My brother seems to be controlling. He is the person on record concerning her medical issues and takes her to the doctor. He does not share information with me. I am the one who gets her food and other things she needs, spends time on the phone, has a housekeeper in there once a week to clean, etc.
She suffers heart disease and is homebound and possibly in very early dementia, according to the last therapist we had for OC. I don't come into contact with her regular doctor and I cannot get information as he is on record.
In any case, I have pretty much given up trying to get information about her condition until an ER visit, hospitalization or rehab happens, at which time, I manage to garner some information. It is difficult when you are dealing with what I think is his trying to control me.
I also have an ongoing problem trying to get her to give me a list of food she needs. She worries about the money. I tell her I don't care. She never gives me a complete list. She knows it is my husband's income so that is the reason. I do know that she is more comfortable telling my brother what her needs are. So, I finally emailed him yesterday asking if he could call her once a week, get the food list and forward it to me by email, and that I would understand if he could not . I did not really expect a response as he usually does not answer my emails regarding her. But, he answered this one saying "will you please remind me when I forget". This was so ridiculous that I finally got the courage to say what was on my mind. I responded. Thank you. However, I do not think I can remind you when you "forget" as I have no way of knowing when that happens. Perhaps a calendar reminder on your Blackberry? I did not mean to be nasty but I am tired of it.
He has withheld medical information, called me on the phone to "go over there and clean it up" (in reference to an accident she had) and I never knew how to respond. At this point, I realize that he is or is not going to cooperate no matter what I do so I might as well not take it.
What is your view on what I did. I actually feel guilty about my email, a little. Not used to speaking up, but, seriously if I am willing to shop and pay for it, what is his issue?
How do all of you handle siblings who are not forthcoming. Thanks.
He will need me soon and as far as I am concerned he can take a hike. But, I don't have a good relationship with my mother and it is easy for me to disassociate.
I just read little comments in your post that indicate to me you are accustom to taking orders from the male in the family otherwise you would rip him a new one. You don't have to take his behavior.
My mother and brother have sort of the same relationship with me. He is in control of everything and I am on nothing. In our case he lives near mom and I do not. But the decision to leave me out of all information, POAs and any decision making was due to her paranoid behavior and miserly distrust of everyone. Since my brother goes along with this nuttiness, he will take care of her. That is the way it will be as long as I am excluded.
You are being manipulated by your brother and his ideas of what you owe him. Your mother is also guilty of not taking responsibility for herself and making sure,things go smoothly for you both. Like my mother, she has set the tone of how her two children treat each other. By disrespecting your feelings, she makes it easy for your brother to disrespect you. Same as my family.
Take care of yourself and let your brother take care of your mother. Until one of them respects you and gives you the respect you deserve, I would do very
Your husband is free to reject your brother's telephone calls and requests for help. Tell him he can choose either to accept them or not to accept them, but not to complain to you about it afterwards. Or you can continue to pay the emotional price. It's up to you.
Are you sure your husband is not getting angry because he feels that you are choosing to accept responsibility for your mother's care but then passing it all on to him?
Look, this is all about choices. If you and your husband can't support your mother in her own home (and it really sounds as if you can't), and your brother can't either, then it is time for YOUR BROTHER to make better arrangements for your mother's care. If he wants to keep control, he has to take responsibility - which means you have to start refusing to.
So he blames you and is angry with you and dismisses your illness. People behave in very unfair ways sometimes, I'm afraid, and it sounds as if he has been doing so (unchecked by you, I might add, looking over the top of my spectacles) for many, many years. But that doesn't alter practical reality. Let him think what he likes. Meanwhile focus on what you and your husband will and will not contribute to your mother's care…
So, step 1: talk to your husband and agree a new, united front.
You ALL have helped me and given me good advice. I thought a lot about it last night. It does remind me of the Serenity Prayer... change the things we can and the need to let go of what we cannot change. So many thanks. And sorry for any repetitions here.
If the doctors office says you are on the list to receive health information then you are able to get some information from them that you can't seem to get from your brother. I would ask the office for a print out of her current medicines...her latest clinical summary should contain a list of the medicines. They can print it out for you and you can pick it up when you are able.
You have enough to deal with your own health. Thank goodness you have a husband that is willing to help grocery shop for your mother. (I am sorry you are going through your own health issues and are limited with what you can do and how much you can help.) Please take care of yourself. I do hope you call the doctors office and they tell you that you are able to receive your mother's health information. That would make it so much easier on you.
Let your brother do the shopping and cleaning or he can hire someone. You must get yourself well! That is it...you are the number one priority in your life right now. When you are physically able, you can visit or even mail a card but their life is what it is and you will be all the better to just take care of you and your family.
What about just letting it go? Let your brother and mother be secretive. Your health needs to take center stage. Worry about getting a handle on your own health and happiness and quit trying to make it dependent on getting your brother and mother to cooperate with your vision of how things should be. You don't get a grocery list? Fine. Don't buy groceries. Let them figure it out. Quit trying to be a mind reader for what groceries your mom needs. Your mom doesn't have a POA or Living Will? Let your brother deal with it when the time comes. You've tried with both of them and got nowhere.
Worrying about these things can be very detrimental to your own health and the health and happiness of your husband. Figure out what you can change in your own life and work on that. Your mother and brother and their behaviors aren't a part of that equation. Let it go.
Without these two things havoc can happen. Enough said.
He has never responded to anything. If and when I would bring up things to him or my Mom in the past ... years ago ... I was told "your brother wants me to live" by my mother and "you are depressing me". My brother simply did not answer. I am very ill and cannot do it. I wish I could. DENIAL is a very dangerous thing. I know you are all trying to help me. But, I cannot operate in a vacuum. I have now been bedbound for several months.
I owe you all an apology if I sound upset. I appreciate you. I am in turmoil and in pain ... both phsycially and psychologically.
I wanted to do these things years ago, but it was seen as not caring. What can I say? You are all correct.
I just spoke to her recently about what little money she has in the bank. She said "let them have it when I die". She takes it as my not loving or caring. I care more than she knows. She has been in denial about her illness, which is terminal, and we all play along, doctors included. She asks about symptoms and why she is not getting better. I try and try to be there for her, to come up with reasons why. It is a difficult situation. I hope I have not disturbed you all. I am just havng a major meltdown.
I worry about my Mom not having a POA or a living will or any kind of will at all. She has no money; I wouldn't want a dime if she did. But pOA and living will are essential. I wrote my brother about these things and no one moves. I do the best I can but I am very ill myself and totally self caring. Thanks again.
E-mail him again, citing the clean-up incident and segue into needing to have critical information in the event that (a) something else happens and/or (b) he's unavailable and you have to step in for emergency or critical care servcies. Then ask for the information you feel necessary.
Actually, I think your brother should be grateful that you're trying to help; it gives him some down time and takes the burden of full responsibility off his shouldes.
I agree that just stepping up and making a grocery list is wise. You can gradually just take over that task, and eliminate your brother as an intermediary. You might also want to leverage this approach as well and ask him if there's anything else he would like you to handle, although there's a big "if" whether that would open the opportunity for him to just dump off chores he doesn't want to do. Perhaps you could make suggestions what you could do, and be specific so he doesn't open the door to other chores.
Same with the "please remind me". Maybe he was being controlling, maybe he was opening the door a little bit. hard to tell. But do keep pushing that door open more and more and remind him, especially of things like getting you the necessary medical information.
If he doesn't cooperate after all this, and if he calls you again for cleanup duty, tell him you're sorry but that's not in your job description.
Something else that occurred to me, based ona situation in my own family. Does he have any deep seated grudges against you or her that would make him determined enough to continue controlling both of you?
On another aspect, don't feel bad if she trusts him on certain issues; that might just be the "me man, me strong" syndrome. Although I've done a lot of DIY tasks, my father refuses to acknowledge that I can do something simple like install smoke alarms. He wants it done by a man! AARRRGGGHHHH!
Good luck. It's hard to wrest even little bits of control from someone who wants to manage (not handle, just manage) it all.
Have you asked him, nicely but unambiguously, to share information such as your mother's doctor's contact details and an overview of her state of health? I understand and agree that confidentiality must be respected, but there is also a balance to be struck with the 'need to know' principle. And somebody who is responsible for her mother's welfare to the extent that you clearly are, does need to know. It is unsatisfactory for you to be picking up information piecemeal: apart from the annoyance to you, it is also potentially dangerous to have little bits of knowledge without the full picture - there could be allergies or contraindications that you are completely unaware of: no fault of yours, but what if you find yourself in ER being expected to approve a certain course of treatment, and no one can get hold of your brother? It's bonkers.
The part about her being happy to ask your brother for things and not you, when you're the one who's actually going to the shops for her - grrrrr. SO annoying. My mother plays this game, too, and it particularly drives me up the wall because no matter how shiny his knight's armour is my brother very rarely appears on the radar.
I like E/lass's idea of taking her routine grocery list in hand: would you be able to get into her kitchen, have a good scout about, and perhaps devise a check list of staples that she can tick when she's running out? Maybe do a bit of menu planning with her, too? Have a quick glance through the bathroom cabinets? You should be able to get to a reasonably reliable idea of what she needs and how often.
Do not feel guilty about your email. Getting tetchy might not have been ideal, but I cannot see that you were wrong to point out that you cannot know when something might escape your brother's memory. I agree with Megan that the 'please' was promising. Maybe routine would help here, too; try to get him into the habit of regular contact. It really does sound as if he's being hopeless rather than secretive - I know it doesn't make it any less irritating, but at least it's not actively hostile or intentionally obstructive.
Reassuring your mother on the subject of money, especially if it isn't a real problem, will get repetitive and tedious no matter what you do. Keep receipts, cost out shopping lists, all of those "Good Housekeeping" things we're meant to do anyway, and be prepared to go through them with her item by item. You could try pointing out that well-planned shopping is a good economy, but if she's a worrier she will continue to worry.
Sorry, what exactly went on with the 'accident'? Your mother called him, he called you - and for some reason mistook you for the local charladies' agency? If that's what happened, I can't help you because that's the point at which I would be getting extremely sarcastic. But if your mother called him - the righter of all wrongs, her very present help in time of trouble - because she was upset and embarrassed, and he called you because he thought she might be less embarrassed by your help (oh my! Thanks for the compliment…); well, then the best thing to do is, yes, to sweep in, clear up and magically vanish again without a cross word to anyone. Maybe add, with a smile, "mother, next time just call me and don't worry about it."
I hope you do live quite close to her, do you, though? Because if not, if this means significant travel time, then forget it - it's time to consider purchasing outside support for her. Imagine somebody else were describing this situation to you, consider what you think is fair and manageable, and then stick to your guns. We all want to be flexible, helpful and kind; but don't volunteer to be the family doormat.
I think sending him the email was fine. In fact, I think sending him another one to tell him that you will be expecting a grocery list from your mom each week is fine too. There's no need for your to run around, chasing him down, in order to get a grocery list from your mom. Set up a day with your brother that he will email you a grocery list. If he doesn't do it, the shopping doesn't get done. That's on him, not you. You're just trying to get mom's shopping done.
Or you could cross your brother totally out of the picture and go to your mom's and see what she needs from the store. With her sitting there ask her, "Mom, do you need more _______?" This is a grocery list, it shouldn't be that difficult for your brother to figure out.