I'm reaching out to see if anyone has a similar experience to mine. I relocated a year ago to care for my older brother who has vascular dementia and clinical depression. I lived in another state, and I was flying back and forth monthly after I had to put him in an AL and become his POA.
My brother did not adjust well to the care facility. He would not eat or take medications at first. He doesn't speak to anyone or attend activities. He stays in bed all day and has to be coaxed to get up and go to the dining room to eat. He seems to have lost his will to live. I was getting burned out flying back and forth to try to help him, so I made the difficult decision to relocate.
Although I knew I was uprooting my own life (I'm single and retired, age 70), I couldn't just abandon my brother because all other family members/friends have died. It's just the two of us left. I am struggling to make a "new life" for myself here in a different city, but starting over again is rough at 70. I am glad I was available to come help my brother, but this major life change so late in the game is harder than I thought it would be. With God's help, I'm making new connections and finding new activities. I do feel twinges of guilt from time to time when I choose to do things for myself instead of spending time with my brother, but I'm hoping this will get easier. It's one day at a time for now. Thanks for listening!
Unfortunately, within a few years her brother & his wife both passed away.
Now, I'm here alone - except for my Mom who is now in her late 80's confined to bed. I'm In my 60's & disabled due to a fall.
It's been hard, mostly because the virus shut downs have limited my ability to meet people. And most people around my age already have their own social networks developed.
So, yes I've done something similar to you.
I just take the good days with the bad days, and try to make myself as much at home here as possible. With the change in real estate prices lately, realize I can't go back "home." But, even if I did - most of the people I was friends with have moved to other states and other areas. Or focus entirely on their grandchildren - taking care of them, raising them. etc So wouldn't be seeing them much anyway.
Some have passed away, also. Not much left for me there.
So, you're not alone and my advice is to "bloom where you're planted" as they say - if you like your new area and plan on staying there.
The option of leaving will always be there, just depends on what would be waiting for you wherever you went.
A BIG part of being in Assisted Living (hopefully he's in Memory Care AL?) is that your brother create his own routine and lifestyle IN the AL, without relying on YOU for his entertainment. If you are there with him all the time, you are preventing him from creating that new routine for himself inside the AL. Only visit him for limited times and limited days per week to enable him to do that.
If the AL is allowing your brother to stay in bed all day, that is a problem. My mother lives in a Memory Care AL and they DO NOT permit such a thing to happen! All residents except hospice patients must be up and dressed and out of their rooms by 9:30 am each day for breakfast. Period. The caregivers see to it, in fact. Otherwise, the resident can waste away in bed and that is not the goal of Memory Care. The goal is to have the residents interact, socialize, participate in games and activities designed to stimulate them, eat meals together, take short trips to scenic places on the mini bus, etc. If the AL is not doing this with your brother, the AL is the problem here, not your brother.
Remember that it is not YOUR job to keep your brother entertained and socialized, fed and healthy every day; it is the ALs job to do that. Visit for limited times every week and then use the rest of the time to live YOUR life, my friend. Don't get so caught up in HIS life that you neglect your own. There are TWO lives of importance here, not just one. We often get SO caught up in the elder's life that we start to think ours is unimportant, and we lose ourselves. THAT is the big mistake. You've already moved to a new state which is too much by most people's standards, so don't continue to set yourself on fire to keep him warm. See to it that the AL keeps THEIR promise to keep him happy, healthy and stimulated!
Best of luck.
For a bit of perspective:
If your brother went to college, and you relocated to follow him,
then became his entire social life,
his activities director,
would he have thrived there?
He won't thrive on his own at his AL, if you do the same things for him there.
YOU need a life of your own, as well.
YOU need a social life.
YOU need activities.
YOU need a comfortable home.
YOU didn't move into an AL. Your brother did.
If he were to pass away, what would you have?
Take care of YOU, too.
That is really difficult during a pandemic. My children moved last year and have been lucky to find 2 friends in their new town. They are considering moving again if my son-in-law gets a job nearer to us... and to more friend opportunities.
Consider moving back to where you are comfortable... and moving your brother to be near you, He might also do better with a short stint in an inpatient psych unit to adjust his medications.
It is very difficult to watch a family member essentially die slowly so any emotional support you can find elsewhere may help you to cope with this situation. My thoughts are with you.
I relocated to my mother/sister city 3 hours away and it’s a struggle to help
My own life, friends, great doctors are a long drive away.
Now my only child and her family just moved to the the city I left, talk about frustrating. No one appreciates that I’m here and my mother spent years character assignation of the entire family. But worked non stop to get me here or she said she can’t make it.
What a shock, I’m 57 as of yesterday, I really wish I stayed where I was. I’d be with my grandkids now
a) Doctor thought ‘it would be better for my brother to be in his familiar surroundings and relocating would add to his depression’. Why did Doctor think so? Hopefully not to keep a paying patient!
b) Has Doctor been proved correct? Probably not, considering that brother ‘doesn't speak to anyone or attend activities.... he stays in bed all day and has to be coaxed to get up and go to the dining room to eat. He seems to have lost his will to live’. What is ‘better’ about that? How are the very limited ‘familiar surroundings’ helping?
c) You decided that you were ‘more capable of adjusting to a new place’. You are finding it harder than you thought, and brother has made no progress at all. Was it the wrong decision? Are you stuck with it, or could you rethink it? ‘Managing your reality’ might mean accepting that it was a bad decision, you would be better off going home, and brother would be no worse if he relocated too.
d) You feel guilty when you ‘choose to do things for myself instead of spending time with my brother’. Why? Accepting that you and brother are the last of the family, why are you ‘more capable’ and why is your brother more important than you?
e) What does the future hold? How long is brother likely to live? How long are you prepared to live a half-life focused on your brother? What do you do if he predeceases you?
Don’t feel that you have backed yourself into a corner. Think again!
I feel as though that doctor threw a very kind and conscientious sibling completely under the bus.