Mom was supporting my brother because he hasn't worked in about 10 years and they live with me. Once my mom moves to a memory care facility, what do I do with my brother?

Asked by

My brother is about a year older than me. Two years ago when my mom lost her home, they both came to live with me (supposedly temporary). Then mom was diagnosed with early onset Alz. She rapidly progressed and now is in early Stage 6.

Mom is on the waiting list at a really good memory care facility. But once she is there, my brother will still need somewhere to live.

He hasn't worked in about 10 years and mom was supporting him. He does have some health problems related to morbid obesity, but Dr. will not declare him disabled. So all he has is $200/mo in food stamps and money he's getting paid for part-time caregiving of mom. Once mom goes to facility, ALL her money (plus some of mine) will need to go to her bills.

I want my home (and my life) back. There are things that I want to do with my life that I cannot do if I have to support my brother - like have a family of my own. I keep thinking - why do I have to support him just because mom was?

Right now it isn't an issue - if he wasn't there it would be even harder to work and I would never get to go out occasionally with friends. But this is only for a few more months (I hope) until there's an opening for mom. I don't see him doing anything about looking for work, trying to lose weight to help his health, etc.

I am MORE stressed by him than by taking care of mom. Any time I bring this up, all I get is a flip response. Like once I told him that he can't live in my basement for the rest of his life - his response was that he isn't going to live very long anyway.

I can't imagine putting him out on the street. But I also can't imagine him living with me forever. The very thought makes me frantic.

What would you do? I can't get a job for him or even make him do it. (Even if someone would hire him, which I doubt.)

Answers 1 to 10 of 26
Top Answer
He needs a deadline. "Three months after mom goes to new home you will need to move out. I cannot support you like she was. I would suggest you start looking for a job now and saving every penny." Even if you have to take on more of your mom's care while he job hunts this could be good. He will get out and walk around and exercise. Don't argue with him. Just state the facts.
I think I would find another doctor who would declare your brother disabled. Your brother is expecting to become dependent on you like he did on ya'lls mom, but don't let him. Is he depressed, suicidal or using drugs?
He's on medicine to treat depression, but that's it. We actually get along OK and he doesa decent amount around the house (not as much as I'd like), takes mom to dr appts, etc. It's the long term I'm stressed about. A deadline is great, but what if he doesn't find a job? I know it's my choice, but I don't see putting him out on the streets.
I am going through something similar in my family. Everyone tells me to make a deadline and stick to it. But what do you do when someone says to you that they just won't go?
As the others have said, don't argue, set "benchmarks" for the eventual goal of leaving, and don't budge. If he was a decent caregiver, perhaps he can find a paid, live-in caregiving situation. Many seniors are looking for an honest person who can help them with everyday care and doctors appts., etc. This would also raise his self-esteem.
Do not become his emotional parent. You need your own life and have to return to some sense of normalcy. And you are right, you do deserve to have your own family. Your brother can always visit.
Sounds to me that along with meds, his depression needs some 'talk therapy' as well. I have bipolar II which is the depressive kind and I'm helped by both meds and 'talk therapy.' Has his obesity led to a diagnosis of sleep apnea? If so and he uses a CPAP, he just might not be getting enough sleep to help him wake up with some energy and like myself might need something like nuvigil to help make him more fully awake.
It's funny that you mention sleep apnea. His sleep habits are awful - have been for YEARS. He says he can't sleep at night, so he stays up all night and sleeps during the day. Freuquently he goes for days on only 1-2 hrs sleep and then crashes and I don't see him for a whole day. His Dr wants him to do a 3 night sleep study. I wish he would (if his state insurance will pay for it). But he says he can't sleep at night or anywhere that isn't his own bed, so why go when he can't sleep?

Liliput - my brother does an OK job with my mom, but I don't think anyone would pay him. We have another caregiver from 8-12 MWF and 8-2 on Tu, Th. She does meals and showers and meds. My brother could never do showers. I'm just thankful that mom is still (mostly) continent. He's already said that he can't deal with that, so it will be my job when that time comes. No way could he do a good enough job to get paid at it.
JulieWI, I'm not a therapist but your brother going for several nights without hardly sleeping and then crashing sounds manic to me. Does he have mood swings? Not much of an excuse about sleeping for a sleep test when he does not sleep that much anyhow. Sounds like he's afraid of the diagnosis, having to use a machine and then take responsibility for dealing with the weight issue which sleep apnea helps create and is worsened by. I hope than he will change his mind and get that sleep test. When he does sleep, does he snore? Sometimes, but not always some people who claim they can't sleep at night, but then sleep during the daytime actually do that so they are in charge and avoid the expectations of others. I saw that with out youngest boy.
Julie: I hope things work out for you. Your bro has found a very "cushy" situation and he is going to stay put until you literally force him to make the big decisions.
Folks, like us, who are caregivers, tend to let a lot of bad behaviors go when we deal with family. We feel sorry for them. However, think about what your brother would do if you did not exist. He would survive and perhaps thrive because he would have to fend for himself. I hope you find a good, humane solution for him AND for yourself.....Lilli

Maybe you should consider moving (after your mother's in the facility). I don't know whether you rent or own - it would be a lot easier to move if you rent. I know it's an extreme thing to do, especially if you really love your home, but it would force your brother to get out on his own. Something needs to be done about him, and it shouldn't have to be up to you. It's NOT fair to you to be put in this position. I hope everything works out.
DogGrrrl - that's a good idea, but it's my house. I only bought it 3 years ago and plan to live there a very long time. But if I was renting, that would work! :-)

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

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