My Mom lives in the home she's had for over 50 years. She refuses all help except from me (2 hrs away) & my brother who lives nearby. She leans on my 54 year old disabled sister for her ADL's who still lives with her & refuses to move into a more appropriate living situation. My Mom encourages it. My brother & I are trying to essentially provide care for two (Mom & Sister). My Mom & sister are so dysfunctional & codependent, it is hard to be over there. They are clinging to each other for dear life. We know how this will end. My sister will be alone & beyond consoling. She physically will not be able to live in the only house she's ever known & will finally need to get into a more appropriate living situation. I am very resentful that my Mom is choosing to leave my brother & I in this situation. Help!
~Stuck in the Middle
1) You and your brother are doing too much to prop up the current situation, which is a mockery of independence. There is only one way to deal with this: stop propping it up.
2) You and your brother resent what is probably coming down the track – Mother will die, and co-dependent sister will fall apart. There are two ways to deal with this:
a) Get your plans ready for where sister goes after the death. and/or
b) Wait for the results of you stopping to prop up the current situation.
Talk about it with your brother. You need a joint decision. Persuasion and sweet reason are not going to work!
I get it. You & Brother are family. Family helps family. Family trusts family.
But when needs exceed what family can sensibly do - then the common sense solution is to get some other helpers. Some *non-family* help.
Like it they may not.
Won't change the facts: age, illness & disability happens.
I would have a proper sit down chat with your Brother first. Where's he at? Are you on the same page?
Eg If you stepped back a bit, would he also? Or expect you to continue forever.. or pick up your share?
It's ok if you do differ of course. But if you agree, even better!
Next, sit down chat with Mom & Sister.
- Make it CLEAR what you are reducing or stopping.
- Make the replacement choices as easy as possible for them. Eg leave brochures for two home cleaning agencies or grocery deliveries services, whatever the most pressing need is.
Then the really tough part!
When they call you for cleaning, you say no. "No. Call one of those cleaning agencies. Brochures are on the table."
This is a three step program a Social Worker once gave me;
1. Advice them.
Help them locate all the services they need if you want to.
2. Let them decide. They can choose to try them! Or choose to refuse.
3. The consequences are theirs. This is how they will LEARN.
No meal deliveries = eat toast.
No house cleaning = House stays dirty.
Their REFUSAL is THEIRS.
It does NOT mean YOU arrive with mop or meal in hand.
This is where You & Brother stay firm & repeat your line.
"I said I would no longer be doing that".
The rational will give in quickly. However, some are slower learners..
At any time keep presenting the steps. They can RE-choose at any time!
(This DID work for my LO - eventually. So many services accepted now & happy & grateful for them too).
Second, it would be helpful to request Adult Protective Services to come to Mom's house to evaluate the living conditions, individual needs and the relationship between Mom and your sister.
A Geriatric Psychiatrist can educate and medicate your Mom as she is living in denial and might need help sorting through the facts and the consequences of doing nothing.
Does sister have access to social worker or some mental health intervention?
Do you? Some professional intervention is needed here.
No, you are not being 'left' in any situation. You can decide NOW what you will and will not do. It may be difficult however you will need to be clear on what you will and will not take on. You might need to tell your sister that you WON'T be there for her when mom passes. Sounds cruel ... perhaps. Someone needs to face reality and make decisions based on what is needed; not under the fog of dysfunctional / co-dependency behaviors.
You need to set limits.
And then let go.
Don't be sucked in. If you allow it, it will happen.
My mother (95 yo) and my brother were super enmeshed even though they didn't live together. He would tell me that he didn't know what he was going to do when our mother was no longer here.
However, he passed away in 2019 at 60 years old and she's still going strong. You never know what will happen.
I hope it helps this woman proceed as she needs to - w/o being left with the headache or avalanche coming. Gena / Touch Matters
Does your mom have her paperwork in order? Will, living will, POA, etc.? If not and she has not been deemed incompetent , it is very important for this to happen so that whoever is named POA (you or brother) can make these decisions on your mom's behalf.
Assisted living often has 2 bedroom units. I would move them into one of those and then they will get help with a lot of things and you and brother will have a lot of pressure taken off you.
If this is not feasible for some reason, another option is to get in home care. Though she says she will not accept help from anyone, I would say it's falling into the "too bad" category. I don't have enough info to know what their needs are - can they prepare their own meals safely? If not, get meals on wheels. Can they handle their meds? If not you need an aid that can help with that. Cleaning? Cleaning lady. General assistance with laundry and other household chores? Daily aid to assist.
You might have to lower the boom and tell them that you and brother will NOT be providing ANY care until they move or accept a lot of in home help. Tell them you will help arrange it but there is too much for your and brother to take care of. It's a LOT, plus, you might have your own lives to live and other responsibilities as well.
Best of luck.
A frank family conversation is needed where you and brother lay out for them their options - go to a facility or (if finances allow or they're Medicaid-eligible) accept in-home care from an outside source. They're at the point where they could be considered a danger to themselves and could be removed from their beloved home.