I live with my father and have been his primary caregiver for 5 years now. At Christmas, I finally asked my 2 sisters and one brother for help, I am burnt out.
My older sister, the oldest child, has always had issues because our brother was our Mom's favorite (she passed away over 6 years ago). Then you add twin baby sisters and she had no chance of getting attention. She has to have the last word in every conversation. Most things she says or does must be praised, or she gets her feelings hurt. She is hyper effecient and organized. She is helpful, but she wears me out more than helping dad does!! I hate to be forced to compliment someone. Repeated compliments make me crazy.
I quit work to care for Dad so I have no where to hide from her. Because she lives out of town, she too is here 24/7. I had hoped that I could go do things, unfortunately, most people I want to do things with are at work or in school. If Dad is having a good day, she wants to come with me. My son plays sports in the evenings, so I do get to go to his practices and games without her. It is too long of a time for Dad to be alone.
I take naps when Dad does for two reasons, one to get rest because I dont sleep well listening for him at night, and two, to get away from her.
She only stays 5-9 days at a time, then my other sister comes for a week. Unfortunately, the other thing that is getting to me is the fact they are now not covering weekends because they have prior commitments. Uh, hello, weekends off in the summer were what I was looking for as well. I deserve to be able to take mini trips and spend all day at a park with my son too.
This has only been going on for about 6 weeks and I already am looking for a new alternative. Dad is under Hospice care at home. Some days I think he will still be here at Christmas, other days I think he wont make it to the end of the week.
I want their life. You know, the one where I can walk away from the sickness whenever I want, make plans for fun things and keep them, live in a house that doesnt smell of poop. And yet, she needs me to thank her and praise her for her sacrifice 24/7. She also mentions how stressful paying for all these flights to come here is. GRRRRRRRRR
HELP!!!! I spend a lot of energy just grinning and bearing it. I have to bite my tongue constantly!!

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1. Draw up a list of what you need help with, include times and days.
2. Tell her to come less often but send you the money for airfare so you can hire someone and get away.
3. Plan to be gone when she is there -- take off and do things with your son and let sister have full control while you;re gone.
4. Be clear about what you need and that you have to have some relief. Do it nicely but firmly. In writing if that helps you be less emotional.
5. get "The 36 hour Day" and ask your siblings to read it

It didn't help me much to get away because I knew it would still be there when I got back. this is a horrible, horrible disease. Not as much for the person who can't remember but for those around them that are devastated by it.
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Hi Purplerose
I tell my younger sister that she's so out of touch and needs to spend more time with our mother, even if its difficult for her to have to catch a bus. A couple of phone calls a week do not give a true perspective of what is required in co-dependancy.
We place ourselves in the care-giving roll because we feel its the right & loving thing to do. Even though, we might resent the lack of support from capable siblings, in the end we are the ones who have the clear conscience and feel good about the effort we put in for that time. We can't change the people around us, but we can still open opportunities to air our griefs to them. That way, even if it makes no difference, you won't be bottling it all up inside.
Good luck
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Thank you to all who have commented!! Each answer has given me something new to think about, which I truly appreciate. I have warned my siblings that when this is all over, I will be a very selfish person. It will be all about my son and me.
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Hi CharlieK. Does this benifit to have caregiver help extend to the spouse of the military? My dad served and is now dead, it's mom I need help with and she didn't serve. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Caring for your dad is stressful. He can't help how he is, and you can't change him. You are doing what you do out of love for him, in spite of his behaviors that are difficult for you.

Dealing with your sister is stressful. Perhaps she can't help how she is, and you may not be able to change her. Try to react to her out of love for her, in spite of her behaviors that are difficult for you.

Hmm ... does that put it in another light?

But unlike your dad and his illness, it is possible that Sis CAN help her behaviors, at least some of them, some of the time. So having the kind of conversation that Jane B suggests is sure worth a try.

It sounds like you have a lot of insight into your family dynamics, and you've been able to grin and bear it pretty well. That may not be a bad strategy. Throw in a little boundary-setting ("No, I'd rather not leave Dad alone today, so I hope you will stay with him while I go out. And I hope we'll have a lot of time to do sister things together after this is over") and I'll bet you can make it through this journey with some family relationships intact.

You want their life. That is very, very understandable after five years of being the primary caregiver. You can't have their life now. That sucks, but that is how it is. Dad is on hospice. This isn't going to last forever. In a few weeks or months you will be able to walk away whenever you want, make plans for fun things and keep them, live in a house that doesnt smell of poop.

Come here and vent often! You can say, "Do you know what my insecure sister said when she arrived today? ... " and we'll all say, "How outrageous! You are doing a wonderful thing to not haul off and slug her!" Just be sure to tell us you are venting so we don't offer advice you don't really need. Because you truly are going a great job.

Take advantage of any respite care opportunities Hospice can offer you. And you won't even have to compliment them over and over in exchange for their service!
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So proud of you. You are doing great! I don't mind giving people compliments but if they're constantly fishing for one then I wouldn't keep doing it. I would make myself scarce when she is there and maybe ask her if she'd mind if you went here or there just to get away on your own for awhile. She should understand this and this will also give her time with your dad.
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See how it would feel to say this to big sis: "I do appreciate your sacrifice of time and money to come help take care of Dad. And I want you to hear it very clearly. Atbthe same time, everyone is making a sacrifice. It's not a's a commitment. We are all making it. Hearing about how much you are giving, like you are the only one, is hard on top of what I'm managing and have been managing alone for years. So I'm going to count on you to remember this conversation, and everyone's gratitude for pitching in now. And let's just take it as an article of faith that we don't have to discuss it anymore."

Or maybe even show her this post you've made, on e you start getting responses.

I'm the oldest sister myself, and I am very organized and quick to move. I know I take actions without consulting my sister because she takes so long to process stuff, and she doesn't live here, where we are taking care of my Dad in our home. So your note is a good reminder to include her more in updates, etc. (she lives 1,000 miles away). Big sisters hate hearing we are wrong, but most of the time, we can eventually respond with grace.

Good luck to you all! And what a great daughter and sister you've been through all of this.
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Hi, I too had a similar problem with my sister while I cared for our Dad full time.
You need a break - you need help to recharge.
Question?? Was your Dad in the military service?? If so check with the closest Veterans Affairs office about a military pension benefit called Aid and Attendance. If you have a computer go on and Search for the program. He may or may not qualify - but go ahead and apply. This benefit could help you in paying for home care and give you a much needed break. You also might be able to be paid for your care as a caregiver for your Dad through this pension program.
Suggestion: Start as soon as you can to complete VA paper; Make copies of anything you send to the VA; Always send information to the VA Certified - Signature request upon delivery. - It could take anywhere from 3 to 9 months.
You can also reach the VA by calling 1-800-827-1000 and go through the telephone prompt until you get to Pensions. This is a disability pension benefit for both Veterans and widows of Veterans that qualify.
So good luck with sister. The good news is - she is helping you to develop Patience - and we all need more of that when it comes to helping people.
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