My father-in-law has just died last week and my mother-in-law who lives 2 hours away is becoming very needy. She is 68 years old and has never driven and now expects my husband (her son) to come over at least every other day to visit with her and take her places.
Our lives are very busy and he cannot take the time off of work to do that.
I told her to start taking the bus because we cannot just drop everything, every time she wants my husband over there.
Any idea what else we could do?
I think that you need to be a bit more caring of her situation. Her world has just been turned upside down and of course she needs her son, give her a break. Just wait and see how needy you will become when your life is turned upside down some day.
I also think that you need to find new ways to help her keep her dignity and independence. Asking her to take the bus might be ok, but how will she do during the winter with groceries to bring home?
Here is what we did when my mother-in-law needed a ride to get around town. We got her a taxi service. She loved it. Not only did the taxi take her door-to-door, she did not even have to pay them cash. We set up a corporate account for her and the bills came directly to my husband.
This worked well. It let her come and go when she wanted to and it gave her the dignity of not being so dependent on others. She mostly went shopping, to her hair dresser and to her doctor appointments.
In your case, not only will it save your husband a lot of driving time and missing work, it will save on gas for his car too. I bet that one round trip in his car (4 hours) would be about what she might use in taxi fares for an entire month. You will need to get her set up with the vouchers and explain the program to her. Just tell her that you have arranged everything and that she can use the taxi as often as she likes.
I remember how excited my mother-in-law was to have this service. Sometimes the taxi would be a couple of minutes late, but generally it worked for everyone. This is really a win-win for everyone.
Your husband of course should still make extra effort and trips to see her more often, but this idea will help bring a level of calm and control to all of your lives. Mostly it will help her maintain her dignity and independence.