avidreader Asked May 2012

I have a mother who lives near me in a condo and 2 siblings who don't help much. Mom doesn't drive. What should I do?

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I have two sisters who don't live too far away, but Mom counts on me for all errands, as she doesn't drive. She says my sisters are "too busy" and she "doesn't want to bother them." I am a widow like my Mom, but unlike her, I am trying to create a "new" life for myself. The two sisters don't speak to each other. I cannot seem to create a schedule whereby each of us takes care of certain issues for Mom. One sister offered to food shop every two weeks, then doesn't always show up. The other sister makes offers, then withdraws them. She also criticizes whatever anyone else does. Often I do things just because it seems easier, but then I feel resentful. Mother's mind is sharp and she is financially secure, but she doesn't want to pay any kind of helper because he/she would be a "stranger," and she doesn't want to spend the money. It's been over 3 years now of helping Mom stay in her home and taking care of my own home. I really feel stuck at this point. I would appreciate any and all suggestions!

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Careful Aug 2012
Sounds like you might be able to talk to your sister about spending one or two days a week helping your parents. The husband does suffer a little with the wife doing the caretaking. We have had to deal with that in our house, but your sister can manage to spend some time with them, run errands for them, or take them to a doctor's appointment. I would just say that I am getting burned out and I need a break on a consistent basis, would you spend a couple days a week helping mom and dad while I have some serious "me" time? Praying for your situation Whitney. I hope you know what a wonderful daughter you are because you are.
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Whitney Aug 2012
My sister won't even offer to help. My sister is married, (and has two kids in college in another state); and I am not married. My sister has said that "the situation is totally different" implying that since she is married she is "off the hook" from any caretaking of our parents. In addition, my parents have so much respect for someone that is married and has a family, that they seem to be on her side. She does not work and her kids are not living at home anymore, so she has the free time, and she lives about 20 minutes from our folks. She rarely calls them and sees them maybe three or four times a year, (mostly on holidays). I would be fine with doing 80% of the caretaking, but I do have some anger. Perhaps the most frusterating part, is that I can tell from my conversations with my sister, that the way she sees it, she feels that she truly is in a different situation from me, and I can tell that she feels no quilt whatever. She is not arrogant or nasty to me, but the words I would use are selfish and self-centered. Good Luck to you.
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Careful Jul 2012
Keep going out. My mom got mad a few days ago because I spent part of the day with my husband. She is jealous at times and very controlling. I try to avoid power struggles with her because I'm just not interested in participating in that kind of interaction, but I do have a husband who needs my attention and I need the time away so I can have somewhat of a life. She needs us both right now, but we need a life and that's what we try to focus on. I would ask her about the POA and see what she says. Make sure you tell her what you are worried about concerning the POA. My mother tried to make me POA and Executor and Healthcare Surrogate, but I refused and suggested she use her lawyer. She did and I think it is better that way in order to stave off any future conflicts. If my siblings have a conflict they can take it up with the attorney and not me....hopefully. I don't know if your siblings are like mine, but mine have continually tried to set the stage that I am keeping them from their mother. This way I look bad and they look like a victim AND they don't have to help. I take my mother to visit them when I can, so they are making the isolation crap up and for the reason I stated. They don't want to help and since not helping makes them look bad they have to conjure up a reason why it is my mothers or my fault. They have been rude and downright cruel to my mother and I. Draw your line in the sand about how far you will allow them to go and then tell them off when they cross it. I tolerate alot of verbal crap because our mother is living with me and they need to feel they can visit. If they go too far then I let them have it! Reassure mom that you love her very much and if you thought she really needed you by her side every second you would be, but that she doesn't right now. It really will give her some time to herself too.
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avidreader Jul 2012
All of the suggestions I received were most helpful. I am just worried about my mother's needs escalating. Also, she has the three of us as equal powers of attorney. My lawyer friend says I should talk to mom about changing wording. Mom would freak out if I brought that up, as most of her responses are emotional and unpredictable. Any thoughts on these two issues? How have other people handled difficult siblings or parents? I have been socializing more and really enjoying it, but my mom constantly puts down anything I do for myself. I get that she may be envious or afraid I won't help her. Should I reassure her or just keep going out? Am I a weenie!?
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LindaGS May 2012
See previous post too.
So she had 3 outings a week, and it cost me only about 2 hours time and $60 a week.
When she called I could say "We will take care of it Sunday". OR "Can you do it with your nurse?" OR "That doesn't sound too difficult, maybe the friend who picks you up for Bible Study could help you with that before you leave for church."
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LindaGS May 2012
When my mother was in early stages of dementia. No driving etc. I found a women's group at a local church that was willing to pick her up once a week. I found someone to drive her to church, so I just took her out to lunch and to the store after church. I hired a nursing student to hang out with her 4 hours once a week in the middle of the week. She was told ask for errands and if there were no errands to go out an play or get ice cream. Mom pretty soon figured out that fun was better then errands and used that time well to see something new.
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Careful May 2012
Unfortunately we can't make other people do the right thing. My mother moved in with me, the youngest sibling, and two of the older siblings went ape. One threatened to sue me, both try to find out about the will, and both have threatened her with no visitation or what one called, "no more treats." So, I have two siblings who are punishing my mother and I by refusing to help and one of two is refusing to ever come to our home to see her now. Once I gave up trying to fix the relationships I was alot happier and I started relying more on friends and neighbors. I don't have time for their nonsense and I'm not interested in their petty feelings or childhood angst. Not my job! Pink Roses stick to the basics and hang in there. You will have a special crown in Heaven for all that you are giving. Ask your brother to help and if he doesn't then move onto other people who are willing to give without receiving.
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starshine14 May 2012
Not in your spot right now, but I think I'd start with a little lunch for you & your sisters. Make a schedule out with all of you doing something. NO backing out unless one of the others take over. Yes, it's hard. Hard for everyone including mom. Mom need so to know YOU have a life also. Some days she will be alone. OR she can go to a senior respite place to visit with other folks like her. You need to take a stand and take some control over your life. What would they do if you moved out of town/state? A friend's mom was demanding and my friend did go overboard with her mom, and finally realized she was monopolizing her life until she didn't have one. She told her she'd be by on a certain day of the week, she'd call before she went there to get her list of needs, so she could deliver it in one trip. YOU can do it, if you really want to do it. You have to speak up for yourself. If they don't want to do it, make it clear you are a once a week woman, and if mom needs help she can seek it or wait for the day you get there. Tough love, but it will make you feel better about yourself. Set limits. God bless & hugs!
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HOW DO I GET HELP FROM MY BROTHER WITH MY MOM'S CARE HE ONLY LIVES 40 MINUTES AWAY. IT IS ALL ONE ME AND I AM BURNT OUT COMPLETELY!
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lyoung2008 May 2012
How about making a calendar for your mom to fill in who helps her do what on what days she needs/expects that help? Maybe seeing in written down will make her realize how much she expects from you and how little from your sisters. It could also make your sisters realize you are stuck with the greatest share of taking care of Mom. Invite them the day your mom makes up the calendar. Write what is expected on the days and do not deviate from that unless someone gets hit by a bus! Come with your own calendar with days on it you are not available. Do not give in if they call and say they can't make it when their responsibility days come up. Tell them to call your mom and they'll have to work it out with her. Make that a rule upfront. Your mom is not handicapped! She just doesn't drive. My mom lives alone in a condo, too, but she has some serious limitations. Without my help and my younger sister's, she would be in assisted living and not in her own home. My mom has a calendar and we keep it updated. She lets me set all appointments because I am the one who drives her everywhere. So far, our arrangement works for all of us. My sister and I have promised never to be upset with each other because we are in this together. I think Mom is enjoying some quality end of life days. I won't say there aren't times when Mom and I have conflicts, but I am learning how to deal with those times. This site really helps!
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