I asked my brother for help. He lives away and takes no active role in caring for my 95-year-old father. Background: my dad isn't doing too badly as he's mentally fine and is physically impaired only by hearing loss and an arthritic leg. But that changed recently after having surgery to remove a tumour from his bladder...and subsequently had four trips to the emergency room for minor complications. I was with him each time and was the go to person for all the nursing appointments etc. that had to be made during this period. I found this really stressful as I knew each time he insisted we go to emergency that it would be a very very long wait since his condition really was not of that caliber. The last time was eight hours through the night and when that was over, I was at the end of my rope. On top of this, my dad and I have a very troubled history and sometimes I truly resent being his caregiver. He lives in his own apartment and manages quite well and sometimes I wonder why I do as much as I do? Then I think the answer to that is his neediness. He wants people to pay attention to him but makes no real effort to make friends. He lives in a senior community and has every opportunity to do so. So I feel guilty if I'm not seeing him often enough. Following the last session at emergency, I contacted my brother asking for help because I couldn't do this alone and he came back with every excuse imaginable and it just seemed he was washing his hands of us. Well I thought the only way he could be of any help then would be financially and since I was doing all the work possibly he could send me money which I could use to either provide the services for my dad myself or hire outside services. Well, the answer I got from my brother was so nasty and so hostile that it shut me right down. I was stunned and replied civilly but got another very nasty I told him I would no longer open any mail from him.
I went to spend the weekend with my friend, a fellow that lives some distance away. It was beautiful, calming, and truly a mental health break for me. When I was on the road for home, about five minutes, I got a call on my car phone from the on call nurse saying that dad insisted on going again to emergency. Again it was something not serious but in his mind he needed to be attended to. I was angry and upset as I realize that my life wasn't my own. And, how long was this going to go on? The upshot of this call was that I refused to take him to emergency and if he wanted to go he should get a cab. I explained to him that I did not feel that it was worthy of sitting in an emergency room for up to eight hours for something that may sort itself out overnight, which it did. I followed this up with a message to my dad that I was going to avail myself of services for him by people who could put it away at the end of the day because it was just a job. I told him I wouldn't abandon him but that I could no longer be providing the sort of care he demanded. He is suggesting now that I won't be able to live with myself once he's gone if I treat him this way.
Even after a lifetime of troubles with him, how do I stay strong and not allow him to pressure and manipulate me? I feel I want to just disappear, run away...and free myself from this debilitating anxiety.

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Tell your Dad to call an ambulance if he feels he must go to ER
Medicare will not pay for a non-emergency trip via ambulance.... once he gets the $1500 bill for the trip...he will think twice about doing that trip without cause!

I think you have to stop being at his beck and call. Stay strong and keep your boundaries.
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I loved my Dad but was glad he passed before Mom. I was the oldest of four kids and the easiest to make feel guilty. My Mom waited on him hand and foot so I know he would have expected it from me. I married someone who is a complete opposite. You may want to talk to the nurse at the facility. She should be able to evaluate Dad when he claims he needs to go to ER. If all his vitals are OK then she can tell him she will set up an appt with the doctor the next day. Explain to her that this ER has to stop if not an emergency. Do u have to be with him at ER? Let the facility call an ambulance and tell Dad u won't be able to go. Bet he will change his mind or go and find out it's no fun laying around alone. They can get him a transport back to the facility. If he isn't happy tell him to call his son. Good for you in standing up to him. BTW, a friend of mine has a Dad who is 95, a lady's man, lives in his own home and drives. No dementia.
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Forgive my curiosity (and ignore it if you like). Did you inadvertently hit a nerve when you broached the subject with your brother? Is even the idea of having any input at all into your father's care something that might have brought him out in a rash, more severely than you could have anticipated? I mean, just guessing, if your brother harbours deep, painful resentment towards your father then it isn't a question of money, or his being able to afford it, but it might explain his lashing out at an innocent third party like that.
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Thank you so much! Your support means a lot.
Just to say about asking my brother for financial support...I was advised to do this as he can well afford to and it allows him to share responsibility and might actually assuage his conscience that he is, at least doing something. (He doesn't visit him, send get well cards, etc. and my dad is a penny pincher and would not spend the money for care, even if he had it and I am on a limited fixed income).
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The emergency room is not for "something not serious but in his mind he needed to be attended to". If there is an on call nurse, I'm sure she would call an ambulance if there's a true medical emergency. If not it can be handled by a scheduled doctor's appointment. Let the facility and your dad know that in the future if it's not a true emergency not to call you to take him to the emergency room. I think you handled the last situation perfectly.
"He is suggesting now that I won't be able to live with myself once he's gone if I treat him this way." He's trying to manipulate you. Be strong, take charge of your life, set boundaries and stop feeling guilty. When you're in charge of the situation you will feel less anxious and more in control. Be an advocate for him but stop letting him control your life. If you continue living this way, YOU will be the one who's in the emergency
Write down what you're willing to do for your father and what your boundaries are. When you feel anxious read it. Take more trips like your last one. Get on with your life!
You can do this! When you feel stressed, come here and vent. We understand :)
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Thank you for your thoughtful response. I didn't choose to be his caregiver...I'm the only one close. I was there to help when he needed surgery... I think I overdid the care, feeling sorry for him...he was coddled by my mother so expects to be cared for and takes umbrage when he feels he's not getting his just desserts. He's always been this way and can be quite nasty if challenged.
He was recently assessed by an occupational therapist and he scored 27 out of 30 on cognition and memory and physically is able to get about, shower, make meals, and even works out 3 times a week. He's been tested on his driving and is approved to do so. The issues following his surgery have now been resolved.
I have contacted outside services and I'm waiting for his name to come up on the waiting list.
I found it really helpful to write to the group this morning because it made me realize how fit my father is...he truly is not your usual 95 year old. I've let him know that I'm putting my own mental and physical help first and because he is able, I expect him to be more independent. As for my brother, his toxicity is not something I feel I can forget. It was so distressing, I'm unable to open anymore mail from I'm just going to limit communication with him whenever possible.
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Dam' right!

You are doing exactly the right thing! Don't back down!

I love this bit: "He is suggesting now that I won't be able to live with myself once he's gone if I treat him this way. "

Correct response? "Well I promise I won't say you didn't warn me."

I'm sorry your brother reacted so vitriolically to you. After all, you were asking him to share. You weren't accusing him of anything or even trying to force him into doing more than he wanted.

But - his manner and overreaction aside - your brother is correct on at least one important point. If your father needs additional services, it is for your father to pay for them, not your brother. And not you either, not with time nor with money.

You have made a great beginning, you have been more than fair, and your father... oooh the cheek of it. What a joker.
Helpful Answer (4)

It sounds like you have thought this through. Your position seems reasonable to me. Setting and maintaining boundaries seems appropriate. You know how much you can handle.

I might figure out what is causing the ER trips with your father and see if that can addressed. Are these post surgery complications healing? Is your dad somehow overly focused on it? Is that the only issue with dad right now?

Why not see if dad can get some outside help to come to his house and attend to matters he needs help with and then you can enjoy your visits and not feel overly extended? If he's going to need frequent hospital trips, maybe, his doctor can recommend a long term care facility, where they have around the clock supervision and can accommodate his needs. Some have nursing care as well.

I would consider that seniors may insist on things from adult children that may not be realistic. Their world may be much smaller now and their focus is on their kids. They may be scared of losing that contact and love.

And if your father suffered any cognitive decline after his recent surgery, he may not be thinking clearly. Sometimes, the roles reverse and the adult child must use proper judgment, arrange for help, and protect the senior. We must be the mature one now.

Playing a blame game or placing guilt on family members is quite popular. It seems to be a real touchy thing, because so many people feel guilty at the drop of a hat. But, it's really a mind game, imo. It's only a tool if you allow it to be used against you. To me, when you do things in good faith, are thoughtful and caring regarding your decisions and actions, you can have confidence that you are right and that brings peace of mind. It's up to you to make that choice.

I might try to make amends with your brother if it's not against your best judgment. Not all adult children decide to be caregivers of their parents.
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