Feel like I'm losing my only ally.

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I'm third out of seven grown children. The three oldest live near my mother in Florida. I've always been the primary source of help for my mother, but my next oldest sister has also taken on a lot of responsibilities for Mom since I moved Mom and myself over to the area where the two sisters live. Second sis eventually took over my mother's finances and schedule, made her drs appointments, and would take her grocery shopping and to the library once a week as well as many of the doctors appointments. She was also a sympathetic and understanding ear for all my stress and difficulty with my mother.

Fast forward 3 years and things are changing. My sister somehow added the library trips to my schedule, and I've also ended up with most of the (numerous) doctors' appointments in the past few months. She's retired, but she's very involved in her HOA association government, as well as with her grown kids and grandkids. She always seems to have a conflict. Often my mother has a neighbor take her for groceries because my sister often has a conflict, no matter which day it is. Maybe she's just getting sick of sacrificing other activities for Mom. But I've been sick of it for a lot longer than she has and she knows that everything she shucks off is falling on me.


I do all the work around Mom's house, as well as one trip to Walmart and the library, and often for prescriptions and other errands. Mom needs help with everything house-related, from taking out the trash to running the dishwasher. I change her sheets once a week, take her car for service, all the things that "just come up." Nobody else is around when things "just come up" so it's always me.

The worst part is - well, there are two worst parts. One is that my mother is having health problems right now and needs help even with things she could do herself two months ago. On top of that, my other sister who lives nearby has been busy taking care of her husband who's battling cancer, so neither oldest sis nor brother in law has been available to give any help since about Easter. So the burden on me is heavier than ever.

The other worst part is that my second sis (the helper), to whom I'd grown very close, has basically dropped me as a friend. When I call she's busy and doesn't call back, or we talk only for a few minutes and she has to go. She doesn't call me except when she needs something (me to watch her cat while she's away, me to cover a dr appointment for Mom because she has to watch her grandkids that day). Last year she took me out to lunch for my birthday. This year she forgot my birthday, then left a gift card for me at my mother's house for me to find when she wasn't there.

I don't need a gift card. I need a sister. I need an ally. I don't know how to talk to her about this (or even if I should) because she tends to bristle and become defensive when she feels she's being criticized, and I don't want to go down that road. I'm feeling very alone and very sad right now.

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I have very little to add to the good advice you have already gotten, but one thing stands out to me. The three oldest sisters live in the area and have provided varying levels of help. What about the other four siblings? Even though they do not live in the area, are any of them able to at least contribute financially? The care that you have been providing has tremendous value in time and money spent, so maybe the others could chip in for at least some home health care if mom is able to return home, or to add some to her income to help with the cost of AL. I agree that this hospitalization may be the wake-up call for the rest of the family. There may be a brief rehab stay after the hospitalization, so you will have additional time to formulate a plan. Let the others know that you simply cannot provide the increased level of care that mom now requires. Put the ball in their court to figure this out.
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also in your original post. Kind of eye opening for me. I can describe what I am going through personally as that I am at war and have not a single ally in my family. But hey Im still standing so I guess I am stronger than I thought. BUT IT SUCKS TO BE ALONE !!!!!
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CarlaCB your family story could be mine( Parts of it). I wish you would tell your 2 sisters its their turn now as you are driving back north with a huge smile on your face. Now's the time while she's in the Hospital. RUN LIKE THE WIND CarlaCB. You already KNOW its just going to get worse. This is the perfect opportunity for the REST of your family to step up and help or place her. I already know if my mother ends up in this situation that's what its going to be for me. Time for everybody else put up or shut up but one person can NOT do it alone. Hugs to you. You deserve better than what you are getting.
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I would talk to the hospital social worker ASAP! She will know what is available and what level of care your mother needs, as well as the financial side of getting her on Medicaid. You can tell her you absolutely can no longer do this on your own, and that last year there was a loose agreement to find an AL, but no one really knew what to do. The ability to walk which was cited by a sister is important to the level of care - essential to AL, not required in a nursing home. There is a big difference, and the Social Worker can figure out what mom needs, how to pay for it, and get everyone on the same page. The hospitalization is a blessing in disguise.
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Yes, Carla this is the perfect time to say you can no longer help mom and she needs additional care. The discharge people should help you figure out options. But you'll have to stay strong, because it's much easier if they just ship her back home. But try standing your ground and see what happens!!
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Carla, I'm sorry to learn of this turn in your mother's health but am glad that you'll at last have a break in the caregiving duties. GSA is right - the hospital staff can observe independently, and perhaps they can offer some insight into the situation. I don't know if they'd lecture your sisters though, but it's a possibility, especially if your fatigue and exasperation shows readily in your expression.

But be wary - the last time my father was in the hospital the nurses assumed my father would be coming home with me and were surprised that he lived alone. The raised eyebrows and fixed stares at me didn't need verbal explanation. One of them even told me to stay with him that night to watch for falling. I had to make it clear that was physically impossible - I almost told them I'm not going to sleep in the car because that was the only possibility.

At the point of discharge, they want to get the patient discharged and on his or her way, so if you want any support from them in terms of alternatives (and given the sisters' stances, I really don't know what that would be except real, legitimate and committed support), start working on it well before the discharge.

In the meantime, get some well needed rest.
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Carla this may be perfect time for discussion. Hospital staff are the ones able to evaluate independently and tell family that mom needs more care. At least take a break for yourself from general dogsbody duties and let paid caregivers step in. She is safe with minor review in hospital. Social workers and nurse and discharge planner could be your best friends. I am so sorry she is in hospital but the one crisis that can trigger action may be opportunity in disguise. You are not bad guys now;)))
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Thanks to everyone who responded for all your ideas and suggestions, and for your support and sympathy as well. As of this afternoon, my mother is in the hospital, getting treated for her anemia and whatever they figure out is causing it. One on hand, the crisis has brought about a lot more communication with my sisters; on the other hand, this probably isn't a time when people are going to be making longer-range plans or talking to Mom about assisted living. You all have given me a lot to think about though and I can be doing that even with a lull in the action over here. Thanks.
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It sounds as though the Family Plan for What To Do With Mother has somehow got into the doldrums. You're all becalmed, but you're the only one who's sitting in the boat with your mother. Well, that's not fair!

Can you rewind to the point where there was a loose consensus that your mother needed to go into AL, and get the discussion reopened? You will have to go carefully because probably everyone else is just as aware as you are that your mother is not going to comply willingly, and therefore they can't help but know that if they don't get involved they can't get the blame. But getting everyone to start talking again must be the way to go - and not just No. 2 sister, but everyone. A get together at a big family lunch, well before Thanksgiving hits the fan, maybe?
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You've gotten great advice so nothing to add except support and hugs. One thought though, maybe you could write a letter to her letting her know and/or attach a gift or keepsake she would like just to soften her heart enough to read what you would say. Agree with the others you have to do something. I read where golflady found a lump under her breast taking care of her mom which is a beast of a job it sounds with no support and there are countless others in the same boat.

Just wondering did you two have a fight or did anything happen recently that she'd pull back so abruptly? Sad that she couldn't just tell you given how close it sounds like you were. I know you must mourn that loss of relationship in addition to the help she provided your mom.

We read often here about the caregiver stress and illnesses and death that come with it. Do what you have to and don't become part of that club, please.
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