charts you are looking at are averages which can be quite inaccurate. Certainly your FIL needs to stop driving drunk but that is something only he can do. AA and alcohol abuse treatment has a very low success rate...about the same as the rate of people who decide enough and quit on their own. So, while this is a huge problem, most of it isn't your problem because you can do nothing to change the outcome. Your FIL needs to either stop or not. One of the fastest ways to drive yourself into unhealthy levels of chronic anxieties is to take ownership of situations you can't control.

With regards to your MIL, there are a lot of good suggestions for plans that might give you (and your husband) some peace of mind. My aunts and uncles took turns having my grandmother live near them in assisted living centers for a couple of years at a time, for example. Even if you and your husband are the best off financially, you have to take care of your own financial house first and then help as you can or want. You certainly don't have to put yourself in jeopardy to do so. I'm sure you and your husband will figure it out.

Finally, if you and your husband truly don't want kids, then by all means you shouldn't have them...but I would like to note that kids aren't a sound financial decision for basically any of us. Yes, I may get caught caring for aging parents and kids, but keep in mind the people who you are seeing stressed by this at work are likely overextended spendypants on top of that. They may be vocalizing the socially acceptable stress of caregiving when a lot (the majority?) of their stress really results from their lifestyle choices. Kids are a joy in ways I had not anticipated prior to having my own. I was not a "baby-holder, mommy-type" at all. But my kids are hands-down the best part of my life. I'm not saying everyone should have kids as it is a deeply personal decision but one I would hesitate to make based on other people's situations. Your situation will be totally different given you financial savvy.

fallstoclimb

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1084
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2015, 08:47:05 AM »
Well, thankfully their finances are OK.  He still didn't share exact numbers, so I don't know what that means, but I am just going to take his word for it and continue my financial plan as-is. 

I'm honestly surprised by the seemingly unanimous response that this is not our (my and DH's) problem.  I think both of us feel some guilt, because this problem is clearly a reaction to the burdens of caregiving, which perhaps we did not do a good enough job of providing support or sharing the burden.  Clearly it is on my FIL, too, because he made the decision to abuse alcohol rather than ask for help.  But he is not a distant relative with a drinking problem - he is my husband's father and he is caring for my cognitively limited MIL (who is not able to provide support to him with this).  We certainly can't CONTROL the outcome, but we can help set him up for success.   

And we truly are not interested in kids, for many reasons.  I brought that up in the context of this situation only to point out how badly I do not want my MIL to live with us for any extended period of time.  I guess I wish I were bigger hearted when it came to my in laws, but that is the unfortunate truth.  The elephant in the room is still what will happen with MIL's care when/if FIL can no longer provide it, but this crisis is not the time to bring it up.  I am happy to hear that there are independent living situations that may work for her, although I predict family pushback on that....but that is a crisis for another time.

kite

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 592
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2015, 12:18:45 PM »
Well, thankfully their finances are OK.  He still didn't share exact numbers, so I don't know what that means, but I am just going to take his word for it and continue my financial plan as-is. 

I'm honestly surprised by the seemingly unanimous response that this is not our (my and DH's) problem. I think both of us feel some guilt, because this problem is clearly a reaction to the burdens of caregiving, which perhaps we did not do a good enough job of providing support or sharing the burden.  Clearly it is on my FIL, too, because he made the decision to abuse alcohol rather than ask for help.  But he is not a distant relative with a drinking problem - he is my husband's father and he is caring for my cognitively limited MIL (who is not able to provide support to him with this).  We certainly can't CONTROL the outcome, but we can help set him up for success.   

And we truly are not interested in kids, for many reasons.  I brought that up in the context of this situation only to point out how badly I do not want my MIL to live with us for any extended period of time.  I guess I wish I were bigger hearted when it came to my in laws, but that is the unfortunate truth.  The elephant in the room is still what will happen with MIL's care when/if FIL can no longer provide it, but this crisis is not the time to bring it up.  I am happy to hear that there are independent living situations that may work for her, although I predict family pushback on that....but that is a crisis for another time.

I know why you feel that way, but TBI's in one person don't cause alcoholism in another.
His drinking problem is his problem. 
There are millions of alcoholics who are that way because they are that way, not because of any particular event but because their own brain is wired the way it is.
When they took that first sip, their pleasure centers of the brain lit up and they felt fan-fucking-tastic, so they took another and another. Maybe they always felt a bit off, but after 2 drinks they feel/felt normal  so that became the norm and they just kept going.  Eventually they reached a point where chasing that sensation eclipsed everything else in their lives in importance.  More than their own safety or the safety of loved ones and strangers.  THAT is what it is to blow a .22.  To love the buzz so much that it is what matters. 
Might he have depression and have been self-medicating?  Yes. 
But that is still not your problem.

I'm not saying your husband shouldn't help with his mother's care.  He probably should.  But the two of you and MIL's TBI didn't make FIL into an alcoholic.  His own brain did that to himself. 

You care about both your MIL and FIL.  Obviously you already have a big heart.
But as big as your heart is, that doesn't mean you must be the primary care giver for her.  Needing professional help for someone cognitively impaired is not a weakness.  Adult day-care for cognitive impairment is becoming more common.  So is residential treatment.  There is no shame in needing it. 

AccidentalMiser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 659
  • Age: 51
  • Location: SE Tenn
Re: Family crisis - should this change our early retirement plans?
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2015, 01:02:44 PM »
...And now there's another crisis.  I just don't know how we are going to get through something like this again.  I don't know how to do it.

Take a deep breath. 

It's not your crisis. 

Don't take ownership for things you didn't do and decisions you don't own.  When it comes to your mother in-law's care determine what needs to be done to keep her safe and healthy.  If it truly was a minor accident and no one was hurt, the courts may look leniently on him due to his wife's needs.

Offer your father in-law finds emotional support and help him get through what seems like a tough time and address the drinking and driving (that has to stop). But I personally wouldn't offer money until it was requested and then only the amount that wouldn't impact my life plans.

All of this.  +10.

Your husband is their child.  They owed him a place to live and food to eat until he was able to care for himself.  He can now do that.  End of story.  I am very sorry for your in-law's situation but that's no reason to destroy your finances.

I have several children who are now all older than 21.  They are capable of feeding themselves and do so for the most part.  Some of them need help now and again.  I provide discrete, limited packages of support when needed with no expectation for an ongoing financial support arrangement.  If you have some extra money and they really need it, offer it willingly.  If they need an ear or shoulder and you can provide it without assuming "caregiver" responsibility, do so.  You MUST NOT let your in-laws wreck your life by assuming responsibility for them as you would a child.  They are not children. 

I know this all sounds very clinical and hard-hearted but your father-in-law's drinking problem will destroy you, your marriage and your finances if you let it.