Untreated bipolar, alcoholic sis caregiver.

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I am one of 5 siblings. We live 1 1/2 hours to 8 hours away from parents except for youngest 53 yr. old sis who is unemployed and lives with parents. Dad diagnosed with Dementia 3years ago and is mid-stage while Mom, 85, we strongly suspect has had mini stroke. Struggles to put sentences together, forgetful and easily confused. Sister is dual diagnosed bipolar alcoholic who denies this and is untreated. My other siblings and I feel Sis is doing the minimum she can. We want her to take a stronger stand and get on a schedule where they take their meds daily, shower a couple of times a week, get medical care even when they refuse (Sis gives up and Mom just had bronchitis and pneumonia because she would not go. Another sib went to visit and MADE her go see doc) fix at least one decent meal a day, clean a bit. I live 8 hours away and drove to see them last week but only gave them 1 hour notice to see what conditions were like. Had to scrub potty before I would use it, etcetera. Sharing our concerns with Sis is met with defense and pronounced paranoia. She lies and has tried to start trouble between each of us to deflect her problems. Parents did not plan at all for retirement and very little money. The sibs can do a little but not much. We are checking into caregivers but money is an issue for us. We are also concerned about Sis when parents are gone as none of us will take her in. She has 3 degrees but cannot hold down a job. How can we get help for parents and make, force or require Sis to get treatment? Our pleading does no good and Mom backs Sis and thinks she does a great job. Refuses to see lack of care and finds excuses for everything. Dad's dementia diagnosed 3 years ago and neither have read anything on disease, joined support groups or sought help from social agencies despite our giving them many resources.

30 Comments

Kathy let me adress one issue here, If Mom had a "mini stroke" she would be back to normal.. they are TIA's, and last from a few minutes to half an hour, and they snap back pretty quickly. But they are a warning sign of a larger stroke looming on the horizon. My mother has had several, and while they are scary they resolve (but still call the Dr!! or the Ambu) Sound like she may have a small "real" stroke if she is confused and has speech problems this far out. There is a very small window of time for medical help in resolving a real stroke,,, so call 911 right away if you suspect one.
Well, sis is mentally ill, so no amount of pleading is likely to cause her to change. In fact, since you say she is in complete denial it is more apt to have the opposite effect as she will look upon your interventions as meddling. And she also may be doing a lot more behind the scenes than you give her credit for.
I would suggest you gather as much information as you can about which assistive living facility you would choose for your parents and how they can afford it. Look into subsidized housing options for your sister. Have a plan in place for when it all hits the fan and then stand back and wait. You can't force any of them to change or see reason.
Oh, I do hope someone responsible has poa and not sis, because then you will be powerless when the time comes.
if your mom and dad are satisfied with your sisters efforts , that should be the end of the story .
sorry but ive been in the carer situation with jealous sibs negging from a distance .
helping your sister and the parents out in a real way would be a lot more constructive .
mom is 3 yrs gone . im still a maniacal boozer -- my two sisters are still intellectually disadvantaged , or whatever the current term for half witted is ..
You are absolutely right about the TIA, Pam. Until I read up on it, I did not realize they go back to "normal" so quickly. It could be a small, real stroke or even something else. I will be going down for another visit in 3 weeks and will see if I can go with her to see her doctor, express my concerns and the changes we've seen and ask what can be done. Thank you for pointing this out. I wish I could go sooner but it is an 8 hour trip which I have to make with my husband as Sis is a handful one on one and he can only take so much time off at a time from work.
Kathy, call and make the appointment to get your folks in. What can you do to help your parents? Sis should not be the focus. She is the one providing care. Fine a way to give her some respite time. Plan on staying with your folks for a couple ow weeks. Stop criticizing your sis, caring for aging parents is not an easy task. Is she being paid? I cared my my elderly parents for nearly four years, I am not diagnosed with bipolar or alcoholism. I have a Master's degree and was accused by my two twisted sisters of financial exploitation, even investigated by Adult Protective Services due to vindictiveness of sibs and one of them had complete access to Mom's accounts. APS closed the case very quickly. I stopped caring for the folks because I just was tired of the nonsense from sibs. They wore me out with their constant criticism while doing nothing constructive to help. Caring for the folks was easy compared to dealing with the twisteds.

Find a way to help on a regular basis. How about one weekend a month? Take a walk in your sister's shoes.
cwillie, I am not trying to diminish anything that Sis does and, when anyone is there, she is pretty good at doing things but it is when no one is there that concerns us. Not complaining or nagging from a distance but the other sibs and I are not close enough to check in physically weekly. At least one decent meal daily, meds given on schedule, showers twice weekly or so, clean bathrooms and kitchen and help them get finances in order to pay bills. We are contacting Caregiver Agencies and will see if we can afford to pay someone to do these things a couple of days a week. It is frustrating as Sis lives there and is perfectly capable of doing these things. They are not at the point they need assisted living and both parents are not going to leave their home willingly. Money is a huge concern. They make too much on SS for Meals on Wheels and Medicaid but are struggling. No POA. They refuse to even talk about it.
gladimhere, We have to focus on Sis as she is their full time caregiver. She stays in her bedroom 80% of the time watching TV or sleeping. She does not get "paid" but she has free room and board, use of their car anytime she wants and does not contribute for gas or insurance. Respite care? I cannot go stay for two weeks with them and where would Sis go anyway? She has no income and no friends whatsoever. Two of her degrees are in healthcare, radiological tech and heart catheterization and is very intelligent. Just untreated mental illness and no discipline results in an unstable environment for the entire household. We want help for her as well as my parents. I recognize it is extremely hard to be a full time caregiver but ad Fad's dementia progresses, the situation is only going to get worse. We want her to read 36 Hour Day she was given or anything at all about this disease, go to a support meeting once in a while. When I asked why she and Mom have not tried to do more to educate themselves about it, I was told "because he's not that bad yet."
If sis is unreliable when the other siblings are not around, then alternate plans for your parents care needs to be arranged. Expecting her to care for your parents based on your standards is unfair to her. Mental health issues and caregiving is an inhealthy mix when also included is expectations from others siblings.
Kathy, you sound like the twisteds. The cost for 24/7 care for two elderly people in their own home is in the area of $12,000.00 a month. Compare what your sis is recieving, room, board and the use of a car? The car is used for household errands I imagine. Sis doesn't have friends? So what else would she use the car for other than something related to your folks? Your focus needs to be your folks. If they are not receiving adequate care then move them closer or even in with you. Sounds like your folks are content where they are. Stop causing your sis additional problems. You cannot go help or stay witth folks? If you want to help you would figure out a way.

It is very sad but family dysfunction that has long been gone once children marry and have their own families, sure rears its ugly head as parents age and need their children to get along and cooperate with one another.
Kathy, have you read the 36 Hour Day? There is some very good information about families and the difficulties that arise.

How do you know sis's ailments? Did you talk with her doctor? One of my twisteds is a therapist and has diagnosed many family members including me. Not at all appropriate since she uses this information and diagnose while pitting family members against each other.

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