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My two brothers, sister and I moved my parents into assisted living when my mom asked for help at age 97. She was primary caregiver to my dad, 101, with a colostomy and macular degeneration. My mom broke her hip shortly after moving into assisted living and died from complications.


My dad sits by himself all day. He doesn't watch TV or join activities because he's legally blind but is mentally very sharp. He goes to the dining room for breakfast, skips lunch but gos for dinner. I live 40 miles away, visit him several times a week, do his laundry and call him every night. My brother lives closer and visits 1x week. Other brother lives out of state but does come and visit every day while in town and calls Dad most days. My daughter lives close, takes her young kids to visit several times a month and calls sometimes.


My sister lives 20 minutes away, visits once every few months and calls Dad less than once every few months. She also has 4 adult kids who do the same.


Dad is very lonely; mom and dad were married 74 years. The whole family gathered at our parents' home for all the holidays and summers visits and we are all close and get along well.


When I talk with Dad, in person or on the phone, he enjoys talking and my brothers and I often ask him about one of his favorite subjects just so he'll carry the conversation and be involved (even though we've heard most of his stories many times. ;-))


How can I get my sister and her kids to at least give him a call?
One time I asked my sister right out: "Why don't you call dad?" And she replied, "I don't know."

I was the child in my family who was closest to my parents and grandparents. I have to say though, that when I was younger, I never thought about it much, until one day, my grandmother told me that I was the only one of her grandchildren who visited her.

I told my grandma that everyone else saw her at my mom and dad’s house. She replied, “Well, you see me at your mom and dad’s house and you still come to my house.” She wasn’t trying to put her other grandchildren down. Sometimes, she was lonely after grandpa died. She wanted me to know that she appreciated my visits. My grandmother was so very sweet. She always had cookies and ice cream! She was the best cook in Louisiana and I absolutely adored her. She taught me her cooking secrets when I asked her to show me how to cook. Has your dad said that he is lonely or are you assuming that he is very sad and lonely?

Grandma didn’t tell too many stories. She didn’t reminisce very much. She was more of a ‘present day’ kind of person. When she did visit the past. she didn’t ruminate. She made her point and moved on. I loved that about her. She loved crocheting and knitting.

Is there anything that your dad enjoys? I know that he has vision issues but does he like music or audiobooks? Podcasts? Since he likes to tell stories, do you think that he would like to record his favorite memories? One of my friends took a class to write her memoir. She loved it! She isn’t married. She has no children. She has had an interesting life. She enjoys writing and did this for herself. Maybe he could tell his stories and recruit other elderly people to share their stories too.

When my mom was living with me, she would complain about not seeing my siblings. At first. I was empathetic and I asked them to visit and call more often. They had excuses, so I let it go. When mom bought it up again, I told her to call them. Once in awhile she would call them. I think she felt somewhat abandoned because she was very close to her mom and they spoke and saw each other often.

I don’t think that you will get anywhere by harping on the topic of calling or visiting more often. They may see it as laying a guilt trip on them, even if that is not your intention. Accept the situation for what it is. Accept your sister’s response. She told you that she doesn’t know why she feels as she does. Let it go.

I can tell you that I absolutely hated being placed in the middle of my mom and my siblings. It’s a terribly uncomfortable place to be. I refused to pump my siblings for information when mom would hint for me to call and ask them something. I immediately told her to call if she wanted to chat about something. Once I made that clear, she stopped asking me to call them.

Wishing you and your family all the best.
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MissMuffet Jul 20, 2021
Thanks, NeedHelpWithMom,
Dad always fixed everything and was an avid reader, wanting to learn more. We have tried audiobooks and podcasts, tried an Alexa. My daughter does record his stories about WWII, growing up the baby of 9 kids, etc.

Fortunately, although he is lonely he remains a positive person and never complains. And, as several others have mentioned, he lost his lifetime love and no one can replace her. So we talk about Mom alot.

My brother has also told me I can't change my sister's choices and everyone here agrees. So, I will accept what I cannot change.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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It's not up to you to make your dad less lonely by guilting your siblings into calling him. My mother lives in Memory Care & my 2 children infrequently call or visit her which she hounds me about all the time. I tell her there's nothing I can do about it, sorry. I tell her to pick up the phone if/when she's able and to call THEM. With her dementia advancing, it's becoming more difficult for her to use the phone properly, but sometimes she manages. I can't wreck MY relationship with my children by nagging them to call grandma. The reason they don't want to call her is that she plays the guilt card with them when they do call. When they visit, she complains constantly and then asks them to stay all day when they cannot. It's a catch-22 really, and not something I can fix. I did manage to organize a pizza dinner with the 4 of us a few weeks ago & I don't think she even remembers it. Sigh.

You're doing the best job YOU can do for your father. Leave it at that and let the chips fall where they may with your siblings. I know how hard this whole situation is, trust me, and you have my sympathy.
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MissMuffet Jul 20, 2021
Thanks, lealonnie1.
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You “can’t get someone to do…(insert whatever here)”
You do get to change how you deal with it.
You visit when you can. You call when you can. After that LEAVE IT ALONE.
If she does not visit or call that is on her NOT a reflection on you.
If her kids don’t call or visit that is on them as they are adults.
What I would do is see if there is a way to get the facility to get dad more involved. Do they have someone in charge of activities that can get him and I would guess there are others that need help getting involved.
You can find out if there are volunteers that would visit.
You could, or dad could pay for a companion to come once or twice a week. If dad is involved in a church or religious group do they have people that would come in and visit.
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MissMuffet Jul 22, 2021
Thanks for sharing your ideas, Grandma1954.
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If your father were actively missing your sister, and asking for her, it would be different. As it is - let her be.

Your father isn't just lonely, he's missing the half of himself that nobody can replace. I'm sorry for his and all of your loss, your mother must have been a fabulous lady.
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MissMuffet Jul 20, 2021
Yes, Countrymouse, my mom was a special lady and Dad loves talking about her and holds her in high regard.
And my dad would never complain about my sister and kids not calling him. And I will be very careful not to ruin my relationship with my sister.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
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i have an off the wall comment here,, once when I was in college a lady called me.. she talked awhile until I realized she was not my grandma.. and then I just kept talking because I realized she was lonely.. It did not matter who I was, to her I was her grand daughter. Last week I got a message left on my machine from someone to her grand daughter, about picking her up and why was she not there yet? Broke my heart,, but I did call her back and let her know she called the wrong number in case her GD had an emergency. I hate when the elderly are lonely. Maybe you can get some people from the church ( if that is a thing) or any places he was a member of to call and chat for a bit? You can;t make family "man up"
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NeedHelpWithMom Jul 20, 2021
Pam,

That was so sweet of you to speak with her. You became her surrogate granddaughter 😊. It may have been only a few minutes of your time but I am sure that it meant the world to her.
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Please don't stress yourself out over something that is not within your control.
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MissMuffet Jul 20, 2021
Thanks, Tamg59. My brother who lives out of state tells me the same thing.
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It sounds like I need to let it go; I can't change my sister's behavior.
I will strive to mind my own business.
Thanks, everyone, for taking time to comment.
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MissMuffet, you have a very nice manner. Your dad is fortunate to have such a lovely daughter! Love your name MissMuffet.
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MissMuffet Jul 20, 2021
Thanks, earlybird.
Miss Muffet was my mom's childhood nickname for me.
And my mom was literally an "early bird"!
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I am going to turn this around.

Why doesn't your Dad call your sister and his grandchildren? Even blind people can use the phone to make a call.

My former mil used to whine that I never called, but she did not pick up the phone. When I told her phones work both ways, she had any number of excuses.

My Mum complains endlessly that my brother doesn't call, I don't blame him, she is a negative nelly. But when he does call, she does not mention it. When I suggest she call him, she says, she should not have too. Really?

But most importantly MissMuffet, it is not up to you to meddle in the relationship between your sister and Dad, nor the grandkids and grandpa.
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MissMuffet Jul 20, 2021
Actually Dad is currently having trouble even answering the phone. ;-)
And Dad is not the one complaining; he amazes us with his positive disposition. It's me who feels bad for his loneliness but you are right, Tothill, I guess I need to stay out of it.
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Another angle is detachment. Your sister and her kids know that at age 101 (wow!), your father doesn't have a whole lot of time left. I don't mean that to be insensitive and certainly don't want him to pass anytime soon.

I was like this when my grandmother was getting weaker. She lived close by so I did come by every other week. But I noticed I called less often. I didn't avoid her but somewhere in my mind I felt like she was going to be gone soon and it was my way of preparing for it. There's no way to prepare for losing someone really, and I was never like "I'm going to call her less often so I can get ready". It wasn't a set decision I made; it occurred to me later on. So if your sister is doing the same, she may indeed not know why she doesn't call much.

Or... she doesn't feel the need to call or visit much because you and other siblings are already there for him.

She knows she should do more, but isn't doing it.
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MissMuffet Jul 20, 2021
Yes, LoopyLoo, you may be right about my sister preparing for Dad to be gone by contacting him less. Thanks for your insight.
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