Dealing with my Sister Concerning my Mom's Care

There are a lot of things that enter into play with this situation. My sister is the oldest and has been retired for the past 5 years. She lives 70 miles from my mom and at this point is her main caregiver.


My mom is not wealthy but could afford to go to assisted living. I live over 200 miles from my mom and work a rotating 12 and half hour shift doing security for a nuclear facility. The work is taxing on both body and mind. I work an average of 50 hours a week. My problem is not that I don't want to help, but that they will not help me help them.

We are considering putting mom in assisted living, which I have encouraged due to mom's health for the past two years. My sister is finally thinking about it, but does not want to consider putting mom closer so that I can help more. Needless to say the stress is high for all concerned.

I have no time for my family unless I am off work. I can't quit my job, nor can I move at this point in my life. My sister is putting pressure on me constantly about caring for my mom, but when I suggest that we put mom in assisted living somewhere that is closer for both of us she does not want to consider my job or where I live. I am 57 and work long hours.

She recently called me and said that she needed me to take mom to have surgery to remove a tube from mom's ear and when I said that I was scheduled to work she became defensive and ugly. I then said that I was off a few days later and if it could be done then that I could do it.

The point is that mom lives 3 and a half hours from me and I will care give and go straight back to work with no rest. How do I remain fit for duty with no rest? I was just there three weeks ago to set her up with a heart monitor that she had to wear for a week. I worked off of night shift and we packed when I got home and went to mom's and I did this all with no sleep after working all night.

I want to help, but this is wearing me down both mentally and physically. The guilt is overwhelming. My mom thinks if I am not working I should be with her. If I mention that I see other family she immediately wants to know when I can see her even if it was just a week since I was last there. If I have any life I feel guilty and if I don't I am feeling angry. Yet, when talk about mom moving into assisted living they don't seem to want to get her any closer so that it is not such a hardship for me to help.

I want to be a good daughter, but feel that they both prefer I sacrifice my health to help mom. No sleep and traveling when I am off is taking a toll. I recently had chest pain after talking with my sister. Her calls cause sleeplessness. I can be fired if inattentive at work. I am no good to anyone. The bottom line is I know that mom is a handful at the least. She takes a gallon bag of medicine, goes to doctors constantly, is a diabetic that refuses to take responsibility for what goes in her mouth, and worries over ever ache and pain. That is the main reason that I have pushed for assisted living.

I know that it is not fair to my sister and that it has basically been put in her lap. In the same turn, I feel that my job and where I live should be considered if my sister wants my help. Am I a selfish, bad sister that I am being led to believe?

My sister recently got mad at me and said that I should not have moved so far away. I have lived here for 31 years. My life is here and at the time this is the only place that my husband could find work. My children where raised here. She is always saying hateful things. Help!

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Mom and Dad deteriorating
by: Anonymous

My Mom is deteriorating-finally back at home after 4 months of back and forth to hospital and rehab. Now home, my Dad is her caregiver-he's almost blind from macular degeneration in both eyes and very deaf. My 50 yr old brother lives with them to "help" - mainly a freeloader.

I work full time and care for 3 kids-my husband got shipped to Mexico for a year to work. All 3 of my sisters live within 4 hrs of us. Do you think that they could come and help more often than when it is convenient for them?

I make sacrifices everyday and am angry and resentful towards them. My Dad plays games with them and makes them think that I can do everything-it's like he's punishing them for leaving by saying he doesn't need them. It's so ridiculous!!!

Each of my sisters has their reasons for not being around more - one has little kids, the other has a troubled teenager and the other doesn't have the money to visit a lot. I'm so sick of their excuses and it makes me not like them at all. I just keep trying to stay positive but it's very difficult. I'm mad at everyone.

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Blunt Comment
by: Anonymous

Dealing with your sister....
I will also be blunt. Stop looking for your sister to -- on top of everything else she's doing -- figure out a solution to your busy life so that you can participate in caring for YOUR mother. Everyone is busy. I, too, work full-time, take care of my mother AND am a single mother. You do what you have to do.

The previous writer is correct - figure out a long weekend AT LEAST once a month! There are president's holidays coming up - make it a long weekend and stay with mom and give your sister a break. As to assisted living, if your mother was closer to you, how often would you make it your business to really visit her?

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Never Enough
by: Anonymous

What "Put Your Stick Away" says in 100% true. I am in same similar situation. Once I let my anger go about siblings not helping, a lot of stress left me. If sister gives you so much grief about living so far away, I can almost promise that even if you did move closer it still would be that you never do enough.

She is stressed herself trying to do it and she is putting her anger on you even though deep down it is not about you - it's about her being stressed out. She needs to put your mother in the assisted living facility. Then she will be in decent hands and everyone can have their life back.

I was against my Mother being in assisted living but looking back I see where it was the best thing for you. And just a note: Once they are in assisted living please don't forget about them. They still need your visits and calls if possible. The elderly get very, very lonely so don't ignore them.

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Re: Your Sister
by: Anonymous

I will be blunt too. I am in the same position as your sister. I have been the sole caregiver of our mother (who is now 90) because my sister lives 3 hours away and doesn't help. Do I feel like she shouldn't have moved 3 hours away? Yes, I do.

I don't think it's fair for me to be the only one helping our parent. If she is sharing in the "inheritance" (which will be paltry because my mother doesn't have any money) then she should share in the caregiving. She and her husband go on vacations and mini getaways whereas I haven't had a vacation in 7 years. Do you think that is fair? Yes, she has work obligations like you and also 2 small children, but she should still arrange to help out in some way.

My advice is for you and your sister to work out a couple long weekends every couple of months plus one week off during a year's time when you can go there and give her a break. No, I don't think it's reasonable to expect you to go there for piecemeal day trips because 3 hours each way is burdensome. So arrange a long weekend (4 days) or a week off and go there and do as much as you can for her during that time period.

No, I don't think you should have to drive 3 hours just to take your mother to a doctor appointment.

The other issue is assisted living. Well, my mother doesn't have the money for assisted living, nor would she be willing to move. So in many cases, assisted living is not the answer. Moving the parent is not the answer.

Your sister is doing the bulk of the caregiving so you have to figure out some way to give her a break. Your sister should not expect you to give up your job or rest on a weekly basis but you must figure out a way to give her a break every couple of months. Good luck.

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Put Your Stick Away.
by: Anonymous

Dear 'Dealing'
Since you do not know me and I do not know you we have nothing to lose by me being...blunt. Your situation has similar aspects to my own. I will never be helpful 'enough', grateful 'enough' or able to read minds 'enough' so I have learned to let all this stuff go.

I do not do guilt, it doesn't help me in any way and since I can't please my siblings no matter what I do, feeling guilty about any of it will not help.

Your sister's comment about you 'shouldn't have moved so far away' is absurd!
How would they all feel if in your sleep deprivation you crashed your car? Please, consider taking care of yourself first. Whether you help or do not help it sounds as if what you do will never be 'enough' either. Find a way to make peace with yourself and enjoy each moment as it comes. You will read posts here of people who are taking life 'moment by moment' and finding much less stress for themselves by doing so (I am one of them).

I'm so glad you wrote and got some stuff off you chest. Sometimes all I need is to write it all out here and that helps. The less contact I have with my siblings now the better it has been for my own mental health(although I find it sad to lose my sister and brothers) and I just keep taking mom to doctor's, etc. without discussing every little thing with siblings.

Hope this helps you in some way. Remember, beating yourself up with a stick is not going to help one darn thing. If you ask your brain why you're such an awful person your brain will be happy to answer you. If you ask your brain 'what can I do to feel better about this situation?' your brain will answer that too.
M

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