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Hi,
Like many our story is long but I'd appreciate some input on this part of it. Our father is 78 and can no longer live on his own. He has dementia (yet to be officially diagnosed, part of the long story) and has been living in my brother's house receiving care from his wife for about 2 years.


They are burned out and angry with my wife and I for not coming out to help them, give them breaks, and for our lack of participation in all of the work getting my dad out of his house and into theirs. We have small children and were not able to help as much as we or they would have liked, and they are angry with us about that. That's where the long story goes, but I'm presenting it here to show that there is anger and disagreement between us.


My wife and I are ready to start talking about taking over for caring for my dad, but we are not in a position to and are not willing to have him live with us and provide care for him ourselves. We believe that there are assisted living situations available to him where he would receive good care, in many ways probably better than we could provide him ourselves. But my brother disagrees and it sounds like it will turn into a battle if we want to take over for caring for my dad, unless we do it on their terms.


Has anyone else experience this kind of conflict? If so, how did it go, what did you learn, how did you deal with it, etc.? Thanks!

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Where on earth did your brother get the idea that he is in charge of what you should do?? That is simply crazy.

Do either of you have POA?

I'd be very careful about going for guardianship. When family members disagree the judge can appoint a professional guardian.

The idea of finding Dad his own "apartment" in a facility near enough to you so you can visit often seems the most sensible to me. Second choice would be for father to stay with brother, but to spend money on bringing in help and also on respite time for your brother and his wife. That is a very far second choice in my mind, since it doesn't sound like these people are actually good caregivers for someone with dementia.

If your brother is reluctant to see money spent on a facility because that will reduce the inheritance, shame on him! But even if his motives are more noble than that, he has absolutely no authority to tell you what you must do. Don't let him bully you into doing what you know will be a disaster.
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Who is your father's medical and financial POA? Does he have his paperwork in order i.e. will, living will/DNR? Taking on all that responsibility without any written authority will end in disaster.

It's your father's money. No one is entitled to an inheritance. I completely agree with Carla that your dad's money should be spent on proper care for him. Before you and your wife agree to pick up any slack, let your dad and brother know that you want your dad's money to be used to pay for in-home care so that daily caregiving no longer falls squarely on your brother and his wife.
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Maybe you can set up a caregiving agreement so that your sister-in-law will be paid for what she is doing. What is the story on Dad's assets? Who inherits? Can you agree to relinquish your share, or part of your share of the estate, to placate him? Can you and/or your wife give them a one-week vacation? Keep on assuming that everyone is bargaining in good faith (even if they obviously aren't) to keep communications open.
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This is a very difficult situation, as you surely know. I had conflicts with my siblings who were not helping my mother or offering me any support, but my situation was different in that my mother has no assets or savings, and not nearly enough income to finance assisted living, even for a short while.

It is possible that your brother and his wife just want you to engage with them and be part of the team mentally and emotionally in dealing with your dad's problems. Sometimes caregivers just feel so alone with the overwhelming burden of care and problem-solving and decision-making, and they just want somebody else who will put their mind and heart towards helping them figure it out.

On the other hand, it may be that your brother and his wife want you to take Dad off their hands, or travel back and forth frequently, or other types of help that are not within your means or willingness to do. If I were you I would start with a question "What can we do that would help you?". And if your brother comes back with ideas that are unworkable or impossible, try to figure out what part(s) of what he's asking for you could actually do.

Generally, I think that elders who can afford paid care should actually pay for it, unless the family members who are willing to provide unpaid help are genuinely able to provide all the care the person needs. I don't think it's reasonable for one family member to insist on home care for the parent and then try to muscle other family members into helping to provide it. If your brother insists your father be cared for at home, it's his burden to make that decision work, not yours. It would be different if the parent is indigent and home care is the only option. In that case I think it's only fair to share the burden as equitably as possible. But in your father's care, that doesn't seem to be situation. Personally, I would not take responsibility for caring for any demented and/or incontinent person in my home. I think it's just too much to ask of anyone.
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Suggest that your brother writes to us here! Someone might tell him that you each get to choose how you are going to respond to your situation. If your father has assets, your brother should be spending them to buy home-care services so that their life is not so hard. Look into the services of a geriatric care advisor. It can be expensive, but they might be able to create a solution that everyone can live with.

This problem - siblings disagreeing about care of parents - is so very common. It often gets so bitter that relationships are destroyed. I will pray my atheist prayers for you.
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If you can't help with hands on daily care of a parent, you can't help with hands on daily care of a parent. That is not always possible. Granted, maybe your brother doesn't accept that. But, considering he may not be the best suited to provide care, if he's not informed about the condition and proper care of the patient, he doesn't seem like a good option for future care. If the two of you can't agree on who is going to make the decisions, then, I'd consult with an attorney about filing for Guardianship. You can each state why you should be appointed and the Guardian Ad Litem and Court will decide who it should be. Not sure if you want to go to those lengths, but, I would if my dad's welfare was at stake. Being an advocate for dad is a top priority for me. So, I'd do what I had to do.

One thing that caught my attention about brother insisting that dad not go into a facility, would be the money. Maybe, he has expectations that dad's money will go to the sons upon his death, unless he spends it on Memory Care or a nursing home. Do you think that's what is at the bottom of it?
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Your brother and his wife made their choice and must live with the consequences. That they are angry and resentful is no surprise. It seems like neither of them thought through how much caring for your father would (negatively) impact upon their lives. And that is not your problem because they are adults and, for better or worse, their marriage is theirs.

I think you would be foolish to take over care for your father at this time. His dementia is only going to get worse, not better, and his caregiving needs are only going to increase, not diminish.

Your brother and his wife are in no position to make demands of you and your wife for the way you choose to live your lives. If your brother and his wife are burned out, they need to act like grownups and figure out solutions that will work for everybody. Caregiving must work for all who are involved.

Your brother and his wife should look into respite care so that they can take a break from caregiving.

Meanwhile, you and your wife need to do several things. First, you and she need to watch lots of Teepa Snow videos. She is a dementia care expert. Your brother and his wife would also benefit from watching them. You and your wife also must agree on exactly what the two of you are willing and unwilling to do for your father. For example, as your father's dementia gets worse, there likely will be both urinary and fecal incontinence issues.

Once you and your wife are in agreement, you and your brother need to get an idea of your father's financial situation including what is his monthly income from all sources. Is there enough money to hire in-home help for your brother and his wife?

There is nothing wrong with you for not wanting to live with your father. My husband and I did not want to live with my in-laws and we figured out a solution that worked for all of us.
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Dear Gaberino,

Sorry to hear about your conflict with your brother regarding the care of your father. Its a tough situation. I too was in conflict with my sister. I was the one taking care of my dad at home. My dad wanted to stay at home and never in a nursing home. But at the same time I wanted my siblings to help more but they were not willing or able. It lead to a lot of anger and resentment on part. I can see your brother wanting to do the right thing. And your situation as well with a young family.

If possible try to have another talk with everyone. Or try to have a social worker or family counselor mediate a meeting. Its never easy. The emotions are very high on both sides. Bottom line is both of you love your father and want him to be safe and happy. I hope you can come to an agreement soon. Don't give into your brother because it will only lead to resentment. Try to find a compromise if at all possible.
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Thanks for the input! Dad is, well, not realistic about what his options are. He frequently speaks about his desire to go rent his own place, which is not an option given that he's not capable of living on his own. For awhile he lived out in a trailer on my brother's property, but he was constantly overflowing the tanks and flooding it by leaving faucets running, etc, and it was probably a matter of time before he burnt the thing down. Ultimately he took a spill trying to fix the awning and broke his hip, after which he was moved inside. He bounced back pretty well and can get around OK on his own, but he is incontinent and just not all there mentally.

So what he wants varies, but he often speaks to me about wanting to leave my brothers and be closer to me. They have a big house with grown children and their children living in it, and he's more of a hermit type who doesn't like all the activity around him.

I think what we're struggling with now the most is how we're being berated by my brother and his wife for not doing our share of the work over the last couple of years. We are not as well off as them, have not yet had a place big enough to take him in with us, don't have the means to travel to them or to take time off work or away from parenting duties. But apparently all of that is just cop out excuses and we're abandoning our father. It's very hard to hear all of this.

Add to that the fact that I've witness my brother speaking down to my dad for his forgetfulness, knowing that my brother isn't someone who is good at speaking kindly and I know that my dad isn't always treated that well. He is fed and cleaned up after and his needs are met, and I don't think there is any overt abuse going on, but the fact is they are not trained caregivers and I'm sure they take out their frustration at dealing with him on him.

My dad does have a substantial amount of money in savings from selling his house, which he owned outright, so he could afford to pay for some time in a facility, for in home care, or whatever. I need to research how it works in different states when money runs out, though.

Basically we want to take over caring for him for awhile so he can be closer to us, hopefully have a better life, and to get him out of my brother's house because they are obviously at their wits end lashing out at us like this.
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What does Dad want to do?   If he is still able to think clearly, he might want to be in a senior facility where he can be around people of his own generation and to be able for new friends.   It depends on how much money Dad has saved up, since he is still young in comparison to those who are in their late 80's and late 90's, even early 100's.

My late Dad had moved to senior living and he really liked it there, in fact after a couple of months he said he wished he would have moved in years ago.

If your brother and his wife were burned out after 2 years... what do they expect with you and your wife, plus three small kids?    You already have your plates pretty full right now.   Sounds like Dad should have been in senior care a couple of years ago.   Now Dad probably needs a higher level of care who professional staff will know what to do, this isn't their first rodeo.

Now if money is an issue, maybe Dad can apply for Medicaid.   Now, depending on your State and what programs they have, maybe, just maybe the State offers a Waiver program where Dad can go into Memory Care...   otherwise he would need to go into a nursing home [again, it depends on what programs your State has].
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