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I'm 58 years old, married and I live 350 miles away from my parents, siblings and adult children from a previous marriage. I don't work outside the home because I homeschool and care for a 19 year old highly functional on the spectrum (done since age 10). (We've never had emotional or physical support of any kind from family regarding his diagnosis or our life plan for him).


Mom (86) and Dad (89) have always been in good health. Mom can do many things for herself but no driving. Her memory has also suffered greatly from the stress of this and she depends on my Dad entirely. Dad had a mild stroke 2 weeks ago. He has all his mental faculties, thank God; but had lost use of his right arm and leg. He has since recovered those things and is now home with Mom getting Home Health Care and PT.


My brothers who live close by resent that I have not dropped my life and moved in with the Mom during this period to help her. We drove two weekends with 24 hour turnarounds to be with them. We did things like run errands, clean house, do laundry and just be there for emotional support. No one seems to understand that I can't just leave to care for them or be there physically on a long term basis. I feel bad that my brothers and my sister in law and one of my adult sons is doing all the errands and such; but I can't be there to do that. My adult son even called me and said I could do more and he basically berated in a very passive aggressive way.


I really don't know what to do. I try to offer help via research and online information but no one wants to talk with me. I call the folks all the time and try to offer emotional support from here. I'm not surprised at the fact that I'm not getting information from my brothers because they have never been close to me but the fact that my son has such judgment on me really hurts. I want to be there but i just physically cannot do more than I am doing. I plan to go back for a weekend each month to help and I always tell my SIL that I appreciate everything they are all doing...she is my only point of contact...brothers don't communicate at all. I get very robotic texts from son about factual update but nothing else - very cold. I'm quickly feeling estranged from them all and it feels terrible.


Any advice on how to handle this?


In my case, I am the only local sibling. I have 3 brothers who are not local (the closest one is 6 hours away). When my mother was hospitalized/then rehab/now long-term in NH, I told my brothers that I needed to be paid for my time now. They readily agreed (and even offered back pay -- which I accepted -- from the two years previous when I was my mother's Dummy Daughter Driver). I had brought up the idea of payment to my mother, and she snapped back, "You don't pay family." (She was also ungrateful and told me that my time wasn't important and that I didn't do much at all.)

Well, now that one of my brothers is handling all finances, family (me) IS getting paid. It goes quite a ways in making me feel better.

So I suggest that your local family get compensated for what they do for your parents. There are also easier ways of doing things like grocery delivery services, etc. My mother refused to ever consider that, as she was so controlling that she would have to pick out every little thing in the store (and spend MY time...it took HOURS...doing so).

You are doing a good bit already. But only your sibs can decide to take the necessary steps -- even if the parents don't like it! -- to make their lives easier.
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LDdaughter Mar 21, 2019
Yes, I definitely agree they should be compensated. Mom and Dad have the money to do that. Also, one brother already lives in a house that Mom and Dad paid for and it will be his free and clear when they go - has not married but has a live-in lady he's been with for along time - no kids and he's on partial disability and works some odd jobs. The other bro works full time (4/10s so he has Fridays free) and his wife (nurse) has similar type of schedule. Their two adult kids are away at college. He is looking to move from where he is so I proposed that he get the other house; the one my folks live in now; when they go. In the interim, Mom and Dad have the funds to pay and I leave that up to them. Your answer was very helpful CTTN55. Thanks
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You leave your dependent son with your husband, move back into your parents' home, and expect to be there for ??? providing ??? types of support for two people who, God willing, will be with us for many years to come.

I doubt if your brothers have put that proposition in terms like that to anyone, not even in their own heads; but that is the conclusion their sentiments ultimately lead to. Call it a plan? - I don't!

Is there one big obstacle we haven't yet talked about in the way here? - namely, are your parents of the "we will be here in our family home until we are carried out in a box" persuasion?
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LDdaughter Mar 21, 2019
Oh my, your first paragraph sums up exactly how I feel. Yep...all that you said. Nail on the head. And yes, Mom and Dad do not want to leave the family home. It's a large 2 story so we've even pushed to have an elevator installed. They are resistant. It's tough. Thank you Countrymouse!
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I just want to say thanks for these helpful answers. It's easy to see reading this forum that most of the time there is one person stuck doing everything. In my case, being the only daughter and not working outside the home, they think it should be me even though my two brothers live within minutes of my parents and I live 350 miles away. There's just not going to be a way to please them so if they need more of a break than what I can give, there is $$ that can be used to supplement or even replace what they are doing. I've just got to let it go, not let them hurt me, and continue on. I love my parents and want the best for them and that would be not having to see their children fight over their care.
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I get where you're coming from, but, I'd try to look at without assigning guilt on yourself. Even if your father recovers pretty well with PT from his stroke, how likely that he at age 89 can continue with caretaking his wife who has early dementia age 86? It just doesn't sound feasible to me. So, he would have to go out to get groceries or have them delivered, eventually, he can't leave her alone and what if another stroke and she's there alone with him......it just doesn't sound feasible to me. Running errands, clearing the house, etc. sounds like temporary measures to me. Can they afford professionals to do this? How feasible is that long term and it doesn't even address the larger picture like caretaking a person who has mental decline, by someone who has physical decline. Maybe, the siblings really do know this and they are angry with the situation and not you. If they expect more from you, despite your location and previous attempts to help, I'd consider that they are the UNreasonable parties indeed and not take it personally.

Whoever has DPOA and Healthcare POA may need to explore how things should go moving forward. Sadly, seniors becoming infirmed often stresses families to the point of discord. To me, it's often because some stay in denial and have UNreasonable expectations. They are unreasonable in their expectations of what an ailing senior can do in the home and UNreasonable in their expectations of what other family members should do. I don't think they understand that taking care of seniors who cannot manage their own household or healthcare needs is like a full time job.
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LDdaughter

Welcome to the forum.

Just trying to clatify
Is your dad your mom’s caretaker? More or less carrying it all and then had the stroke and everyone is now realizing that your parents need more help?
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LDdaughter Mar 21, 2019
They've both been very lucky, healthy and active but have slowed down over the last year. Mom is able to cook, clean and do laundry. She just can't drive - anxiety. She has had knee trouble but no surgery or anything. She has seemed to forget conversations and things that recently happened. I've noticed this over the last year or so. Up until last Christmas, she insisted on hosting the holiday family dinner. We finally convinced her to give it up. I definitely think this is the "wake up call" that help is needed very soon down the road. They have enough $ that they can easily afford whatever care they need to age in their home at this point. I think the whole family is just shocked and upset.
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Number one thing to remember: this is *very* early days. It's only two weeks since your father had a stroke. It's a bad omen that has frightened and upset everybody in the family, but it's not the right time to be making panic decisions about where to go from here.

Quite honestly, if your family doesn't think you're doing enough they don't know when they're well off. Heavens to Murgatroyd! - the forum is full of families that leave one child coping alone with everyone else chipping in nothing but criticism and accusations. They have one another, and you have already taken on practical tasks, and you have made specific offers of help. They have nothing to complain about and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

But. I doubt that they do intend to make you feel bad, as such. Very much wanting you to be there - thinking of your son, especially - is not the same thing as condemning you for not being there. What's happening is that *everybody* is feeling anxious and upset at the moment, there must be a lot of uncertainty about how to proceed, and you're all at a dangerous moment when communication can go wrong and serious damage can be done to relationships. People lash out, behave thoughtlessly, and talk for effect instead of with a constructive purpose. Keep your head down and try not to respond when you think that might be happening.

Your life, your child, your home, your husband are where they are. Your parents are where they are. The rest of the family, they all no doubt have their needs and priorities too. What you have to remember is that people under stress are not as thoughtful or as fair as they normally are; and your family seems to have been a bit disconnected from your second marriage even to begin with. They don't appreciate the realities of your life because they haven't been involved in them. But that doesn't alter the fact that you have commitments which are, correctly, your priority.

Do whatever you can to steady the ship until there is a clearer plan, I suppose is what I'm saying - but what am I thinking? Kipling put it so much better:

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you..."
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You do only what you can. There are other options for your parents beyond exhausting every one in the family - time for other living arrangements. Don't feel bad - you have enough to do already.
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