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My 2 brothers and I share POA for Personal Care. My older brother, who lives 1,000 miles away and does nothing for our parents, and only visits for a day or two once or twice/year, was just here briefly. He took over the cooking (without asking), serving a very undercooked chicken and side dishes we normally wouldn't eat. He also chose to find fault with how our parent's clothes are sorted, the belongings we brought in when we merged households, moving into the childhood home. We have very little space for our belongings, and the basement is currently cluttered because our furniture has been moved around, and the person we brought in to help move things tossed even fragile knickknacks everywhichwhere. We haven't had the time nor the energy to sort it out again.


Even our paid caregiver, who provides badly needed respite for us from the endless needs of two 90+ year olds with dementia, confided that she found my brother very arrogant and disliked him minutes after being introduced.


I've recently become aware of how narcissistic my brother really is, and if we do something differently than he does, he will lecture me on "how it should be done". (His way). He didn't acknowledge anything we're doing well, only finding things to criticize. My husband and I have been caregiving for 2 1/2 years now, giving up any pretense of lives of our own.


The brother has gone back home, thank God, but I'm still very angry and offended by his attitude. I want to address the issue with him, but don't know how, given his arrogance and self-entitled opinions. Plus I do have a disability, which makes it harder for me to communicate my feelings and I fear he'd throw that back in my face. My priority is the day to day care of both declining parents, not whether my mother has an overabundance of socks in an already packed dresser drawer, or whether having a picture hook still on the dining room wall, where my father knocked down a picture and broke the frame, offends my sister-in-law. Does anyone have suggestions on how to assert my rights to live and care for our parents as I see fit, rather than the way he thinks it should be done? (BTW, I am utterly burnt out, but neither brother is willing to step in and provide any meaningful, practical support).

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Anjolie,
My heart goes out to you. I was married to someone who sounds like your brother and the best thing I did for my children and I was to divorce him. 

I also am very intimately familiar with being disabled and caring for others fragile and ill. It's an unfortunate type of special pain for sure. And you are not alone. There are too many of us living in medically fragile households where no one is free of disease or injury.

Siblings, well that is always hard. For many years my siblings offered nothing but harshness when it came to the challenges of caring for my boys' complex needs. When people on the outside pass judgment, no one wins. I also often share, sometimes it's the experience that's the explanation.

On that note I like the suggestion offered here that perhaps let the brother be fully responsible for the 2 days he is around, that's assuming your parents are safe in his care. Especially if your parents seem to have a good relationship with him and can verbalize well enough, hopefully, it can become a weird pause and rest for you. 

My guess is he will come to new conclusions about the situation. Not that he will fully come around, but that experience means something. Still, its nothing compared to when your parents are having truly ill more fragile days. Or like running to medical appointments, pharmacy and more. He will never have to burden the full load like you.

A true narcissist is unable to see your side, be appropriately compassionate or yield to anothers advise. There will always be people who will pick apart answers, disagree with each other, perhaps find fault with a feeling or ideal. So don't be discouraged if you feel unsure. That's okay and understandable.

The same with your brother. He seemingly has low emotional intelligence and therefore may not ever be an appropriate "team member" if you will. He may only ever be able to assist on a solo tour of duty if you will. One stress I do want to assist with is to release the part where talking it out is a priority. That likely will only provide more occasion for offense and hurt. I don't want that for you. Some people can't be reasoned with and guess what...it's okay to not want to try and you don't need anyone's permission here for that to be the right choice for you.

Boundaries are so important and I have family that is blind to them. Keeping that personal boundary is a real priority for me and it saves me during times when I feel attacked or misunderstood. Releasing the "sit and reason together", as much as that would be an ideal thing, can allow you the peace to do what's best for you. Based on your description of your brother, he absolutely will do that for himself. He will only and ever do what he feels is best. 

People who are defensive and fault finding will blame you for being a victim of their aggression whether outright or passive. You are the reason things are not working right, or you are the reason for your own frustration. That is hardwired into personalities like that. So, please...PLEASE do not blame yourself that caregiving is rough. You are not at fault. In fact, your parents are flourishing under your care and that big idiot would see that if he could get off that self-righteous throne he placed himself on.

I will say it for him. Ann, I am sorry for not being there for you when you needed me to, for being judgmental and narrow-minded. I am sorry I failed to be the brother and protect you when you felt alone and scared. That was cowardly of me. I am embarrassed that I kept finding fault and blaming you before I understood what was really going on. Thank you for sacrificing so much time and money for our parents. I failed as a son too. I don't know how to change and what to fix. I am sorry. I promise to do better and ask you what you need without judging you on the answers. An I am sorry, please forgive me.

That is what you need to hear. I don't know you, but you deserve to hear those words from someone. Visit me anytime via the we
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Reply to OctoberAngels
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Why don't you write him a letter detailing how annoying his suggestions are and how you feel that your family's major contribution to the care of your parents is unappreciated.

Then throw it away. You might as well shout into the wind. He won't be able to hear you. Sometimes it makes me feel better to get it all out in writing.
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Anjolie, I get it, when you are dancing as fast as you can and a johny come lately swoops in and is going to tell you how to do it right, its enough to scream.

You are doing a great job, that you are caring for both of your parents is admirable.

If your brother is a narcissist, save your breath and energy, everything he does in his life is based on showing everyone he comes in contact with how wonderful and right he is. Gag me with a spoon! He will never give you credit for all you do, he will always make criticisms about everything he didn't personally do. You will never do anything good enough, right enough, fast enough, just enough. That's how they operate, psychopaths and narcissists share many traits, enough that they are interchangeable terms. I hope that gives you some insight into what you are dealing with.

Are either of your parents on hospice? I ask because you need some respite, 2.5 years without a break is far to long. I would recommend getting someone in or placing them in a respite facility for 2 to 4 weeks, you need to get your balance back. This will help you ignore your brother more effectively in the future.

Oh, next time tell him someone with a PhD should know how dangerous it is to eat undercooked chicken, especially for vulnerable seniors.

Take comfort in knowing you are not the problem and most homes that have 2 seniors with medical problems are cluttered, to much stuff from a life, then another household, then add medical paraphernalia. Sheesh, who wouldn't have clutter and be a bit overwhelmed with all the stuff.

Keep your own counsel where hes concerned, it's truly your best route.

From the daughter of 2 narsisitic parents.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Anjolie Dec 28, 2018
Thank you. I, like many others, come to this forum because its members have had similar experiences, understand each other and generally provide very sound advice. Bless you.
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LivingSouth - he could be feeling guilty, and more than a bit. He could also be trying to help, in his awkward-only-there-a-few-times-a-year way. Both can be true in my opinion. He lives 1000 miles away? Not a cheap or quick trip I’m guessing. And we don’t know anything about his circumstances, apart from the PhD. He does sound incredibly arrogant (a convenient cover for insecurity) but the parents apparently want him involved or he would not be sharing the DPOA. And Anjolie, I’m sorry if my input seemed harsh. My point was you’re probably not likely to change his attitude at this stage in life, so you have to figure out a strategy for YOU that comports with your values. And it seems like you need help in a hurry! I like LivingSouth’s idea of a mediator or a counselor. Would your parents go for that? Mine would do just about anything to avoid having a candid conversation with a “stranger” (or even other members of the family quite frankly!). But if that works, great!

Jane
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I take issue with the answers here because it sounds to me like he is feeling a bit guilty over not helping because of the distance and he is using you as a scapegoat. Acting arrogant is not being helpful. Criticizing is not being helpful. It sounds like it's all about him. Tell him that if he thinks he can do better that he can take a two week vacation and clean up everything that doesn't meet with his approval. Next time he comes swooping in to save the day, you may need to get a mediator or counselor to come in and go over the reason for his arrogance and superior attitude. I can't believe anyone on here would think he was just trying to be helpful. Anyone can show some diplomacy.
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Anjolie Dec 27, 2018
I'll see if my Alzheimer's support worker can do that next time. Arrogance in this situation is destructive. Thanks!
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In reply to those who kindly responded to me, I do understand that the only person whose attitude I can change is my own. My issue with this brother is that he has become both a narcissist and a stranger. I would like to leave him to it -- that is, leave the house with my husband and let brother deal with our parent's every need plus the endless forgetfulness of increasing dementia. But, while brother said, on his last visit, that we should go out and enjoy ourselves, it was he who ended up leaving for hours, not giving us any breaks. He hasn't had to take care of a senior (or 2) with dementia, but believes that having an irrelevant PhD means he knows more than anybody else about not only care-giving, but everything. I am far from ignorant or uneducated, having an MA in Psychology and a former career in Social Services. But brother even told our respite caregiver that because he has that PhD, he's more of an expert in their care than she is.
I believe he takes over everything because he thinks he knows better. And because I receive a stipend (that barely covers groceries and other household necessities) he sees me an employee, rather than a family member who gave up any pretense of a life to care for parents HE would've placed in a nursing home.

I realized after asking my question that this is what so many others on this forum go through, too: spending years taking care of Mom and/or Dad with dementia while siblings distance themselves, psychologically and/or geographically, offering little but criticism. Maybe there's no way to change those siblings attitudes. Unless they're willing to jump in and "walk in our shoes" for long enough to feel the impact on their own lives, they'll assuage their guilt at doing nothing by criticizing those who sacrifice to do everything?
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Hi Anjolie,

I’m sorry you are burned out and don’t doubt that you have the best intentions for your parents. If you retired from your work solely to take care of your parents then you have chosen to make a significant sacrifice, which no doubt adds to your stress. One of the benefits of this forum is hearing multiple perspectives, some expressed kindly, some maybe less so. But can you put yourself in your brother’s shoes for a few moments? You didn’t say much about what he does but I presume he works and may not have copious vacation time, so maybe can’t visit more often. If you have your own disability, it may worry him that your own condition is challenging for you AND this could be impacting your ability to care for your parents, yes? Can you see that side of the story? He jumped in to cook without asking - maybe didn’t get the menu quite right but isn’t that a very helpful impulse? ( sidenote - when I had kids I learned to appreciate the (few! Golden!) people who showed up with a casserole and a toilet brush, not the ones who sat on the couch and asked “what can I do to help” somehow not seeing the laundry stacking up, dishes in sink, etc., thereby forcing me to project manage them LOL). And finally, a cluttered house can be a sign of dysfunction - it may be temporary and it may not bother you, but that is something that appears a lot in this forum and is very challenging for families. And your brother may be observing it and thinking it means you are overwhelmed and that is problematic for everyone. I realize that from your perspective I may be giving him an overly abundant benefit of the doubt. But an impartial 3rd party can be helpful that way. Since you yourself admit to be burned out you need to get clear on what can change to improve the situation. Maybe a follow up phone call with the brother who just visited to clear the air, acknowledge some of what he called out, share what you think is going well, and brainstorm ideas for how to address? And where is brother #2 in all this? And also, how do your parents react to your brother when he visits? Are they as annoyed as you, or are they happy to see him? This is the classic frustration of the hand’s on caregiver: the distant sibling who swoops in and is treated like a king for a day, can do no wrong. And in that case it is good to remember we are all adults, making choices about how we live our lives. And that the only attitudes we can effectively address are our own.

Jane
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Anjolie Dec 27, 2018
There's a certain amount of dysfunction, but my priority is caring for my parent's needs, not keeping dresser drawers neat and tidy. And it's not like my parent's living area is dangerously cluttered. I try to keep the house straight, and a helper comes in to do the heavy cleaning. My Mom's a bit of a hoarder. She grew up during the Great Depression, and refuses to use new things we buy (including underwear) because "waste not, want not."
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I would add that if he never gives notice to you, give it back to him. Take Margaret's suggestion and just leave. Maybe remind him to clean up after himself and add that you will send him a cleaning bill afterwards since he is a guest
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One suggestion is to ask for notice of when he is coming next, and use his presence as an opportunity for you and DH to get away for a couple of days. Then he can find out a bit more about what it is like to care for them, and you won't be there to hear his criticisms.
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