Help for brother and sister-in-law. Any advice?

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I received so much advice and help for the three years I was trying to help my younger brother as he and his wife cared for my elderly father from all of you. I had Dad's POA and was Co-Trustee of his Trust, but they were the caregivers and it wasn't always easy for them. I found help in here that was invaluable, and though Dad passed a year ago, I've still been popping in from time to time to maybe help others.

Now I'm here asking advice once again, this time for my older brother whos marriage has entered an altogether different stage. He's become a caregiver now to his wife. She's 69, overweight, and has been very inactive since she had knee replacements about 8 years ago. A few months ago after a lengthy battle with a sore on her foot, she ended up having one of her legs amputated below the knee. She was 2 weeks in Medical Rehab and nearly 5 weeks in a nursing home rehab. Wound care was, sadly, unsuccessful and she had to go back into the hospital where they amputated the leg further up, above the knee and was given 2 more weeks of medical rehab and 5 more weeks of nursing home rehab (at least I think that's what it was).

Barely a week after she got home, she was taken in for evaluation of her 2nd leg, where, it was tragically concluded, also had to be amputated. A week later they removed her 2nd leg, above the knee. She was 3 weeks in the hospital and was sent home just before Christmas, stating that there was no further help they could give her, that she was out of Medicare. Multiple weeks in rehab used from the 1st amputation and the followup complications and the 2nd leg surgery and rehab in the hospital, had eaten it all up.

Now my brother, who has his own issues, is dealing with his wife, who has no legs, being home. She is larger then he is, so he can't lift her. Medicare did pay for a Hoyer lift, however, thought they were trained on an electric one in rehab they were only allowed a manual lift for home, which is a struggle for my brother to use. Medicaid further turned down their request for a power wheelchair.

My brother, who is a simple guy, is not adept at using the computer to find information that might help, and my sister in law isn't in a good place right now. I'm sorry to say I'm afraid to talk to her...she and I have never been close. They live in another state and I know that she resented that Dad put me in charge of his affairs rather then my older brother. I just don't know what to say to her. I feel like such a coward. How do you say, "so sorry about your losing your legs" to someone you know isn't keen on you in the first place. Heck, how do you say it to anyone, friend or foe?

But I so want to help my brother with encouragement and any advice I can give. He isn't up to handling something like this, which is why my dad put me in charge of his affairs. Has anyone here ever deal with such a situation? Any ideas, suggestions, websites to visit? Any help at all will be greatly appreciated.

Answers 1 to 7 of 7
Top Answer
Maybe you can help them hire caregivers to come in once in a while just to give your brother a break?? I don't know if there is money for that.

I really don't have good answers. Maybe just listening to your brother, be somebody he can express his worries and complaints to, would be the best help.

Good luck!!
Thanks chdottir... listening to my brother I'm good at. I just feel so bad for him and so helpless. Fortunately my sister in law is not affected mentally, other then being depressed (who wouldn't be) but she can stay alone while my brother goes and gets groceries and the like. He does have that...where there are many caregivers who dare not leave their loved ones along at all. My dear younger sister in law watched dad like he was a 2 yr old and wouldn't leave him unless there was someone else there to watch him. I visited them (out of state) twice a year just to give them a week off for vacation together. At least my older brother is not under those constraints....

Also, The Amputee Coalition look like good places to start.

I'd offer to fight with Medicaid, just for starts. The request for a power wheelchair has to be worded just right, and has to do with in home, not outside the home independence or something. Someone will be along who knows about that.

I'd write SIL an email or note that says something supportive like, I'm so sorry for your recent medical issues and long stints in rehab, I'm sure it's good to be home, and send along a nice plant.
Thanks Barb...all good advice. Don't know about the plant though. I did send her flowers in the hospital, but never heard anything from her. Don't know what she'd think of a plant. Maybe a note though. Thanks for the Amputee Coalition suggestion and the 21 things an Amputee can't live without...good help there for sure. And I have told my brother they have to try to fight the Medicare decision about the power wheel chair... I hope they are willing to do that and not just give in.
Depending upon your brother's location, there is an abundance of power chairs that no one knows what to do with after the original owner no longer needs them. e.g a church in my area has a durable medical equipment ministry. They accept donations and loan items out to those who need them. It sure saves the landfills! Continuing care communities may have ideas of what their resident's families do with equipment after the loved one passes. Sometimes the MS or MDA or similar organization has this equipment available. It will take a lot of phone calls (including Goodwill, Salvation army, nursing homes etc. ) to find what you need but trust me, it IS available.
What a good idea geewiz has! And all that tedious phoning is something you could do to help!
GeeWiz....all great ideas! A long phone call to my brother is in definitely in order now. And Jeanne, the idea of making some of the many calls they are going to need is also an excellent idea. I will mention that to my brother too! I just knew you guys would be full of great suggestions. Thanks much everyone, it's going to help a lot I'm betting!

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