Brother where art Thou?

by Clueless Caregiver
(St. Helena, CA)

For years I have kept this bottled up inside me and now I'm going to speak my mind. My brother is the oldest of five children and you would expect he would be the one to lead the way when our family came into crisis. Not the case, our Dad got sick and he was nowhere to be found so it was left to the rest of us siblings to step in and help both Mom and Dad.


Dad passed away and I thought surely he would come around to help Mom. Wrong again. He couldn't even be bothered with the funeral arrangements! Now years later my Mom came down with Alzheimer's and of course only two of us siblings were right there helping watch over her. Where is brother? No where to be found again.

When we realized Mom needed round-the-clock care in order to keep her in her own home living safely and comfortably his only comment to us two was he wasn't going waste his time off watching over our Mom!!! His gang needed him too much for him to allow that to happen. These were his words to us. His attitude is that even though we are both married raising kids still in school that we can forfeit all that because he is just too damn important!

A lot has to do with whom this person is married to as well. She is a taker and consumed with only herself and her own needs. She lays around home doing nothing and acts like my brother should wait on her hand and foot. This is who he chose to marry and who he has abandoned his family for. Now that my Mom needs to be placed into a care facility guess what his only concern is? You got it. MONEY!!!! He's wanting to be in charge of everything and now is furious upon learning that my Mom placed me and my sister in charge of everything.

He says he wants nothing to do with any of us and has not been in touch in almost a year! What happens to people that they think to neglect the two people in the world that they should care and respect most? Our parents! My Mom and Dad were both wonderful parents and my Mom if she was in her right frame of mind would do anything for her children.

The last thing I have heard about this person called "Brother" is that he phoned up my sister and complained to her that she is going to run through all of Mom's money and there won't be any inheritance left! He was offering to take over things since he feels we are both idiots and incompetent. My sister drove over to his house and left two cents super glued to a piece of paper saying here is payment for your wonderful advice.

Is there anything a person can do to make this person see the light? If he couldn't come to our aid when our Dad was dying, why would he bother now? I don't see him ever changing so I guess we just need to go this road alone. I'm heartbroken that this is the brother I once loved so much and always admired. If you had asked me years' ago that this is how our family would end up I would have said your crazy.

I'm done crying about this but I just need some sound advice on how to move forward from here. I'm lost right now.

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You can't change him
by: Anonymous

Best you can do is live your life and do what you think is right. People disappoint us, especially when we look up to them and find out they are human. Humans can be selfish. You gotta let it go.

It is his loss not yours...except that you lost respect for this person. Clear your mind and move on without him. Don't waste any more drama on him.

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See an Elder Law Attorney
by: Anonymous

Dear Clueless - Just one more suggestion. See an ELDER LAW ATTORNEY. They know the 'in's and out's' of this mess - regular attorneys do not.

Sorry. They are a different breed and their areas of expertise are not ELDER LAW - a different area altogether.

The Elder Law Attorney will know the answers to questions you won't think or know to ask. Believe me - See an elder law attorney in the state where your mother will be a resident.

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Thank you Very Much, Leasa and "Anonymous", from "Making the Change"
by: Anonymous

Leasa and other "Anonymous," I am wowed by your input. You have both offered suggestions and information I would not have gotten if I relied solely on my own inklings.

Leasa, thank you for the reminder that my mother's mental acuity may not last forever and for your resoundingly good advice to get things in writing now, and to realistically assess my own fitness for caring for my mother perhaps 24/7.

Other "Anonymous," I think it was years ago where I heard or read something about the close scrutiny given a patient's finances re: putting this patient in a nursing home. I had forgotten it, and boy, money matters are maybe the biggest component of family tiffs.

When I am in a place where I can print the suggestions both of you have made, I will. I will have the printed page with me when I meet with my mother's attorney, my plan being that both my mother and I meet with him together. It will be a relief to get my mother's wishes for the care she wants in as legally binding a form as possible. She has a good attorney.

Thank you both very, very much. When I stumbled on this website, I was heartened by the helpfulness and support out there. I am deeply grateful to you both for sharing your experience and knowledge.

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Have the PLAN Notarized!!
by: Anonymous

These were all VERY GOOD SUGGESTIONS - someone really should make a CAREGIVER'S HANDBOOK!!

Get her wishes and YOUR wishes in WRITING and have it notarized immediately. That way you can not only show siblings but you can SHOW IT TO MOM if/when her thinking becomes sketchy.

Know whether she wants you to 'give up your life' for her - meaning 24/7 care with NO BREAKS! This is NOT something I would recommend.

DO NOT CO-MINGLE the finances. The 5 year look back for nursing homes and Medicaid paid Assisted Living begins immediately and they WANT IT ALL! So, DO NOT CO MINGLE - DO NOT CO-MINGLE - I REPEAT, DO NOT CO-MINGLE THE MONEY!

Her money is HERS - not for you to live on. If you need to be paid - see an elder law attorney right away and write up a caregiver contract for a certain amount of money and then you MUST PAY TAXES ON THAT TO UNCLE SAM! This is the ONLY way YOU can use HER money.

Keep the utilities, phone, house insurance, etc. in her name and let her money pay them.

Just remember, if you spend HER MONEY you are opening a can of worms that you will regret opening - BECAUSE THERE WILL COME A DAY WHEN YOU JUST CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE and if you have spent her money the wrong way you will be STUCK! Sorry to be so blunt. But things change. Your sweet mother CAN become demented, she CAN become ANGRY - so angry that you cannot care for her anymore and you may NEED to place her somewhere and become an attentive visitor.

My two cents - wish someone had told us this years ago.

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Re: Making the Change
by: Leasa

Good for you! Sounds like your mom is a lovely lady and nice to be around at this time. Okay, you are moving in with her to be her care-giver. She is not demented. Okay, good.

When you get there, the first thing you must do is sit mom down and lay down the plan. You are fortunate to be able to do this now. Picture what you would like your life to look like and how you would like to see your mom, say during the next five years, more or less.

Ask mom point blank: "if you become demented or unable to care for your personal needs, what is your wish?" Let her know if you are willing to give bedside care, which might include incontinence.

Can you bathe mom? Feed her? Change her clothes? Be realistic. I could do these things as I worked in nursing homes as a bedside nurse, and even then it was weird doing these very personal things for my mom. Can you lift mom? Map out a plan for her now. Don't wait and always wonder what she would have wanted.

Make sure you have her funeral prepaid. Make sure you know where the insurance papers are and her will if she has one. Then and only then, will you ever be able to relax.

OH, and get this plan in writing so you can show your siblings that you are acting on her plan. That way no one can fight you or bash you. Good luck, let us know how you make out. Sincerely, Leasa

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Making the Change
by: Anonymous

It is interesting to read the words of wise experience. I am driving myself across the country because my mother has asked me to move in with her. She is 88 years old and frail. Her short-term memory has the typical elderly person glitches, but she is not demented.

I am not sleeping well during this 2600-mile journey. My mind is never still, though I am impressed by the mundanity of my situation:

I have 4 living siblings, one of whom lives about 2 miles from my mother, but this nearby sibling is precisely the person my mother most fears. This sibling is narcissistic, greedy, and manipulative. She sold her nice apartment some 200 miles away to be near by parents (my mother is a widow for 4 years now) because she saw herself as being the one to take control when my father died.

Poor planning on her part: She did not do the easy research she should have done, which would have proven to her that my mother was fully legally able to control my father's (AND my mother's) estate.

My sister thought that once my father died, she, my sister, would take charge of all things, material and financial, of my parents.

Now, thanks to the deviousness and greed of this older sibling, I am called to make this life-changing move (my mother has even changed the locks on her house because of this sister), to live in a small town I loathe, in a house that depresses me, and for the first time in my single, independent, no-dependents, no-spouse adult life, put the needs of someone else on a par with, or above, my own.

The very good things about my situation are numerous: My mother and I have a strong, true, loving, and frank relationship. She has acknowledged from the start that she has asked me to make a tremendous sacrifice by making this move.

I hope only that I can pay my bills, as I have accumulated debts that have been a part of my life for 10 years, and, interestingly, of my 4 surviving siblings, I am the only one not on disability.

If I were to rise above myself, as if doing some kind of astral projection, I would say I am fortunate beyond measure in being fit enough to take on this herculean task (I am to take over her financial affairs, too) of being there for a mother I truly love and 96% of the time, truly like; that she is not demented; that she has a real fan club in the form of some very dear friends of mine who think she is the most sharp-witted of the cat's pajamas; and that I am being honored with such trust on my mother's part.

I will never agree with the saying that "change is good." Let us try "change is inevitable." I will visit these helpful sites for the input other caregivers give of securing/maintaining some sense of "self-ness."

I am to be with my mother for the rest of her life, and there is no way around the fact that I am putting my own life on hold. This will be a unique learning experience. I am mourning the end of my self-centered, perhaps selfish life.

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the only thing worse..........
by: Anonymous

The only thing worse than coming around whining about 'money' or 'inheritance' is the 'successful sibling' who approaches their parent and manipulates them into signing a full Power Of Attorney well in advance of his parent dying just to make sure that the one sibling who is doing the full time care giving does not get his hands on a cent 'mom's money.' We saw an attorney too late - but what this person did - 'manipulating the elderly for financial gain' is a class one felony!

Where is this person now, when the going gets rough and her full time care givers could use a 'break?' Maybe in Europe or at the beach somewhere. It is never CONVENIENT to take mom or come and give us a break. Of course, it IS CONVENIENT that we have had her for 8 years - 24/7. This person has made and broken so many promises we can't count them all and has yet to help in ANY WAY.

This sibling does call mom once a month or two and she thinks the world of 'you know who.; US? We are the scum who control her life and have taken her 'independence away' - we are to blame for every loss in her life - sorry, old age took her independence and caused her to lose her husband, home, health and mobility. Now it is taking her common sense!

As her care givers, we are just making it possible for her to stay out of a nursing home! We are the ones who spend hours in waiting rooms, Emergency Rooms, hospitals, doctors offices, run errands, make and keep appointments, pay bills, dole out medications, make sure all her bases are covered. Does she appreciate this? No.

Care giving, for many of us, is a THANKLESS JOB. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't. The only inheritance we will receive is GUILT. Our parent fills our waking moments and our dreams at night. We never get away from it. Siblings? Do they care? Most do not - after all, YOU are doing all the grunt work and they know you will CONTINUE to do it. One even said - well, YOU VOLUNTEERED! Sure wish now that we had not.

And yes, the money should be spent on MOM or DAD. It was theirs to begin with. The days of leaving an inheritance for one's children are long gone. People live way too long and it costs way too much to keep them alive.

Sorry to be so negative. It's one of 'those days.'

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Thanks Leasa
by: Clueless Caregiver

I thought about what you said and you are so right. We shall spend whatever amount we need to on Mom and if anything is left then that can be decided at that time.

He has a lot of nerve making demands regarding the money aspect of things. I'm sure you have seen a lot in the field you are in of how neglectful some folks can be of their parents. Its scary really. Thanks for your advice. Bless You.

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Blow it.
by: Leasa

Your story is all to common. There is always one, two or more in the family that when it comes time to make the gut wrenching decisions and do the actual work are no where to be seen. Then, when mom or dad starts to fail or they see you spending 'the money' on your parent's care they suddenly come around and 'want to help'.

Working in Nursing Homes as I did, it was amazing the number of old folks who you wouldn't even know they had a family, until death is imminent, then suddenly the room is full of 'tears'.

Sounds like you already have things under control, keep doing what you are doing, check in on Mom...and....spend every single dime she has on her care. Prepay her funeral first then buy her new clothes, special hospital nighties in floral patterns, shoes, special socks...what ever you think will make her smile. I did with my mom (even though I paid through my own pocket for most). Take her meals you think she would like from nice restaurants, take out places....spend it! Make sure it's all gone by the time she passes.

Above all, you know if you do let your brother 'take care' of her finances, wifey will end up with a new car and mom may not be able to pay her bills and you will be stuck with the funeral bill. You got your sister, that's all you need. Good luck!

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