Follow
Share

Since 2010 I've been struggling to look out for my mom. Dad passed over 15 years ago.

I've been doing long road trips every few weeks (600 miles/12 hours one way), managing caregivers, managing mom's finances, watching the downhill trajectory as her dementia increased. I spent months working on getting her to realize she could no longer stay in her home, preparing to get her into assisted living close to me because there was no support network for her in her home town. After she got here, she was incredibly needy even in assisted living, so I worked on getting outside care for her as well as making the 15-mile drive twice a day to sit with her, get her laundry, make sure her cat was being cared for, etc.

In January of 2013 she passed away and as her trustee, I've been working steadily to sell her home, and also the home she inherited from another brother who was killed many years ago, and dissolve a complicated estate.

My brother (now age 65) moved in with Mom around 2001, after his heart attack. He subsequently had a stroke from which he recovered well. In 2011, he developed pneumonia which went septic because they were not quick to treat him. His misadventure left him paralyzed. He was not able to move back into mom's home (2-story with all bath facilities upstairs), but a massive amount of "stuff" was still there when mom passed, so I spent several months away from home moving my brother's stuff, as well as getting mom's stuff out so the house could be sold. It was like something out of hoarders.

Selling the second property was also a several-month project, as the renter never reported what would have been normal maintenance needs, but just kept quiet because she did not want to be a bother to my mom. Nice lady, truly good person, cared as much as she could for the home, but some of the "big" expensive stuff got away from her. Like 60-year-old metal window frames rusting out. Mom would have replaced the windows for her had she known! She was lower income, and paying only a third of what normal rent would be in that area (SF Bay Area). I think she was afraid she'd lose the "deal".

So my husband and I went there (also 600 miles from home) and stayed in the house for 5 months (with a couple of breaks to go home) while working on the house, and managing contractors hired to do the things needed to make the house fit for sale.

My brother has diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a couple of other issues. He's had bypass surgery and surgery to clear carotid arteries. He does not and never has been one to exercise. He has always eaten a junk food diet. He is single, and is low-income. Thankfully he gets a good deal of care from the VA, and just got on Medicare.

He just found out that his kidneys have gotten to the point they are going to start dialysis in the coming year, and possibly put him on a transplant list.

I just see another long, downhill slide coming. I am scared. I am afraid for my brother, of course, but also scared for me. My mom was the one to look after him until she got ill, now it's looking like I might be in line.

I am not sure just how much I should sacrifice for my brother. After the last 5 years with Mom, I'm tired. I have children and grandchildren to be concerned about, THEY are all struggling with things through which my husband and I are trying to be present. I also returned to school just a few years ago, and have been struggling to complete a degree through all of this. Is is selfish of me to want to finish the only thing I've ever wanted to do for myself? I've waited 40 years to finish college; from the start of my marriage through years of child-rearing, and home-schooling all 4 of the kids, after which my husband promised I'd get "my turn", !

I know my brother is lonely, he doesn't have close friends and our aunts/uncles are slowly dropping off...only two aunts, one uncle, one cousin left in that area. He never married, has no kids. He doesn't volunteer anywhere, doesn't meet up with people at senior centers or any of that. Lives in a Section 8 apartment with people most of whom do not speak our language (English).

There's a lot more, but I won't get too detailed. All I know is I don't know how to navigate this. I don't see how I can give my brother what I gave our Mom and survive.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing
If your brother keeps hinting, tell him the truth, you are tired. You don't have one ounce left to be a Caregiver again.

Plus I was just thinking, if a brother had only a brother, and no sister, would he be hinting at his brother to take care of him? Probably not. Was your mother the Caregiver to your brother when he moved in with her after his heart attack? If so, and the fact that your brother never married or had children, he doesn't understand what is involved from the Caregiver's side of the room.
(3)
Report

I agree with everyone else. Your brother can make choices that will get him help without relying on you to save him. It sounds like he's never chosen to take good care of his health and those choices are coming back to haunt him. So be it. His choices, his outcomes.

I feel for you because I have an older brother that has hinted at needing me to caregive for him (after he's seen me take care of our mom and dad without any help from him). Ain't NO WAY that's happening. He can take care of himself. I will have sympathy, but I'm not offering help, since (in part) because he's never helped me with Mom and Dad.
(2)
Report

Choices have consequences. Actions and decisions have consequences. Many of us would love to protect our loved ones from the consequences of their own choices. (Hey, I'd like someone to do that for me!)

Your brother did not choose to have diabetes or heart problems. I feel sorry for him. But how he chose to deal with those issues has impacted his present circumstances. Not your fault, not your responsibility.

I am NOT saying "you made your bed, now lie in it." I don't think you should abandon your brother. But sisterly affection is a far cry from full-time caregiver. Keep in touch with him. Help out if you can if there is a snafu in seeking benefits or administrative matters. But go, finish your degree. Enjoy your kids and grandkids. Live your life. Do not take on responsibility that isn't yours.

Not your circus. Not even your monkey.
(5)
Report

I can see your hero cape unfurling already. Put it away. Your brother has the VA and they will take good care of him. Let them.
(3)
Report

You don't owe your brother any caregiving. Your duty was to your parents not your sibling. I am single, with no children. I have MS which the stress of taking care of my 92 year old Dad is excerbating. It now looks like I have pulmonary fibrous;a fatal genetic disease which killed my two older brothers. I don't expect anyone to take care of me especially not my siblings. Knowing I was alone, I saved my money for such an emergency. Your brother will be taken care of by the VA. Enjoy your life, concentrate on your children and grandchildren. That is where your duty lies.
(4)
Report

I think a long talk with your brother is in order. Tell him how you see things from your perspective and encourage him to begin his own outreach to make some friends and begin looking for support services in his area.He might want to start looking into an AL facility preferably near some family. Is his paperwork POA in order, has he made arrangements for himself? There are loads of Veterans organizations out there for socialization . He must know that there are consequences for his actions long term. Is your husband close to him, perhaps to restate your issues? You cannot put YOU on hold forever, it is not fair to be expected to do so and you shouldn't.
(3)
Report

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.