Oh yeah, I know--isn't that just infuriating! My only sibling, my older brother, only lived a half-hour away from Mom & Dad and I lived over 400 miles, yet I was the one who gave up my life for a year to go take care for them… but… I'm not bitter about it!

I remember being so angry all the time and thinking, "Hey, these are his parents too!" I finally realized that all those negative emotions weren't helping me a bit--and I really had to walk a mile in his shoes. If I had it to do over again, here's what I'd do ASAP:

First, I'd realize my brother (9 years older) had a completely different upbringing than I did and that he hadn't gotten the love I'd gotten from our controlling father. I'd remember all the rages Dad put him through--and realize you just can't make anyone do something they don't want to do.

Browse Our Free Senior Care Guides

Instead of asking my brother to help with the hands-on caregiving, I'd ask him to help ME with a few errands and tasks, which would have been much more comfortable for him.

I'd make a long list of all the things I needed to get done and then the next time I'd see him, or a family member or friend asked, "Ohhh, I am so sorry about what you are going through--is there anything I can do?" I'd pull out a copy of the list and say, "Thank you, yes, there is. Here's a list—pick one!"

  • Have the car serviced, tires rotated, filled with gas
  • Have the broken lamp that Dad threw at me fixed
  • Repair the curtains that are coming off the rods around the house from Dad pulling on them
  • Shop for items I just don't have time for, like getting a new battery for my watch
  • Have the folks' clothes altered, pants shortened, buttons sewed on, mending done
  • Garden, prune trees, clear the yard
  • Take stuff to the dump
  • Organize the pantry, garage, closet, drawers
  • Pick up dry cleaning, pharmacy, groceries
  • Call and write notes to relatives and friends to update them on Dad
  • Make some meals for the freezer
  • Rent a carpet shampooer and clean the carpet
  • Schedule appointments
  • Do Internet research on medications, healthcare products, diseases, nursing homes
  • Evaluate the best local adult day care programs
  • Take me out to lunch!
  • Etcetera, etcetera and so forth.