Has any of you had to stop caregiving for your parent because your medical illness/disability? If so, I need your advice.

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I am not medically able to take care of my 75 y.r. old mother and 45y.o. special needs brother. They both are mobile, can feed and dress themselves. My sister lives next door and my brother lives at 5 minutes next lane away. So far, they will not help, give me respite or visit mom (unless they want something). I have a 33 y.r. old single daughter (works full time ) . When I moved in to help mom, she moved in my home to take care of it and save money for her a down payment on house.
I have no problems with her. She always encourages me to leave because my mom is so demanding and manipulating. She never takes a break, doesn't have a hobby, wants a three course meal for dinner everyday.
I have been disabled now since 2006. Had to retire from work after 22yrs . I worked all toll, 30.
I need some info, encouragement, and ideas from those of you that have experienced this problem.
Please take a little time and share.

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By Helen Cohn Needham, CELA

What Must A Certified Elder Law Attorney Know?
The Board's expectations of an elder law attorney's knowledge are expansive. The attorney must know about the following subjects:
health and long-term care planning;
public benefits (includes Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security);
surrogate decision-making (includes powers of attorney and guardianship);
older persons' legal capacity; and
the conservation, disposition and administration of the older person's estate (includes wills, trust and probate of an estate).
In advising about these matters the elder law attorney must pay attention to the applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more sophisticated tax expertise. In addition, the Board expects attorneys certified in elder law to be capable of recognizing issues of concern that arise during counseling and representation with respect to:
abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the older person
insurance
housing
long-term care
employment
retirement
Finally, the attorney must be familiar with professional and non-legal resources and services publicly and privately available to meet the needs of the older person, and must be capable of recognizing the professional conduct and ethical issues that arise during representation.

As one can see, the Board of Certification seeks to identify attorneys who will be able to determine all the client's needs and either take care of them, or refer the client to someone who can.

Who Can Be Certified?
Certification is open to licensed attorneys who have been in practice five years or more. During the three years prior to application they must have spent at least 16 hour per week practicing elder law, must have handled at least 60 elder law matters in specified elder law subject, and must have had at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in elder law. A certified attorney must be re-certified every five years, and has to meet similar requirements.

Must An Attorney Be Certified To be Considered Competent?
If an attorney is not certified does that mean that the attorney is not competent to handle your elder law problem? Not necessarily. First, certification is a voluntary program. One need not be certified to practice elder law. Thus, while certification will give you information about an attorney who is so certified, it says nothing about the attorney who chose not to go through the certification process. Second, the program is relatively new, but growing steadily. There are currently 380 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in forty-one states and the District of Columbia. Third, while the attorney may be very good, he or she may not have been in practice for five years, or have handled the requisite number of elder law matters and is thus not yet eligible to begin the certification process.

So what good is certification to the public if the attorney available to them is not certified? In such instances certification can still help you when assessing the qualifications of the attorney you are thinking about retaining. It at least identifies for you the subject you would want your attorney to know. It gives you some idea of how much training you would want them to have received. It provides you with some guidelines as to what attorneys themselves believe to be satisfactory qualifications.

Whether an attorney is certified or not, you should still be asking the same questions you have in the past in an effort to determine if this attorney is appropriate for you. Such questions include:
How long has the attorney been practicing?
What percentage of the attorney's practice is devoted to elder law?
Does his or her practice emphasize a particular area of elder law?
What is the attorney's experience regarding the specific matter with which you are concerned?
How much elder law training has the attorney had, and from what organizations?
Is the attorney a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys?
However, now you should add to your list two more questions:
Are you certified as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation?
If not, why not?

Helen Cohn Needhamis a Certified Elder Law Attorney in Arlington, Virginia. She is a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and was the first Chair of the Board of Certification of the National Elder Law Foundation. She was instrumental in developing the certification program.
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CouldItBeMe, you and your daughter deserve your own happiness and your own Christmas/holiday rituals. I know exactly what you mean because I spend every Christmas at my mom's place (and before my dad died, it was my mom and dad's place). I don't even decorate my condo because I find it depressing. Now it's just my mom and me - super depressing to me (I'm single/no kids). I've thought about going somewhere for Christmas, but would feel guilty leaving my mom by herself. I have a brother who lives in another state and hasn't been home for 3 years or more (I've lost track).

You and your daughter deserve some happiness. Like Kathy said, get your brother in a group home if he can't live on his own. Get your mom into a facility (or get your sister to help her stay in her home) and you go back to your OWN home and your own life. You deserve it!
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Can I ask what your disability is? I have multiple sclerosis, my Dad has Parkinsons. While they are both neurological disorders, which gives me great insight into what Dad needs, sometimes our needs conflict. Heat, stress, fever are killers for MS yet at 92 he is always cold and blasting the heat. I have had two relapses in the two years I have been taking care of Dad. That is more than I had in the last ten years. I hear what you are saying. Is there money to hire cleaners or aides to do the grunt work? Can you leave them with an alert button, or install webcams to see them on the internet from your home? Have you looked into Medicare paying for home health aides?

You must take care of your health. Call a family meeting, and explain you can't do it anymore, that you are moving home and other arrangements must be made. Good luck. Sometimes when we let go, others step up to fill the gap.

I have seen taking care of disabled brothers destroy two of my friends marriage. Don't do it. Try to get him in a group home. When your Mother passes don't accept responsibility for him.
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Thank you Blannie. You are right. It is almost like you know me. You didn't know that I am the eldest and have been responsible for my parents and spec. needs brother especially since he was born. I was 10. My father is deceased in july 2009 as did my husband, in nov 09. My daughter and I have never had a Christmas or any Holiday rituals because I am always having to take care of them and siblings.
On top of being physically disabled, I am also worn out from it all. I am almost the point that I just don't care anymore. I didn't want to get to that point. The biggest thing that is holding me back is guilt.
And, I know there is nothing to feel guilty about. If I stay on and my mother passes, I will still be taking care of the brother the rest of our lives. Oh, it hurts to think of it.
I know you are right and am praying and working on this. The Holidays are coming and I would love for me and daughter to have our day.
Thanks again for your time.
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I'm not disabled but I would say you need to move back to your own home after giving your mom, sister. and brother notice that you're going to do that. Let them figure out her next steps. Your first responsibility is to yourself and your daughter. You've done what you could for your mom and she doesn't appreciate it, nor do your siblings. So let them figure out something else for your mom. You don't owe your mom your (already compromised) health. You've done your share, let someone else help out.
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