The Siblings Whose Offers of Help are Turned Down

by Penny
(Oklahoma)

My father, age 92, has been living alone independently rather successfully for the past ten years. One of my sisters lives two miles from him, attends his church, has always been closer to him than the other two of us.


I live 40 miles away, and our sister lives in Dallas, 450 miles away. Recently Dad has been diagnosed with mild Parkinson's, early stage Alzheimer's, kidney disease,and COPD. His memory has been failing for a few years and he is often very confused about his schedule, his appointments, and any new situations.

He is completely dependent on family and friends to get around. He is socially isolated, very nervous, and depressed. His friends are dying around him, and he realizes he is losing the ability to manage his life.

My sisters and I agree that he should move to assisted living and we agreed on the facility after visiting several with Dad. He will be moving soon.

The sister who lives very close to him, who never married and has looked after his needs for several years, is his POA. She also works full time, as do all of us.

She insists on managing everything, yet sends several daily panic-inducing text messages to the rest of us. "He isn't eating! He has no food in the house!" "He got confused about his doctor appointment!" "He can't remember how to use the microwave!" "He won't do what I tell him to do!" "He had food all over himself today!" "He wet the bed!" "He told me he did (fill in the blank) and he really never did it!" "He almost fell!" "The aide didn't show up!" "He won't take his pills the right way!"

Every suggestion we make for helping is ignored or turned down, but her complaints are constant.

She seems to take every offer of help as a suggestion that she isn't capable of doing the job -- yet complains mightily about him, us, his doctors, the money she is spending (she is reimbursed or we offer to split the bills), the doctor's staff, his neighbors, the Meals on Wheels volunteer, and on and on.

He needs transportation but she doesn't trust taxicabs. I found a private company online to transport him, but she thinks it's too expensive.

She complains that my sister and I don't do enough, but turns down all offers of help. She is the only person who knows what Dad wants or can tolerate.

There are things we can do from afar, like help set his finances up online or manage his home health care needs or grocery shopping electronically - but she always says no, then complains to us and her friends and our relatives that she isn't able to live her life.

Our sister who lives out of state came for a weekend to help and was micromanaged and criticized until she got back on the plane.

My sister and I realize that we can only do so much. We offered to alternate his daily check-in calls (a.m. and p.m.) among us, but were turned down.

We have offered to pay for things to make life easier for him - she refuses and says he is just lazy and doesn't want to take care of himself.

We have offered to take him places or contact home care companies, moving vans or cleaning companies or real estate agents or handyman or carpenters - but everything is always wrong or she can do it herself more cheaply but complains about her time.

The things we have been able to do - accompany him on big doctor's appointments, or shopping, or hospital visits - are criticized or second guessed, even though we are sure to brief her afterwards. She also doesn't trust the health care provider he sees.

Neither of us knows what to do about this except to keep offering. She is intent on playing the martyr. Not all people who complain about their siblings lack of help are really without resources.

Sometimes they just don't want to give up their control, or want to make it look like they are sacrificing their lives without help while their family members are playing and vacationing and living it up. (Our sister has not taken a vacation in fifteen years, and that one with with our parents when they were both alive and they shared a mobile home camper.)

We are now offering to divide up the labor and give everyone a job they can do from wherever they live, but this will probably go nowhere, too.

She has a couple of friends who are also family caregivers and they get together and tell "Can you top this?" stories about their extreme sacrifices and lack of help.

I really don't know what to do anymore, and my relationship with my Dad is suffering.

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Being the spouse of a turned down and vilified sibling
by: Anonymous

My husband is always the villain in the story of his sister caring for his mom. His other sister lives hundreds of miles away and is "up-to-date" with what goes on in their mother's house by the sister who cares for mom.

She tells her sister he doesn't do anything for them and is never there when in fact he makes it a point to visit almost daily, sometimes more than once a day.

Whatever she means by "he doesn't do anything" is not clear. He's asked for his mom's schedule of doctor appointments but that has never been provided. Once or twice he's been "invited" to go to an appointment the morning of the appointment (pretty hard to get up and walk out of work just like that) then accused of not being there to hear what the doctor has to say.

He's asked to be given her medical bills and he'll pay for them all but his sister has never handed over any of them. My sister in law has tremendous anger management issues, in my opinion.

Decisions about who can visit Mom, when Mom can go out,etc. are all made by her and heaven help anyone who tries suggest otherwise. I know she loves her mother very and my husband appreciates her caring for mom but we are at our wit's end trying to deal with her temper and demeanor.

You never know what will set her off and sadly, the stress of caring for an elderly parent is only going to make her worse.

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Work together
by: Anonymous

I am that crazy sister. She probably is super burned out and her constant complaining is venting.

It is so easy to become a bitter and negative when you have been the only caregiver.

Be patient and forgiving. Talk to her. Tell her how you feel when she micromanages. It will all be better when you get him into AL. Remember, he will resist, tell you he hates it, but it takes 3-4 months for them to settle in.

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Martyrs and Control Freaks
by: Anonymous

Your sister is a certified martyr and control freak. Nothing you do or don't do will make any difference to her.

Just do what you (and your other sister) know you can do or offer and if it's turned down, back away and leave her to her own devices.

Meanwhile, be there for your dad in your own special ways that make YOU feel good inside and you'll never have any regrets.

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