How to get along with a difficult sibling?


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.

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I also notice that you seem afraid of upsetting your brother and you seem to be walking on egg shells around him. I did this with my brother until about a year or so ago when, once again, he talked to me as if we some dumb underling who couldn't chew gum,and walk at the same time. He threw it in my face that he had all power because that is what mom wants. I told him fine. And that was it.

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.
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I have to ask, and I mean no disrespect, if you are from a culture where the males are always in control and the females are subordinates. I was raised Southern and anyone from the Deep South will tell you the guys are the kings or at least were many years ago.

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
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thank you..
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I don't think I can say it any better than Countrymouse. Whatever happened when your brother was younger needs to be left in the past. It does not need to be brought into your mother's care. Your brother needs to grow up and that includes taking 100% control of your mother's healthcare. It seems that is the way he and your mother want it. He can not have it both ways when it is convenient for him. Tell or ask your brother to stop calling your husband to do things that are not his responsibility. If you are concerned your mother need food and staples what about buying some things and taking them to her without any list. If she complains it is not what she needs or uses then let her know it would be helpful to have a list but you will continue to buy her things if she doesn't give you a list. Eliminate your brother from the equation when it comes to getting the grocery list. I know you care about your mom but don't make this more difficult on you or your husband. Stop letting your brother walk all over you and take advantage of the two of you.
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"I cannot just leave her alone in this because then there would be no food" - are you suggesting that your brother would literally allow your mother to starve to death? What nonsense. Get this: if you and your husband withdraw your co-operation, your brother WILL find an alternative. He will have no choice.

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.
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Thanks to all. I guess I cannot just leave her alone in this because then there would be no food. Believe me, I would rather not communicate with my brother. My brother also calls my husband and asks him to do things, my husband does them and then gets angry with me. I have to "pay emotionally" for every thing my husband does. I have spoken to the hospital and the doctor (who never calls back .. it is a clinic .. and she will not even call my brother back, whom she is supposed to deal with) Medicare/Medicaid in our City is difficult to deal with. In any case, no, they say he is the person they will talk to, not me. We live close by. He lives 45 minutes away (really 30, but 45 with traffic). So in an emergency, we/my husband and I are usually the ones to take her to the ER and then we are lost because they will not tell us much, if anything,, stating he is the points person. But, they do deal with us in a limited way because they have to. It is hard. I do not blame my mother and do not feel she is "favoring" my brother. She is just very ill, has a little dementia, and relies on my brother the most because he take her to doctors. What can I say? He is accusing me of malingering, making up being ill, accuses me of stopping my husband from helping out (the opposite has been true all of our lives ... but I do not throw that fact in his face). My brother has issues with me, as he believes I should have taken better care of him when I left home and got married. I was 22. He was 7. I did all I could till I left home and did in fact do a lot to help my Mom out and him as she was left by my Dad. But, he expected my husband and I to do ... I know now what. That is where the original anger comes from. Sounds nuts to me as I was not his mother. In any case, that is his thinking and it cannot be change.
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.
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Anonymous - I would call your mother's doctors office and ask if you are on the list of people they can give out health information to. If you are not and they tell you it is just your brother then let your brother know he is the person that should be contacted in any emergency when it involves your mother. (I know it is difficult, but if you do not have any power to make decisions on her behalf what can you do.) If you are not listed then your mother does not want you to have access to her health information. I would suggest letting your brother handle all the necessary health issues. Let him take her to the doctors, the ER visits, the labs, the x-rays, etc. Let your brother clean up when there are accidents or have him get a home health agency in to do it. If he asks you to find an agency let him know it is his responsibility to do it not yours. Put the work where it belongs...on him.

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.
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I agree with blannie...just let it go. You have to take care of yourself first. The situation with your brother and your Mother will not change. They are apparently happy with the way things are and so be it.

Let your brother do the shopping and cleaning or he can hire someone. You must get yourself well! That is 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.

Best wishes!
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Anonymous you asked the same question not too long ago. And you got some good answers at that time. Your mom and your brother aren't going to change, no matter how much you want them to or wish them to. There's a long family history there that is set in concrete. So you need to change your expectations and actions.

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.
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Megan: All great questions. I cannot get any answers. My brother will not cooperate. I just sent him a brief email saying: two important things to remember 1) POA 2) Living Will
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.
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