My sister moved in with our folks 10 years ago when her husband kicked her out because of her escalating drug use. Since that time she has brought felons and filth into their home. They rarely complain, and try to just deal with stolen property and in/out traffic because they need someone to assist them around the clock.

They do not believe there are drugs involved and always explain away obvious signs with whatever excuse my sister dreams up. I live across the street and try to visit often and help anytime I can but they seldom tell me when there is a problem because of the tension between my sister and myself. How can I deal with this situation without becoming the bad guy? I am the baby of the family and am the only child with a respectable life. I have been married for 25 years, own my home and have a stable job of 11 years.

I offer to move the folks in with me to no avail. In home care is also refused because they already have my sister there and she does not have a job so they feel they are helping her by paying her to be there...

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Little Sister,

From one little sister to another, I can empathize. I too have an older sibling, a brother who was a drug addict. He is now deceased, died from HepC. The outcome is grim, jail or death. In my case, my brother spent many years in prison as well. The addiction to drugs does not stop unless they want it to and even then it takes more than one shot at it. My brother became addicted to heroin at age 13. A friend of his from school talked him into it. He was young and vulnerable. The other kid never stopped using drugs. He came from a wealthy family. His father was a doctor and never, ever was around for his son. His mother was very busy with her clubs that she belonged to. He was lonely. Poor kid turned to drugs. He later owed so much money to drug dealers and was murdered.

No drug education programs in his time, no support groups for families either. It was hard. So confusing to watch as a kid. I suppose the only silver lining was that none of the rest of us kids did drugs. You either follow it or despise it. Thank God, we despised it. One brother even went into law enforcement. They don't help care for my mom but they aren't addicts like my oldest brother.

Just like there are no concise instruction manuals for us caring for elderly parents, there are no instruction manuals for raising kids either. Every situation in every family is different. That was a hush hush generation too, so it was extremely difficult for my parents to manage. I can see that now as an adult. As a kid, whoa, different story. I was confused, afraid, shy and I think to some degree angry. I was the good kid and here my brother got so much attention for doing drugs. That never stopped. The lost sheep thing. I think my dad would have handled it differently if my mom would not have interfered. My dad wanted to try military school. Mom wouldn't let him. So my brother landed in juvenile homes, all of which he ran away from until a judge placed him further away where he had no friends nearby to hide out with. That totally confused me, we got to take him out for day trips and I used to wonder why he was there or why he couldn't come home. I loved him as my brother. Then I'd wonder if I would ever have to go away too. I finally asked my mom why was he there. She only said that he misbehaved and a judge put him there. But at 7 years old, I couldn't comprehend any of it.

Later when he went to prison for armed robbery, mom and dad would regularly visit. Did the drug usage stop? Nope! Don't kid yourself. Tons of drugs in prisons. He even asked me to buy him drugs once when he was in the hospital. Of course, I didn't. The fact is that drug addicts will do ANYTHING for a fix!

I constantly worried about my mom and dad, siblings and myself too, whenever we were in his presence. I know how you feel. I have been there. It is a situation where you are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I took care of him when he became sick for many years but I had to cut him off. I set him up with hospice. He even lied to hospice. He took pain meds like candy and told the nurses that he dropped them down the sink, stepped on them and crushed them, all sorts of stories. Got to be so hard. He stopped hospice and lost his apartment in a senior citizen community. He actually became homeless for awhile. I like you prayed and prayed. I prayed that God would send help because I could not do it anymore. Well, he ran into an old man who let him live in a trailer on his property. He became too sick to handle anymore and the man brought him to a hospice facility. I made peace with him, took my mom to see him. He died there.

I hope and pray your sister gets the help she needs. I pray for your family that they will be protected from harm. I pray for you trying to help in a tough situation. You can't though. Take it from me. You simply can't. Such a tough call. I wish I had an answer for you.
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Little Sister -

I'm so sorry for what you are going through and I can relate as I have a brother who never actually moved out of my parents' house and is actively abusing them. I think Shell shared excellent insight - these siblings are "special" and our parents feel obligation to help them (because they are so screwed up!). It is maddening and disheartening that those of us who pull our weight and haven't been an emotional or financial burden get thrown under the bus, but oh boy does that happen. Because they are in a deeply dysfunctional relationship and you are the outsider here. You are the only one who fully recognizes your parent's vulnerability, but they don't want to hear it. And it is true that unless they lack capacity or you can prove that your sister is actively endangering them, they have the right to continue to make these poor decisions. In your case, since you are right across the street, I would suggest that you make friendly, low-key attempts to talk with your parents about their planning documents, review finances, etc. You could suggest that they execute a specific "care agreement" with your sister, so that expectations for the support she is supposed to give your parents are documented. I would not pitch in with cleaning and other tasks - I agree with reallyreal on this one. Don't pick up your sister's slack. And I wouldn't have them move in with you because then she'd also be in your place, needing to keep her hooks in the gravy train. These are THEIR problems - don't make them yours. But I think you need to be vigilant and be ready to act if she steps further over the line from being a mooch to being full on abusive. The spiral can happen quickly. Finally, seek relief for your own mental health! At the suggestion of someone on this forum I joined a local EA (Emotions Anonymous) group which has been helpful. And I try to remind myself that part of the drive I had to be independent and successful came from my chaotic childhood and watching my brother make such a mess of things. It's a relief to develop a sense of gratitude and acceptance of how things went, and count the blessings that you were able to develop in your life. That resilience is a part of you and will be forever, long after your parents are gone and your sister has to figure out how to manage on her own. Hugs!

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Just my 2 cents:

I would not call the police that would just cause more problems and harder feelings. I bet if you had a dollar for every excuse you heard your parents made about your sister you would have a pile of money. I know because I have been through something similar.

I can't tell you how to protect your parents or how to get your sister out of your parents house. But I can tell you what I learned that I either didn't see it or just miss something that now I see, hindsight is 20/20! I just wish I knew than what I know now!!

The more you complain about your sister or how they (parents) live or whatever it become the noisey wheel. There in turn, your parents defenses go up. Why? Because one, you are talking about their kid. Yes, I know you are their kid as well! But that doesn't matter she is the weaker one. That may not be how you see your sister at all but either both or one of your parents do! Therefore, your parents can not have anyone attacking her not even by her own sibling! Two: their defenses go up because they (parents) feel that you are attacking them and how they parent her! This of course is not the case and they themselves may not realize it at the time you are complaining about your sister.

One of your parents know what and who your sister is and if I had to bet on which parent I would say it's your dad! Dads, real dads are hard to fool! They tend to see people different. They veiw their children differently. It's not a bad thing! Doesn't really matter which one because the patent that sees the kid for who they are will never go against the other parent.

If I was you...oh wait, I was! Sit back and wait! I know you are probably screaming at the screen right now, but wait! Stop making commitments that has anything to do with your sister. The more you fight and go against them the more they band together and protect your sister. Keep cleaning the house, or doing whatever it is that needs to be done. Because their will be a time that your sister will have to face the real world! Your parents I am afraid to say won't be there. Let your sister take care of herself...she will...whatever that is! It does not have to be a bad thing, but it will be what it will be! You will have that one moment in time to get your sister out of the house use it wisely!

I wish you the best of luck and peace. You are in a difficult situation. Just be there for your parents!
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LittleSister68 Jan 2019
Thank you, I just pray for things to get easier as we go. I know I can't control anyone but myself and I try to make decisions that I can live with. I am not willing to start a war with my sister because the time I have left with my parents means more to me than creating more internal turmoil.
Sometimes it gets to feeling like I have nobody in the world to hear me so thank you for caring enough to share your experience and words of advice. Discovering that I am not the only one who has made this journey gives me a little more strength to carry on.
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You have offered to have them live with you. You have warned them, cleaned their home and bought medical alert devices. You have done everything you can do. You really have. This isn't your problem to solve.

People get to make bad decisions. It's really hard to watch but they get to have the kind of relationships they want to have. Live with whomever they choose. Turn a blind eye to whatever they wish.

In my family, I'm just there to help if asked to help in a way that I don't think is supporting the problem. Which is sometimes hard to determine, but I do my best. And to sympathize when I can sympathize. I say "That sounds hard."- a lot. I used to offer advice. It really isn't what they want. So I stopped.

I think this gets more complicated if you think your parents have lost the ability to make decisions for themselves. In your case, it sounds like this is a pattern of behavior that is of long standing and is well established. It isn't dementia. It's their choice.

I got a lot of good advice from a group called NAMI. They have a program called Family to Family. It was free, it was very helpful and I recommend it to you.
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LittleSister68 Jan 2019
Thank you, I will look them up. I am finding it really does help to have someone to tell me I am on the right track. I know this time with my parents is precious and it shouldn't be spent creating problems. Neither of my parents have Dementia, yet. They are still trying to protect their children and I respect that.
Can Adult Protective services help? Is it possible to report anonymously? I am heartbroken watching good people being harmed through no fault of their own during this time of their lives. They should be enjoying their Golden years not suffering through them.
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Isthisrealyreal Jan 2019
You can report anonymously to APS. You would need to be very clear that you cannot be identified as it would put you and your family at risk.

However, they may not do anything if your parents come across as mentally there.

Another poster had a caregiver that was doing drugs in the home and she was told that if the police found drugs on the premises her grandpa could have been charged. You want to know the full extent of repercussions before you do any reporting. Just read all posts, being redundant.

I bet they are worried she will get a DUI and get their car impounded.

I can't imagine they don't know she is on meth, it's not a drug you can hide the horrid effects of.

I think I would not be cleaning their house, that is what she is there for. If you pick up the slack how will they ever see the reality? How will APS see the reality of their living conditions?

If you think they are in danger, it doesn't matter if you are the bad guy, you have to do something to protect them.

Not an enviable situation to be in.
That's a horrible situation. How old are your parents? Are they capable of taking care of themselves?

Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy. Not just for the sake of giving your sister a hard time, but is she really taking care of them? I wonder with all the drug talk if it really is a safe environment? It could be recreational, she could be a good hearted person that just can't quite get it all together. Or not. Hard to know.

Completely agree that ALL elders (and youngers!) should have their documents in order. Wills, living wills, POAs, etc as mentioned above, are VERY important. You never know when you're going to need them. Can you take them to their/your attorney to get the ball rolling on that?

I assume that anything you try to do will be met with resistance from your sister and/or your parents. They may have some unhealthy co-dependent type of thing going on, not to try to diagnose anything from afar. So, you may have to try to thicken your skin and be calm and ready to take the negativity that may come your way. I think you may have to proceed to give yourself piece of mind, with your parent's best interests in mind.
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LittleSister68 Jan 2019
My folks are 84 and 82. They have been married since Mom was 15 and Dad, 17. They still live in the home that they built in 1952, (67 years ago). Dad has severe C.O.P.D. has had his knees replaced twice and has trouble swallowing food that we recently dealt with by injecting Botox into the lower sphincter of his esophagus at the Pacific Medical Hospital in San Francisco.
Now Dad is able to eat without vomiting but we are told it is a temporary solution. Doctors agreed that he is not a candidate for invasive surgery. A n electric wheelchair and his portable oxygen have given Dad newfound mobility at home, he is still driving Mom everywhere she decides they need to go.
My sister does not or "is not" allowed to drive their vehicle, I am not sure why. I suspect they don't want to give her the chance to damage their new car like she has done to every car she has owned. Problems seem to follow her like a cloud. She dives dumpsters and fills every nook and cranny with stuff she thinks she will sell to someone. I am personally of the mind that when someone throws it away, it's trash.
I think my sister has a good heart but she is hopelessly addicted to Meth and since she has no obligations or bills to pay, she is in the ideal environment to support her addiction. Our parents surely must realize what is going on but they always accept her excuses hook, line and sinker. I am often made to feel like I am just being ungrateful that my sister "gave up" having her own life in favor of staying with them in case they need help.
There have been several instances where our parents have fallen and were unable to get up. Both laid on the ground outside (different times) until somebody happened to stumble on them. I was horrified and immediately purchased a Medical Alert device at my own expense of nearly $1000.00 a year, so the folks would have some sense of security should they fall again. Neither will consistantly wear them, I have to ask them if they have their device constantly. I feel like I nag them all of the time.
I live across the street from them and I try to be as present as I can. I have recently taken on some house keeping for my parents because of the clutter that is starting to invade their home. I do have a full time job and a husband of 25 years in addition to a home of my own to maintain.
I really have no idea how to find peace of mind for myself or my parents... I believe getting my sister out of their house would go a long way for ensuring their safety...
Recreational drugs are illegal. Call the police if you suspect drugs are in the home. The police will bring in a drug sniffing K9 and if drugs are found, they will be arrested. If they’re arrested and prosecuted, your parents will have no choice but to rely on you for help.
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LittleSister68 Jan 2019
I wish it were that simple. If my sister were to be arrested, I KNOW that my parents would then feel responsible for trying to bail her out and Attys fees or court costs etc. The sheer stress of something like that would likely be very harmful to their health and emotional state. My sister seems to operate in a world without consequence. Being kicked out of her last husbands house by the police and kept from going back by a restraining order only landed her back with Mom and Dad (my sister is 61 years old) and since that time 12 years ago, she has not had to pay for anything. Why would she be motivated to go anywhere? I recently learned they pay her car insurance and allow her to collect the rental payments from a home that our parents own and have rented to help supplement their income.
I was also advised that if drugs are found in a home, the homeowners will also be charged for a crime of maintaining a place where drugs are used...
That would be awful to see everyone going to jail!
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Family situations like your dealing with are far too common. We watched it happen in my husband’s family and experienced the frustration of not being able to do anything to make it better. If your parents are of sound mind it’s their choice who they have live in their home and want they do with their money, even when you can see them making bad choices and others messing up their lives. You should certainly report to police any known drug activities or offenders. I wouldn’t worry over being the bad guy, your parents need protection. You can also see if they’ll cooperate in having financial documents in order, things like POA, wills, having someone trustworthy on their banking, and advance directive for healthcare. These aren’t conversations for later. I’m willing to bet your parents know the truth about your sister, but on some level they can’t accept it so they defend her. If the situation has become drastic then you need to report to adult protective services. No vulnerable senior should live in a drug fueled home
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