The Siblings Whose Offers of Help are Turned Down
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.