Elder Care - Stress and Caring for an Elderly Parent.

by Susan
(Tucson, AZ)

Furious Eldest Daughter

There are 4 adult siblings in my family, I am the eldest daughter....I have one older bother, (single), one younger sister (married) and one younger brother, (married). I have lived out of state from mom for the
past 15 years due to career problems. I have always been very close to mom, and have spent a LOT of vacation flying home to visit my elderly parent three times a year, for 7-9 days at a time.

Mom, who is 80, lost her husband last year. She has some dementia, mainly manifested as terrible short term
memory. After her husband died, she was really lost by
herself, scared, lonely, depressed, and not safe living
alone. Her house got broken into one afternoon. I called my younger brother to see if he could pick mom up for the night, as older bro was working the night shift, and younger sis had been drinking. I was told by younger bro, that I've got burgers on the grill, but I'm here if she needs me, all she has to do is call. (???!!! isn't that what I was doing?)

At first I thought maybe mom was mostly lonely and thought if my siblings would visit frequently that she would settle down. Well, only my older brother
bothered to visit mom, seeing her about once every week, which he stepped up to about twice weekly when
mom broke down at church and had to be driven home.

My sister lived about 60-70 miles away and would come
only about every 6-8 weeks for a couple hours, and my
younger brother didn't visit at all, did finally have her up to his home overnight once after I REALLY got on their backs.

I am unable to move house I can't sell in this market and the job. I flew home and looked at various assisted living/ adult retirement communities. There were 1 or 2 nice ones, but mom really wants FAMILY around. I was afraid she would still be lonely if no one visited regularly. She would break down and cry
when we visited the different places, and say I just want to go home.

I invited her to move out of state to where I live so she would be near me. I
considered having her live full time with me, but I am
single, and work full time, 12 1/2 hour shifts, and really didn't think it was a happy situation for her or myself.

I helped her move, arranged moving van, went through
her things, sorting out throws and keeps. Dealt with
the nasty step daugher and her husband who were being
attrocious to mom. I switched around mom's medicare
insurance, (no small task) found new doc's etc.

I found mom a very NICE, upscale retirement community w/ assisted living. Mom was scared, but moved in six months ago. She has acclimated well, has
several friends, (despite her bad memory), likes having
her own place (very cute, I helped her decorate and find new furniture as stepsister wouldn't let her take anything from husband's house) and stuff, feels safe, and enjoys the little activities, and having meals cooked.

I have her in my home overnight FREQUENTLY, at least 2 nights per week and take her on frequent outings, go for long walks, to stores, take her for doctors appointments, etc.

I told my siblings that I would bring mom home for visits at least twice a year, and have invited ALL of them to visit us here. I have a nice, newly redecorated guest room with bath that they can use.

I took mom home six weeks ago, cost me at least
out of pocket. Took mom up to spend the night with my
sis as she could not leave her teenage kids to come down to mom's old town. Took mom up to younger brothers to spend the day and had dinner with his family. Both brothers were told which hotel we were staying at in town and invited to visit. Older brother came over all
4-5 days we were there. Younger brother didn't visit at all (he is NOT that busy other than work, has no
dependent children and could have taken time off work).

Younger brother did loan me a truck which I hesitantly borrowed while we were there. I filled truck w/ gas,
and sent him an email after I got home thanking him for use of truck and for having us to dinner, (I had
a cheeseburger).

Younger brother called mom two days ago, and was giving
her hell about me, because he only got to see her for a few hours, and says we didn't even thank him for the truck. (A lie). He could have come down and visited, but he didn't. Maybe next trip home in Sept. I would
try to spend 1-2 nights with him, but I like to be where my older bro can visit too, as he has no other
family....and also like mom to be where she and I can
enjoy being in familiar surroundings, (we stayed about
1/4 mile from her old house), and walk the old neighborhood, go to her church and visit her friends.

I have limited vacation time. Younger bro just took a trip w/ wife to Cancun, and already has plans to go
to Mexico again in the near future.

I am absolutely FRIED!!!!! I have felt blessed that mom has adjusted SO WELL, and seems quite happy and content, after such a huge change. And to have him calling her and upsetting her makes me furious!

I love mom dearly, but I really like having a little more freedom than I have with basically no help from any of my siblings. None of them have made any effort
to even visit her. It's tough for me to take
a vacation at all by myself and leave her alone here.
Also, I'd love to have a relationship of my own. I'm not currently dating anyone, but have never been married and would really like to be. I can't even imagine how I'm going to arrange and work around dating if it comes up. Date a saint, I think.

I feel like I'm sacrificing an awful lot of my time not
to mention emotional and some financial resources, and I'm not even being appreciated! My sister does say she
appreciates it, and I think my older brother was relieved, (although not happy about mom moving away).
It's mostly the younger brother that's the problem.

Younger brother has always acted like he hated me. He
was into drugs as a teen and at one time came after me
with a 2x4 piece of lumbar when I was 19. He threw me
against a wall, hurt my arm, (it was swollen) I thought
maybe broken. All this over nothing, just his bad temper. I thought things had gotten better between us
through the years, although we have little in common.
I can't believe his childishness.

Anyway...that is my story. I really don't know what to
do. I really do not communicate well with him, and am
not going to seek counseling, (although I think he needs some). It really upsets me though, and puts an
even bigger burden of stress on me, (of which I've had
plenty in the past year).

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How Much Help from Out of State Sibling?
by: Anonymous

My divorced sister has my dad nearby in an excellent assisted living facility. She has a great job & sometimes has to cancel work or work travel to take him to the the doctor or handle emergencies.

We siblings live 300 miles away, and 800 miles away, respectively, and she expects us to come stay in her house whenever she has to be away.

We do try to get up there every 2 months or so but she feels we need to come more often. How much is enough? It's a 12 hour round trip drive for me, and I have to leave my high school son with neighbors while I go.

Time for You
by: Anonymous

I would suggest that you leave it up to the siblings to come and see your mom in her new home. I would try it anyhow, heartbreaking as it may be. You are making too many allowances for your brothers/sisters and they are very selfish.

Take some time for yourself. If your mother starts asking questions, tell her they are planning to come and see her. In other words, put her off if you can with the questions. It's tough I know.

I admire you for your loyalty and devotion. But you need to take some time for yourself. The world will not stop rotating on its axis (joke) if you let your selfish siblings its up to them now. Good luck.

Give Yourself Credit for Your Efforts ...
by: Lori

You can't please all the people all the time. Focus on your life and your mother. Work with your sister and brothers where you can and try not to expect more than you know you can reasonably get.

You have put a lot of time and effort into making your mother safe and comfortable. I bet she appreciates your efforts. Thank your siblings for their efforts when they come and don't take responsibility for their relationship with your mother.

Each sibling should make the effort to be with mom when they can. If they don't it is their loss (and unfortunately, your mom's). But you can't do everything, so don't stress yourself out over what you can't do. I am in a position similar to yours caring for my parents, and now just dad as mom is gone. Brother and sister do very little and I try to just focus on caring for dad. We are only human.

Let's focus on the relationship with our living parents while they are here. I give you an A plus for all your efforts. Thanks for your post. It helps me to see I am not alone in my efforts and my frustration with siblings.

I'm glad your mother is happy in her new home
by: Laraine

My sister-in-law would be better in one of these. All she needs is her meals at the moment. If we suggested she needs her cleaning done for her as well (in my opinion she does) she would get highly indignant. But in a retirement village she would now have some friends instead of being stuck in the country with nothing to do. Our only income is what the New Zealand Government fondly imagines is enough to live on when you retire so there's no way we can afford to take her out too often. A trip to Hamilton a few days ago cost us $50 in fuel.

In your shoes I would tend to cut myself off from my younger brother as much as possible. He doesn't deserve a sister like you. You can tell him I said so. You have nothing to feel guilty about. I don't think I've ever felt guilty (or if I have I'm unaware of it). I'm aware only of resentment, anger and depression and I'd like to be able to stop feeling resentful.

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