How do I deal with a sibling (who doesn't speak to me) and who causes our Mother stress and anxiety when she visits?

Follow
Share

My sister, who is 59, lived next door to my parents for many years. After my Dad passed in 2003, she became Mom's companion and then became her caregiver about 4 years ago when Mom's mental health began to change. Mom suffers from anxiety and depression, something I know is common with the elderly. Her physical health is excellent (she will be 88 in October), but at times the anxiety consumes her. My sister works as a secretary at a Hospital and has many contacts in the medical industry. She took Mom to several doctors (family physician, geriatric psychologist, psychiatrist, etc)and their response to her was this is a part of aging and you have to be patient and understanding, so their anxiety does not increase. Over time, my sister became frustrated and overwhelmed because she felt her efforts to help were unappreciated and nothing seemed to help Mom. I had been helping Mom with her finances for several years and my sister took care of the medical issues. Because things didn't seem to be improving with Mom, I began to ask questions and become a little more involved on the medical side, which my sister did not like. Within a few months, my sister decided she would no longer handle Mom's medical needs, which left me to take over. It caused an estrangement between my sister and I and almost two years later, has not been resolved.


In March 2017, Mom decided it was time to move from her home of 63 years and move to and adult home/ assisted living facility. This was Mom's decision, but needless to say, because my sister was not involved in this process, she had not been happy about the move. My sister rarely visits Mom, but when she does, it cause Mom stress and anxiety. My sister decides to visit in the early morning hours between 6 and 7 am basically because she doesn't want to run into any siblings. On her most recent visit, she was at the adult home at 6:20, gave Mom great anxiety and became very rude and obnoxious to the health care staff prompting them to contact me and asking me to come there to calm Mom down.


I do not want to cause more issues with my Sister, but is there anything you can recommend that may help prevent these things from happening in the future? The facility does not have set visiting hours and they are not sure if there's anything they can do to minimize the situation.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Mom is the priority here an my only goal is give her the best quality of life she deserves in her final years.


Thank you.

Find Care & Housing
4

Answers

Show:
Unfortunately, no matter how much you would like to have a cordial relationship with someone or a sensible talk - it takes two - and with some people it's just not likely to ever happen.

I suggest you use the stick and carrot approach. Accommodate your sister visiting your mother at a time of her choosing, but require in exchange that she limited herself to her chosen time and not upset your mother. Discuss any plans with your mother and get her approval, then with your other siblings - a united front helps a lot.

Identify a time slot for your sister's exclusive use visiting your mother - like Saturday morning from 9:30a-10:30a. Write your sister a nice letter informing her you have set aside this time where all the other siblings agree not to be at the ALF so she can visit your mother without encountering them. If some other time would be more convenient, please let you know by return mail and you will check how that time would work with the facility.

Inform your sister in your letter that your mother's peace of mind and welfare are your primary concerns. There will be a health care aid who will remain with your mother during the entire visit. The health care aid is authorized to ask the sister to leave if she upsets your mother. If your sister disturbs your mother or the facility's routine by visiting at any other time or upsets your mother and refuses to leave when asked, then you will seek a restraining order barring her from being within 500 feet of the facility.

Talking this over with your siblings may be enough to encourage your sister to amend her behavior (since she still has contact with one brother).
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to TNtechie
Report

I can't believe that someone who works in the Medical field visits at 6 am. This is not a good time for anyone. The aides are getting everyone up, dressed and down to breakfast. My Dad had heart problems and was "out of it" the first 30 minutes he was.

I am assuming that the RN and Administrator are not even there that early. Have the staff complain to their bosses about your sister? If so, I would ask the Administrator or RN to call sister and ask if she could visit as a later time. That her early visit is disrupting their routine and causing Mom some anxiety. The facilities responsibility is to the resident not placating the visitor.

I think sister likes things to go her way. I can understand the frustration but seems like Mom is not able to improve for whatever reason. I think Moms decision was a good one. No stress when a lot of things are done for you.

Who has POA? If no one, I would suggest getting Mom to assign someone, not sister, while she is competent to do it.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report
Arres66 Jul 28, 2018
Hi Joann29,
Thank you for your response and understanding the situation.  I wish I could talk to my Sister and help her understand that showing up at that hour only increases Mom's anxiety and causes issues for Mom and the Staff.   Unfortunately, because my Sister doesn't want to run into any other family members, she chooses that time of the day to "show up'.  I'm glad that she wants to visit Mom, but only shows up once in a while, which really throws Mom off.  When she was Mom's "caregiver",  she would become frustrated and angry with Mom because Mom wouldn't want to do things her way.  At times, she would yell at her and almost scare Mom, which I felt was borderline elder abuse. I think Mom remembers how my sister made her feel and seeing her causes that anxiety to reoccur.   She truly doesn't understand that she is part of mom's anxiety and although she means well, she only thinks about herself and not what's best for Mom. 
I have tried to reach out to my Sister several times to resolve our conflicts or at least try to move forward and get along for Mom's sake, but she refuses to speak to me.  The last time I contacted her in February, she asked me not to contact her anymore.   I am at the end of my rope and feel as though I have hit a brick wall. 
Very frustrated and sad.
(0)
Report
See 1 more reply
Wow I would not be very pleasant if someone visited me at 6:30 am. The staff also has a pretty structured routine in the mornings to get people up and dressed and to breakfast. It’s hard to pop in in the middle of that. Maybe sis wasn’t happy with the state mom was in at that particular time thinking she should be up and cheery. Probably the worst possible time to visit. I might ask the home to “suggest” to her a better time for her visits when she could spend more quality time.
And definitely the topics must be curated. I really watch what I talk to Mom about so she doesn’t worry. Always happy stuff. I still ask her advice on things like gardening or whatever but never any talk about illness etc. I once walked in on the recreation lady reading the local obituaries to a group of ladies. Got mom out of there pdq. Maybe a gentle reminder to sis that you all need to treat Mom with kinder gentler hands.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to rocketjcat
Report
Arres66 Jul 28, 2018
Thank you for your response and excellent common sense. My sister still thinks that Mom is the same person she was years ago. Because she is not around Mom enough, she doesn't understand how fragile she is.  I agree with curating the topics.  There is no point in telling our elderly loved ones that people have died unless it's absolutely necessary. It only upsets them and most  likely make them realize their own mortality. 
I wish I could have a civil conversation my sister, but after reaching out to try to resolved or differences or at least move forward for Mom's sake, she refuses to speak with me.  She has isolatd herself from her family, is not married , has  no children and no social contacts outside of  work. It's s very sad, but that is the life that she has chosen.  I am frustrated and feel at the end of my rope.  Mom is my priority.  I only wish I could find a way to resolve things , for Mom's sake.
(0)
Report
Your sister may feel that, after dedicating many years of her life to your mom, the rug was pulled out from under her, so to speak, when Mom decided to move. We caregivers often feel under appreciated and overworked.

What does your sister say to Mom when she visits that upsets her so? Does she speak badly about you? Since Mom is #1 priority, you may need to put your animosity aside and speak with your sister about her visits. Do it in a calm and non-threatening way. But be firm and tell her that when she visits, she cannot bring up subjects that upset her mother. If she continues, she will be banned from seeing Mom.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Ahmijoy
Report
Arres66 Jul 28, 2018
Thank you for your advice and suggestions.  I agree that my Sister no doubt felt the rug was pulled out from under her.  My Sister and Mom have a long history of not getting along almost like oil and water at times. My Sister has a good heart, but has issues with relating to people.  She never married, has no children, and unfortunately, no friends to speak of.  It's a very sad situation, but she has isolated herself from her family.   There are 5 children in our family, 2 girls and 3 boys.   My Sister only speaks to one brother. She feels that our 2 other brothers have sided with me regarding Mom and no longer speaks to them.  As far as her and I , I have held out the olive branch several times to try to repair our relationship, but she has refused.  The last time I contacted her in February, she asked me not to contact her anymore.   I have respected her wish and not been in touch. My brothers have tried to talk to her, but she won't listen to them either.
It is truly a heart breaking situation for me.  I am the type of person that does not like conflict and hates to have anything go unresolved. I wish there was a way to "get through" to my Sister without causing more animosity. 
Thank you again for your sound advice.
(0)
Report
Related
Questions