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I tried to provide some advice to my mother to be careful with how she financially assists my 42 year old sister (with rent, etc) as she is in rehab facility and might be applying to Medicaid; I advised her that there is a 'lookback period'. Sis lived with mom and uses her credit card for expenses; mom did not compensate sister for the day-to-day care she provided while sis also tried to work a full-time plus job. Somehow my statement got all blown out of proportion to mean that I was criticizing her from helping any of us daughters financially as we were growing up; this was NOT what I meant. I was helped as well but did have the resources to pay her back for the financial help she gave me...and then some (and now that money is all gone, spent on who-knows).


Meanwhile, the communication has broken down amongst us, everyone seems to be mad. I am DONE providing advice that is not asked for, even if that means my mom and sisters struggle with the situation; they might not ask me for help. I try to text every couple of days to provide support but it is falling flat because it's never about anything substantive just 'How are you? I love you. Hope you have a good day.' I know they are struggling and I want to help but they won't allow anything I have to offer. I don't want to ignore them but feel that I am being pushed out. If I don't initiate these pleasantries each day, I run the risk of drifting further and further away, something they expect from me anyway.


Is anyone else in this situation and how do you deal? I live half-way across the country and just can't leave to be with them at very short notice unless there is an active crisis. And even when I do, they shirk all of my attempts to help. I am trying to bite my tongue...

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I'm in Erinm60's camp. I was the out-of-stater who didn't give any real help to my sisters trying to care for Mom while her dementia took hold and deepened. I felt guilty, though I knew to listen to their ravings and give moral support. Then one day Sister 2 called spewing pure hatred over the phone after learning Relative had gotten Mom to give Relative thousands of dollars and Mom had no money left while Sister 2 was killing herself with her on-call job and living with Mom caring for her. Mom wouldn't remember giving Relative the money and even if she did she wouldn't press charges as Relative was Mom's favorite.

I listened and let Sister 2 rave. When I talked to Sister 1 immediately after to figure out what to do I had an epiphany about doing REAL help: if they could get Mom to give me financial POA I could do all her finances, freeing up Sisters 1 and 2 to only have to care for Mom's person and her house. They were ecstatic. If Relative wanted to scam more money, she'd have to go through me--which wouldn't work. I made up a sanitized "statement" to mail monthly to Mom and Sisters so they could see where every penny was spent (sanitized as Mom would throw away key documents and Sister 2 would have to go through the trash every day).

Now, years later, I left my home in another state and moved in with Mom as her live-in caregiver with Sisters stepping in.

The bottom line is, your family members are probably exhausted and burned out. Now, you pointed out something THEY have to do. Oh, good, something more to do and it's a government thing so that means it's going to be convoluted and hard to figure out.

This long post is to highlight for non-caregivers if they want to help, DO something. How about you learn all you can about the particulars of the situation and give them concrete, specific suggestions--such as how to annotate compensation, make up a form if needed--so they can do to protect themselves.
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Oh, my, yes I feel excluded for simply trying to help.

Finally figured out that brother (the primary caregiver) does not want anyone sticking their nose into his plans for mother. We can come visit, but are not allowed to do ANYTHING to "help". The 3 MIA sibs are fine with this, they can continue to do nothing. I still want to see mother 2-3 times a week, and now I am shut down as to "helping her"...the time is long, boring and I end up with a tension h/a because I don't DO sitting still for long periods of time. Mother does puzzles and watches TV all day long. Neither interest me in the slightest. She has a TON of "needs" any time I come by, but I have had to explain to her that I am not allowed to help her. I can't handle brother's raging at me. She doesn't understand (neither do I).

I have never been critical of the care she receives. I am 100% grateful to this brother for taking mother (and daddy) in when they had to move, but he is so weird about allowing anyone in....he wants no outside help, no suggestions on anything.

Offers to spell him to do anything are met with hostility and anger, always. I have given up trying. Our family is broken over this. Brother needs psych help and of course won't get it. Ah well--mother is 88, not in the best of health and maybe if she passes in the next 5-10 years, we'll have time to heal.

I really don't understand his choice to be a martyr.
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If they don't want your help, don't give it.

If your mom is " helping" your sister financially, let your sister know, in writing, that this may affect mom's ability to get Medicaid down the road.

Step back. Let them figure it out.
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Anyone who gives me any advice, whose not living here 24/7. I tend to resent. I’m living this life with an 80 year old mother with dementia. I have no privacy. My husband, daughter, have no privacy. I don’t need or want to hear from people that don’t help. I know this sounds harsh, and I’m sorry for that. By help ,  I mean ,  call her , take her to lunch.      And please don’t tell me what I could or should be doing better,  when these relatives do nothing
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So, let's see. Did you say, "I just found out about a look-back period when you apply for Medicaid. They check into all gifts given in the last 5 years. It might be good to set up payments to Sis as compensation for her help, rather than a gift." Or did you just suggest that mom is going to get into trouble for providing Sis with financial help? In other words, were you suggesting a solution, or could your message have been interpreted as just stirring up trouble?

What other kinds of helpful advice have you offered that hasn't been well-received?

What other help do you offer? Telling them that you love them is good. Do you ever praise them for what they are doing? ("It sounds like you did a really good job of getting Mom settled in rehab, Sis.") Have you ever sent little thank-you gifts, like a gift card to a restaurant or a box of chocolates? ("Sorry I'm too far away for day-to-day help. I really appreciate all you are doing.") Have you asked them how you can help from afar?

Do not give unsolicited advice, unless you can actually offer some help along with it.

(And why do you think you should know what mother did with money you paid her back?)
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Oh goodness, Optimist, you really do mean well. Hugs. Sigh.

You know how Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake" and everyone was outraged at her callousness towards her starving people? She wasn't being callous. She was suggesting an alternative to bread. How was she to know they didn't have brioches either? And, serious question, how was it *her* fault that she was that detached from their reality?

As another illustration, my ex (there's a clue) husband had perfect comic timing. He would appear in the kitchen every time, without fail, just as the last fork was being put away after the Sunday lunch dishwashing and say brightly "can I help?"

What I'm getting at is that there are ways and ways of offering help. All of them may be well intentioned. But only some will be well received.

I don't suppose you have much leisure time. But would you be able to relieve your sister for a long weekend every so often?
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Thanks for the clarifications, optimist1. You are a physician. You give advice for a living, and you expect it to be followed. If a patient is not compliant with your advice you are unhappy about that. Do you suppose that this attitude that is perfectly appropriate in the work place is coming across in the family situation, where it is not appropriate?

Here is a slightly different perspective on interaction between sisters.

I have 3 sisters, and they did the initial care for our mom with small contributions from me, while I cared for my husband who had dementia. After he died I joined them and we operated as a team of 4.

I was the only one who had hands-on experience with dementia. I attended conferences. I read books. I belonged to a local caregiver support group and an online group. So my sisters welcomed my experience and knowledge, right? Well, no they didn't. If I sent links to 3 articles about some aspect of dementia our mom was experiencing, they may or may not look them up and read them.

Here's a little background: Sisters range from 5 years to 10 years younger than I. As their Big Sister I taught them the alphabet and to read. I read them bedtime stories. I made clothes for them and for their dolls. I am the only one in my family of 7 with a college degree (and a masters).

So maybe there is a little bit of "you can't pull rank on us anymore. We are equal adults," in their attitude. Do you think? And when I talked to the oldest sister about the resistance I was feeling, she said she felt criticized. It was not her style to research each symptom, to attend conferences, etc., and she felt that by my sharing that I was saying "I know the best way to care for Ma." Oops. Instead of being glad I could provide an aspect of the care they didn't want to do themselves, they thought I was making them look bad. Oh my. But we were a great team and Ma got great care. And the 4 of us still love each other.

Does any of that resonate with you?
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I've got a sister who has always been able to fit some anecdote or advice into almost every conversation, it has taken years of push back from the recipients of her wisdom but she has finally started to understand that people don't want your advice unless they ask for it.
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Family can be important, I’m well aware of the difficulties a ‘loner’ can have. But my extended family has made it clear I’m not welcome. I believe the fact that I didn’t grow up with them, I grew up in Miami FL, and Miami rubs off on a person, to explain my difference. My parents ‘moved back home’ for some mysterious reason and so I must go into a truly clannish, hostile part of the craziest state in the US every time I go see them.

This is true too. As children they’d tell me ‘we don’t know those big words you use’ and walk away. So think what you may, that’s the situation. They are awful people.
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Dear all, there are some good suggestions, although a bit harsh, but perhaps some truth to it. However, I do what I can. Yes, I praise my sister frequently of how she has solely been responsible for keeping my mom out of the nursing home and have said I'm here to do anything she needs me to do. I do send things, like money, to my sis and mom for various occasions; I was hoping that some of the money I gave to my mom ($40,000) would have been placed into savings. You're right, I gave it to her for her to do with what she wanted. But the honest truth is my sister buys many, many things she doesn't need with my mom's credit card sometimes (OK, there I go giving more advice!). I have gone on summer vacations with them and paid for many things, including hotel room at very nice oceanside resort, and rented a car, drove up with them to the resort, paid all gas, many meals, etc. I'm not looking for thanks for them (I do get it however) but I am trying to do what I can. I have asked my sister what she needs and she will say 'come visit' and I do when I am able. I suggested she visit Elder Care lawyer (and I paid full bill). My sister finds it exceedingly difficult to ask for any help from me despite my asking and offering to do what she needs. I am trying to help; I feel sorry for the situation. But perhaps offering my advice is sending the message that they're not 'doing it right'. 

And last year I consulted Elder Care lawyer from afar and I asked how, along with other things, to help my sister financially (paying off credit card debt, etc) to get her in the best situation to succeed, realizing that she had given selflessly to mom's care.  He wondered why I would want to do that and indicated that her stated debt was probably just tip of the iceberg.  

I'm a physician and try to provide a little medical insight, also with medications so they can make appropriate and well-informed decisions. They see no value in this so I have recently stopped commenting on any of this as well. I feel helpless, which is OK as I know my sister and mom are going through much more than I am. I have my faults and I am willing to face them. Watching my mom and sister go through this is one of the hardest things I have ever done (I want to make it right, make it easier). But perhaps it is a bit controlling and I need to step away from that.

Thank you all for your honest advice.

And CTTN55, thank you for pointing out the discrepancy with my profile and my post.  I just went back to change it and cannot; perhaps there needs to be a different category.  We are asked 'caring for _____', location where they live, etc.  No option to indicate that I have a mom that lives at home or in rehab facility, and I live a distance away, and that my sis is primary caregiver.
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