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I am not the care giving child, that falls on my brother for our father. I live a minimum 5 hours (including a ferry ride) away. It is a good situation, my brother lives in a major Canadian city with quick access to specialized facilities. I only visit a few times a year. I try to help with detailed paper work and other things from afar to the best of my ability. My brother also has $ and health POA, again I am ok with that. Over and over I read here how the primary caregiver is 'told' when a non caregiving sibling visits, what to do with Mum/Dad. It generally seems to create friction and resentment between the siblings. I thought I would share the point of view from the other side. Coming in after being away, I see things that my brother does not see while he is in the day to day care giving mode. So of course I mention them. I am the first to admit I am not very diplomatic, when I see that Dad's fingernails are much too long. So long that they lead to a staph infection, when he scratched his hands. Brother got dad the medical treatment he needed, but did not get his nails cut. I took care of his finger nails. Above is the most recent thing, there have been others in the past. I am not criticizing my brother, his plate is full, but sometimes when we are in the midst of something we do not notice some of the details. They may be small things, but as Dad's long nails did, can lead to life threatening problems. It had been no less than 3 months since they had been cut, likely closer to 4/5 months. He would not let me look at his toes, so I did ask my brother to get a foot care nurse into care for his feet. I guess I just want to give a quiet reminder that those of use who swoop in and criticize, care for the parent too and do not mean to denigrate the great work and sacrifice being made by the caregiver. We are just seeing things from a different perspective. No, we do not deal with the late night trips to ER, the various appointments and day to day grind. Our concern for one minor detail may seem out of proportion to the totality of the caregiver's dedication, but it comes from a place of love and caring.

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Dear Moecam, don't worry, some of us live in the same real world as you. 'I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair and send him on his way'!
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Moecam, I think your sexist stereotyping has no basis in fact. Especially given the example you are citing about angles of objects on walls. Since traditional studies indicate that men are better at spatial tasks than women. But as in most studies proclaiming differences between men and women, recently those studies have been shown to be erroneous. The indications are, contrary to popular misconception, that there is not much difference between men and women at all. The differences that are found tend to be cultural than innate. They are learned. Also, within the population of men and women, the differences are so wide ranging that it renders the differences between the populations as a whole to be inconsequential. Remember, the homogametic sex for mammals is female. Everyone starts out the same.
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Twenty years after our mother’s death, I can see things a bit more clearly. I was the daughter at home, my two sisters were each a long plane journey away. Mum was in an independent living unit, but was usually fairly OK, with a 10 year on-and-off cancer death. I did all the socialising, hospital visits, medical stuff, general support etc. When the sisters visited every year or two, they were focussed on Mum, not me. They really couldn’t see that things that would make life easier for me would also improve her own quality of life eg moving her to another unit two streets away where my children could call in on the way home from school, it wouldn’t take a half a day to visit etc. ‘She’s happy there, I’m just being selfish for my own convenience’. Neither of them were ever involved in caring for their parents-in-law or any other older people. They didn’t hear about problems until they were over. When they went home after one medical emergency, I sat in the airport when the second one left, weeping about how they were going home and leaving it all to me. Ears flapping all around, and I didn’t care!

In the last years, I think they understand a bit more, and I do too. There really wasn’t much they could have done (although actually turning up on the day she was dying would have been nice), and I coped OK. I think what would have helped would have been more cards to Mum, and more thanks to me. An occasional present ‘for all you are doing’ would have smoothed over a lot of little nicks. I know that I sent a card every week to MIL in a nursing home that was difficult to visit, and it was one of ‘the nicest things’! Lots for the staff to read and talk to her about. It sometimes doesn’t take much to make a difference.
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The caregiving sibling NEEDS help...Why is this so difficult to grasp when “pointing” out problems is so easy?? You need a wake up call -it’s kinds like “thought&prayers” which actually means a big zero-“I don’t really care” is what that phrase means....
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2 things to be mindful of:
- 1 - women see more than men do in the same circumstance 9 times out of 10 - we see more details & tend to be a bit more careful about cleanliness - sorry guys but that's a fact [joke: men know 12 colours but women know 500!] - generally we wash our hands more often in a day & see the wall pix on an angle earlier - this fact underlies & is responsible for about 1/3 of comedians' routines if you check it out [enjoy the much needed relaxation while you are at it]
- 2 - the constant caregiver won't see gradual change - just like you never see your own kids growing but see your nieces & nephews who live out of town grow in jumps - you also won't see your hair, nails etc change/grow because that is seen daily - we all should ask the occational visitors/out of towners to look, spot & report anything change that we can miss due to regular contact - this is important & quite frankly I ask this as a standing instruction, so when my sister sees my mom she will email me a summary of the visit with any noticable changes - FYI .. this takes the resentment away & put them into the 'team' mode
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Your statement "I am the first to admit I am not very diplomatic," says a lot. Many times it's not what is said but how it's said. I'm not caring for a patent but a spouse, I have here siblings and children to deal with (my step children). I had to call her daughter and ask her to call het mom Thanksgiving. She said she was too busy but would call later. She finally called her on Christmas. Nothing in between but texts to me about where i should be moving her mom, how I needed to not spend her money (inheritance, I'm guessing). Her sister just told me I should be taking care of her at home, not a SNF or LTCF.
It's a hard, thankless job, but it's part of marriage.
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Rethinking what I wrote, the brother essentially was raising his hand because perhaps he couldn't do it all. No caregiver is perfection; it's a difficult job at best.
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Three x three cheers for orphanA - that's the very essence of constructive criticism, having a positive suggestion to make.

And, I agree again, it must be a positive suggestion that does not simply add to the primary caregiver's workload.

I would add, if you do have success with something don't assume it's only because you noticed it and bothered to deal with it. Similarly to the toes incident, we had a hair washing incident. My SIL disappeared with mother during one visit, and when they reappeared mother's hair was dripping wet. SIL, credit where it's due, did not crow about having noticed that mother's hair needed washing, she just looked pleased with herself; but what she didn't know, of course, was how many times mother had refused to allow me to do it.

Many and varied are the frustrations of caregiving, whether on the spot or from afar.
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My advice to non-constant caregiver is to have a solution before you mention a problem. Being a full time caregiver causes one to give up so much of themselves there is absolutely nothing to spare. Anything not being done should be handled by the sometime "visitors" you call siblings. Although you do more than most from afar you can't imagine how draining it is day after day, detail after detail. Take over for two months and you will see. Keep up the help and arrange solutions.
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Tothill. If you cannot help your brother, it sounds like he might need some help. He is doing the best he can or knows how, but obviously, some things need to be addressed and he might just not see them or is overwhelmed. Offer to get him some help.
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Personally, I'm surprised that the brother erred on those things that are deemed medically necessary. Good catch on your part.
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As the sib who lives at a distance, I'm still the one who does almost everything. A lot more things can be done from a distance than one thinks. I'm the one who makes all the calls to the doctors. I'm the one who is constantly in touch with the AL staff. The staff wouldn't even recognize my sibs, who live locally. When my brother punked out on the ONE time he was going to take Mom to a diagnostic test, I'm the one from four states away who had to arrange for a taxi each way for her. Is it easier to arrange things from a distance? No, it's more difficult. She lives waaayyy outside of a major area. But it can be done. I'll be retiring early and moving to the location in which Mom and my sibs live because they do almost nothing for her. One sib doesn't like her and another is irresponsible. The third is severely disabled himself. I'll be taking care of him, too. So, please, sibs-who-live-at-a-distance, do what you can from afar, at least. In our high tech world, lots more can be done from afar.
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My Mom is in a Nursing home far away.My sister is POA she put her in a Nursing Home a hour away from me.My Mom is fading away slowly.she is on Narcotics now.It breaks my heart.I go to see her and she puts me down.My sister is a bad person.she neverdid anything for my Mom only my husband and I did and my Brother when she was better.She busts wants to look good.I can never know what is going on with Mom.because I am not on the list to receive information.I try not to think about it.I work a lot but I am feightened.
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My Mom is in a Nursing home far away.My sister is POA she put her in a Nursing Home a hour away from me.My Mom is fading away slowly.she is on Narcotics now.It breaks my heart.I go to see her and she puts me down.My sister is a bad person.she neverdid anything for my Mom only my husband and I did and my Brother when she was better.She busts wants to look good.I can never know what is going on with Mom.because I am not on the list to receive information.I try not to think about it.I work a lot but I am feightened.
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Tothill, You're right.
It saddens me to read some of these replies. Would these full-time caregivers rather no one ever visited and helped out so they can be fully in charge? They usually write that they wish someone would help, but I'm wondering from some of the comments if they are enjoying the martyrdom role.
I hope your brother and dad are glad to see you come and are appreciative of your help and suggestions.
I know I never turned down or denigrated anyone's well-meaning suggestions or offers to visit, much less offers to help.
God bless you for your comments. Maybe some will have a change of heart. Jus' sayin'.
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My Mom is in a Nursing home far away.My sister is POA she put her in a Nursing Home a hour away from me.My Mom is fading away slowly.she is on Narcotics now.It breaks my heart.I go to see her and she puts me down.My sister is a bad person.she neverdid anything for my Mom only my husband and I did and my Brother when she was better.She busts wants to look good.I can never know what is going on with Mom.because I am not on the list to receive information.I try not to think about it.I work a lot but I am feightened.
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Tothill
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Tothill, I am impressed that you help prepare meals, watch kids, take dad out and help with laundry etc when you visit. I would be so grateful for that kind of help. I care for my 93 yo motherinlaw (with Parkinson’s) in our home and my husband has 3 out-of-town siblings who call regularly and visit infrequently (once or twice a year). It’s been over 6 months since any of them have been here, and during that time mom has been in the hospital for gallbladder surgery and then rehab, and now has an upcoming outpatient urology procedure in a couple of weeks. She is most anxious to see her children and said in an outburst last weekend, “call (older daughter) and tell her to come see me before I die!” We have had that discussion and older daughter is trying to work out her work situation to come and see mom. The other daughter is planning to come next month. I would really love if that sisterinlaw would stay with mom letting us get away a couple of days, we really could use a break. I imagine what it would be like to live away and be the one to call and ask, how is mom today? When mom was in hospital/rehab, my husband  and I were exhausted. Mom wanted her relatives (all out of town) to know about her situation, so I asked the sibs to call certain relatives to let them know. My brotherinlaw said sure, I’ll call so and so, agreed right away. One sisterinlaw hemmed and hawed, “well I don’t really have that kind of relationship with that cousin, but I guess I could write to her if I had her address.” I immediately texted the number and address of the cousins, with whom my motherinlaw has a relationship (the important part) and said, thanks, this is something you can do from a distance that would really help us. She ended up calling the cousin after all, and to good end, as the relatives then sent cards of encouragement to my MiL, which she needed. Family dynamics are often challenging but good communication helps and if we all just do what we can, that helps too.
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I give you credit too Tothill.. for at least caring and trying to step in and help. You are miles above my siblings who are fine leaving me with the entire weight of the care. They don't even call or inquire as to how they are doing anymore.

My other in town relatives are also very good at telling me.. 'You need to...", "You should...". It is always something I need to do and never something they noticed and are willing to step up and do something themselves or offer assistance in any way.

Just a thank you, a card, any form of appreciation or acknowledgement would go a very long way for a sibling who is stuck with caregiving. An offer for actual help with no judging.. would be great.
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It sounds as though the OP is willing to help. I didn't get the impression of being ungrateful for what the caregiver does. When my mother-in-law was moved to assisted living near my brother-in-law, my husband just said the caregiver rules, even when he disagreed with decisions. I am the only caregiver and sometimes I am glad I don't have to tangle with someone else. Sometimes I wish I could get respite even at the cost of criticism.
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My "noncare-giver" sister lives five miles away and shows up 3-4 times a year to point out if something is not clean,etc. She has never heard the vile comments I get from my mother regularly. I give you credit for at least offering to help when possible.
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Instead of bi---ing - jump in and help!

I am a 24/7 caregiver and while others have loads of advice on why I shouldn't do this - NO ONE has ever offered to do the least thing. Like offering to shave DH. Do his fingernails.

GOD FORBID, no one ever offers to clean him. People think a 5 minute phone call once a week gets them off the hook!

Next visit - ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO TO LIGHTEN THE LOAD. Forgive me, but you sound mighty ungrateful for all your brother is having to do.

Do you know that every couple of hours, a 24/7 caregiver is awakened to either assist in voiding or changing the depends?!

Consider this your wakeup call - what would you do if your brother became incapacitated from his caregiving "chores?"
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Tothill, sounds like you're doing more than many non-local siblings do. I read that your dad refused to let you look at his toenails, so that very dynamic may be yet something else your brother is dealing with. Dad gave me such a hard time at times, but when one sib out of 3 actually showed up (just a handful of times), he was very, very different with her. It just adds to the stress that the f/t care-giver already has. At least you got to see that. I don't like the person that I was during the time I cared for Dad, so stressed & completely exhausted & mad at my siblings, & sometimes mad at Dad too. A comment from a sibling could easily cause me to come unglued. I didn't have 1/10 of the help you've given, but a dinner out with hubby, or a care-free Saturday, or someone else taking him to the dr would have been so nice. Even a 'thank you' from the sibs would have gone a long way. Best wishes.
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ML4444,

Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your point of view. I do understand that I am not living this on a daily basis. I do know it is a challenge for my brother who has a young family to miss work to take Dad to the hospital yet again.

If I could arrange for a foot care nurse to come every 6 weeks I would. I have tried to get Dad to agree to it, but he refuses, yes, I would pay.

My current challenge is finding a medical alert that has the 'fall' alert option that works on GPS, cell and land line in various locations. Once I find a couple options I will present them to Dad and brother for us to choose one. Likely I will pay the initial fees. Dad does have money to cover the cost, once it is all set up and running. These are the sorts of things I can do to help from afar, with Dad and brother's blessing.

I was just trying to present the other side. I appreciate everything my brother and his wife are doing. You are correct, I have no real understanding of the toll it takes on the caregiver. As I said I live a fair distance away, when I do visit, I do my best to ensure we create as little extra work as possible. I prepare meals, entertain the kids, take dad out, help with laundry etc.
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How does your brother feel about your well-intended comments?
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Your comments may be given out of love and caring, but believe me, if you aren’t contributing and helping on a DAILY basis, your comments are not helpful and will be resented. Caregiving is hard, and the person doing to most is making other sacrifices in their own life you don’t know or care about. So if you don’t contribute, or can’t at least offer solutions such as paying for a nail technician to visit once a month (for example), then you have lost the right to criticize anything. My opinion, I”m living this now.
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Tothill: Thanks for the clarification that it was your dad's refusal.
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You probably do not mean to denigrate the great work and sacrifice being made by the caregiver, Tothill. Many absentee siblings do indeed mean to denigrate, or are so lacking in diplomatic skills as to convey that impression to the caregiver. This is not helpful, no matter what the absentee sibling claims to intend. As cwillie says, often there is more going on than how to care for the parent.

Caregivers who feel that family members swoop in and criticize then leave are entitled to their feelings. They are entitled to vent and seek support here. They don't have to suck it up and be grateful that the visiting sibling means well. It is OK if they complain.
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MM, it was Dad, not my brother who refused to let me look at his toe nails. I did ask him.

Two years ago, when dad was still living relatively independently, I visited and there was a hole in Dad's sock. I could see that his toe nails were curling over the ends of his toes. I then asked Dad if I could help him, but he refused. I prepared for an appointment for him to see the local Foot Care Nurse and he went, because I had paid. I know that is the last time a professional looked at his feet.

Then I followed up with my brother to emphasize the need for professional foot care. In Canada, Foot Care Nurses are available for house calls and office visits, they will refer to a podiatrist if needed.
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Tothill, you noticed your father's long nails and cut them. Though your brother refused to let you look at Father's toenails, did you offer to trim them regardless or offer to find a foot care nurse so he wouldn't have to?

I have non-live-in caregiver siblings constantly telling me: "You need to..." "You have to..." "You should...", but not one of them will say, "I will..." Example: a couple weeks ago, Mom scratched her knee like I've never seen before--a deep gouge, possibly in her sleep. Mom loves her long nails and never likes them cut. Last week when the hospice nurse recommended cutting them short I watched as Sister 1 and Niece pointed at each other to cut her nails. Yeah, I cut her nails short.

When Sisters took care of Mom and I lived out of state, they'd complain and vent but add, "It's all about Mom." I told Sisters that it's not all about Mom--Mom AND her caregivers matter equally. With no caregiver there is no Mom. I ensured Sisters were reimbursed for their expenses for Mom and her house maintenance, and had Mom pay for things that made Sisters' efforts easier (I have Mom's finance POA). They knew I had their backs and I could tell a difference in their attitudes. If there was something Sisters wanted but I didn't think it was necessary, I always said, "You're in the trenches. You have Mom's best interests at heart. I'll support you." Some of those things took me a lot of work to make happen in order to help them to help Mom.

Unfortunately, since I moved here to care for Mom, Sisters' support of me is not reciprocated. When they criticize, I don't care if it "comes from a place of love and caring". That's not helpful to this exhausted and overwhelmed caregiver. One of these days I'll scream, "Either pitch in or shut up."
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