How do I deal with my sister who constantly bad mouths her other sisters for refusing to help take care of their mother?

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I am one of 4 sisters, all very close in age, with a 90 year old Mother who has Alzheimer's. After living and caring for our Mom, house and yard on and off for 7 years, it became apparent that she would need more care than I could give her. Three of the sisters met, and discussed a letter that I had written to Mom's doctor regarding her changing behavior that indicated she was depressed. My younger sisters and I were concerned about leaving her alone, so our older sister chose to move from out-of-state and care for her for 2 years, or at such time she might have to go into a nursing facility. After the 2 year mark, our sister "chose" to stay on with Mom, since she thought she was "too old" to find work (my sister, not my Mom!). At that time, she started treating us like "deadbeat siblings" for not taking over the care-taking responsibilities, even though none of us were in a position to do so. She has made it impossible for us to visit Mom because of her nasty attitude while we're there, but will allow neighbors and grandchildren to visit whenever they want. Not a day goes by that she doesn't vent on sites such as this, and fabricates remarks about us. This has been extremely hurtful to us, especially my younger sister who loves Mom dearly. It has split our family apart to the point where I will never forgive my sister for her treatment of us. Has anyone else been put into this situation? I'd love to hear from you.

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You can forgive her if you want, but know that just because God forgives us, doesn't mean we don't have to face the consequences of our actions. Some people do become co-dependent and need your help, others, whether they are siblings or not, are just plain evil. Just because someone is living there does not mean they are actually caring for the elder. You need to stand up to her as a group or get an attorney.
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paintrlady, I have not remotely been in your situation, and I will not comment on the sibling wars except to say you seem to have a clear picture of what is going on and what your response needs to be.

I do want to comment on decisions people make, wise or otherwise in their lives. It sounds like your dad make healthy choices. So did my husband. Given his very strong family history of heart disease, where no one lived beyond 65 and several died in their 40s, he was determined to eat right, exercise, not smoke, not drink excessively, be active socially, and intellectually. And he beat the family odds! He is now 85. And when he came down with dementia 8 years ago he agonized, "It's not fair! Why couldn't I die peacefully in my bed, like my brother did? Why do I have to go through this at the end of my life?" Alas, living right is worth doing but it is no guarentee that you won't need caregiving in your old age.

It is really hard to know which is the cause and which is the effect in your mother's less healthy decisions. Did she begin to decline in her health (perhaps in ways only she was aware of) and that lead to poor activity choices? Or did her poor choices lead to declining health? I have read the theory that people pessimistic about their health may simply be well-tuned into what is going on internally. I wouldn't be so sure that mother brought her poor health on herself and is therefore less worthy of devoted care.
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naheaton... You're right about having to give up a lifelong relationship with my sister. Carol is a year older than I am, and I always looked up to her when we were growing up. Even after we moved to different states, we still kept in touch. One night we stayed up 'til 3 AM e-mailing old family photos back and forth to each other! What a riot! Remembering our grandparents, vacations, backyard carnivals. Now, all of that is gone... probably for good.
I've learned several things from all of this that will help my own sons make the right decision for me when the time comes. First of all, I'm making better choices in my life so that I will hopefully enter my twilight years in the best shape I can, both physically and mentally. I see this in my own parents, who divorced 40 years ago. My Dad made the conscious choice to eat sensibly, exercise every day, limit his TV viewing, and play card games and do crossword puzzles to stay healthy. My Mom sort of went the other direction. She stopped all physical activity before she turned 80 (she'll be 91 this year). Shortly after, she stopped leaving the house to socialize, started sleeping more, watched way too much TV, and stopped taking care of herself altogether. She's gotten help for depression, but clearly the decision she made to stop exercising and socializing caused her to decline rapidly. It's a lesson for all of us... that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves as best we can so we won't be a burden to our children.
The children of elderly parents are not "obligated" to care for them. I don't mean that we should push them into nursing homes, but just because you are a son or daughter doesn't necessarily make you the best choice for caregiver. In fact, I'm willing to bet that most adult children are not really cut out to be caregivers, and putting them in that position could result in resentment, anger, and possibly physical harm to the parent. I opted out of caring for my Mom when I saw the choices she was making that I knew would negatively affect her life. Carol (my older sister who took over Mom's care 9 years ago) seems to have a personal agenda for staying on. It has more to do with her own needs, not my Mom's. It has split our family irreparably.
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Paintrlady, you're a good example of the old saying 'there's two sides to every story'. I'm afraid that when I read the stories on this website that I do automatically believe the author, why wouldn't I? So now I know to be a little more discerning I guess.
Hurt, if you get right down to it, is this behavior of your sister's any different then it's always been when you were growing up? Probably not is my guess. But now you add money to the equation and it's magnified a 100 times. It's the whole 'root of all evil is the LOVE of money' thing that the Bible talks about, your sister is a good example of that isn't she? Maybe the sadness over your sister's behavior is more of you having to give up the dream of having a 'normal'& 'loving' relationship with her. That's never gonna happen unless she has a change of heart and nature. In that regard your husband is right, you have to 'let go and let God' like they used to say. Leave your sister to Him. I'm afraid you're gonna have to let her wallow in whatever she gets herself into at this point, and distance yourself from it. Your first priority is your husband and kids if you have them anyway. Your hubby is no doubt tired of hearing about it, cause most men hate drama in the first place. Let it go. Sorry.
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Well you must know the stress of care giving if you were doing it "on and off" for 7 years. And at that point, all of you decided that the best thing to do was have your oldest sister take over the role on a full time basis as a live in. I don't live with my mom but I cook, clean, do laundry, take to appts and (the worst part) stay by her side for frequent hospitalizations and nursing home stays. Guess what part wears me down the most? Yeah, the stay by her side part. You lose a part of yourself, you really do. As a result of caring for someone else 24/7, you lose normal boundaries, you in effect slip into a copdependent state. Like spouses of alcoholics and substance abusers, the disease and the caretaking responsibilities become the central role of your life and you have a love/hate relationship with the situation you are in. You love it as it has become your purpose in life and you can't envision anything else. You hate watching your parent die and you hate that there is now only one central theme in your life, watching your parent die. I would suggest to you that your sister is not herself right now. She probably couldn't have predicted 2 years ago the toll this was going to take on her own health and on her own self esteem. The acting out you are experiencing right now is a cry for help. This doesn't mean you and your other siblings should move to relieve her of her duties, tell her to get out and get a job. That sends a message that she has failed or that you don't think she is doing a good job of caring for your mother. Rather, I would suggest that you act out of love and concern for her. She needs help to find herself again just like your mom needs help. Offer her a break one evening a week and give her an alternate activity to do. Like one sibling stays with mom and the other siblings take her out to dinner or a concert or a play. Help her find a life outside of caregiving. Slowly encourage her to do some things for herself - and be there to provide the respite care needed for her to do that. As her self esteem returns, you may find that the relationship can be salvaged. Don't you want to continue a family relationship with the person who has cared for your mother 24/7?
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oh yes! I tried to help take care of my father, but from the beginning my sister took full control. She quit her job, left her husband and grandchild she was caring for, and moved in with my father. She put unrealistic demands on me. The things she said I could do to help where things like "scrub the walls", clean the house, etc. While she sleeps 16 hours a day and pops xanax like it's going out of style! It was the absolute most humiliating time of my life, but I kept my mouth shut and was determined I would not be involved in squabbling while a parent is dying! Then she started telling lies to everyone that I would say I'd come over and watch him and never show up, etc. I was crushed! She paid some girl $35 (all my dad's money) to come and bring her cigarettes when I worked 10 minutes away and told her I could leave work at anytime to run over there if she needed something. I went over to my dad's at 8am one day to shampoo his carpet and she had already done it! That is so unbelievable. You have to know her..she is the laziest person I've ever met. Huffs and puffs just walking across the room. And she was so verbally abusive to my dad. Took everything he said the wrong way and demanded he show her respect. She gave him the silent treatment one day because he didn't tell her thank you when she handed him his pain meds! She slept most of the time and took xanax like it was candy and just threw him TV dinners in the microwave for food. And oh Lord, the obsession with making sure he got a will was ridiculous. Being nieve, I was so confused, but couldn't understand what she was doing. My family kept warning me that she was after the $, but I just couldn't accept the fact that a sibling would do that. Well, she called one day and said he was too weak to pay his bills and she was going to ask him if she could add me and her to his checking account. She said she'd call me back. She called back about 3 hours later and said..."it's done. I went to the bank and got the paperwork for him to sign and I'm on the account." So, then she had control of all of his cash ($30,000), so I knew at that point since she was joint owner, it would not be a part of the estate and she said over and over half of it was mine. Well, then she got an attorney and had a will done up and the attorney's notary came to the house and watched him sign. She called and told me it was done and everything was 50/50 and she had a copy for me. Did I EVER receive a copy? NO!!!! He's been dead almost a year and I have yet to see a copy. I know I could go to the probate office and get a copy, but I just can't deal with it. Well, after he died, she was very very very ugly to me. She stopped talking to me all together on August 24th and he was buried on August 19th. My father wanted my son who is married and little children to get his vehicle (1994 Ford Explorer). She called my son and tried to sell it to him for $2700 and the title was already in her name! She filed for divorce from her husband 2 weeks after my father was buried and moved herself, her deadbeat 27 year old son, his 3 year old son, and his girlfriend (whom he had just picked up in a bar) into my dad's house. She contacted me via email to ask if I would take $9,000 for my share of the house. I knew I was getting ripped off, but to be hones, I just wanted her out of my life at this point. I agreed and she said she'd get the money. 7 months later I get a nasty letter from her attorney stating that since she hasn't heard from me, she assumed I'm not going to sell my 1/2 of the house and she can't afford the payments and it's my fault the house is going to be foreclosed. I was beside myself! This was just last week. I wrote that attorney back and gave them a piece of my mind. I have done absolutely nothing! Anyways, that's just them trying to intimidate me into giving her the house before the estate is settled. She's been paying the mortgage and even had some work done on the house. The house if valued at $105,000 and it has a $35,000 mortgage on it. Foreclosure! She's been living in it, she's a registered nurse and has my father's $30,000 in cash!!!! They think I just fell off a truck or something. It just gets more ridiculous as the days go by. It is so so amazing how the selfishness and greed comes out when a parent dies. Totally unbelievable! I wouldn't do the things she has done to a stranger off the street or my worst enemy! I know you said you will never forgive your sister, but you have to. I know exactly how you feel. I am crushed. I actually feel violated, like I've been raped and am suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. It's so terrible. Family has meant so much to me and I just can't imagine how anyone can be so self absorbed. My husband says not to worry because God will take care of her...but that makes me feel worse. She's my sister! I don't want God to reap hot coals on her head! I want a sibling who loves me and will do anything for me! But, I'm trying so hard to come to grips with what she's done and to forgive her and pray that she wakes up and asks God to forgive her. The saddest part of all of this is that even if we did have a relationship sometime in the future, it will never ever be the same. I will NEVER be able to trust her. EVER! I will never make myself vulnerable to her tactics again. It's the same feeling as an unfaithful spouse. It is the worst hurt I've ever experienced. She is my flesh and blood! And the worst part is that I have to face her one day because our mother is still alive! My poor mother! She tries to stay neutral and my sister literally had her in the hospital with chest pains during my father's illness. I am dealing with some hurt feelings with my mother also. She lets my sister totally control her and my mom won't stand up to her. I don't even mention her name around my mom. I refuse to upset my mother who has a bad heart. But on the other hand, you would think my mom would let me know that even though she doesn't want to get involved, that she knows I was done terribly wrong. I would cuss my kid out if they did that to their brother or sister! I wouldn't disown them, but they would definitely know I was not a happy camper! So...because my mom always makes excuses up for her...oh, you know she has no self esteem and only wants someone to care for her! Huh? What about me? Just because I'm not selfish, greedy, and screwed up, it's ok for her to treat me like a piece of garbage and hurt my feelings? So...I feel my mother is terribly selfish also. Just trying to stay in the middle to make it easy for no one but herself. She's always been that way. But, I still love her and would never say anything to hurt her. I just accept the way she is and pray that my sister doesn't abuse her when she is on her deathbed like she did my dad. My father's last words hours before his death were, "I think I screwed you up...something is wrong with her." I am haunted by those words. He had to go to his grave knowing one sibling was screwing over the other. And he couldn't stand free-loaders. If he knew she moved her deadbeat son and bar fly girlfriend in his house, he would totally disown her himself. It's just heartbreaking. But, I have to let it go. I feel sorry for her and do forgive her...but I do have bad days when I am so very angry. Mostly because of the bad-mouthing and lies she's told people. Not over the $ or house or car...it's not like it was a million $ estate! haha...it was borderline garbage if the truth be known! But, I guess one man's garbage is another man's jewels! I didn't mean to go on like this, but it helps just for me to explain it to someone who understands...even if I don't get a reply! hahaha....take care and God bless you. Remember, you can't control others. Just have to deal with it and pray they can live with their evil ways. At least I know I can sleep peacefully at night. :)
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