Sibling finally takes an active role after 4-1/2 years!!

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My older and only sibling, who has claimed forever that our 96 year old dad, with whom I have 24/7 caregiving responsibilities, is "the love of my life," has finally, finally, FINALLY recognized that she better take an active role in helping care for him as these are most definitely his final days. He is in hospice care at home; hasn't eaten in 5 weeks, barely drinks 4 oz of water a day, and is an absolute BEAR with me (but a sweet angel with her). I am alone with him most days and it is difficult. I struggle to lift him; he complains and whines constantly that I'm either "Doing it wrong" or "hurting him". She has taken FMLA leave, has 5 weeks of paid vacation squirreled away...and yet she wouldn't take a more active role. In addition she is an RN!!!! I have told her repeatedly for years that I NEED MORE HELP but to no avail. There has never, ever been any empathy for anyone but "poor dad".


Something somehow clicked in her thick head because lo and behold, SHE'S PACKED A BAG AND IS GOING TO STAY HERE. My husband and I are in shock. I have no medical background but only a dolt would not realize that an elderly person with dementia who has stopped eating, barely drinks any liquid, cannot lift himself out of bed without extensive help, speaks in a broken whisper because he has little physical strength is most likely counting down his final days. She's claimed it's "just too painful" to witness. Yeah. It's also painful as all get out to be the only one doing 95% of the work, stranded in the house and unable to leave without someone else here. On Sunday she told me, "Don't you fall apart on me!" and I calmly replied, "I can't guarantee that unless you decide you need to take a more active role in helping ME help HIM.


To everyone else out there with a jerko sibling like mine: NEVER GIVE UP! HOUND THEM CONTINUALLY! REMIND THEM REPEATEDLY THAT YOU CAN'T DO IT ALONE AND THAT YOU JUST MAY "FALL APART ON THEM" IF THEY DON'T STEP IN TO HELP!

8 Comments

Make a plan of things she can do once she gets there, don't let her become a guest and another burden for you! It might be tempting to throw her right into caregiving (payback LOL) but you will do better if you play nice and find tasks she can actually do, even if it is just running the household so you can focus more on the physical aspects of care.
B*gg*r me! - as we say this side of the pond.

I would say better late than never. For your Dad, I will say better late than never. For you, though... she'd better not turn round later and claim that you and she "shared" the caregiving. That's all.
I hope for your sake, that she us indeed coming to HELP YOU, and not riding in on her big white horse, expecting all of the accolades, in caring for him all these years! Yes, you most definitely need her help, and my suggestion is to make a schedule, so that the workload is fair to both of you, and that you both get Some rest too! Do you have Hospice in place? I hope that you do, as they are a great support for the patient and the family. Managing the home with a critically ill parent is so hard, we've been there, so a schedule for not only patient care, and the management of your home is essential! She needs to be helping out with cleaning, shopping and cooking for the family, not just sitting with your Dad, who I imagine is asleep most of the time. With us, there were a lot of friends and family, coming in to visit with our Mom, and that was fine, as long as they weren't tiring her out, so that needs to be managed also. Plus, we found that there had to be refreshments, pastries, and tea and cofee, for the guests, its exhausting! It's your home, you be the manager, and put people to work! Take time to have some rest, whenever you can! Don't listen to "this is so dreadful", as you already know that! You need her to step up, and be the Nurse that she is! But don't let her run over you, and No, she is not a guest, she's there to help! Take care, and I hope this works our for the best!
It's great that your sister is stepping up, but I can't help thinking it's only because she knows her contribution will be over really soon. I agree with all that's been said above. Don't let her act like a guest. Or like a medical consultant whose special expertise excuses her from having to do any cleaning, cooking, shopping, or other thankless and mundane tasks. Hopefully this will work out well for you and be a comfort to your father at his end of life.
We also need to realize that not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver, be it hands on or logistical. I could never be hands on so my hat is off to those who are doing the heavy lifting. I hired caregivers to help with that work. I was able to do the logistical work, such as taking my very elderly parents to the doctors, getting groceries, ordering repair people for their house, etc.

I have a cousin who recently told me when her Mom was in the hospital during her Mom's final weeks, her sister would rarely visit. I know it doesn't seem right, but some people cannot deal with hospitals or with a parent being close to passing. I know if I was in ICU or in rehab, my sig other would rarely come to see me, he just cannot get himself past the front door.

It sounds like your sister would fall apart on you if you fell apart on her. Thus keep her busy with running errands and helping with your Dad doing what she is able to do without falling part herself.
I understand that not everybody is cut out to be a hands on caregiver, I really do, but this particular sister is a Nurse, and I'm assuming that she has seen human frailty, up close and personal. She should definitely define her role as COMING TO ASSIST YOU, Not TAKING OVER! She shouldn't be allowed to come in and take over, but ask You, the ways in which she can help You! In our family, when our Mom was in Hospice care in my sisters home, the tasks to assist her were sort of naturally assigned, according to our strengths and weaknesses. I was the medical person, in charge of gathering and forwarding information to Hospice, monitoring her caregiver needs, bathing, supplies and such, my brothers made a ramp, ran cable for TV, and set up grab bars in the bathroom (this was for Before she became bedbound) they installed Mom's air conditioner in her window, and did household repairs, all those dings in the doors and walls, from her electric wheelchair. Other sisters did shopping, cleaning and cooking, while main sister managed croud control, scheduled visitors, and oversaw all of the Operation, and made the schedules for constant care, so that she and her husband could get a good nights rest once and a while. And all the while, she was managing her husband's carpet installation company, and also looking after her 3 grandchildren. But we have a big family, and that is not always an option, this is just how we did it, on a tight schedule. Our Mom was never alone, except for when she was resting. And everybody needs some rest! Make sure it works for you!
I don't know. I think so far everyone is being too kind. I guess if you want the help you cannot afford to alienate her but I'm appalled that a nurse of all people would have a weak stomach when it comes to these types of situations.

I know exactly where you are coming from. I have five, yes five siblings. One is mentally ill but that still leaves four that rarely helped. As far as I am concerned if you love your parent you help. Period. If you don't help then do not profess to say you love them. Actions speak louder than words.
How are things going, has RN Sister arrived yet? I hope you have put together a Schedule of things to do, and when she arrives, you handle it in a very business like manner, split right down the middle. Explain that she is there in a Caregivers Capacity, just as you are, and if she can throw in some Love and Compassion, GREAT! Any down time is her own, and if she chooses to spend that additional time, sitting by his bedside, because she is feeling guilty for not being around, all the better! You probably have better things to do with your own "downtime", like to eat and to catch up on some much needed sleep! This is not going to be easy for you, but you have been the one managing his care, and in no way, should she enter the home, and act like a wellcomed guest on Vacation! At this point, everyone who crosses the doorstep, should either have casseroles, pastries, and other nutritious food in their hands, or be willing to tidy the house, make coffee or tea, put together some snacks or sandwiches for the helpers/Hospice workers, and visiting family and friends, if there are any, or run a nessasary errand for you, as your Dad is at the end of his journey, and you are Exhausted from cargiving all on your own! Don't let her just lay around, this is not a vacation, it is a medical emergency type situation, emotions are running high, and you need a vacation yourself! In fact, if there are any possible ways in which you can get in a massage or get your hair done, or any other relaxing thing you crave and have been putting off, because you've not had a moments rest, then take advantage of her "generosity", and spend a few hours, getting away from it all! I seriously hope that you end up benefiting from your sisters visit, and she does step up, as she should! Keep in touch, and let us know how it's going! I'll be thinking of you! 😉

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