My 81 yo father has many health concerns as well as dementia. I’m living with my mother and him, and my mother and I take care of him. He was still able to do some things for himself until 2 weeks ago. Now, he needs to be lifted in and out of bed and moved about by wheelchair. His communication skills are limited, and he is unable to attend to any personal needs. We both love him absolutely and feel lucky for the time we still have with him. He began receiving hospice care in home last week, and it has been a great emotional trauma to think that this means we are losing him.

My brother lives abroad and visits a couple of times a year. He and I have never been close and to this day, we have never discussed how to care for our parents. It appears assumed that I’ll handle it, no problem. I don’t protest because I’m happy to do it, regardless of how difficult it can get. I’m very close with all his kids, and it’s been our practice that they all come for vactions, and at some point, their parents leave for a private vacation, and my mother and I care for the kids. Again, it’s never discussed - it just happens and I go along with it. I love the kids, so it’s not a bother, and I don’t complain about how presumptuous it is to ignore me most of my life, but just randomly make plans that involve me taking care of his kids without ever talking to me first. Whatever, that’s how it is.

BUT, with the next month-long visit 3 weeks away, I made a point of saying that I’d like at least one parent to be here so that neither my father nor the kids will be neglected. We also had planned a short trip I would take with one of the kids, but that would leave my mother alone to care for my dad and a grandchild, which she physically and emotionally is not fit to do. My brother is my mom’s favorite, so now she’s upset with me for interjecting that I’d like some back-up to help out during their visit.

I feel like I’m missing something. How am I selfish for feeling that the sudden prospect of my father dying and recently becoming a complete invalid should mean that at least 1 parent be here full time for their kids? I can’t be a babysitter and a caregiver. I just can’t. I love those kids more than anything, and I’d still like them to visit, but not at the expense of my father’s care. Mom’s mad and basically accused me of cancelling the summer plans because I refuse to back down off of this. What am I missing?

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How old are these children?

Stop discussing this with your mother. You're the grown up in the room. What I hope is that we'll be able to help you figure out a plan that works for everyone. Tell your mother that she's not to worry and you're looking forward as much as she is to seeing the family.

Step one is to stop thinking that your brother, his wife, and their children won't understand that their father's/grandfather's reaching the end of his life makes an important difference to everyone's vacation plans. Of course they will.

Your mother is upset altogether. Her husband is dying, she feels like "everything" is being ruined and now here you are "making" more problems and raining on brother's parade (of course you're not, I'm just exploring her perspective). So instead of looking on this as a practical project that needs its logistics figured out, she's just lumping it in with the end of the world and expressing her fear and grief. She's no use to you for practical purposes. Reassure her, and work this out with your brother and (possibly more helpful) SIL.
Helpful Answer (7)

Your brother and SIL have no doubt organised and paid for their ‘private vacation’. Saying that one of them must stay back will make it very difficult for them in what is probably their high point in the year. However illness and death are rarely convenient for everyone, so perhaps their problems are just tough luck. You aren’t being unreasonable, but the situation has turned everyone’s expectations on their head, including for your mother. You have never involved brother in the care, so they weren’t expecting it.

Perhaps you could acknowledge the problems and ask them for constructive suggestions to make sure that you can do what you need to do. Summer camp for the kids? Hiring someone (a student on vacation perhaps) to care for them, they only sleep over at your place? Co-opt the kids to help with the care? The kids should probably be old enough to do it for their grandparents. And with the internet, brother and SIL can organise it as well as you can (OK perhaps you interview the student carer).

If brother and SIL get difficult, suggest that you go on the holiday with mother, and they stay at your place and do the care. As they should know, a change is as good as a holiday.
Helpful Answer (5)

At this point, u can't expect everyone to change their plans. But I would explain to brother that Dad is on Hospice. Because of this, kids need to understand that your and Moms time is not ur own. Hospice aides are only once a day if that so u and Mom are taking the brunt of Dads care, Make a point to say that you still want to see the kids, especially Mom. She needs this right now.

I would also talk to Hospice and ask if you can get more help. Maybe respite care for the time u have planned with the one child.

If your brother cannot understand the dynamics here, u have a problem. He is going to put his needs above that of his Dad?
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Disclaimer: Sorry for the blunt response, but I've had enough of people taking advantage of others. Does your brother and family actually think this vacation can only be a vacation about them or does their dying father not impact them at all?

There's nothing wrong with telling them that things have to be different. Frankly, it's a good time for your brother to teach his kids about putting others first and making changes to their precious vacation to help his father, his mother, and YOU!

If your brother and SIL can only survive by taking off and leaving their children with you and Mom while caring for his dying father, then have the kids help out with their grandfather. It'll be good for them and your parents and you. Put them to work.
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JoAnn29 Jun 2019
I would say that you and your mother should absolutely NOT care for the kids. And I sure as hell would NOT hire babysitters-your brother should foot that bill. Should the kids visit? Sure but with their parents. It is incredibly unfair for your brother to burden you and your mother with childcare at this time. I’ve got a BIL that for several years had no problem burdening my MIL with childcare. And yes it WAS a burden on her. Even when she was very sick, she still took on the burden BUT as soon as she went on hospice, all of that stopped. There was no way her partner could take care of her and tend to a child-a self sufficient child but a child none the less that required attention and care too.

your brother may have planned his holiday but the fact is, your parents circumstances have changed and they cannot look after his kids. This is something I would not bend on myself. I almost want to say that you should book a holiday while the kids are there since your mom is ok watching the kids but you know what? It is your dad you would be punishing. HIS care would suffer because your mom would be taking care of the kids.

I also dont think it is fair for you all to hire caregivers for dad or babysitters for the kids. Your circumstances have changed and your brother needs to be the one to make the decisions. He’s not helping you care for your parents so.....I would not accept this burden at all. But that’s just me. Good luck. I hope your family can work out something that everyone agrees to.
Helpful Answer (3)

Thank you all for the replies. I’m relieved for the advice. My mother plans to talk with my brother and his wife this weekend about whether the trip should be shortened. Realizing I probably won’t be included in this conversation, I emailed all and stated that my very strong desire is that a parent be with the kids during their entire visit, or that they hire a babysitter. I stated that I am busy with my father’s care. I love those kids, but I just don’t have the energy.
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You are missing having your own life, allowing others to run your life.
You are grieving the potential loss of your Dad, something you cannot control.
So maybe you can control your brother?

I don't think you are selfish. but overwhelmed.

I suggest Mom hires babysitters to fill what you cannot do. And bring in any caregiving help needed. It does not have to be one parent, imo.

You cannot make your brother visit your dying father, and you cannot make him care.

So sorry about your Dad's declining health.

Come back to discuss some future plans that will benefit you, your future.
Helpful Answer (2)

I agree with Sendhelp. Get your brother to help pay for caregivers to come in and help. There are so many to choose from. Hire some babysitters to come in to help with kids. It should not all fall on you. I know how you feel. I let most of the work land on me as I have cared for my in-laws and parents. My mom is the last to go. She is on hospice. Thankfully my sister and I split her care.
My councelor told me not to be afraid to ask for what I needed. You need to do the same. You probably need to take your trip too with one of the kids to help with your sanity. You are just going to have to bring in outside help. You are can’t do all of this and Countrymouse is right your mom is just generally upset by all of this. She loves you, she just gets to see you all the time so it seems that your brother is her favorite. I’m sorry she makes you feel that way. Stand up for yourself. It is not wrong to realize you can’t do it all.
Helpful Answer (2)

Re-reading this morning.....
Your brother, his wife, and (2) children come to visit for a month, but leave only for a part of that month on a private vacation.

You are being the adult, it is understandable the need to plan. And especially your own time.

They will see/observe the care required for your Dad by your Mom and you. And see hospice come in. Do you have any hopes that they will step up and help?
Just a whole family visiting for a month can turn a household upside down. Will they be staying wih you? Can you take one week (when they first arrive) for your own vacation?

Your concerns are valid. Caregivers have been where you are.
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