Having to defend onself against family or others.

Started by

I went to visit mom in '07 in So CA. I did this often as my profession required that I only work approximately 12-14 days per mo. Most often, I would tell my parents I was coming for a visit and they would pass the information to my sister.

Dad died in '93 but mom continued to tell sister when I planned a visit. I assumed mom would tell sister when I planned to visit in Oct 07. I arrived late evening after a long drive. No one is permitted to call sisters home after 9 p.m.

Upon arrival mom showed me her stomach. Months prior we knew mom had a hernia. When I saw mom she looked 4 or 5 mo pregnant. I was scared to death.

Papers were strewn everywhere, unpaid bills, bill that were paid twice, collection letters and more. Not one piece of food in the house except for jar of mayonaise expired in the fridge.

The following morning mom had a list of things for us to do which was typical. I spent many days at multiple malls with mom when I visited, along with a stop at Starbucks etc. On this occasion she also wanted to go to her bank as her local branch had closed. Mom stated she wanted to close her account. I knew all of her retirement checks and SS check was deposited into the account and I explained to her that until we changed that she would not be able to close account. She persisted nevertheless.

I always went to the bank with mom when I visisted typically because she wanted to obtain some cash for coffee's lunch. Sometimes I waited in the car, sometimes I went in. When I stayed with my father in 89 for over 30 days (family leave act) because my mom was in the hospital as she had a cerebral hemmorage. Dad and I went to the bank everyday. The trips weren't necessary but he wanted to go frequently anyway. I paid all of my parents bills while mom was hospitalized as dad did not know how to write checks.

Post mom's thyroid surgery and nissen fundoplication surgery wherein I was nursemaid for 30 days or more (family leave act again) I had to pay bills again and do mom's banking. In the first few recovery days she would not go with me as she didn't feel up to it. I did all of her grocery shopping and to pay for the items she provided me with her atm card. Occcasionally, I would buy some food items that I liked but it was minimal. During one surgery I used her atm card to purchase a blender as mom's food had to slide now the esophagas so I had to puree/liquify foods.

In 07 mom and I ended up at her bank for the reason stated above. We were sitting at a table with a bank representative. There were no papers or monies on the table. Brother in law walked in and the air grew thick. We said hi but he was not joyed by seeing me./us. He left.

When mom wore me out for the day, we returned to her place. Like always I called my sister to say hi, which usually involved arranging when I would get together with her. This time was different as I needed to tell her about mom's stomach and disarray in mom's home.

Sister laid into me, ranted and raved and accused me of sneaking into town and taking mom;s money. She would not let up. Nothing I said was being heard. I was tired from having just driven 12 hours (and prior to the drive I had worked all week). Mom's stomach situation was not normal so I gave up arguing with sister and simply stated I am taking mom home (No. Ca) with me. She threatened nothing better happen to her.

My sister was so loud and so mean that I was crying...(sister didn't know I was crying) which made my mom cry. Mom was early mid stage Alzheimer's I know in retrospect now...the incident was very upsetting for mom who was never a cryer.

It's been 6 years now and it has gone from bad in 07 to worse. The stomach was mom's intestines. Surgeron urged quick surgery as he did not know if he could put the intestines back in mom's body cavity (that's how large the stomach was). I offered to return mom home for surgery. Sister would not respond to my email so as suggested, mom and I proceed to get me POA (so I could make medical decisions since she would be here with me for the surgery). Once that was in place mom had the surgery.

Naturally, mom wanted to go home. Multiple emails were sent to try to work that out with sister. I had to have some help from sister as it was apparant mom should not be living alone unless and until....no responses to my emails except for more blame).

In a final email my sister asserted "you have POA you figure it out" (where mom should live.

A final email from sister said "do not contact me again."

I contacted sister one more time vi a phone. Brother in law got on the line and expected me to drive to So CA immediately to put their names on mom's bank account. When I said I would do so but couldnt do so this week (did I mention I had a full time job?) he hung up on me.


First of all, this situation is not your bil's business for him to tell you what to do regarding YOUR mother. Second...where was your sister and what was she doing all this time your mother's stomach was filled with her intestines? Third...no food in the house, unpaid bills, bills paid twice, again where was your sister? Why was she not checking on your mother and keeping you informed of what was going on? From the way I am reading your post, your sister neglected your mother, was not visiting, checking on her, seeing that mom went to a dr. or had a live in caregiver. I would on no terms what so ever put your sister and bil on mom's accounts. Considering your mother's health history, I would not just accept what my mom tells me via phone calls, and I would have been visiting her at least once a week which would have been enough to determine your mother needed medical help. I am sorry your relationship with your sister has gone downhill, and I know you would like to salvage it, but your sister acted irresponsibly with your mother by not being involved even only on a weekly basis. You don't owe her an explanation, and your bil should not even be involved except to support and encourage your sister to do the right thing for your mother and you. Hang in there and keep doing what is best for you and your mother, Hugs!!
@sharynmarie You have given me peace. I agreed a long time ago with each and every thing you said...no one was checking on mom, although sister had stated from time to time that there was something wrong with mom's mind. I learned the hard way that no one was looking after mom. My mom's front tooth broke off due to a hard raisin in some cereal she ate. Mom kept going to dentists but it wasn't about the tooth, although I knew it was one thing we needed to address. I asked my sister for the name of her dentist and all she said was "he's too expensive." Since my sister wasn't of much help when I was trying to figure out what was going on, I just moved on dental wise. So you are so correct. Mom wans't getting help and she did have the onset of alzheimer's or moderate.

Mom came for the surgery in 07. The longer she stayed, the more emergencies that arose the more I realized not only could mom not live alone, she could not be safe as my sister was not advocating for her. Mom has been with me since '07 and I am all she has. I provide the best care I can. I would never in a million year s allow my mom near my sister. Sister has never visited mom. I knew my sister was a self centered x, y z for years but I never imagined that she would never speak to her mother again. At the onset I did want to salvage but I stopped wanting that about year 2. I would never want any salvaging at this point. None of my sisters adult sons have ever communicated or visited mom either. Did I mention that although something was wrong with mom's mind, my sister and bil allowed mom to use over 32 k of mom's money to purchase brand new vehicles for her kids. Mom's confused mind might have said, sure let's buy cars, but was that a responsibe thing for sibling to allow when she knowingly knew something was wrong with mom's mind? Alzheimer's patients in the early statges make poor financial decisions and have bad judgement. Well, mom could have had alot more care had we had that 32k but it was forever gone. Elders cannot recoup money as they no longer have work income. The only troublesome part for me is I am still feeling surreal that this is my sibling that ignored mom and used mom's money...I know siblings and family members do awful things but I can't believe I ended up a victim too; i never would have imagined it in my lifetime. Thanks for posting. You have said what I believe to be true and I needed to hear the truth from someone. finally. you have given me peace.
32k was 1/3 of my mother's total savings; a big chunk was taken from her. BIL even tried to make out and sign the checks...guess this was pointed out to him that he couldnt sign for her so he filled out new checks (mom was incapable of writing the amounts due to the Alzheimer's) and got mom to sign the checks. I still fantasize about filing a financial elder abuse report.
Momhouse~You have every right to file that claim if it is something you want to pursue. When push comes to shove in the care of our parents, we tend to find out that our siblings have very different values than we do and it is always hurtful, shocking and sometimes ends relationships. We trust our siblings until we find out we can't, and you found out you can't. Thankfully you intervened when you did because who knows what could have resulted. It is a sad situation and I am glad your mom has you to advocate for her, help her and be there for her. Blessings to you and keep us posted on how things are going with your mom and you!!
DO NOT defend your actions. as hard as it is to do do not even respond to their accusations. the accusations are intended to tear you down. let that crap fly over your head without a response. it will infuriate the would be intimidator. melt them down actually. theylle finally realize that theyve gone mad with no power. suckers !!
All of your comments mean so much to me...I should have reached out earlier but I have this do not want to burden others syndrome. You have lifted me up. I thank each of you.
I'm glad you have POA and that you have control over your mom's finances. Do Not put your sister's name on it. Once her name is on it, she can touch it and the authorities cannot stop her. Because her name is on it. As it is now, you know that they will be accusing you of stealing from mom. First, I would keep good records of the expenses that your sister and bil did with mom's expenses. Keep a statment and document on the side what you think it was used for (car payments, etc..) Then, protect yourself. Keep all receipts and medical expenses on file.

As for your sister, it's time to admit that she's toxic. What do you do when you have toxic friends? You avoid them. I suggest you do the same. When mom visits them, or they ever do decide to visit your mom, always be there. The problem with POAs is that it's like a Will - very easy to change. Your sister can persuade your mom to make her the POA with some sob story. Even if your mom has dementia, if she is lucid at the time of the New POA, then it is valid. Once she has the financial POA, she can change the bank accounts to include her name. She does not have to ask your permission to change POA. It can be done without your knowledge. FYI, when mom started with her dementia, father got her diagnosed with dementia, and then with the medical certification, went to a lawyer and thru the court for Guardianship. Can't change guardianship like one does with POA. But with guardianship - comes responsibility (as one does with a minor child). Best to move on without counting on Sis - whom you know you can't trust.

There are lots of services/programs that can help your mom. Call around for elder services/programs, etc... Father did a lot of calling around when he retired to watch mom full time. He was able to get meals-on-wheels, a govt paid caregiving service for 4 hrs a week, a caregiver's respite program that provides 1 hr respite care + limited funds for a year to get supplies for mom, etc....Wish you well!
My sister hasn't spoke to us since 07; i will never add her to poa and my mom, although happy and smiling and talking jibberish all of the time would never be lucid enough to change poa; mom can't even say the word poa...my mom no longer can write...we are safe in that regard...she doens't talk to us so i don't have to avoid her but if she were to attempt to reconnect i would not....i only need to be burned once to know to stay away. ....even tho sister told me to never contact her again, and later the bil hung up on me, I will still notify of mom's death from the notification will come from a friend, mom's attorney or other ---my mother's funeral is arranged and I have been writing down the personal touches that I want....she has been with me 6 years and I will have my own funeral for her...I will not have my sister be a witness to my grief. Sister, should she chose to can contact me and I will direct her to arrange her own arrangements for her and her famil but she most definately will not be a part of anything I do. At the gravesite I intend to also be alone...I banged my head against the wall at the beginning but no more. Thanks for all of your advice.

"Mom can't even say the word POA." LOL

You made me smile....thank you. :-)
momhouseme~You are doing all the right things. You are setting healthy boundaries between you and your sister/bil, detaching with love allows you to see things logically instead of all the emotional entanglements of wanting to preserve a relationship on their terms, you are doing that too. Your sister and bil will probably only start up with you if you contact them...having your mother's attorney notify them of all things you want them to be aware of is an excellent idea. They aren't going to argue with an attorney, make accusations and if they call you after they have been notified of something, get caller ID so you can choose whether to answer the phone or not and they can choose whether to leave a message. You can also ask your mother's attorney to include in his/her letter to them that all communication between you and sister is to be done through the attorney. I know how you feel in regards to notifying your sister, I have a brother who, by his choice, is estranged from the family. When my mother passes, if I have my way with my siblings, I would like to send him by mail, a copy of the announcement that is put in the paper. He didn't let us know about his son's passing until the day of the funeral. He lives out of state so we would never have known. You are doing great with your mom!! Many Hugs to you!!

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