Taking care of Mom has strained our sibling relationships. Any advice?


My older sister has a son with some issues. He's 35 and has never worked and was homeless for a while and almost died. It was so hard on my sister and all of us. We love him but there are trust issues. He's been taking care of our mother and Mom pays him for driving her places and doing some chores around the house. I've had an argument with my sister because the son - my nephew - has Mom's credit card and uses it to shop for Mom. Sis and I are having tension between us because I don't totally trust my nephew. He tried to scam our mother out of some money a few years ago when he was homeless. He has not done this since he has lived with Mom - at least to my knowledge. But Mom said she wants her credit card back and it's making her anxious that the nephew has it. Mom has asked for it back and nephew says he needs to keep it so he can do her shopping. I feel like he should just borrow the card when he goes to the store and return it. My sister thinks he's reformed and should be trusted. I think this is unfair to my mother. It's so hard when these things come up in the family and having my nephew included in the caregiving of Mom seems like it mostly adds to the stress for me. I want to help him and therefore, my sister, but it's exhausting.

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Eek, I'd want to have your mom move into that facility you mentioned asap! And
yes, credit cards in facilities can be issue. As well as wallet, money, etc. Dad had
wallet and money stolen, credit cards either lost or stolen several times, car attempted
to be taken, erm "borrowed", loan requests, investment requests, phony service requests, and countless scams both within community but mostly online. Dad finally
quit using his credit card, except for his weekly outings and doctors appts. Had
countless calls to credit card companies to stop charges on scams and auto ordering.
Waaaaaste of time and nerve wracking.

Cant imagine why your nephew wouldn't put the card back into your mom's wallet
every time for her piece of mind. Credit cards are kind of scary. Seems like free
money....with the equivalent of modern day loan sharks lurking around the corner.

He probably will end up back with his mom - my sister. I have never felt he was really the appropriate person to take care of Mom and it will be a huge relief to have my mother in a good facility. My Dad went to the same place and they do a good job. The family drama makes an already difficult situation that much more stressful. I'm very grateful for all the helpful comments here.

jeannegibbs says: "Speaking of homeless, where is he going to live when Mom goes into assisted living?"
I wondered the same thing, but decided to just address the issue OP asked about in my comment... First guess, though, was with the enabler.... Mom (aka sister.)

Mom wants the card back. That should be the end of the matter.

There are other ways, as many posters have suggested, to allow your nephew to continue shopping for her.

I think it is good that nephew is being given a chance to show he has changed. Doesn't mean he shouldn't be monitored, and it may be a kindness to him to remove a source of temptation.

What a desperate, homeless person might do is not necessarily indicative of how he would behave when he is not desperate.

Speaking of homeless, where is he going to live when Mom goes into assisted living?

I went thru' this with my brother, who allegedly had Mom's card to purchase things for her. I monitored the purchases online and it immediately became evident that the purchases were not just for her. I had to cancel the card.... Very sad, but my relationship with my brother eventually recovered. My mother has enabled him for 62 years.

Do not send Mom to an assisted living with a credit card or any type of ID. Hopefully, the facility does background checks but don't count on it. Moms AL had a maintenance man stealing jewelry from the residents. Turn over is high. Maybe a prepaid card?

I am (79) , in good health mind and body so I speak from a lot of experience.
The problem has been partly solved if Mom is moving to Assisted Living but not totally.
I am the caregiver for
my wife and have a very large family; (5) children, (17) grandchildren all grown and married and (23) great grandchildren. I come from a wealth of life experiences. Someone earlier has it 100%!l right. Your sister is an enabler. No one should have her credit card. In fact, depending upon your Mom’s state of mind, she probably shouldn’t even have a credit card. If that is not possible, then the suggestion of a pre-paid card is best, but not if she is the one that can “re-charge “ the available funds.
My own mother, the smartest woman I have ever known, was subject to being conned by family members from grandchildren on down. The older she got the more vulnerable she became. All this is coming from a man who has been accused of being “too trusting” all of my life. But “too trusting “ is not the same as “too stupid”.
Someone in your family that is 100% trustworthy should try and take over your Mom’s finances and it doesn’t sound like it should be your sister.

Many banks offer debit cards that don't draw from an account, but are pre-loaded. This solves the problem of the nephew having to go into his own money to pay for her needs and wait to get reimbursed, and grandma can have her credit card back.

Why not get a separate card with a small limit [$250.00 to $500.00] on it for him to use for her that your mom will pay off any purchases for her - a bonus is that he will start getting a better credit rating too which if he is really turning his life around will be important

This way he doesn't have access to big money but can keep it in his wallet for convenience - your mom will be more comfortable with hers in her wallet because most people like to keep control of these things themselves

Is he being paid for his help or is he getting room & board in lieu of money for some help - as your mom needs more help he should be getting some spending money at least - try to set it up so that your mom pays him by cheque with it noted on cheque that this is help payment so maybe she can write some of it off on her taxes as medical payments so check where you live what is the best way to do this

This will help your nephew get a job later as he will be able to show employment during this time even if it is only classified as part time - if you do this in a manner that says you want to help him long term so that he can have a future - using this manner could make things better with your sister too because you are helping her son up the ladder of prosperty


I had a similar situation.

Mom with Dementia and my shady sister. Shady sister borrowing money and maybe paying Mom back in such a swift cycle Mom couldn’t keep up with what my sister actually owed her.

Mom with Dementia while reviewing her bank statement SWORE she didn’t make a certain ATM withdrawal. Mom inquired with bank. She wanted proof. There would be a $75 charge to pull Video from ATM. Mom didn’t care she SWORE she didn’t do it. Fine we were gonna do it. BUT, bank also stated if Mom had not made the withdrawal the person that had would have charges pressed against them regardless of Mom’s wishes.

So, I ran this by shady sister face to face. Tears, outrage, denial. Told her fine just wanted to run this past you because Mom’s having Video pulled.

Shady sister could not have been 5 minutes down the road when she called me to confess.

Then, shady sister started taking Mom grocery shopping. The bank statements looked fine. The complaints started again that shady sister had borrowed money and hadn’t paid Mom back. During these grocery shopping trips 2-3 times a week they were getting “cash back”.

It is so sad that even family will take advantage of an elder with Dementia but it does happen.

Oh...I referred to the above institution as a bank, it was in fact a Credit Union. The card mentioned could be used at an ATM, used as a debit card, used as a credit card but with only a two day delay on the transaction being posted to the checking account.

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