How can I encourage my other siblings to help support the main caregiver of the family?

Asked by

It seems that other sibilings in the family feel that their lives are too busy or they have exceptional circumstances to be involved with any part of mums care, even though she has just moved in to a nursing home, so the load is now lighter. Some have the attitude of someone else can do it. My husband is worried that his sister will burn out without some support, as we have done - there is 7 in the family. We are very willing to take some of the load but cannot take it on again fulltime as it seems we are expected to do. We feel that it would be nice if others in the family would be willing also to make it easier for everyone & give their mum quality of life. Is this a common problem? Does it always fall to only one?

Answers 1 to 10 of 21
Short answer - YES, very, very common. The ones doing less feel guilty and even the occasional visit reminds them of it. It is emotionally hard to care for someone who is going downhill and emotionally easy to tell yourself that the other sibling is taking care of everything and you are not needed. But yes, this happens all the time and is a very common source of frustration around here.

Occasionally if there is enough goodwill to go around, a schedule of visits or tasks may be set up by a family that can talk things out and agree on it. Sometimes those who live far away can be persuaded to help financially at least. Don't try to do what you know you cannot do, but if you do whatever you realistically can to help, it wil be a blessing to at least you, mom, and sister regardless of what the others choose to do.
From what I've read on this website, it's usually just one person that steps up and ends up doing the lions share of the work. My questions would be, why does your husband's sister think she HAS to do so much now that her mom is in a nursing home? Like you said, the load is easier now with her being there, so why kill herself off doing what she did before the mom went there? That doesn't mean the mom is supposed to be forgotten, but let's face it, there shouldn't be as much of a need as there used to be. Maybe the sister is bringing this on herself without realizing it? That doesn't excuse the other siblings for being neglectful, I'm just saying.....
Apparently it does always fall to one. My mom lives with me and I have a full time job, a child and and husband and I drive an hour to work and from work everyday. Come home, cook for mom, bath her, give her meds, talk to her, etc. I'm 42 years old and feel like I don't have a life and I resent my siblings for not helping out. I have 6 siblings! One of my sisters stays with my mom during the day while I work but she is always late so I'm always late to work. I mean like an hour at least late. I have told them I need help but they are all too busy, or that's what they say. I've heard that this is common but it shouldn't be. I'm so stressed and beginning to worry about my own health.
Yes, this has been my experience too. I cared for my mom in my home for almost 2 years, also juggling 2 teenage boys, husband and a full-time job...I work from home office. I was able to get some help from visiting caretakers during the day and a local senior day care. Very little help came from my 5 siblings. Granted, 3 of them live too far away to be of much help. The other 2 sisters are about 1 hour away. I did get some help about every 6 weeks when my sister would have mom for the weekend. Now my load is much lighter as mom needed nursing home care. I still go see her most days as she is local and still take her to all of her medical appointments. Plus, I do all the worrying and advocating. I realize that siblings often cannot help a lot...too far away or very busy lives....but really, phone calls to their mom and to me would help or occasional visits (more than they currently do) ld help so much. I guess it is true that they think I have it covered! And I agree about the guilt...seems like visiting mom just makes them feel guilty for not doing more...I just wish they were more involved in her care...I feel like I'm her only child at times!
You can bet that it is common. I once was hired into a job (wholesale showroom) that had 3 people operating it, when I hired on it was down to two, about a year after I was hired the manager and the boss had a falling out and he left (boss was a prick...). Boss asked me how long I could manage it myself, as it was the slow season I said until about January. Long and short of it was that 7 years later I was still working alone, never able to take vacations or even be ill one day once in a while (born a sucker, I guess...), and selling just as much as when there were two of us. Moral - as long as you can do the job, there are those who will let you. I have no siblings, just 3 nieces and a sister-in-law who care more about their hair and makeup than they do about even visiting grandma, yet the few times we see or hear from them they always end the conversation with "I love you grandma!" Yea, right. When mom does finally go, they will all get big, fat fleas in their ears.
Top Answer
In my experience, there are only two, myself and my sister. I am 61, working, and live on the east coast. She is 71, an RN (still working) who lives in the western US. My mother has lived with me for 20 years since our dad died (1989). It was expected that I would do the caring, since Mom lived with me. After her stroke in 2004, I gave up my job and cared for her at home for almost six years. Without additional help, I broke down (physically) and finally had to place my mother in a nursing home where she has been the last two years. I visit every day (sometimes twice a day) to check on her and make sure she is AOK. My sibling has not been to see my mother since 2004 and I doubt if she will come any time soon. I am extremely disappointed in the response of my entire family--sister and her kids-- because their grandmother has done so much for them in the past-- it seems like they could do better by her in my estimation. I am sorry if I'm not offering you any solutions-- but yes, from my experience, this is a common problem. A mother can care for 5 children. 5 Children can't seem to care for one mother!
That's such a good way of puttin it! Is a mother can take care of multiple kids, then why can't multiple kids take care of one mother!
yes very often it happens. i am one of 5 girls. I took most of the caregiving of my mom for several years. had help from the rest only once in a while. I was a nut case by the time we put her in a home not far from my home at 92 years old. (I still went to spend time with her more than the others) but.......now that she has gone to her eternal Home, at 97 years old, I don't regret it, as I have a lot of respect for myself. yes it was hard but "I" am being helped with my life by my 2 kids because they saw me going out of my way and sometimes my everyday life to help my mom and they show me so much love. and....I know God knows what I went through and I feel I have a star in my crown for loving my mom through it all. keep looking to God, He will see you through it. There were times I could not have kept going without Him.
God bless you
If someone finds the miracle answer let me know? I do know that pleading, crying, and fighting gets no where but just pushes them away further. Its tough being the one caregiver to a parent. But I feel that maybe for me its better, cause I don't have to worry about if she is being fed, bathed, changed etc... Cause I do it all!! I know that mom is being well taken care of the best I can do.
I thought I'd add a positive experience here. I am one of 13 kids. 6 live away and 7 live here. Since our mom began deteriorating rapidly from RA we have all pulled equal weight. My dad, age 84, had been doing the main care giving and we'd just take turns going there in the morning to clean and comb mom's hair. As she has gone downhill, Dad let us know he needed more help and now someone goes there every morning from 9 to 6, and someone else comes from 6 to 9 in the morning. Mom needs total care with everything now, plus a spastic bladder; it's not fun being on night duty getting up 8-10 times a night to help her on the commode but we all are sharing in it. I'm in charge of all dr. appts, meds and all things medical, one sister in charge of scheduling, another does most of the yard work, one brother is the mediator when there is a problem, the ones from out of town come when they can, my sister who lives in norway is coming for the second time this year, this time she bringing her 6 kids with her too. All the in-laws feel close to mom too so they are equal as the daughters in doing stuff. Sometimes there are mix ups in the schedule and major irritation at one sibling or another but we never let it effect the care mom gets. It's not as Pollyanna as it sounds cause we're just reg. people with reg jobs, lives and stresses but the great love for our mother has brought us together in a way that's been almost miraculous. I credit God for giving patience when dealing with siblings that are opinionated about this and that but being able to carry a forgiving heart is most important of all. I wanted to let you all know that it can be done, though it sounds rare from reading the others experiences. I can't imagine what you all must go through doing the care giving alone and I hope for better days ahead and more help and support from all your siblings

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