The Other End of the Spectrum

by Anonymous

I have the opposite situation as many others and I really feel for your suffering. Emotions run high when it comes to who should do what in eldercare. I live 10 minutes from my parents and my brother has lived with them for 57 years. He never married and never had kids. He has slowly taken on the role of caregiver and as time goes on, the work piled up. They don't want to hire outside help and only want family help. I live with my husband and 22 year old son.


My brother is their caretaker and does everything plus he runs a business. The only "criticizing" I do is suggest that ma, who has Alzheimer's and who is deteriorating mentally, should have an aid. The aid can provide daily stimulation for her and that can only help her mental condition.

My parents are alone all day when brother works and I used to make myself sick last year over it, and I would run when dad called. I would obsess over what I can do to help ma get the mental stimulation she needs while brother was at work.

I won't do that anymore and brother told me dad can't even count on me for a favor so he won't call me. I have even researched community resources for the best agency for ma.

My brother and father both insist that they don't need outside help, only family, and I should "chip in more." Also they feel that my brother is taking on everything and he needs help. (meaning me.) Digs are made at me since I only visit once or twice a week and my brother resents me and compares me to our other sister, who lives 40 minutes away, has a job, and comes over once a week to help, when she is able to, and at a time that works for her, after she takes care of her own family.

Again, I am being compared to others who do more than what they feel I should be doing. Again, they resent me for not taking on a bigger role in caring for ma and dad. I wasn't going to skip taking my son to see his psychologist, to "chip in" and take ma to her neurologist, who will only insist that my brother get her an aid anyway.

And they won't do it since he feels they make low pay and he can't trust people who aren't nurses or other college graduates, only family. I have my own family and schedule and I won't compromise them like I used to last year.

Last year, when dad called saying ma was driving him nuts, I would run over. I would run over when dad was hungry and needed a sandwich from deli. I lived closer so I had to do it. I did this more and more until I realized that, as long as they have me to "chip in", they will never get a helper.

So I pulled back and I only come over on the best days that work for me. My sister does the same, but I am their scapegoat since I live closer, my family should come 2nd.

I won't give in to that. I would never report brother to an agency for neglect, even though our parents, who can't even heat a meal, and dad, who can barely get out of a chair and walk to the bathroom, are left alone while he works.

Brother accused me of wanting an aid to put pressure off of me to help out more. Of course there is partial truth to that, but when you have no control over what brother or dad is choosing, as a defense mechanism, you detach yourself.

My way of looking at this situation is as long as they have family to chip in, they will never get her help. I decided to come over on days that work for me, and devote my time when I am there.

If brother takes them to 5 doctor visits a week and I don't go along, it is because once again, I am expected to fill a role instead of hiring an aid.

Doing a favor once in a while and taking ma to doctor isn't the same as becoming the person who takes on "the role" since they won't get an aid for her.

Also, a better approach might be to ask me, when I get the chance, on a day and time of my choosing, not theirs, if I can make an appointment to take her to a doctor, not expect me to take on the role of ma's doctor visit person.

Not making an appointment on a day and time that I pick my son up from college and spend time with him as his mentor and parent, since he has special needs, even though he is 22, some things are continuous.

If I mention that to brother or dad, they say he is 22, can drive himself, a grown man and so on. If mom lived with us, she would have a helper to assist in these things.

She doesn't live with us, she lives with them, and they are making their own choices. They refused the help of a social worker/mediator and they block out everything but what they expect I should be doing.

Any advice from dad's nurse, any doctor's advice, is dismissed since brother lives with them, the doctor doesn't and he knows them best and he feels they don't need an aid.

Brother only sees his way or the high way. So there you have it. I am on the other end of the spectrum, and some would say I am selfish and uncaring, and I know I would be judged for my choices.

I don't know what it is like to go through what brother does daily, but HE is making the choice not to bring in outside help.

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