Not sure how to shorten this but I'll younger sister lives near my mom and has been the one to help her with everything from groceries to doctor's appts., house issues, etc. Mom is of sound mind and body and aside from not driving for the most part manages. However, she has become more feeble in the last few years and has challenges with dizzy spells and a few other issues.

My older brother and I are on the opposite side of the country. We each want to help from afar and have our strengths in different areas. However, my sister (who is caring for mom in person) has not spoken withe me in a year and my brother in 3 years. I recently went out to visit my mom for a few weeks. Not only would my sister not even come to the house because I was there, but when I reached out in email before the visit to say I hoped we could talk so she could fill me in on any details I should know to best help mom =during my visit, I got a very passive/aggressive response and clearly no desire on her part to talk.

My mom is backed into a corner with all of this because she now depends on my sister for everything and is afraid to ruffle her feathers because my sister won't speak with her for several days or more, which has happened in the past. This stresses my mom out beyond belief and especially now that she depends on her for everything. Unfortunately because this dynamic is so ingrained for so long, my mom defends my sister's unacceptable behavior, which in turn is alienating myself and my brother from my mom. The whole situation is becoming increasingly more problematic.

My sister would never agree to do any type of mediation or a family meeting, or anything along those lines because she has her heels dug so firmly in the ground and flat out refuses. So again, my mom is stuck with this situation and my brother and my hands are tied.

I wondered if anyone has had a similar situation and if you managed to somehow resolve it how did you go about it. All my brother and I want is for there to be harmony and for us to be able to help my mom also. There are many things we can both do from afar, and I was doing a fair amount until my sister stopped speaking with me because she would ask me to order things, make calls, etc. But now there is zero communication.

Last, but definitely not least, my mom's short-term memory has declined significantly. So, for example, by the time she told me about her dizzy spells they had been happening for 3-4 months. She has had 2 occassions where she's fainted and ended up in the hospital for several days, so this is something that could be a critical issue. No communication from my sister about this or any other health issues with my mom. Zero. So therefore my brother and I both have to rely on my mom a the sole information source when she struggles a lot with short term memory and recalling who she told what to when. This is an unecessary burden and stress to my mom that could be avoided if my sister would communicate with at least one of us regarding my mom's health issues, meds, doctors, etc. Would love to know if anyone has suggestions on how to resolve this mess. Thanks!

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I particularly love this bit: "We each want to help from afar and have our strengths in different areas."

Like, say, shopping, and making phone calls. And what's your brother's specialty, I have to wonder? - it wouldn't by any chance be delegation, would it?

You must have some idea of what straw broke your-sister-the-camel's back, first with your brother, and then with you. I agree that she is not approaching this constructively. I agree that it is extremely difficult to find positive solutions with someone who is holding tight both to a grudge and to martyrdom. The reason I ask how you got on with her before is that unless your relationship has previously been supportive and congenial to both of you I don't see much hope of there being a good way forward now.

Look. You and Bro are an impractical distance away, and that's fine, but over those last few years have the distress signals not been reaching you at all? You say you were doing "a fair amount." Fair is probably not your happiest choice of adjective. There's your problem.
Helpful Answer (15)

I’m so sorry you find yourselves in this situation. For a minute (please don’t be offended) I thought you could be my sister.

I am the one in town who has POA for my mom. My sisters who are outta town, come into town and bark orders at me. It makes me feel like I’m not good enough and I’m not doing a good job taking care of mom. They don’t understand Dementia or group home living. They want mom bathed everyday, they want mom in pretty clothes and shoes, they want to take mom out with no regard to what time the home wants mom back to get her ready for bed, etc, etc. I know it’s my fault that I allow them to bully me about moms care, but I really am doing the best I can.

If your sister accepts texts, can you tell her you are coming out to see what you can help her with. Tell her you’d like to know what’s the best way you can help her? Tell her you appreciate the care she has provided. When I thank my sisters for help, they always point out that “they are doing it for mom, not me” without even acknowledging that I do do it. I’ve given up and stopped engaging for my own mental health.

I hate that families ugly heads rear up during a time when everyone should pull together.

tell her you would love to be able to talk about what’s best for your mom at the end of her life, but be ready that she may not agree with you. Have an open heart and mind. Try to avoid a power play, I know I am living it.

Helpful Answer (12)

So sis is doing all the work whilst you and brother basically are home free. I may be off target here, but I have a feeling that's why communication is at zero. She realized that on the daily she has no support from either of you and has decided that talking it about it would lead nowhere.
Helpful Answer (11)
BurntCaregiver Jul 2021

You took the words right out of my mouth.
The sister is doing all the work and is probably more than a little resentful that her brother and sister do nothing.
With all due respect to you and your brother, neither of you take any of the responsibility for mom's care and needs.
One-hundred percent of it falls to your sister, so it could be that she's more than a little resentful of the two of you and rightly so.
Unless you yourself or your brother are willing to uproot your lives and relocate closer to mom to take care of her, don't push your sister too far. She has enough to contend with being the only caregiver without the added burden of having to provide you and your brother with detailed reports on mom's health conditions and needs.
In reality, there's no such thing as 'caring from afar'. There really isn't. The only actions that can be counted as 'caring from afar' is if you or your brother are sending goodly sums of money to your sister every month. Or making sure one of you assumes the care responsibilities for mom for certain guaranteed amounts of time. Whether that means coming yourselves to care for mom for weeks at a time, bringing her out to where you live, or arranging and making respite care happen.
I'm guessing neither of you are doing that.
Your sister is the designated caregiver. She has taken the responsibility and burden of caregiving off of you and your brother.
You should be grateful, not complaining.
Helpful Answer (11)
rovana Jul 2021
You make excellent points. But I wonder if OP and brother are becoming aware of the situation and are willing to find ways to help? I don't think it necessary or wise to uproot your life (I'll be blunt - age and decline is Mom's problem and she is the one who should expect to make changes in her life). Money to hire help sounds like a workable idea and I agree that OP and brother should not reasonably expect sister to provide medical updates, etc.
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Hello. It sounds like you’re genuinely worried about your mom and being far away may add a sense of helplessness. But your words undermine your caring and intention to help.

- Mom is between a rock and a hard place. Ergo, you are a rock or hard place and both are impenetrable.
- Mom is of sound mind. Therefore her wants and opinions are sound but you say she’s just siding with your sister (because you’re right and they’re both wrong??)
- You and your brother double team your sister and think she’s the one who’s unreasonable.
- You and your brother have different strengths and you want to help from afar. Meaning your sister isn’t as competent? Meaning you’ll tell her what to do so she can carry out your orders?
- You want to mediate and negotiate, which sounds like grievances that you’re not getting what you want and plans to argue - or explain why you’re right and sis is wrong until there’s a stalemate of hostility.
- You call your sister passive-aggressive but fail to see 1) your tone is aggressive 2) she might be trying to accommodate demanding siblings when she has the energy to give a d***.
- You aren’t in the trenches. A visit might be revealing but unless you’re willing to take on the full responsibility, you’re all talk no action.
- You show no compassion for her becoming your mom’s Gal Friday and no thought to how she’s managing her emotions, personal life, job or finances, etc.

I’ve been around energy vampires who create tension and exhaustion, who criticize and complain, who waste my time & energy when I give them the benefit of the doubt, who digress into past history or stories that don’t add value, and assume to be experts when they aren’t even actively involved. No wonder your sister isn’t communicating. Why would she want the grief?

What you’ve been doing hasn’t gotten you the results you want; it’s only estranged you. You likely know the definition of insanity (do the same thing over and over and expect different results), so Stop.

Change your attitude and the conversation:
I posted this comment and found out I was in the wrong. I apologize.
Mom, are you happy?
Sis, what can I do for you or mom?
I need to understand and will shut up, listen and not pass judgement.
I’m used to being in control but I have to let you be the team lead and that’s hard, but I’ll try.

And if you don’t want to change, accept what is: Your mom and sister are doing their best. You aren’t in the game and no team needs an armchair quarterback.

I wish for you grace as you look in the mirror.
Helpful Answer (11)
NeedHelpWithMom Jul 2021
Exactly, Erikka!

Love your posting. The OP needs to sweep her own porch, before telling her sister to sweep hers.

Hopefully, the OP will be humble enough to look in the mirror like you suggested, and see how she comes off, intentionally or not, as a judgmental sibling who has no clue what it is like to be a full time caregiver.

I believe that the OP may have genuine concerns. There is a proper way to show concern for a parent. She isn’t expressing herself as well as she could. Maybe they have always had a rocky relationship.

So many issues are able to be avoided or resolved but it takes a willingness to learn about the circumstances without being condescending or judgmental. Other times, it’s a sad, ongoing uphill battle.

I hope that this family can work things out peacefully. Sometimes though, it takes an argument that hits a head to resolve the issues. Sadly, sometimes it is never resolved. I wish them well, for everyone’s sake.
Your sister is the one dealing with everything. I am sure that she is exhausted! Why don’t you tell your sister that you found this forum? She is the one that needs a support group the most. Plus, we would really like to hear her side of the story.

Instead of criticizing her, ask her what exactly she needs. Listen to her. She knows far more about the situation than you do. Your sister is a caregiver to your mother. Show appreciation to her for for the hard work that she does on a daily basis.

Please don’t treat her like an employee, that has to report all incidents to you. Show genuine concern for her well being, not just your mother. Caregivers are often overlooked and feel abandoned. Your sister is a member of your family. She deserves respect and admiration for what she does.

I know how this feels. I was the ‘caregiver’ sister while my siblings criticized me. When I burned out after 15 straight years of caregiving in my home, my brother stepped in for the last 15 months of mom’s life. The very last month of her life she went to a hospice house and died with end stage Parkinson’s disease. My brother apologized to me and said that he had absolutely no idea how hard it was until he had our mom in his house for 14 months.

I broke down and cried when my brother apologized to me. I accepted his apology and finally felt validated and valued for my total devotion to my mom for all of those years. It’s the toughest job that I have ever had. It is mentally and physically exhausting. You have no idea, unless you have walked in our shoes. Caregiving is a huge sacrifice and responsibility.

I urge you to recognize what I am saying to you. I certainly hope that this situation can be resolved for all of you. I wish you and your family peace, joy and forgiveness in your hearts.
Helpful Answer (10)

Caretaking is incredibly taxing, physically and emotionally. As time progresses and your parent ages, it can get even harder. Your sister isn’t talking to you because she may feel that you haven’t been there for your mother - or for her.

Acknowledging and appreciating what she has done (instead of criticizing, when you aren’t even physically present) is a necessary first step.

If your mom is defending your sister, as you wrote— your mom must feel that your sister is being wrongfully accused of something.
Helpful Answer (7)

"I recently went out to visit my mom for a few weeks."

My question would be what did Sister do for herself while Lynn was there. Did she go on a vacation. Do some day trips.

"I was doing a fair amount until my sister stopped speaking with me because she would ask me to order things, make calls, etc. But now there is zero communication."

What changed that Sis stopped talking. Really, what can 2 people do who are on the opposite side of the Country. The sister will not communicate. Doesn't seem to me that Lynn and her brother aren't aware she is doing all the work. Aware that Mom has declined in the last few years. But if the sister does not tell them how she feels and what is wrong no one can solve the problem. And I know people like sister who just sit and simmer and won't say what is wrong.

I would write a letter saying that you have no idea why she has cut you off. Without knowing what you have done you cannot apologize or solve the problem. You realize that Mom is declining and needing more care but you need to know from Sis what is it that SHE needs. Is it time to place Mom in an AL? (If Mom has money) Maybe hire Caregivers to take some responsibility off Sis? Until she tells you what she wants or needs you can't help.

Some people have unrealistic outlooks. Expecting from people things that are impossible to do. Like you living across the country. Does she expect you to move to where Mom is? This is unrealistic because you probably have a life there and obligations. Yes, its a b***h to be the only one living near by with siblings living across country. Seems to me u and brother are trying to help but sister may think you psychic and know what she needs. She needs to open up and you and brother need to listen. Don't say "no that won't work" find a way to "make it work".
Helpful Answer (6)

Perhaps sister is burnt out? Or angry you two just communicate occasionally. How about if affordable, you send her a gift card to a spa resort and you watch mom that week/4 days?
Helpful Answer (6)

I find it interesting that everyone has drawn the conclusion that your sister won't speak to either you or your brother b/c you're not helping her care for your mother, either by sending money, by hands-on-caregiving, or by sending her on a cruise!

Before you can get any constructive comments, you need to tell us why your sister won't speak to you or to your brother. What part have YOU played in her making that decision, if any, or is that she's just a meanie?

We have no idea how this mess you're trying to resolve came about, so please provide a bit of background. That is an important piece of the puzzle that's missing!
Helpful Answer (6)
IamAmy Jul 2021
Exactly. The issues are too vague.
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