My 72 year old mom has been having issues for the past year. It started with a broken ankle that required surgery, then a kidney infection, then another ankle surgery, then a back issue that required surgery, then more digestive issues, gallbladder removal, cardiac arterial blockage that required two stents, more vomiting and kidney issues, and now likely a procedure requiring a stent in her celiac artery to hopefully address the recurring gastric issues.

She also is the primary caregiver for her 77 YO husband who has Lewy body dementia. I live in another state, my younger brother lives two hours from her and does not have a car (he lives in the city), and my older brother lives 30 minutes from mom. Older brother refuses to talk to any of us, much less assist mom with anything. When things first started happening, he was somewhat helpful, but now he has completely refused to even communicate.

Mom has pretty much refused to communicate plans for the future or put anything in place for her husband, which creates a great deal of anxiety for everyone every time something happens. Funny, she told me Sat that she was going to talk to their financial advisor to discuss options this week, but…now she is back in the hospital.

I am struggling with worry over what will happen to her, and yet I also know that I am not cut out to move her in with me, which I suspect is what she has in mind. I haven’t been able to have that conversation with her because every time I get things started, another crisis comes up. My MIL has told me “you can’t expect your brothers to do anything. You’re the daughter. It’s your job.”

I feel guilty and scared and overwhelmed because things never seem to get better. Mom doesn’t get along with her husband’s kids, and they don’t like to talk to her so they try to go through me to get her to do things. Mom is worried about older brother but doesn’t talk to him, so she tries to go through me.

I’m trying to get my own affairs in order and have been working with a financial planner, but my SO refuses to do this with me, so I am on my own with that as well.

I truly worry that I am going to be expected to figure all of this out for her, and I do not know what I am doing. I believe she is going to make me her POA and I have no idea what that means. I am not knowledgeable with financial matters or legal things. I feel guilty that I cannot seem to do this and I feel like I am failing.

My younger brother is not very financially stable, so I worry about him as well. I wake up every day with a pit in my stomach and I am sad pretty much all the time. My job is great but very demanding, and I’m having a difficult time trying to coordinate things from out of state for my mom while working full time. Also trying to maintain a 30 year relationship that is feeling the strain of this and take care of my own health. I miss being happy, and that makes me feel guilty for being selfish in wanting to be happy.

Does it ever get any better? It doesn’t seem to.

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Firstly, if you’re not careful, you’re going to give yourself an ulcer, and then you’ll be of no use to anybody. Remember, on an airplane, you put that mask on yourself, then on a dependent, because if you pass out, two people die.

Try and focus on what you CAN control, and let go of things that you can’t (ie: your younger brother - he’s an adult). I’m not really sure about all of these things either, and nobody is when this gets started. We’re all in the same boat, so you’re not alone in feeling lost and confused.

It’s all about educating yourself. As to where to start, I personally would begin by contacting your own financial advisor, and let them know that you’re going to be made your mom’s POA, and what will that require of you.

As for your mom’s health, it’s good that you know your limitations, and that living together is not a healthy option. Make sure you voice that with your mother in as gently a way as possible, while remaining steadfast to your decision. While she is of sound mind and body, she can go ahead and make whatever plans she has. You need to learn to let people make their mistakes. give advice should they ask for it, but you shoulder too much burden by worrying on their decisions.

Take care.
Helpful Answer (10)

Important to do—stop any expectations you have of your siblings, it may not be fair but they’re adults free to decide their involvement with mom. Stop being in the middle between anyone, mom and siblings, mom’s husband and his adult children, anyone, don’t listen and don’t intervene. This isn’t on you to do and will never go well for you. Tell mom that any help from you is now dependent on her getting her documents in order, period. It’s unfair to all for her not to handle this immediately. The planning for her future is on her, not you, but you shouldn’t help if she refuses. Know that your MIL is simply wrong, there aren’t any automatic obligations just for being the daughter. Don’t discuss it with her again. Read the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend and implement healthy boundaries into your life. See your doctor and be honest about your pervasive sadness, it needs treatment, and that’s okay. Guard your own health, you’re no good to anyone, especially yourself, without it
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“you can’t expect your brothers to do anything. You’re the daughter. It’s your job.”

NO. No no no. Don’t buy into that!
Helpful Answer (7)

My first question is who takes care of your mom’s 77 yr old husband (your step dad?) when mom is in the hospital?

If you do not get mom to sit down now with a lawyer to identify assets, make financial beneficiaries, and establish POAs you will regret it later.
Helpful Answer (5)

Adult children generally have the responsibility of care of their aging parents, when the parents can not care for themselves anymore. That responsibility is to make sure that the parents' needs are taken care of - which can take many forms. I suggest it might be wisest to spend your time researching the resources near you and near your parents for their care. These resources can include family members, friends, members of faith community, home health agencies, adult day care programs, dementia/memory care facilities, assisted living, and total care residential facilities. You and your brothers do not have to personally care for either of your parents - if that is beyond your abilities - nor do you have to beggar yourselves to pay for their care. Since your mom is in the hospital, ask to talk to a social worker, who can help you with locating resources that your parents can afford.
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Speaking for myself, the guilt and defeated feeling is ever present. We are 15 minutes from my 84 year old mother; her birthday is today. I suppose part of it is, I never expected this to be the way she would live her final years. We are thankful for the facility she's in, but we know this isn't what she wanted. Some days are better, with the guilt, and some aren't. It's somewhat of a balancing act.
First, the comment your MIL made made me shake my head. Why is all of this solely your responsibility "because you're the daughter". Nope. However, you can't make other family members participate and that will make it your responsibility, unfortunately.

Second, let your mom know it is absolutely critical that plans are made for her and your step dad. A general and medical POA will allow you to handle financial matters for her as well as medical decisions, if she becomes unable to do so. If they have a family attorney or Elder Care attorney, you should start there, right away. Otherwise, this could be a debacle you don't want to add to your list of responsibilities.

Third, If they are financially able, look into a facility where they have care 24/7. If they aren't in a financial position to private pay, talk to the attorney about Medicaid.

Fourth, Don't ever have guilt over wanting to be happy. There's plenty of other things that make us feel guilty, being happy shouldn't be one of them.

Know that you are doing the best you can from far away, with no help from anyone else. You have to take care of you too and your SO. There are so many of us out here, doing the same thing you are, every day. It's hard not to feel alone, until you're on a site like this and you realize, you're not.
Be well...........
Helpful Answer (4)

when relatives come to you to be the go-between them and your mother you simply have to remember one word: No

”NO” is a complete sentence.

Re-read that!! Let it sink in.

Do not explain yourself, don’t give them a chance to come back at you should you feel the need to tell them WHY you are saying “no”….. just keep saying no, without guilt or shame. You are not responsible for their lack of communication.
I was once told that “no one can argue with a “no”.
once I started saying no, they all got the hint; they cannot use me anymore.
Once you and your mom have the POA conversation, tell her, no! You don’t feel qualified or you can go with the “ I simply do not want that responsibility”. If your other siblings don’t take on that burden of being a POA, then have a well check done on her. If no one steps up to be her POS, then she will become a ward of the state and be assigned someone to handle all her money.
Do not let anyone, including your mom, guilt you into taking on this responsibility. I am DPOA for my MIL and she lives with me! You’re in another state!
whichever you choose, I wish you luck and a good night’s sleep
Helpful Answer (4)

I'm not sure if this is helpful to you or not, but I am in your same boat and also spend much of my day with a pit in my stomach, feeling anxious and guilty and bitter.

My mom's knee replacement surgery keeps getting canceled, I fear she is developing dementia, and she has become incredibly dependant on me. She is very narcissistic, and has pretty much ruined her relationship with my brothers. Now they want nothing to do with her and it is I, the daughter (and only sibling with a moral compass, apparently) who has to figure everything out going forward. I am 36 and my mom is 80. I live 2 hours away and one of my brothers lives 5 minutes from her. Yet I'm the one taking time off work to drive her to doctors appointments. I'm the one in constant communication with her doctors. My mom does not have a practical bone in her body and is going to "die before she ever leaves her house"... even though she has a hard time taking care of it and herself and will need assisted living at some point. That is going to be a horrible mess and I'm filled with dread over what I will need to do in the future. I also am not good at complicated financial or legal things and will have to learn as I go.

So, all of that probably isn't very helpful to you, but sometimes it feels good to know you're not alone in your difficult situation.
Helpful Answer (3)

First of all - stop, take a deep breath. Immediately contact social services or the office on aging for advice and support as they are trained in this. Second at once contact an eldercare attorney and have proper papers drawn up immediately to give you - or someone suitable and trustworthy to be a POA so decisions can be made if needed. Do not wait. Someone has to take over and be "in charge" of her - perhaps not you. I would also have a family conference to discuss what options you have and what should be done - keep them in the loop but don't expect help from them. But that does not mean you have to destroy YOUR life because of her condition and behavior. You have to come first. Settle your own affairs in every way and make sure you cover your butt for every situation. Tell her ALL CHILDREN, not just girls, should be involved in caretaking. Be prepared to place her so she is taken care of and you can lead your life. But start with an attorney for legal advice how to handle this so it doe not all come down crashing on you and seek the services of social services.
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Riley2166 Sep 2021
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It will get better once your mom & her husband are placed in managed care. Until that happens, you're going to be pulled at every end and feel at the end of your rope. Your mother has way too many health issues NOT to be placed in Skilled Nursing at this point; your step dad has LBD which is very difficult form of dementia that also requires a lot more care than he can get at home.

You may want to go visit an Elder Care attorney for advice; financial advice about selling their house to finance their lives in a nursing home, and how to facilitate doing that. You may have to take time off from work under FMLA to get all this accomplished, because you obviously can't do it all long distance. Not getting help from your brothers isn't making your life any easier, either. But someone has to step up and figure out what to do with mom and step dad, and maybe that involves his children too, I don't know.

As far as POA goes, someone has to take it on so your mother will have an advocate for her healthcare decisions and financial decisions as well. If you don't want to take that role on, again, ask the EC attorney what your options are. I am an only child so I had no other choice but to take on the POA role for both of my parents. I would never be able to do hands on caregiving, but I've been able to get them into Assisted Living and now Memory Care for my mother; dad died in 2015 but I was able to make the health care decisions for him up until he died.

If you are going to worry and feel dread and guilt anyway, decide what you're willing to do and then set about doing it. There's no easy way with elderly and sick parents. We'd like to run away but we can't. They need someone to help them out, and if your brothers are flaking out, then that leaves you to decide what you will and will not step up to do. This does not mean you must provide hands on care; quite the opposite. Speak to the social worker at the hospital, too, like Taarna suggested b/c they're familiar with situations exactly like this and can guide you accordingly.

I feel your pain and can empathize with your situation 100%. I moved my folks out to my state in 2011 b/c dad had to stop driving and they had nobody else to help them. It's been a very, very long 10+ years for me and I'm extremely exhausted and burned out. But mom is in managed care and I can handle all of her affairs from my desk, for the most part, which is better than doing hands on care which I'm not cut out for.

Wishing you good luck and Godspeed with all of this.
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