I went through H*LL caring for my mother. I was not working at the time, and in the beginning it wasn't bad...but of course got worse as time went on. I had no help whatsoever from my siblings. Mom passed in August, 2013. I started working full-time again in November of that year, and feel like i FINALLY have my own life back.

2 months ago, my sister (the one who lived 2 hours away, yet it was "too far" for her to come visit Mom, let alone volunteer to help care for her) has come to stay with us. She is going through a divorce & had nowhere else to go. Oh - and she was diagnosed with MS last year. Apparently her husband couldn't handle the prospect of caring for her and filed divorce papers...he essentially threw her out & things are getting ugly. I probably can't repeat the names I have called him.

I was asked if she could stay here until things got settled, and until she found a place of her own - I didn't really "want" to, but couldn't have her on the streets, so my husband and I agreed. I had NO IDEA her condition was as bad as it is until she arrived (because, as previously stated, I didn't see her much at all in the past several years). She can't walk without support - she has actually fallen several times since she got here, so I told her to use mom's walker, but she still insists that a cane is "fine" (eyeroll). She cant work. She has no income at the moment, but has filed for Social Security Disability (and as you know that is a process & could take forever). She does NOTHING but sit on the couch and watch TV literally all. day. long. I feel like I have been dumped in the middle of yet another caregiving h*ll, and I just can't do it again.

There is a LOT of anger and resentment leftover from the past, and I just don't know how to get out of this one. I told my husband that once she gets SSDI & I am hoping she will get it sooner rather than later (I believe MS is one of the conditions that qualifies fairly easily...I could be wrong?) we will help her find her own place but I do NOT want her staying here any longer than she has to. Am I a horrible person? I just feel like I'm being taken advantage of, for granted, whatever you want to call it. I told her she needs to file for spousal support - that's the least that SOB can do if he's essentially walking away from her, and that will help pay for her own essentials in the meantime, but so far she hasn't done so because he is still in possession of all of her stuff and she's afraid he won't let her come get it if she files that paperwork. I told her she needs to figure out what she's going to do with it - either retrieve it & put it in storage or whatever, but we don't have room to store it here. Of course then it doesn't get mentioned again...thinking I need to give her a deadline to do so. It'll be 3 months in February since she's come here and I think that's more than enough time to figure things out & get over the shock.

Sorry for rambling..I just feel like I'm between yet another rock & a hard spot. The thought of having to care for another family member (especially one that has burned me so many times in the past) is bringing back all that stress and junk that I finally got over. I need ideas on how to handle this one....

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lpapagno, you won't like my answer, either.... just because you are able to care for your mother doesn't mean everyone else's case is identical to yours. We all have different personalities which means some of us are cut out to be caregivers and some of us are not. Not all of us can be surgeons, firefighters, astronauts, oil riggers, etc. Does that mean we all have failed? That was so unfair to jump on purplesushi like that. The woman is exhausted. Can't you allow her to at least catch her breath?
Helpful Answer (11)

Folks with MS can and do work, of course. Your sister sounds depressed and imobilized. You can help her by getting her to a good local neurologist, a good psychiatrist, and above all, a good divorce lawyer. She's afraid he'll keep her STUFF!??! That's why she needs a lawyer to make sure that doesn't happen.

Tough love is going to be your job. You get to be the cheerleader, not the caregiver. Sorry sis, it's not good for your health to sit around like this. Let's get moving!
Helpful Answer (8)

Ipapagano - you obviously didn't read half of what I wrote before writing your reply - way to provide support without should probably work on that if you're going to be posting on this board.

Yes, I am sure my sister is depressed - she has been to a doctor (had to apply for Medi-Cal & wait for that, which came through a couple of weeks ago) and that doctor told her all her symptoms are related to the MS & referred her to a neurologist. Waiting for that referral to be approved.

It appears my words were not typed very accurately - I am not saying that I refuse to help her out and get her on her feet, I just CAN NOT and WILL NOT become her caregiver. I will help her get her own place, as mentioned, and get settled, get IHSS, whatever we need to do so she is taken care of. That does NOT translate to abandonment, and that comment was completely uncalled for! Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a long time away - the wounds are too fresh - but obviously I am working on that or she wouldn't be living in my home, right? Am I resentful of the fact that I'm being asked to help her out when she basically flipped me the bird while our mother was alive? YOU BETCHA! But I'm working on that...

In my opinion there is NOTHING wrong with not wanting to be a caregiver - especially when a person has been through it once already and came "this close" to having a nervous breakdown because of it. It was not a good experience, to put it bluntly. If that makes me "selfish" then so be it. I have my children & my grandchildren (another of which is due in March) that I want to spend time with and I should be ABLE to spend time with and enjoy on my days off. To the posters who posted encouraging and helpful responses, thank you.
Helpful Answer (8)

purplesushi, give your sister chores to do while you are at work. If she can be mobile using a cane, she can do laundry, wash dishes, vacuum the rugs, dust, bathroom cleaning might be a challenge but at least the sinks. That would free you up to give you more *you* time. If she doesn't help out, cut off the cable TV. And don't pay for her cellphone.

One of my friends has had MS since the 1970's, and she was able to work 25 years walking with crutches [instead of a cane] and using hand-controls on her car to get to and from work. Of course she had the personality that MS wasn't going to stop her, and has a hubby who supports whatever she does 100%. Since retirement, both her and hubby do volunteer work for their church. Now with her MS her secret was exercise, exercise, and more exercise. That might not be the case with your sister, her MS could be different. But I would go with her to her next doctor appointment to hear the facts.
Helpful Answer (7)

I like the Oscar Wilde definition of selfishness: Selfishness is not living as one wishes - it's expecting others to live as one wishes. I don't see the poster's attitude as selfish at all - she's exhausted from caregiving for her mother and now she's being asked to start all over again with a sibling she's not even especially close to. I also don't think we have any special obligations to people just because they're blood-related. I think it's cold to not reciprocate the caring of people you love and who have cared for you, but this sister doesn't seem to fall into that category. I think the OP has already shown a great deal of charity in allowing the sister to move in for three months after taking care of their mother without help. And as for forgiveness, I can forgive someone without letting them live with me, or live off me. I can forgive my siblings for not helping me with my mother, but that doesn't mean they're moving in.

Purplesushi - your sister is probably depressed. Anybody would be depressed to have their health decline so radically and their spouse dump them at the same time. That's probably why she's sitting around doing nothing all day. Just like you, she needs to rest for a while. She also probably also needs some antidepressants and some supportive counseling. Does she have health insurance, through her husband or otherwise? If so, she should use it now, and not just for her MS. As she starts to feel a little better, she should be able to focus on getting her stuff, getting her benefits, and finding employment and a place to live. If there's anywhere else she can go in the meantime, explore that with her. You shouldn't be stuck with this, and you're not horrible for not wanting to be, but maybe you can help her find her way back to a little stability and better functioning. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (7)

Wow. Your brother in law… are you sure you don't want to share some of the names you've called him?! Pity, I'd have enjoyed that. What a piece of work. What a sense of timing. What a creep.

I'm not surprised your sister is being an ice-cream eating couch potato. I'm not sure I could even summon the energy and motivation to watch t.v. in her position. I feel incredibly sorry for her and I don't even know her. I'm not surprised that you have a sense of growing doom about being stuck with her. BUT.

It's very early days, for one thing. Two months is long enough for the novelty to wear off, granted, but it's not long for her to get straight after her recent separation, face up to her prognosis, and make some extremely important decisions. Play your cards right by actively helping her to make good ones. Good decisions would, by the way, NOT include becoming helplessly dependent on you and your husband.

MS is a horrible disease. That's why there are so many support groups and organisations for people and their families who are affected by it. Get some contacts together for your sister.

Her husband owes her, substantially. He can walk away, if he doesn't mind the world considering him the ultimate low-life, but he can't do it with impunity. Support your sister in getting a fair settlement at the end of this awful process.

There will be lots of things you can do to help. But throughout, not one of them should include the premise that she will be living with you indefinitely. Talk to her, and keep talking. Be gentle, and give it time, and I suspect you'll find that she doesn't want to become a fixture in your home any more than you want her to.

Meanwhile, go out to a forest somewhere, dig a hole, and whisper into it "what goes around comes around." Then fill in the hole. That way you will never be driven to say those words to your sister, no matter how stressful life gets.
Helpful Answer (6)

My MIL has MSA, can barely walk, can't do most ADLs herself anymore, and wakes up every day and pushes through. Many people in my family have called her their "hero" and she truly is an amazing role model. She does exercises every day so that her illness doesn't get any worse. Of course it gets worse a little bit each day, week, month, whatever, but if she did nothing she would be bed bound or dead by now. She doesn't feel sorry for herself and doesn't want others feeling sorry for her. We all pitch in and try to make her feel as normal as possible. Stop coddling your sister, ignoring the problem and pretending it will go away! Decide to help - and then follow through - or, abandon her the way her husband did. You may not be able to care for her but you can help her navigate the systems she's going to need to live an independent life. Forgive her for not helping you with your mother because forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. Good luck!
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Lpapa, you are just plain better than me. I need to vent and moan sometimes and if that offends you then that is just the way it is.
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Purple, write down what you want to say to your sister. Practice it over and over while looking in the mirror - into your eyes. When you have it down pat, write it in outline form. So, when you get nervous, you can glance at the card to remind you of what you want to say.

Now, my oldest brother of next door was suppose to take over in the caring of our aging parents. Dad Gave him the land next door so that he would be able to live close by. When mom got dementia and her doctor had a meeting with us, oldest bro and I were there. The doctor told us that mom's dementia is going to be a long hard road. That this is a time that Everyone must help with her care. Well, let's just say that for the past 23/24 years, it was just me and dad. I have asked over and over for their help. Nothing. Not just with mom's care, but even with maintenance. Nothing. So, we had to pay for an electrician, a plumber, etc... Yet one of mom's sister needs their house re-wired, bro was there to rewire it. For free. This brother was going through some health issues. He was having problem with his children helping him. About 3 years ago, he asked me if I can take care of him. I flat out said, "NO."

What I'm trying to say is that if you truly do not want to caregive your sister, I would stand at that mirror and practice, practice my words. Then, I would tell sister that I have suffered so much caregiving mom, not getting any help from any of you guys, and I almost had a nervous breakdown. I swore to myself that I will never ever go through this again. Never. {Look in her in the eyes when you say this.}

Because you are my sister, I'm willing to help you find housing by helping you to apply for the gov't housing program, etc.... You WILL need another income, therefore, I'd darn well find a divorce lawyer and get alimony. Because I will not be supporting you. You decide what you want in life. But know this, it does not include living here in mine and MY HUSBAND's home. Etc......

FYI, I have problem confronting my elders. But, when oldest bro asked me to take care of him, I had No Problem at all telling him No. I kept wishing for Karma on my siblings. I'm not about to try to stop it. What goes around, comes around....And you know what, mom has passed away 2 years ago. And I'm still struggling to 'forgive' them. Like you said, it's going to be a looooooong time for that to happen.
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I think your sister is too much to handle, and that in itself is reason enough for you to decline to do it. It isn't that I blame you for a split second for being deeply, deeply pissed off with her; but this woman is in a seriously bad place mentally and emotionally and living with - depending on, in fact - someone who is as angry with her as you must understandably be is not going to help her. It certainly isn't going to change her. It could conceivably exacerbate her problems.

So, following that to its logical conclusion, your continuing to support her is actually bad for *her.*

Which means you would not be the cold-hearted one if you showed her the door (having checked first of all, of course, that she has somewhere safe to go). You would simply be the one with your head screwed on straight, and a clear-eyed view of what is likely to be better for her in the long run.

To be her advocate for a second:

she clearly had a lousy marriage, whoever the fault mainly lay with
she has physical ailments, and it would be surprising if they were not aggravated by her mental state
she must feel like crap about herself
she is now engaged in pursuing the self-fulfilling prophesy that nobody, not even her own sister, can stand her; therefore she must be a hopeless case; therefore there is no point in trying; therefore she withdraws into time-wasting diversions/sublimation/whatever you want to call it - and round and round you go.

In your place I'd want to hand this over to professionals. It sounds to me as if the sort of help she needs, perhaps has needed for really an awfully long time, goes much deeper than the generous practical support you have been giving her. I don't think you *can* help her, least of all by enabling. Nothing cold-hearted or selfish about it, she's just too much for family alone.
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