I'm not sure what to do.

Started by

I'm in a situation that is getting progressively worse. In late 2007 my three children and I moved in with my parents as I was widowed in 2005 and found it hard to financially support three children and a house. My parents were in their late 70s at the time, and although my mother has neuropathy and is frail, my father was in fairly good shape.

I am the oldest of three children. My brother is married with two young children, and my sister is married with no children. They each live about 45 minutes away.

Since the time I moved in, my father had a major stroke and died in 2010. My mother recently broke her hip and was just discharged from the rehabilitative facility. She seems to be getting worse instead of better. She is constantly complianing about Meals on Wheels food that I have delivered, and in general refuses to help herself. She won't eat any of the meals even though she knows I am at school in Manhattan Mondays and Tuesdays and cannot cook for her on those days.

There are a few issues here. In 2010 I lost my job and one of the reasons was because I had to take too much time off to help out my parents. When my father died, I handled everything. My brother and sister did not help. The financial arrangement I had with my parents prior to my losing my job was that we would split the bills 50/50. I also helped with making some repairs on the house. Unfortunately, I did not document this. Since my father died, I have handled everything regarding my mother. She has become totally dependent on me. Again, my brother and sister do not help. Financially, it has been devastating for me. I have gone through all of my personal savings since I've lost my job, and as I am the power of attorney and was on my mother's accounts, I have had to use money in those accounts as well. I am terrified because the house is in my mother's name and when she passes, it goes to all three of us children. I am nervous that my brother and sister will try and force me out of the house.

I am worried as my brother and sister have the attitude that because I live there, I am solely responsible for everything having to do with my mother. It's like having another child. I still have not found a job and I am retraining to become a licensed esthetician in New York State. I will be done in January 2013 and plan to look for a job in my new field.

When I try and bring up the subject to my mother that soon I hope to be working full time and cannot afford to stay home and take care of her, she refuses to discuss it. When I mention that my sister and brother are well off financially and can afford to come down every once in awhile to do something for her, she refuses to discuss it. There are times I feel as if I am being punished for having to live there, but she cannot live alone. She is very nasty to me at times and has told me that I'm not supposed to have a life because my "time is over" (meaning me and any opportunity I could have). She has even said I should "kiss her feet" because if it weren't for her, I would be out in the street. A part of me feels she deliberately doesn't help herself in order to force me to quit school and have to stay and take care of her.

I am very angry at my siblings for not helping and for not even calling. My brother calls once a month, my sister calls once every two weeks and visits once a month. Her husband told my oldest daughter that my sister doesn't like to come here because it gets her anxious.

I am at the point where I cannot stand it anymore. I also feel that since my brother and sister are not involved by choice, they shouldn't be entitled to a portion of the house. We live in Connecticut, very close to New York State.

I am truly at my wits end with this situation. I am so afraid that if my mother dies, I'll be out of a place to live. I'm afraid if she gets worse, I will be the one bearing the burden of full time care of her. All I want to do is go back to work and get on with my life.

6 Comments

I am so sorry you are in such a situation. Have you contacted a home nursing company or ask her doctor to request one visit for an evaluation? It may be that your Mom can no longer be cared for at home.

It isn't easy but sometimes the child has to be the adult and make the right decision even if Mom doesn't agree and gets upset. You first of all of have to take care of you and your family! Best of luck!
suhara, I understand. I just added a discussion on feeling invalidated as a caregiver. It is so hard to be unappreciated by the person you are caring for. Your mother should be saying thank you and thinking of what you need. Instead, you have worries.

You sound like you are taking your life into your hands by going into a new field. That is so good to read. From the sound of what you wrote, your mother may live for many more years. I hope that it will give you time to get your life settled and your finances growing again.

Have you discussed having the house come to you when your mother dies? That seems to me to be the easiest thing to do. Since you have been there several years as a caregiver, it may be that the house would be exempt from recovery if your mother should need to go on Medicaid. That is not given, however, since you will have to work outside the home to support yourself. States can decide that if a person could work full-time outside the home that their service as a caregiver was not mandatory to prevent a parent from going into a NH. It can certainly be a difficult stipulation to put on a cg -- give life totally or lose the house.

For now, keep your head high and guard those finances. That is a hard thing to do where you live. Things will turn around soon. I wish you had a lot of money, but when you don't, you just have to think about what is best for you and your children. You are contributing a lot, and your mother just needs to put you below her for some reason. I go through it a lot, so know how you feel. The last thing we need is this self-esteem leaching that can go on when we're serving others. It helps me to realize that it is my mother's problem and not mine.
Thank you so much!
So much has happened since I began this discussion! My mother has since passed away on October 28, 2015.

In November 2014, she was placed on home hospice care for failure to thrive, but began to come around, so she was discharged in January (2015). My mother began to realize that I was the one giving her care all this time with very little help. She titled the house in both of our names as joint tenants with right of survivorship. By that time she was completely bedridden, and I became her sole caregiver. My brother hardly visited (just twice this year), and my sister would come about once a month or so.

My mother thrived for awhile, but around the end of the summer began to steadily decline as was expected by her doctor. This was no surprise. She developed a bedsore at the end of September requiring home health care, and that is when my nightmare began. The home health nurse reported me to State of Connecticut Social Services. The caseworker arrived unannounced on a Monday morning when I was at work. My 21-year old daughter was at home and very frightened to let him in. He threatened to call the police, so of course she let him in. He stated I did not take good care of her (mind you, she got the bedsore after I provided eight months of care on my own, the only bedsore she ever got), that she wasn't eating (she wouldn't eat) and that I was neglectful. He called my brother and sister for a "family conference". He started to force my mother into Medicaid proceedings , with the full backing of my brother and sister. I believe they saw it as an opportunity to jump on board because the caseworker wanted to go to court to reverse the title of the house back to my mother.

After two weeks of harassment, unscheduled visits, and threatening phone calls from the caseworker, I contacted an attorney who was a lifesaver.

Three weeks after this all started, my mother passed peacefully. My youngest daughter and I were with her. My sister came by the day before, my brother never came. My brother would not talk to me or my daughter at the wake or burial. He has called me once since then to find out if there is "anything" that he is entitled to. I calmly explained there are no assets except the house, which passed to me by right of survivorship. I explained that both of our parents had devastating illnesses which depleted their assets. I also explained that I cared for them which limited the hours I could work and had a loss of income.

As of this date, I am getting back into living again. I have gone back to my community involvement, I am looking for another part time job to supplement my hours, and I'm trying to decide if I want to stay in this house or sell it and relocate. The positive side to that is the house is mortgage free. The negatives are the hurtful behaviors of my brother and sister. But even if I do relocate, those feelings will still be there. I have a lot to think about. I do talk to my sister and even spent Thanksgiving with her and her husband and in-laws, but I really feel that my brother is very bitter and wants nothing to do with me.

This Christmas will be a very quiet one. My two older children live in Seattle and I'll spend it with my youngest daughter, our two dogs, and a longtime friend. I'm good with that--it will be peaceful.
suhara, it is so good to hear from you. You had a rough year. I wondered what the home health nurse expected from someone who was bedridden and close to death. We all know that many stop eating very much and bedsores can form on people who are carefully cared for. Some of our members here have talked about fighting bedsores, so I know they are a big problem for delicate skin. The nurse was probably just covering her own hiney by putting yours in the fire.

I am so glad that the house came to you. I don't know how much more your brother wanted you to give. Some family members have the idea that we get free rent and are living the life of Riley. If only they realized that we are spending our own retirement savings and have a job that few people would want! Maybe everyone should be a caregiver for at least one month of their lives so they would understand that it is a demanding, tedious job.

Talking about the job. I better get off the computer and get busy. I've been goofing off all morning. It feels good to do nothing this week before Christmas before all the cooking starts. I hope you have a great Christmas with the people you care about.
Suhara, thanks so much for returning to provide an update, albeit an unsettling and nightmarish one for you.

I think sometimes the people who work for APS or monitoring agencies are what my father refers to as educated idiots. They may know the law, as they interpret it, as to providing care, but they haven't been down in the trenches to know what caregiving is really all about. But armed with their degrees, they freely make judgments on others.

We encountered one PT director who had that approach - a really arrogant alpha male. The next time we went to that facility, I spoke with the Admissions Director before and shared my concern, stating that I wouldn't feel comfortable bringing my father there again if that man was involved in any manner whatsoever with my father's treatment. I was assured he wouldn't be, and he wasn't.

It's really sad to read about the way you've been treated by both the social service network as well as your family. I think you can just write your brother off and don't expect anything from him - he seems to have wanted a payoff after your mother's death and didn't get it, so he blames you. If he holds a grudge for the rest of his life, it will be stress on him, not you.

I admire you for moving on with your life; it sometimes is difficult to do that.

Good luck with your new career, and remember that you don't have to justify yourself to any of your relatives!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support