Helping the Best I Can, But It's Still Not Enough

Several years ago my sister pressured our mother to give her power of attorney, health care proxy, and primary health caregiver when the time came. Neither my brother or I protested. We discussed it and agreed that she was best suited for the job particularly since our mother had raised her four children. We felt it was a fair exchange that she take care of our mother.


In the meantime, both my brother and I continued to help out our mother. This has often been difficult for me as I am disabled.

I work for myself since I lost my job because of my medical issues and numerous doctor appointments.

Working for myself means I still have to put in an 8 hour day in order to make a living wage. Even though I live 1 hour from my mother I helped her once or twice a week with laundry, doctor's appointments, and shopping.

This angered my husband as I would be in a great amount of pain immediately afterward. The pain keeps me from sleeping which makes me tired during the day which causes my work to suffer.

Even though she knew all this, my sister would call me and yell at me that I wasn't helping enough.

The past three years she and her husband have spent the winters in Florida, leaving my brother and me to pick up the slack with our mother.

Mother would call me every day wanting me to pick something up for her or do something for her that I could have done while I was with her.

I told her I couldn't keep neglecting my job and spending $75 or more on gas every week by running for her constantly. I told her that she needed to make a list and I would get everything she needed and do everything she wanted on the days I visited her.

This didn't always work, even when I asked if there was anything else she needed. I even took her to the doctor when she was very sick with a cold on a blustery snowy day that increased my drive time to 2 hours one way.

Still, she complained that I wasn't helping her to my sister who called me and yelled over the phone at me.

Mother became very ill several weeks ago and was hospitalized. Instead of being reasonable and keeping me in the loop, my sister screamed at me when I arrived at the hospital that I had taken too long to get there.

The hospital is 1 hour and 30 minutes from my house. My brother walked away, not wanting to get
involved. I said nothing. I was embarrassed and didn't want her hysterics to turn into a full-blown argument in the middle of the emergency room.

Mother is now recovering in a rehab facility. She is unable to care for herself any longer and the decision was made to get her into assisted living.

My sister jumped on doing all the phone calls, and all the things involved to get her in the right place.

I'm still taking the 1-hour drive two to three times a week to visit Mother and sit in on meetings with her social worker and the different assisted living homes, the latter at my sister's insistence.

My sister went on a seven-day camping vacation with her family last week. I drove to my mother every single day my sister was gone.

I took care of any needs the rehab center wasn't doing, like her laundry and getting her outside to enjoy the nice weather, even though I'm not supposed to be pushing her wheelchair.

My sister came back from her camping trip and immediately called me, yelling at me over the phone that I did nothing to help, that I left Mother alone all weekend and that I was no help at all.

She said she's had enough and can't do it all and she's sick of it. I couldn't get a word in. I tried to tell her if she needs help she needs to ask for it, but she wouldn't listen.

I am neglecting my business and haven't had a paycheck in weeks. I may lose my clients. I'm putting money I don't have into my gas tank and putting a lot of miles on my 10-year-old car.

My home is being neglected as is my husband who has been truly supportive and understanding during all this. My sister won't listen and she won't tell me what she wants me to do. I'm at my wits end.

She doesn't understand that just because I run my own business doesn't mean I can adjust my hours any way I like.

My clients have deadlines and expect them to be met regardless if I have a sick mother or not. They won't pay for work not done.

I'm in trouble and I'm sick over all this and don't know what to do. Most of my husband's pay goes toward medical insurance and bills.

I have to work to pay the house bills and I can't keep taking five hours or more a day to help with my mother. I've been denied SSI so I must work. I'm doing all I can, but for my sister, that is not enough.

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Put boundaries on your relationship w/sister + mother
by: Gina

Dealing with aging parents can unfortunately bring out the worst in families, as seems to be your case.

First, you need to understand that you are not responsible for your mother's happiness or your sister's happiness. As long as your mom is in a safe, caring place, you need to make a decision (with your husband's input and agreement!) about how many times a month you can reasonably visit your mom.

It is possible that your mom has cognitive memory issues so that when your sister asks her if you visited, your mom is not remembering that you were ever there. This was happening with my mom-in-law. Your sister may have a totally unreasonable/romanticized expectation about what your mom's care "should" look like.

Make the decision about how often you can participate, how and when. Then inform your sister. The second she starts to raise her voice or bully you, you need to say, "If you don't speak to me in a respectful way then I won't continue talking with you." Then the next time she starts in, hang up.

That will get her attention. And every time she lays into you, hang up. You are allowing her to bully you and now she's used to it. Now you have to retrain her concept of your relationship. What do you have to lose?

She sounds like a witch, anyway. If your struggle is tied to inheritance issues, then maybe you need to give that up so that you can be free from guilt and bullying.

FYI your mom's money may already be gone if your sister is taking vacations and she's the PoA and isn't sharing her banking statements with anyone.

Maybe ask her to show current financial info? And don't worry if your brother doesn't agree with your plan. The only person you can control is yourself. Don't be a doormat. Don't be controlled by love or money. You and your husband/family come first, not your mom. She had her life and now it's time for you to live yours. Good luck! Stay strong!

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Greedy sister
by: Anonymous

I'm so sorry to read this as I know exactly how you feel . My sister was POA and everything and lived 900 miles away .

Myself and my brother did everything for our dad.she kept begging dad to go live with her and he kept telling her no he wanted to stay at his home well he ended up in the hospital and after 13 years of her doing nothing she shows up acting like she's the perfect daughter and disrespecting my brother and I and telling us we have never done anything for our dad well he went into rehab after he got better and still telling her no he didn want to live with her he wants to go home so the day he was released from rehab she snatched him without telling my brother or I and put him on a plane and took him 900 miles away.

i went to the rehab to get him and he was gone . So then I get a phone call that she has him and when ever he wants she will fly him back well needless to say he ended up in the hospital from the flight and stayed 2 weeks and then he had to go to a rehab facility there and spent 3 weeks and right before he was to be released so I could go get him and bring him back to his home state he had a massive heart attack and died .

My brother and I wasn't even involved in his funeral arrangements and he wasn't buried in his home state where our mother is .which mind you he made very clear he wanted to be buried where our mom is . So long story short ....my brother and I lost our dad and our sister at the same time because now he's gone and we will never have anything to do with her again ...So please just be extremely careful of your greedy sister because it's No telling what she will pull to get what she's WANTS ....
God bless you and good luck with everything .
Hope you don't get really sick over all of it worse than you already are .

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Advice
by: Lily

The first thing you need to do is stand up to your sister. Tell her if she starts yelling at you that you are hanging up the phone.

If your mother is now in an assisted living facility, do not feel guilty about not seeing regularly- she is being taken care of. Tell sister that you and your husband are taking a vacation like she does with her family.

Even if you can’t afford it - find a way ! You don’t need to go far and you definitely need it for your mental health. Tell your sister not to contact you unless it is a life or death emergency and just go - screw her ranting. When you get back you will have a fresh perspective.

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