Hi all,

My mom is going through preparation for small bowel surgery, so this is all heightened, but I need help. Before the bowel stuff, and the hip thing (more below on that), which has healed, she was able to do most things by herself, although the urinary incontinence was not helped by the bathroom being upstairs.

My brother is in his 40s and splits time between my mom’s house and his girlfriend’s. I live three hours away. My mom has been needing things done for her for a while (laundry, major house renovations), and my brother claims he’s taking care of them but they’re not getting done. When I offer to get them taken care of, both my mom and brother yell at me (I’m in my 30s) to “give them time.” My mom will then ask me to come home to do her laundry because she’s too embarrassed to ask my brother.

Anyway, my mom was sent home from the hospital and put on liquid nutrition to gain strength before the surgery. My brother and I find out she turned down rehab, but then I look in her notes and find that he also said he lives with her. I say to them that I cannot handle helping with everything (this has made her extremely incontinent), but my brother said it was only for three weeks until the surgery, and we’re one week down. Ok fine. I should also note that I am a month into a new job.

I work from my mom’s on Friday, and my brother asks me to stay on Monday, then calls me and said he realizes Mom does not have a date for the surgery so the time may be double. Mom has also said due to his outbursts she doesn’t like telling him when she needs something.

My mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in December, although the last scan was clear. She had been having trouble walking for months before that because the doctors had missed it in her hip (she’s had a partial hip replacement and double knees from years ago). She knows she needs to go to rehab after surgery. She currently lives in a multi-story building, and I keep mentioning an apartment as a way for her to maintain her independence (in-house laundry, close bathroom, maintainence crew, etc.). My brother balks at the idea. They also don’t want people (nurses etc.) in the house because of the mess, repairs needed, etc. My mom also does not have any income or savings besides Social Security really as well.

One more note: We were also caregivers for my uncle when he had dementia, and my brother was in full denial until the end. He literally thought he just needed Vitamin E, and would get him Vitamin Water.

I have a history of depression. I’m waking up in hives and shaking, and I can see the path I’m starting down. We’re a very close family, but I don’t know how to overcome my brother. I can’t find anything where the caregiver was the one in denial. The surgeon said my mom would make a full recovery, so I really think an apartment would be a good solution, and I realize she needs to recooperate from the surgery. They will always say they need time, which I fear is what will happen again. They just keep making decisions without me and then asking me to carry them out.

Thank you for listening to my rant. I cannot tell you how much your advice means to me.

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Is your mom renting now ? If so , start with your local aging and disability office for low income senior apartments info or google… even with the prognosis of full recovery, you need to start planning now. Are all the legal documents in place ?
your local Medicaid office should be able to direct you towards getting help and information for your moms needs.

I encourage you not to go down the path of caregiver. It’s obvious your health cannot handle it. Draw the line in the sand , communicate it, and don’t cross it. Have the hard discussion with your brother. It’s obvious he can’t or won’t do daily care. (I don’t blame him, daily care is hard) and have the hard discussion with your mom.
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Does one of you have POA for financial and healthcare decisions? Your mother is in a long series of battles with her health, and each one will chip away more of her abilities. I watched this with my parents. Your mom needs a simpler place to live with more help than you and brother. However, if she’s of sound mind you have no way to force this. We told my dad he had to either move or bring in help, in truth we couldn’t force either, but after we’d united and said it with firmness, he agreed and help came in. If mom and brother won’t cooperate, you can’t do much other than wait for things to worsen. A social worker friend always told me “events will happen that make the decisions for you” It proved very true
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Just a suggestion here. You are beating your head against the wall. You have two people against one. Seems like Mom and brother stick together. All you can do is research services in Moms area, give the info to Mom and step back. You are 3 hours away and brother is there, good or bad.

You should not jeopardize your new job. If you can give brother and Mom a weekend, Ok, but I would not be taking any time off. You will lose that job. Sorry to say Employers are not always sympathetic to personal problems.

At this point, just let brother and Mom do their thing. I would make the the Hospital Social Worker or discharge person aware that Mom will need to go to rehab if suggested. That brother cannot be there fulltime and you live 3 hours away with a new job so you can not take time off. It would be an unsafe discharge to send her home because the bathroom is on a second floor. That's pretty much all you can do.

So for now, go on with your life and enjoy the new job. Something will happen someday when Mom and brother may realize that changes are going to have to be made. When brother complains tell him you have made suggestions and he and Mom choose not to consider them. There is really nothing u can do 3 hrs away. You must work to support yourself.
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I don’t think your mom’s care should fall on you or your brother. He has continually cared for her. He deserves a life with his girlfriend. You just started a new job. Your mom is in her mid 70’s and time is marching on. She needs help now and most likely will continue needing care in the future.

I think that you need to speak to your mom about assisted living or a nursing home to take over handling her care. You could try to discuss it with your brother too. If the two of you present a united front it would help relay the message to her that this is in everyone’s best interests.
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