Three of us sibs live in town, the fourth on the opposite coast. Mom is 87 and has a long list of health issues and needs moderate assistance with ADLs. Mom lives with my sister and I am one mile away. Sis takes care of many of her in-home needs (she has VNA 2 days/week as well), and I do all of the out-of home cares (which at this point is about 2 full days of doctor's appointments/week). Both Sis and I work full time - I work weekends and overnights so have off days mid-week. It means that I am available to take her to appointments but it also means I never get a day off (and neither does my sister.) The local brother contributes almost nothing, the far away brother even less.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how I can better engage the brothers? I've spent a long time angry about the dynamic and I really do want to change it in a productive way. I don't want to carry negative emotions any more. I just plain need their help.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Letting go of any hope for help was one of the best decisions I have made. It freed me from a lot of the negative emotions you describe. I have one brother out of town who flies in to do home repair type of stuff. He offers moral support which has value. My sister lives 10 min. away and contributes nothing. I've begged. I've spelled out specifics. I've also communicated how close to the brink of insanity I am. Still nothing.

Having no expectations has been the most empowering thing for me. It's like permanent respite from all that emotional baggage. I hope you can find some relief.
Helpful Answer (10)
Caregiversister Nov 2021
Sandy, letting go of expectation of help is so practical and available to all of us who have been in or are in such a situation. It’s the first step to freedom from angst and grief. Letting go allows us to find other answers either temporary or longer such a therapy for ourselves, focus on our own health needs,

Prayers for AnyoneOutThere and her sister.
See 1 more reply
All you can do with brothers is lay out the needs and how they can help. It’s fully their choice on how much, if any, involvement they want. No use being angry or bitter over their choices, as they are adults free to decide things for themselves. Meanwhile, you definitely need more help. Your mother in good health and right mind wouldn’t want this life for you. It’s time to decide how realistic it is to keep this up, I’d say it’s not sustainable, at least without real consequences to your health. Mom either needs to hire more in home help or move to a place with professional caregivers
Helpful Answer (8)

AOT, welcome back!

It seems you have asked at least one brother directly and specifically fir help when your dad was ill and he said no in no uncertain terms.

During my parents' long illnrsses and eventual deaths, the realization I came to was this; each of the three of us had VERY different relationships with our folks and viewed our childhoods through different lenses.

One brother idolized our parents; I was and am pretty ambivalent and one brother had a really crappy childhood--really bad "goodness of fit" with both parents, for a variety of reasons.

What ALL of us "got" was that mom's needs exceeded our ability to provide hands on care. All 6 of us (I'm including spouses in the equation) worked full time and needed to continue to do so.

Mom was fine for about 15 years after dad's death and then suddenly, everything panicked her. We tried bringing help into her home, but she lived in an isolated area and having "company" only ramped up her anxiety.

We moved her into a nice Independent Living facility which worked well for 2 years. She had a stroke, was dxed with Vascular Dementia and broke a hip. It all added up to NH care.

My point is that your mom has passed the point where home is the right place. One thing that was great about Ind. Living was that there was a geriatrics doc on site and we were able to ditch the CONSTANT trips to various specialists who would check boxes and say "come back in 3 months".

Some of your siblings have clearly decided that they are not your mom's retirement plan.
Helpful Answer (8)
wearynow Nov 2021
Barb, you are so correct about different lenses and different relationships. I think my mother has been a good mom. My brother and his wife think mom is lazy, critical, stubborn etc and it has taken me 3 years to get them to contribute to her healthcare expenses here.

Im trying not to expect my brother will ever taken in mom but it's still very hard for me to accept.
Have you flat-out asked them to help with specific needs? Sometimes siblings need things spelled out clearly and then they'll step up.

My brother lived a mile from my folks and I lived an hour away, but he did nothing to help until I said, "I need you to buy groceries today" and handed him a list. I'd tell him I needed him to stay with Mom so I could take Dad to the hospital, and he would. I called him to get something for my Dad at CVS, and he was there within a half hour.

He really stepped up, but only when I made it clear what I needed. I think he didn't have a great sense of how to help, plus I believe he didn't want to tread on my toes as I was the POA and the one who was doing the vast majority of the work. He just needed managing and directions.
Helpful Answer (7)

2 days a week of doctor visits?

I would make a change with that first. Doctors tend to put people on a merry go round of not necessary office visits as frequently as they can get you to show up.

Be realistic in what any medical treatment can do for an 86 year old and arrange according to what is truly helpful and get rid of the rest.

Your brothers have made it very clear they aren't stepping in to be caregivers and that is their right.

My personal opinion is that a loving parent doesn't hijack their adult children's lives to prop theirs up. They hire help and look to their adult children to do some advocating and social needs. Other then that they are being selfish by deciding that their needs and wants are the only ones that matter. This attitude is why up to 40% of caregivers die before the person they are caring for.

If your mom is too much for two caregivers to handle, it is time to reassess the situation and make changes that don't try to obligate 2 more of her adult children.

Best of luck sorting out the medical care and putting yourselves on the needs attention list.
Helpful Answer (7)

"I just plain need their help".

Rephrase that to 'I just plain need help".

Then hire that help.

Adding pressure, guilt, nagging or threats won't make a sibling (male of female) move house, send money, call more or become hands-on. They will do as they choose. They have set their own boundary.

Let go of the expectation they 'owe' you or your Mom or will save you.

Take that anger & use that energy! Be your own saviour & arrange the help you need.

(I speak from being both sides of this situation now).
Helpful Answer (6)

3 ways of looking at this situation.

1st is more positive. The brothers may be willing to pay for assistance. You and sis need to make a list of mom's needs that do not require their in-person help: housecleaning service, grocery delivery service, lawn care service, pay for home health aide for a day..... They might be amenable to this kind of assistance but really don't know what mom needs. As the ladies involved in her care, you both know exactly the kind of care mom needs... and probably what each brother can afford. Make your list and contact both brothers to get this settled.

2nd is less positive. Many people feel it is the responsibility of female family members to care for the young and old. They may feel that mom doesn't need their help since you two are caring for her well. Let them know that neither of you are getting a day off. They might step in to stay with mom or hire a sitter/home health aide to do so and give you both breaks.

Least positive. They may not care and will not help. You won't know if this is the case unless you talk to each brother. If they will not "step up," realize that you can not force them to. In this case, find other resources to care for mom while you get some days off that you and sis desperately need.
Helpful Answer (5)

This is a small response to part of your question. Medical care is incredibly unorganized. That is a LOT of time visiting doctors. Does your hospital have a senior clinic with one doctor who can coordinate and supervise her care, most of the time? This was incredibly helpful to us.
Helpful Answer (4)

We used to drive 2 hours to take my Mom to Drs. She then asked not to go to Ortho as getting leg x-ray was painful, her doc had retired and the practice moved to other side of town. She also said she would refuse another hip replacement. So we stopped. She said she would refuse treatment if cancer came back so we stopped going to the oncologist. Eventually the only place we took her to were the dentist, memory care, eye doc and hearing aid person. She lived several more years and we would drive our 2 hours just to visit and be social. She lived in assisted living until the last 2 months of her life.
Helpful Answer (3)

To all who posted with so much love and support thank you, thank you, thank you! I took a lot of what you said in and came up with a plan - tell them plainly what needs to be done. Take emotion out of it. Then...Mom's cancer spread and now she needs daily radiation for at least 3 weeks. West Coast brother says he will fly in to help, POS local brother has a million excuses as usual. We shall have to see...
Helpful Answer (3)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter