When do you butt out?

My sister in law and her partner (who, incidently is her uncle) have been living together for around 14 years. She has been ill for a very long time, mostly with asthma and breast cancer.

Well, the other day half the family was trying to get ahold of her and she wasn’t returning calls. When her mother finally got through to her, we found she had been laying on the floor for the better part of two days because she fell and Uncle couldn’t pick her up. She’s very heavy and he’s old, feeble, and half-blind.

Now, she says she can’t write anything…it’s all garbled like it’s another language. She can’t track with anything anyone says for more than about 5 seconds. Sounds like a stroke to me.

She didn’t want to go to the doctor because she has an appointment for tomorrow and she thought she’d take care of it all at one time.

I think Uncle should have called an ambulance, regardless of her protests. I also think her mother should have called one. I sort of think I should call one. But everyone says she’s an adult (60 years old) and if she doesn’t want to go, she shouldn’t have to. But if her mind is whacked out from a stroke, how does she know what she wants? All of this started on Thursday

When do you have to just give it up and let people self-destruct?

I was lost at the part where she choose her uncle as her partner? Isn’t that not normal?

They aren’t necessarily related, the Uncle counld have been the ex-husband of a parent’s sister.

Is it worth getting the social services for their area involved? They sound like they are no longer able to look after thamselves without help. Maybe a nurse or a nursing home is needed?

Anyway good luck Kalhoun to you and yours.

Sounds like they’re on the downhill slide to self destruction already.

When you say partner, do you mean partner or something like roommates or business partners? I’m not one to judge, I suppose some people can look past the pre-existing relationship to foster another kind.

Sounds big time like a stroke to me. Yeah, the uncle should have called or at least brought the phone to her. Wasn’t there a case this year where the guy’s wife was on the floor for a couple of months? I don’t get people like that.

Unless they’re both mentally enfeebled, they have the right to look after their health as they see fit. I say now is the time butt out and leave them to their own devices.

You didn’t say if you or any other responsible person was nearby. Dropping in to evaluate the situation should reveal what must be done.

If she had a stroke and Uncle is getting the “old timer’s” someone should step up and do what’s needed. I don’t think what’s needed can be determined from long distance, however.

Good luck with this.

The Uncle is her mother’s brother. Yeah…there’s a serious creep factor here. They were both heavy drinkers, but supposedly have been on the wagon for the last couple months (uncle was the real hard-core drinker and he was feeling poorly from that). She doesn’t have any money. They live on his pension/retirement, part of which goes to his ex-wife (he divorced her after nearly 60 years of marriage). They only live a few miles away from us, but no one seems to want to be overbearing. I don’t know what is considered interference and what would be considered neglect or endangerment (on Uncle’s part).

If ever a situation called for someone to take action, this would be it. She’s on the floor for almost 2 days, unable to write or converse coherently, sleeping, eating and pissing where she lies and nobody wants to interfere? Unbelievable. What the Hell is wrong with you people?


Peri, I know what you’re saying…I agree. But I didn’t find out about this until she was up. No one did. I think someone should probably beat the shit out of uncle, but…

Their relationship started about 30 years ago. She left her husband and kids to be with him. Things fell apart and he went back to his wife, she was in another long-term relationship. Then they got back together. The first time around, the parents hated the whole thing (uncle and FIL were best friends). But now that everyone’s older they don’t really approve, but what are you gonna do? My husband was their only ally the first time around…“they aren’t hurting anyone…” and so on. But this time around, he’s pissed and disgusted.

When I talk to her, she just says she’ll wait and see what the doctor says, and Uncle will take care of her (right…). My husband and I have offered help, but they refuse. He’s too proud (whatever the fuck THAT means). I don’t think it’s criminal (yet), but I don’t know where the line is drawn on that.

The whole situation is just so fucked up. And no one (including her) seems to have any sense of urgency about it. Very frustrating!


She blew off the doctor’s appointment yesterday because the weather was too bad for half-blind Uncle to drive her. Wouldn’t consider a cab or asking someone for a ride. Uncle’s son was there Monday night and said they both look like shit. They both started drinking again and Uncle fell in the closet and is all fucked up. So now they’re half-heartedly shooting for a Friday doctor visit. I asked my brother-in-law WHAT THE FUCK is wrong with these people, and he said they’re just too stubborn and don’t want to deal with medical anything anymore. I think they both need a stay in a psych ward. These were semi-normal people (except for the alcoholism and incest) a few years ago. I barely recognize them anymore. :frowning:

It would be highly practical to involve a social worker, without delay.

You would be surprised at the results of one. Expect that family members will be making certain moves also. The social worker will be providing the experience.

Kalhoun, I apologize for coming down on you like that. I didn’t realize SIL had already gotten off the floor. I thought she was still there at the time of the OP.

These people do still need help. Neither of them seems capable of dealing with a potentially life-threatening situation appropriately. Alcoholism is the least of their problems. And the incest is irrelevant.

This is past the time to butt out; if you really anger them and they never talk to you again, and you hear of a similar incident, butt in again.

It will be painful and unrewarding, but, yeah, you should do it.

No problem, Peri. I am as shocked and horrified as you. Update: I guess she wasn’t really on the floor for two days. It was more like 8 hours or something. My MIL misinterpreted it. Still, it doesn’t excuse Uncle’s inability to take charge of the situation. She doesn’t have insurance, which is part of the reason she doesn’t seek medical care. She also waited until she could see the lumps in her breast in the mirror before she went to the doctor. You can guess the outcome of that. I’m just very frustrated. I know they’re adults (and we’ve become a very butt-inski-oriented society), but this family just lost their youngest daughter to alcoholism in January, and my FIL is dying of lung cancer and not expected to make it to Christmas. It’s just too much depressing shit for one family.