The Only Daughter

by Martha
(Mississauga Ontario, Canada)

My mom is 97 years of age. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I live in Toronto, Ontario. My husband ad I do not have the financial ability for me to fly out to Winnipeg. Mom no longer has any financial ability as my adopted brother has basically used all her money. When her cheque comes in he is over to see her He does not work and has mental health issues.

I love my mom dearly but she is very stubborn (always has been) and she finds it very difficult to accept help of any kind. She has friends that bring her groceries, she has home care come in every morning but most the time she tells them to leave as she does not want to get up or get dressed. Twice a week home care comes in to give her a bath but again she often refuses it.

When my brother does go over to see om there is a lot of anger and swearing on his part. I phone mom 2 - 3 times every day. She tells me what has been happening and what she has refused, how has tried to help and how unsatisfied she is with their work. I am at my wits end.

Last fall I tried to suggest she move to a place that offers more care, (Currently she lives in a seniors home - but she has never participated in any thing going on at that site) I have tried to call Home care for more visits but my mom got so angry at me, she said that I had no right to get involved.

Any relatives in Winnipeg will not have anything to do with mom - those bridges were torn down years ago. She will not allow me to call her Doctor - again it is none of my business. Where do I go from here?

Mom is a very Christian lady and feels that no one around her believes like she does. I try very hard not to talk to her about religion because she gets angry with with me. I need help please.

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Some suggestions
by: Gina

Hi Martha, I'm so sorry the hear that you are struggling with this situation. I can't think of something more stressful than being concerned about a loved one who is far away.

You will need to ask yourself a question (with your husband's input): What do I want to have happen? Answering this question realistically will direct many of your actions and decisions moving forward.

It is obvious your brother is financially abusing your mom. You must work to stop this as there is no other choice if you want anything to change. I live in the US so I only am familiar with our laws but will make some suggestions.

- First: if you are not able or willing to spend some money to get this situation under control for your own peace of mind and your mother's well being, then stop reading any further, as there is nothing you can really do.

The goal should be to protect your mom from your brother's current abuse and any future abuse. Left unchecked your brother will probably wrangle ownership of the house from your mom, if she owns it, and you care about that.

- You said a concerned neighbor texted you when she was not doing well. Can you ask this person to work with you in doing some surveillance on your mom?

Like, have her go over there on the pretense of needing something (since your mom apparently doesn't like to receive help maybe she will give help).

When there your informant can at least check out the inside of her home to see if she is being cared for as your brother claims. OR, the informant invites your brother out to do something that lasts at least 2 hours (like a movie? drinks?)

While he is sure to not show up at your mom's place have someone else show up on the pretense of needing something. They need to look around inside, take pics of anything suspect, use the bathroom and look into any other rooms they can see on the way, look into her bathroom cabinet for medications, etc.

If they come upon the mail pile that may be a jackpot. Look for the bank statement and if they find a recent one, they should nab it, take it home and look it over for evidence of your brother cashing her checks. You get the idea.

- You will need to go there for an extended visit. Soon, depending on what the informant finds. If you are members of a church I would make an appeal to the pastor for the funds to cover the airfare. Stay at least 1 week.

Don't tell your mom or brother that you are coming, just show up and plan to sleep at her house. You don't owe your brother an explanation for the visit...just say that you miss mom and want to spend some time with her.

The purpose of this trip is many fold: to show your brother you mean business and he better not be doing anything abusive; to show concern for you mom and spend some quality time with her; to look around and gather evidence and maybe even convince her to have her checks auto-deposited in a new bank account that you are joint on with her so you can monitor it online and your brother has no access.

When the opportunity presents, covertly photograph any of her critical ID stuff. In the US it would be her social security card, her banking info (full account number), credit card account numbers, medical card, etc.

The purpose is to set up online access so you can monitor what is going on. I did this with my mother-in-law when her abusive husband wouldn't let us help her when she was sick and having dementia.I photographed the contents of her wallet when I took her to a doctors appointment and I offered to hold her purse while she was in there. It helped a great deal.

- If you do find evidence of financial (or others) abuse by your brother, you MUST act on it, even if your mom doesn't want to. I'd contact social services and see what advice they give you (because it will be free). Maybe they can declare you mom a vulnerable adult and can be removed from the home (if that's a desired outcome). You may also get very inexpensive advice online from sites like or That's what I did.

That's enough for now. This may seem overwhelming but just do a little bit every day and eat the elephant one bite at a time. That's what I had to do and I got the solution we needed and wanted for my mom-in-law and our family's peace of mind. Wishing you success!

Put yourself first
by: Anonymous

When family refuses to communicate with you and you've been told to "mind your own business" then it may be time to disconnect emotionally.
It seems that elder-care and family relationships are a lot more complicated now that social norms have changed: elders used to live with an adult child in their declining years.

Since elders want more personal and financial space these days, since they can choose that, it can be painful when well-meaning adult children try to help and are seen as interfering.
Under different circumstances, I'm also being told to "back off" on the well-meaning advice and efforts because I haven't been provided the full picture.

Nevertheless, I'm expected to react to requests without the full background I need to offer informed help. So, I've chosen to take a break from the elderly parents - if they choose a poor course of action, so be it.

These circumstances remind me a great deal of parents letting their young adult children make their own choices, even when failure or danger could be the outcome.

However, this rejection from elders doesn't necessarily prevent adult children from thinking through "what if" scenarios, should reasonable health or legal decisions be required at some future date. Detachment without guilt really helps. Most of us are doing the best we can.

An update as to what is happening with my mom
by: The Only Daughter

My brother feels that he should be legally in charge of everything. For many reasons this is a very bad idea. He tells mom that he will be over but never comes over. He puts terrible things on Facebook saying how tired he is because he is helping her so much. When he does show up he wants money and groceries.

It is getting terrible as he will not call me or text me to let me know what is happening. He says it is none of my business. Mom had to be taken to the hospital this week due to her sugar levels. My brother did not and has not called me.

Somebody that received a text from him informing them that she was not well. They know what is happening and took it upon themselves to call me. I am at the end of my rope trying to figure out what to do.

Anyone have any suggestions?

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