We care for my husband's mom - she has been here nearly 7 years and the last 3 have been very difficult. I retired early to care for her. She has two other children who rarely call or visit. We have asked them repeatedly to take mom for a bit and give us a break. One of them has promised 3 times and backed out twice and came to stay once - only to leave 24 hours after we went on vacation - leaving mom alone. That was the end of that respite break. The other child did take her for one week recently - it happened to be 'between health crises' - so all went smoothly and he thinks caring for mom is 'no problem.' She has since suffered a TIA with some lingering effect. She is 87, has had three knee surgeries, has diabetes, high BP, enlarged heart, and beginning dementia. I need a break - long enough to truly relax. We cannot afford paid help. Has anyone else found a way to convince other siblings to offer a respite/break? I have a feeling that this kind of family cooperation is not the norm - that it seems to usually be just one kid (in my case, one daughter in law) who does it all. Any practical suggestions for THE CONVERSATION?

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You are right - this is kind of the norm, unfortunately. Some people finally have to face the siblings and tell them that they cannot continue to be the sole caregiver for the elder, and if the siblings can't work out regular help, Mom (or Dad) will need to go to assisted living or a nursing home.
You have done so much already. I know you want to continue the care. But this responsibility, with no respite and no vacations, could damage your own health. Then, who takes care of Mom - or you?
Try sending an email to all of the siblings, not blaming but laying out the facts. You may want to get the doctor in on this, was well. Write out a list of her needs and the care she gets daily. Let them know that you can't keep it up, so the choice must be made to find other care for her if they can't give you regular breaks. Try to make the tone nice, but firm. Good luck. You aren't alone. That's the best I can give you. You'll likely hear from others on the forum.
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"I felt instantly as though I had not even had a break."

You said it right there!

I went on vacation last year and all the people I had lined up to help take care of Mom "poofed" on me! (and her!)

Let's face it, the only real way out of this is death. (theirs or our own - I hate to put it that way, but its the truth!)
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Hi all - I really feel for you. I just realized my brother is a genius. Since dad died 2 years ago he has been to see my mother TWICE! His excuse is he's too busy, lives too far away (about 10 miles). When I bring up needing some help with her, he says, well I would take care of her completely if she would buy the house next door to us and live there. Even my mother says he just wants the house for his daughters when she dies. Of course, my response to him is, if you can't care for her now at all, why would I trust you to care for her when she's completely under your control? Sorry guys, it's just realizing your siblings are semi-monsters is a bit shocking and I felt like ranting. Best wishes to all of you truly good people.
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annieb1158 - you are correct. I remember reading an article in Look Magazine (you know it's been a while :0) when I was a teen - written by Margaret Mead. I remember her saying that she didn't fear growing old - because any old person she knew was vibrant, strong, positive and self sufficient! You didn't GET old in her day unless you were vibrant, strong and positive. She never saw people hanging out of wheelchairs living their final days in nursing homes or hospitals being kept alive by artificial means or just wishing they were dead. (there were not doubt a few who grew older and needed help from family, but not in the numbers we see today)

My mother in law doesn't appreciate that she is alive. She has no interest in anything or anyone except herself. Her conversations revolve around herself. Every conversation is the same. She wonders why no one calls or stops by - but forgets that she DOES have calls and visitors - but, IF SHE DOESN'T REMEMBER them, then it didn't happen. :0)

I am TIRED of the negativity. I am tired of being blamed for things I didn't say or do (if she THINKS I said it or did it - then I did :0(

I AM JUST PLAIN TIRED. I have initiated the research process that we hope will ultimately end up with her receiving VA Aid and Attendance benefits and IF (and you don't have any idea how much I hope this works) she qualifies, SHE WILL BE MOVING INTO AN ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY as soon as the first check arrives.

I will then become 'an attentive visitor' - I like that term. She can then blame the facility for everything - instead of me. Of course, it will be MY fault she is there - but there is guilt no matter what I do. At least I would not have this constant agitation 24/7.

I know this is 'off topic' - but, ultimately, this decision comes about BECAUSE of the lack of support from her other sons or any government agency. Her youngest son has not answered our call and texts sent on Feb. 8th!!! Well, actually he has. By his non response, we know his answer is NO - AGAIN! How convenient of him just to ignore us. WHAT A JERK!

I have a question: Do the siblings who do NOT help with care giving experience guilt or is it just the caregiver? Because I feel that I am damned if I do and damned if I don't and I have decided that since it is six of one and half dozen of the other - and I get all this crap for trying - that it can't be any worse if she lives elsewhere and end up with THAT being my fault too. Even though my husband is her POA and he AND his brothers will hopefully make the final decision. I am SURE they would happily put her in Assisted Living rather than help with her care!!

I just think it is sooooo sad that sooooo many caregivers are left to do it all alone and burn out, while , for the rest of the family - life goes on with no thought or very little thought to mom. After all, she is being cared for - it's not MY problem, right?

Sorry for the rant - and yes, TOMORROW I will probably be fine. I ride a roller coaster just like every other care giver. And it isn't even a free ride!!!
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I have sent emails and my husband has called them. The middle son finally said yes recently - but I spent two months preparing her and HIM for her visit. Making certain that he had all the handicap assistive items she would need (potty extender, commode, bath seat, etc.) I shipped them to him. I made up HER packing list and checked it twice :0) (she thinks she remembered everything) I got all her doctor visits taken care of and all her meds set up. Arranged for someone to come and cut her hair and give her a perm here at home. I was responsible for her while we traveled to/from at the airport - dealing with the wheelchair, potty, etc. By the time we landed I was a nut case. He picked her up at the airport and we went the other direction for 5 days.

Then we met her at the airport and it was a repeat performance coming home except this time we were dealing with diarrhea at the airport :0( I felt instantly as though I had not even had a break. She had a WONDERFUL time and I am glad. I am sure the break was good for her too. My brother in law said mom was 'no problem at all.' My sister in law said 'she is so sweet.' They honestly don't do what I do and they don't see or hear what I see or hear.

Since her return, she has had a bad cold, sinus infection, two trips to the doctor, I have made 5 trips to the pharmacy, she then developed another infection 'down there' due to the antibiotics she took for sinus infection and two days ago she told us she thinks she had a mini stroke. Another call to the doctor and another additional medication. Hubby's brothers never have to deal with anything like this. Just this morning she told me she doesn't understand why I feel stressed out. NO ONE understands except the folks on this forum who deal with the same thing. I thank everyone for their help on this forum.

I plan to start a notebook/diary and list everything I do for mom on a daily basis. (hubby's suggestion). Then he will call them and just start reading my diary to them. It may help. I seriously doubt it - but it may help me. :0)

We have had 'this talk' before and it doesn't get us very far. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.
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I'm not sure if this will help, but my sister and I actually went to counseling about her not taking care of my Mom, and it all being on me. The counselor pointed out that part of our problem was the language we were using. I was constantly asking my sister for "help", and she was always fighting it. When I asked her to help "me" with Mom, this automatically labeled Mom's caregiving as MY job, that she was graciously going to help me with. The counselor pointed out to her that it was not my job, but OUR job as a team. Us coming together to take care of Mom, not my sister coming to MY aid. In any words you'd like to use, maybe you could point this out to your siblings. "I don't need your help, but our mother/father does." She was more willing to go to Mom's aid, than she was to come to mine. It helped our situation. It's not perfect, but much better.
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I am in the same position you are in except with my own mother. Unfortunately, my siblings will say they will help and then until the time comes that I actually need them, they call and yell at me for not being able to do it and of course, always ask, "why can't (my husband) do it? I have been sick for 2 1/2 weeks w/diverticulitis and fevers, etc and Mom has an infection in her leg and needs to be transported 2 hrs to the special skin cancer surgeon and it's back to my poor husband. My one brother doesn't have to be at work until 8 p.m. and only works til 10 p.m. and still can't do it w/out attacking me and making my life so miserable for ever asking. It's just not worth the aggravation. Then, he came to see my mother to say, "I'm here if you ever need me." Meanwhile, she heard him screaming at me on the phone Saturday for having to rearrange his schedule to drive her one way to the Dr's as he is going to the same place tomorrow anyhow. It simply appalls and amazes me all at the same time. I can only say God have mercy on them for they know not what they do when they do not honor their own mother, a widow, especially in time of great need. We are all in the same boat and we are all the only ones rowing and it is an uphill creek we row. I feel the hurt for my mother when she hears the grumbles and gripes of asking them to do ONE thing. I have only asked them 3 x in 3 years for a helping hand, but it always ends up in such arguments, that I'm sorry I ever asked. So unfortunate. Now, I will be forced to put her in some type of facility and woe to them. All they want is her money and when it's all gone, they will only have themselves to blame. I have empathy and extend hugs to all.
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I am sorry, I hate to negative, but there is no way you can convince other siblings to help with your MIL. They will just watch the tremendous job you are doing and not do anything. i have the same situation in my own family with my MIL. Look after yourself, first and foremost, it is not right that your health should suffer because you care. All the best.
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Sadly, her youngest is in the financial position that he could PAY for respite for us several times a year but when he calls his mom he whines about how difficult things are. His difficulties never prevent him from traveling to Hilton Head several times a year or traveling to urope several times - the last time just recently.

He has always told us 'what we want to hear' and then left us high and dry. How he sleeps I will never know. He has probably spent a total of 7 (24 hour) days with his parents in the last 30 years (if you add up all of his visits). I asked them why they spent so little time with his parents (they often spend a week or more at a time with HER parents) and his wife said 'we are COMFORTABLE with the amount of time we spent with his parents.' He says 'I understand' and I will 'do what I can' to help - of course, so far, he just 'can't' seem to do anything at all.

Sadly, I think we are on our own with this. Kinda sorta knew that when I posted the question. Thank you all for your comments though. I think respite is an 'unattainable dream' for most of us.
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My caregiver role has been comparatively short-term (since 11/15, and Mom is on the "short list" for a wonderful, supportive lving facility NEAR MY OTHER SISTER, yippee), and my three sisters have all come up at least twice, although Mom puts on a good show while they are there and they wonder why I am going insane. Plus, they are up on a weekend, so they don't have to deal with missing 8-10 hours a week from a demanding chop taking her to doc appointments etc,

One thing a coworker did when they weren't getting anywhere with family agreeing to visit and provide respite was to write an email, detailing all the chores, , etc, as another poster suggested. Then they suggested that each come up for a 3-day weekend while they were also there and get "trained." Final step was informing them that they were taking a family vacation on such and such a date for 10 days and that was that. One brother did come up with his wife and got over some of his fears about caring for his Mom. Sadly, she died before the vacation, but laying down some steps for family to get used to worked for them. But, it doesn't work for all. In my family, one sister is great about tasks -- clean the closet, call the assisted living facility...but once she goes home she only calls sporadically, and is very curt and unfriendly to my Mom. She says "Mom drives her nuts and I am sick of hearing the same stories over and over..." Seriously? Try hearing them every day at least three times a day. Grow up. Everyone deals with this differently. My therapist suggested that the children who have done the least amount of "work" letting go of childhood/parental issues are the ones that have the hardest time and also who suffer the most after the parent dies. I don't buy that -- I think most who don't help traipse along selfishly and oblivoiusly as they did before.

My vote, if you can't handle it alone anymore, find the best facility your parent and/or you can afford and focus on being an attentive visitor. Parts of this process are gratifying but I think that part is overrated!! Mostly it is exhausting, draining and a never-ending series of errands, phone calls, shopping, cooking, cleaning, dealing with their emotional ups and downs and yours, too.

I don't think this was such a huge issue 25-30 years ago - the triumph of modern medicine has left us, and will leave us with thousands and thousands of elderly people (me, some day) who a couple of generations ago would have just died. Instead, thanks to mountains of drugs and procedures, they are kept alive, but in a diminished state and they do not have the financial means to get adequate long-term care.
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