This is probably more of a vent than a question--but I have been seething since last last night over this: Mother (88) lives in an apt with brother and his family. He has become VERY suspicious of any family visiting mother and what she is saying to us. We had a family mtg at my request 3-4 months ago and it was disastrous. He became absolutely hysterical and literally screamed at me (primarily) about my constant nagging and trying to "fix" things. He doesn't want ANYONE doing ANYTHING for mother, yet he will not do things for her himself. She complains mightily at the lack of care. After that storm, I did stay away for a while. My 3 other sibs, though promising to visit, have remained firmly MIA. I did tell mother a little bit about the mtg, as we were discussing her care. Brother had played it out to be me trying to run the show. (Which is absolutely the LAST thing in the world I want to do). But brother has dug in his heels and mother's care has gone noticeably downhill. She needs a LOT more help and brother will not allow anyone into his home, so mother doesn't get the help she needs, from family or from a Home Health Agency. I have tried to step in again, NOT doing things brother won't let me do, but tippy-toeing around his wrath. It's ridiculous. Jut some specific tasks that mother asked me to do. Not one thing more. Last week she was sick. He hadn't checked on her in days. I was there to give her some soup I'd made, and she was too sick to eat it. I stayed and helped her a little, but she owns 2 feral cockatiels and their feathers and dander make me quite sick to be around. I got a small feather in my eye, it irritated my eye severely by the time it worked itself out-- and I actually went to the eye Dr. (My BIL) who said it looked awful and that I am obviously VERY allergic to these birds. $100 in dr bill and eyedrops---and the warning to not get around these birds. Now, cleaning their cage is beyond mother's scope. She just can't do it. So, it hasn't been washed in probably a year. It NEEDS a serious powerwash and the birds need baths too. Feathers, poop and bird dander combine with the dust to make the air in mother's house unbreathable. Along with the open bathroom garbage packed with soaking wet depends, her apartment is gag worthy. I'm not even allowed to throw out the trash. I kindly asked brother if he could powerwash the cage and see if the birds could be washed. He replied (angrily) that I am not to touch a thing at mother's and if I want to visit her, I have to meet with her in the common living room. Well--that's fine, but brother has 2 dogs, neither is housebroken and 5 cats--also tend to use the whole house as an open litterbox. There is frequently a large, smelly "offering" sitting in the LR--and nobody notices for a day or so. Gross. Brother said if it wasn't MEDICALLY necessary for mother, he wasn't doing anything else for her. Cleaning the cage isn't "medically necessary". I can't talk to this guy. He is walking anger. Any comment on mother's obvious decline is met with vociferous denial--that she is perfectly FINE. Last week, Mother asked if she could live with me. Says she can't take the loneliness and lack of care from brother. I told her no. She made this choice 21 years ago and it's one she has to live with. Also, I can't make my home be appropriate for her, nor do I have a wish to have any more involvement in her life that I do. Brother is her POA, but she's not incompetent, so using THAT as a power play is stupid. My other 3 sibs are MIA and do not do anything. Brother's go-to for everything is to blow up in furious anger. Usually shuts me right down. I can't handle it. So we're once again back to "you can see mother on MY terms." I think he is emotionally abusive to her. Well, no, I KNOW he is. She was a horrible mother to him and he's getting his payback. SO sad. Just wondering if a call to APS would start something I'd really regret or if I should just obey brother's orders. I do not need this in my life, but she IS my mother. It's pure guilt that keeps me going back. Obligation. Do we EVER overcome that?
APS made a visit several years ago. A neighbor called. Mother had complained to this neighbor and she called APS. Mother was just blowing off steam, but this woman took her seriously and, well, a visit ensued. Brother was irate and figured out pretty quickly who'd called.
As I said, Mother can call me, or my other brother or my 2 sisters and we will have her out of there in a hot minute. But she is choosing to live there, and we can't change anything about that situation.
It is what it is.
"APS has been contacted. I can't do any more."
So APS is aware of the situation, whether they pursue it or not.
You nailed it.
She picked moving in with Brother 20+ years ago, with daddy. We all tried to talk them into an ALF apartment, which they could have managed. She knew the family she was going to live with--I think she thought it would be great, and it has been anything but.
I honestly think she thought she wouldn't ever have to stop driving, being more independent but she's not "wise" enough to see that Brother has some very serious mental health issues re: control over others.
Yep, she picked her poison, and picks it again every single day. My 2 sisters and I have all told her if she really wants out, we will come get her and make it happen.
She doesn't want. So there it is.
BTW, not being "able" to do PT caregiving anymore is actually quite freeing. I can do lunch with mother and a couple of errands, and that's fine.
And for the record, as much as she says the birds don't bother HER, her nose runs 24/7 and she has a rattling cough all the time. It never stops. I developed this allergy as I have been helping out 2-3 days per week for years.
Your mom picked her poison so forget about it.
Thanks for your concern. APS has been contacted. I can't do any more.
My best guess is that absolutely nothing will come of the report, even IF they follow up. Mother has options, she refuses outside help and she is not living in squalor. Her place isn't up to MY standards, but she's got food, shelter and a FT caregiver. Unless SHE says something about feeling scared, trapped or abused, nothing is going to happen but to enrage brother.
None of my other sibs are involved nor do they care to be.
We have flat out asked mother if she wants to continue to living there (she can afford IL or a SNF--whatever she wants)....but insists she is 'content'.
I wouldn't be charged with negligence---I reported what I see/saw and that's about all I can do. Will be taking mother to lunch this week and we will speak frankly. IF she is unhappy enough, we can facilitate a move to a facility. That won't happen. Mother is competent and so she can decide what she wants. I might "encourage" her to appoint my other brother full POA and take it away from the brother she lives with. That may help a little--in time. Right now POA means nothing.
W/O question, this brother needs some counseling and help. But he won't ever, ever, ever accept that he is less than "perfect" and so, what more can I do?
Haven't seen or talked with mother in over 2 weeks. Yesterday a family wedding, so all that...brother brought mother and I went with my other brother to the ceremony & wedding breakfast. Brother asked what was going on with mom and I told him about the stupid "shutdown" over the birdcage--and he sighed and said "I know I haven't been up to see mom like I should. I'll clean it when I go". I responded, "R won't let you. Seriously, this is a big thing for him. He will not let us even wash her windows or clean the carpet where their dogs have peed. He won't allow anything". Another deep sigh and we talked about other things.
At the wedding breakfast, mother kept waving at me and saying 'I need to talk to you!' I was busy with the food, and finally found time to sit by her for 5 minutes--(brother had been hanging onto her wheelchair and I wouldn't talk to her with him there, but he plopped her in a corner and sat elsewhere, so I was able to speak freely.
She asked why I hadn't been around, she had some little projects she wanted me to do. I told her honestly that I had a severe allergic reaction to the birds and had been on cortisone drops for over a week to heal my eyes. She said "well, that's what I heard, but it's ridiculous. I live with those birds and they don't bother me! R says you are making this up". I pointed to my BIL, who is my eye dr and said "Fine. Go ask G what he found in my eyes." She backed down a little. Said she missed me. But I told her I was not allowed to come to her apartment, we had to "visit" in the common living room. She was angry about brother, but she'll NEVER say anything to him. I told her I would take her to lunch one day this week. Said that's really all I am allowed to do.
She felt bad, said R was definitely "going through something" and I agreed, but told her that I wasn't going to be a part of his sick dynamic, told her I'd call her in couple days and left.
Mother is not going to bite the hand that feeds her. She chooses this dynamic, this living arrangement. As much as she complains, she doesn't want me or anyone else to "fix" it.
Then truth finally shone through for me. Complaining about R but not doing or saying anything to him--her problem. I'm done.
He is not her financial "dude" (I can't say POA b/c we're not to that point) my other brother is. He keeps tabs on her bank acct & spending money. She has a checkbook and writes checks for her 4-5 bills per month--mostly to catalog orders. She carries cash for her groceries and the occasional lunch out. Other brother handles this, so there are no financial shenanigans, I'm positive. My oldest brother (now deceased) stole well over $150K from mother and dad and never paid back a cent. This was in 1985 when $150K was a lot of money. (got them to take a 2nd mortgage) So--mother and dad had their finances taken over many years ago by accountant brother--we just couldn't trust mother wouldn't continue to support loser brother. (She still did, but couldn't give him more than $200 a month).
I think he is "getting back" at her for her sub-par parenting when we were kids. He was abused, along with me and my younger sister and mother knew about it and never did a thing. Just told us we were all lying (we didn't talk about this as a "group" until a few months ago, that's how well it was covered up.) Sickening.
Brother was severely affected by this. He will admit to that. BUT--he WANTED mother and daddy to move into his home. Daddy passed from PD 14 years ago. Mother is still hanging in there, 88 and counting. I did ask brother a few months ago if he regretted doing this and it was met with a resounding "I'd NEVER do this again."
I think he's just royally screwed up in the head. Having 20 years of therapy behind me, I can manage and usually see things pretty clearly. He refuses all kinds of therapy or any kind of help. His go-to for any uncomfortable emotion is red hot anger.
I do think he is extremely upset and defensive when somebody points out a "flaw" in his caregiving. Like, ballistic anger.
The kicker, is that all of us sibs have offered help, financially and physical. He refuses it all. Maybe being a martyr is keeping him happy, Who knows? We all stand to inherit a very small amount if mother dies. $10K? Won't make a ripple in my life.
And no, mother pays for nothing, no rent, nothing. I think she pays $15 a month for the cellphone she can't use.
That very exact thought came to me as we both read Dorker's saga---I am quite aware that birds are good pets, but require a LOT of care. We had cockatiels ourselves, but they were bathed and their cage cleaned constantly. I wasn't sorry when we had to rehome them---when DH had his liver transplant. Too many "nasties" come from birds to even consider keeping them.
I am sure brother IS a mandated reporter, but he's just being intractable on this whole thing with mother. I'm not interested in going another round with him. I'm finally calm after several days of processing this. DH DID take some time to talk me through it, which I appreciated. Also my VERY level headed D, who just said "oh, mom, he is so crazy....you know that, right?" I NEED to hear that what I am feeling/thinking is "correct" ( a side effect from abuse, you question everything b/c your view of the world is skewed to make you feel you are always the crazy one)....
I can't call mom, b/c she cannot use her cellphone and Brother refuses to re-install her landline. It's really sad. Just another drama. But I will go up and get her one day for lunch and I will take her AWAY and tell her gently that I can't do anything for her anymore, and tell her why. Brother will now refuse to clean the cage, ever, just to spite me.
It really IS mother's problem. Many of the family cannot/won't go in her place b/c of the birds (I shouldn't be surprised that I finally succumbed to the dander!) She can pick her family or the birds. She'll pick the birds, and that is telling.
Isn't your brother, as an EMT, a mandated reporter? Does he realize he could lose his job and his certification, over this?
Phone conversation with your mom:
"Sorry mom, I can't come over until the bird mess is cleaned up. Doctor's orders".
I think I may have to let that "dream" go.
As YB (one of the MIA sibs) says "It is what it is". And he happily continues to ignore mother.
At least mother is not capable of calling me. She can't work her cellphone, so I have 100% control over whether or not I see her.
It is what it is.
And believe me, there are no perfect families. Only people who make them up.
Brother is not physically abusive, but he is very large (not tall, just very heavy) and his temper is to be feared. I'm his older sister and practically raised him, since Mother was pretty checked out most of the time, I'd LOVE to slap him in the face, but really? what good would that do?
I think it could be called "Stockholm Syndrome"--but mother and her jailer are codependent and she is either terrified of him or completely acquiescent. I'll NEVER figure this one out. She doesn't go outside unless accompanied by someone he trusts. Sometimes that's me. She does need a walker and her mobility is very sketchy. But she could walk out to the mailbox and realistically should be walking everyday, per drs orders. But she can't go alone and nobody goes with her. (Another use for an in home aide!!) I just know brother has her terrified of everything, the same way he's been with his daughters.
Yep--my MIA sibs have all made the commitment to stay away--they all agreed they could help out more, when we had the family mtg., but they haven't done a thing. A card in the mail? A phone call when they know mother can't use her cell phone?
Golden Boy got to 3 of the 6 of us. Sickening. I am the only one who has been in therapy about it--61 and I am STILL dealing with the lifelong ramifications of severe physical and sexual abuse. GB dying was very cathartic to me--that makes me sound like a monster, I know. But he had abused so many kids--his own, neighbor kids, his step kids....spent time in jail for it, but never "owned up" to anything. Not one tear was shed by me, or any of the other sibs.
Yes, although mother complains about her living situation, I think she is choosing, everyday, to stay there. Moving would be impossible at this stage of the game. When she asked me to let her live with me, I told her "You chose this exact living arrangement 21 years ago as opposed to moving into a Srs. Condo setup. You made your bed, now lie in it."
You're right. I can't fix this. As a fixer at heart, I really try to help or fix whenever I can. This standing still making no progress drives me mad.
Will be calling APS tomorrow for some input. Doubtful it will come to anything. The last visit simply enraged brother.
Again--thank you for letting me have a safe place to rant. DH will not talk about this with me and wishes I'd "divorce" myself from 90% of family stuff. Friends with these perfect families don't "get" that everyone doesn't adore their mothers and find it highly rewarding to care for them. I don't need the judgment.
Ironic as it is, one HUGE reason mother did the apartment in brother's house was that I live 5 minutes away and I could "help". I DID help a LOT with daddy---I'm being shut out of mother's life. And maybe that's just fine.
You say she's competent. She sounds mentally ill, but competent enough to know what she wants. If she wants NOT to live with brother any longer, or to live there and have help, or to live in a nice AL, she has to say so, and not just to you.
Get mom a lawyer who can advocate for her. Or ask her doctor to contact social services on her behalf. This shouldn't continue, but honey, it's not your job to fix.
The rest of your siblings see that this is the way mom WANTS it.
So who was the lucky sib who was NOT abused by Golden Boy brother?
What happened when APS was called the other time? I take it nothing?
What about your three nieces who apparently live with brother and your mother? What is their relationship to their grandmother? Do they do anything for and with her? Is it just you that is allowed such limited contact with her?
IF it's that she's frightened of him it really does sound like battered wife syndrome. If that's the case there is nothing you can really do to MAKE her help herself.
Just let her know you will help her but she has to want the help. And if she refuses help than you really need to walk away, mother or not.
“It's funny- during the years mthr needed help, when people asked me how she was doing, I'd respond, ‘dealing with untreated/ undiagnosed mental illness is really hard to cope with.’ “
Just knowing you're "out there" and offering me so much support has meant so much.
Esp the "Serenity Prayer"--I think that's what's so hard for me, to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to accept it.
I am going to lay low for a few weeks. I do that, from time to time. Nobody notices or seems to care. Mother's favorite child died 5 years ago and we do NOT speak of him, ever. (He molested me and 2 other sibs....brother being one). There is TREMENDOUS anger about that, as she KNEW about it and did nothing. I'm still trying to forgive her for allowing this to happen....
Brother is not really burned out. He doesn't DO that much. Since mother will allow no one to clean for her, and she cannot clean for herself, her place is pretty grimy. Not "condemnable" bad. just super cluttered and messy. Add in the birds & wet depends and you have a real stink.
I do think he is "getting back" at mother for her sub-par parenting. He is now 100% in charge of her, due in part to MIA siblings who simply can't be bothered, and the fact he keeps his house locked tight. I will go up and NOBODY will answer the door. She CAN affect a change, but the change would be moving to an ALF and brother has told her over and over of the horror stories of these places all being greedy conglomerates out to steal her identity and take all her money (she has none). This brainwashing has gone on for the 14 years since daddy passed away.
If I had control, we'd move her, posthaste to a place that had activities and people all around. Day trips to the Sr. Center and wherever they want to go. But I don't have any say.
I think I can only report to APS what I KNOW, and proving that would be hard. Brother has not let mother do w/o food or shelter, She has a really nice setup, but no freedom whatsoever. She cannot leave the house w/o his permission. Not even to go out to the mailbox.
Perhaps in a few weeks, I will come take her to lunch and talk to her, away from the house. IF she is truly as miserable as she is saying, and WANTS to move, it can happen. Personally, I think it's the devil she knows vs the devil she doesn't.
And yes, I have toured several facilities that are within her financial reach.
I also have tried to get her in home help--she was 100% on board until brother told her that "these people" are rapists, con artists and drug thieves (Awesome indictment of the company that I worked for!!)
W/O question brother has some very serious mental issues. He's 6 years my junior, but looks and acts 10 years older. IF we go along with him on everything, it's all fine. If one of steps up, he loses it. One sister had the audacity to get permission from mother to attend a dr visit. Brother screamed at her he was going to sue her for HIPPA violations...she was there as a third set of ears, only, and with mother's permission. This gives you idea of how controlling he is.
As far as what constitutes "medically necessary" I would guess that means taking her to the drs or the ER when she flares up with a UTI, which is a constant for her. Or finally, installing a Hoyer lift. He wasn't specific.
He just comes from a place of anger, all the time. Control and anger. Exhausting.
Thanks for letting me rant--and for the good info. I'll keep my head up and not let him defeat me. I AM going to be very honest with mother and let her know she cannot try to manipulate (me) any more. IF she is truly miserable, then we'll move her, against brother's wishes. IF she's just blowing smoke for attention, then I'm not wasting the energy on trying to "fix" anything for her.
You queried why your brother is a jerk? I couldn't help thinking there are some mental/psychological issues with him. I actually even wondered how he can be an EMT - exposure to the bird debris wouldn't be healthy for those with whom he comes in contact, especially anyone with a respiratory issue.
My first inclination was to back off, be absent, and keep a low profile, while formulating a report to APS. I think at this point they both need someone with legal authority to override the situation and take control.
In the meantime you can research appropriate facilities, bearing in mind that the bird may not be a welcome companion.
I do recall that one Eden Alternative facility which I checked out for my mother had a pet bird in residence. The facility was otherwise very unappealing though. Do you think she'd give up the bird to a bird rescue group?
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Won't do anything for her unless it's medically necessary? What the heck does that mean? It's nonsense. It's also, as you say, definitive neglect and probably emotional abuse.
Call APS and talk it through with them. They can at least help you decide what to do next.
Brother has POA, but mother is considered totally competent, and he doesn't UNDERSTAND that being POA for a competent person is pretty pointless. Neither does Mother. Also, I am a girl and mother would NEVER and I mean NEVER allow a girl to be her POA.
There is no way in this world I could have her live with me. We have a lot of stairs, she cannot make it up one step. The house is a split entry and so she would have to be able to navigate 13 steps on a daily basis. I can't lift her, or her wheelchair. She is barely ambulatory now. Her apartment is "fine" filthy (by my standards) but fine. She is just kind of getting what she "deserves" by complaining about me (some cleaning I did a couple of years ago, at her request, wound up with a plastic frog being thrown away.) She no longer trusts me to do ANYTHING.
The family mtg was to discuss her needs, going forth. She was very sick at Christmas time and really went downhill. Then she stabilized and is now more impaired, but still very lucid.
She hates how brother treats her--she tells me all the time. I don't tell him b/c I don't want this coming back on me.
Brother does not function well in life at all. He only works 2 shifts a week as an EMT, in a small community, and he can sleep all the time he's not on active duty. He also sleeps a lot at home. He has a lot of very unhealthy coping mechanisms--yelling being the primary one. 2 of his daughters have moderate agoraphobia as brother has taught them that the world is a horrible, terrible place where there are rapists and thieves around every corner. So--he has 3 adult daughters who will probably live home forever. Sad.
I feel that I should contact APS. They were contacted once before, a neighbor did it. Brother absolutely lost his mind over that. If I do it, he'll know, won't he? I do not trust that he wouldn't find out.
I have nowhere to turn in this--as I said the other 3 sibs are MIA (and she has asked 2 of them if she can live with them)...they both said no.
If I contact APS, can I be assured of total anonymity? I don't want brother to get more upset and I don't want mother to suffer. They are locked in this very weird co-dependent relationship that has pretty much fractured our family.
We did discuss IL, or SNF--mother has good LTC insurance, but brother will NOT allow her to leave. He said when she got "bad" he'd install a Hoyer Lift and get her up in the am and change her diaper and plop her in the wheelchair and she could sit all day in the kitchen and watch the world go by. I was appalled--but none of my sibs batted an eye.
Mother is miserable--she's held captive, for sure. Goes to Bingo one day and to the grocery store (brother accompanies her, non one else is allowed) and that's it.
I thought it was bad back in Jan, when we met, It's just getting worse. I now have to step out like 98% and really not be involved in her life at all. I just do not have the thick skin my sibs have. This whole dynamic bothers me terribly.
As I said--I'm really just venting--hoping for some kind of clarity in why brother is such a jerk. And why my other sibs simply don't see anything wrong.
Your brother sounds seriously unhinged, how does he function in his life apart from your mother and the rest of the family?