rko Asked June 2010

Am I being unreasonable to ask my out-of-town siblings to watch my mom for a week while we go on vacation?

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She is 91, very healthy and independent and has agreed to fly down to stay with them. They are reluctant to have her down at this time because they claim they are too involved with their jobs. They're also upset that we didn't travel to their city for a recent family get together. We didnt go because my mom refused to go and my mother-in-law became quite ill and required hospitalization. My sister-in-law's husband is in the first stages of Alzheimers, so her mom's care fell on my wife's shoulders. My wife works for a school system, so our window of opportunity is extremely small. Since we married 27 years ago, we have been my parents primary caregivers. We've included them in our daily family lives including the raising of our two kids. My siblings have never had to care for any elderly in-laws and have pretty much came and went as they pleased. Am I wrong to expect some respite?

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Eddie Sep 2010
RKO:

If your mom can care for herself, I'd hire someone trustworthy (preferably a long-time neighbor) to keep an eye on her just in case. Leave your cellphone # for emergencies ONLY, and explain to your mom that you must have some R&R. She'll understand.

Also, it sounds to me like your siblings don't want to be bothered with Mom, so they're making all kinds of excuses. Forget them. Don't stoop to their level, and be polite every time they call or come by. Your kindness will make them feel so guilty they just might be inclined to keep company with the woman who brought them to the world.

Enjoy your vacation my friend, and keep us posted.

-- ED
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Vernon Sep 2010
Geeg - YOU are an absolute GEM. Good for you!!!

In so many ways, though I wished so long for help, in that their heart is not in it I just can't imagine either of my siblings providing 10% of what I do... and I simply 'do the right thing'. Nothing extra-ordinary - nothing making me 'worthy' - just the right thing by my Mom.

The two times in five plus years (until today I thought it was four - maybe I'm catching up to Mom) it was a nightmare getting things back to normal. And with respect to the very, very, very, very rare short, short, short, short visits - I too was happy when they finally left. Even after a few hours.

In any case - enough of that.

Your husband has a great catch, indeed!!! Good for him and good for you. With respect to him becoming more emotionally affectionate, you may wish to review a part of my Site that deals with the VITAL importance of our providing uplifting emotional content. I really think that's the principle key to our ability to provide better than average care. After all, they LIVE not by intellect or reason, but by their emotions. (Sorry, I've been forbidden to link the Site here, but as I understand it - suggesting it is OK - Look at my Profile)

God Bless you and yours...

V
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geeg54 Sep 2010
Dear V: what you say is so true and I am learning that. Family and friends alike have absolutely no idea what we are going through. No one can possibly know unless they are in this situation.

I'm not a very tactful person as well. My Mother always said that my other sister was the diplomatic one. Well, I'm happy with my personality and have found it to be crass at times but then again I don't care. If people (family in particular) don't know me by now, then they either don't want to or don't get it. Not my problem.

I take care of my Husband whom I love dearly. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. Life wasn't supposed to turn out this way. He is the love of my life and each day I see him deteriorating more and more. The "stare" gets me. I wonder what he is thinking or if he is thinking at all. He has become more emotionally affectionate than he has ever been. I feel that in his own way he is saying things that need to be said before he passes away. I enjoy most of our time together because I do love him so much. But at certain times the frustration is difficult. I literally cannot imagine a family member trying to take my place even for a week. We have no children and he has one living sibling who is worthless if you ask me. Funny, their Mother and all of her sisters and her brother died of Alzheimers. I believe there were 6 of them total. I never knew his Mother, only his Father. But his Father took care of his Mother until the night she died in their home.

I seem to be rambling which is so easy to do when you don't have anyone to talk to. Most of our "so-called" friends have disappeared - fear of the unknown I suppose. My siblings are spread all over the states. They all adore my husband but don't quite know what to do. It is a tough situation but I am here for his every want and need. I wouldn't have it any other way.

After the visit from his sister a few months back (and her husband) I told myself that I have to stand my ground. Their visit was a nightmare. I was so glad when they left a day early and so was my husband.

So yes, we have to be tough for our afflicted loved ones. I don't give a good you-know-what if someone thinks they have a better way - it's my way or the highway in this case. I am not here to take suggestions.

So thanks V for your great posting. My sister-in-law took care of my brother who died of cancer a few years ago and she is in constant touch with me. Now I understand what she went through with "us" - the clueless family.

Regards, Geeg
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RKO, I'm glad it worked out for you. I haven't had a break in over 5 years and like Vernon, believe my siblings can do but won't. Here's to your next vacation!
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Vernon Sep 2010
I've always been known as the type of guy who is less tactful than I probably should be. (Not the best way to, 'Win Friends and Influence People.) Still, I don't mind the identification because I've always believed that truth is paramount to everything. From my perspective, if truth is not held foremost, all paths to follow or conclusions arrived at are found to include a large amount of either outright fluff or at the very least holding very little honorable value.

That said, some people are surely made up of less 'grit' than others. And they must be given their due when/if they are trying to be supportive, but due to their make-up and try as they might... just can't.

All that to say that in my limited experience, when my siblings attempt (five years worth of constantly attempting) to escape their responsibility... it is not a matter of ignorance and has little to do with their make-up. They simply don't want to be bothered. They are people whom I've identified on my WebSite (not by name) as people who, while speaking all the right flowery words... simply 'love-less'. And are happy to reside in that state of being. More bluntly, they could care less about their Mom's current state of being and will not help to support it's positive progression. After all, big brother is taking care of it.

Though it likely appears as though I'm ragging on them, these words are more to help those in this same predicament to strive to not only toughen up to the degree possible and diligently search to find a degree of respite not found within their own families, but moreso, to try to focus on that which we sometimes lose sight of because of the enhanced stress as time goes along and the disease worsens. That thing we have a tendency to lose sight of is the internal wonderful rewards one can only find through caring for a loved one who is solely dependent upon your love to enhance their existence.

When we remember to focus on that and bring it more to fruition, we tend to ever more unfold what is in a very deep sense, our reason for being.

My best...

V
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rko Sep 2010
geeg54, Thanks for your comments. We who share ideas on this subject know the truth. It's not easy, many times frustrating and sometimes cannot imagine resolve. I really appreciate your support and the the support I've found from many of the folks that have responded to my query. I've concluded that some siblings are sooooooo far removed from the reality of dealing with elderly parents, that it's almost impossible for them to honestly appreciate what's going on. I guess I can understand their ignorance on the situation, but I will not let them escape their responsibility. Thanks again.
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geeg54 Sep 2010
Dear rko: Good for you. We caregivers must take a stand in our situations. We make the rules not our relatives. I found that out recently. Whomever stays with my husband from now on will abide by my rules and stick to the schedule that we follow. Otherwise, it throws the entire household out of whack. It's exactly like letting Grandma or Auntie take your young child for the day and spoiling them, then dropping them back off to you when it's not fun anymore and it takes several days to get that child back on schedule. It is not fair to you nor is it fair to your Mother. So good for you. Keep up the good work!!!
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rko Sep 2010
I really appreciate all the response I got for my post. It's comforting to know that this unfortunate situation can happen to anyone. None the less, my mom went to stay with my sister and we were able to take a short trip. Since then, I've decided to retire from my job. Due to my new freedom, I have no qualms about looking out for my mom on a regular basis. However, I've made it clear that I am not giving my siblings Carte Blanc and still expect them to step up to the plate when my wife, who's still working, has free time from her school system job.
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Vernon Aug 2010
I have had such a time with my siblings that I finally gave up. It was/is more emotionally draining for me to try to get them to 'think right' about the care of their own Mother than it was/is to simply... to a point... forget they exist for anything in life except for themselves.

You may wish to review my site dealing with that question in particular. I'm certain that in one way or other you'll find it quite helpful.

I know it's really tough... my heart goes out to you.
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geeg54 Aug 2010
I do not feel that you are wrong at all to require some respite. I am pretty much in the same situation as you are. My husband has Dementia and we live in a small town away from all family. His only sibling has been here once to "help out" as you say but that didn't work out at all for me. In fact, they ended up leaving early. I was still working full time at the time she and her husband were here. They were more of a pain in the you know what than any help to me.

If you family is "too busy" (which is really sad to me) are you able to get signed up with a facility for respite? I am not real familiar with it but do have a friend who is caregiver to her husband and the state she lives in sends her a check once a year for a substantial amount of money for her to pay someone to come in for a week so she can get away. I would start looking on-line for help rather than asking your uncooperative family. It is just a darned shame in my opinion that they are not willing to help you out. I have found that people are afraid of the unknown. We have lost a lot of friends since my husband became ill due to just that.

You and your wife certainly need to get away. I would start looking for some help on-line rather than trying to get your family involved. If they don't want to do it or keep making silly excuses, you're better off without them. Get some relief from someone you can count on and depend on.

What goes around comes around. Someday they will see error of their ways. They should be ashamed of themselves!!! Forgive me for my bluntness but I am handling this situation all on my own and have seen and learned a lot in the past four years. Nobody can be that busy at their job not to be able to get away. Family should ALWAYS come first in my eyes but then my eyes see things differently than most others.

Good luck to you both and I hope soon you will get the much deserved rest that you both need.
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