Long story short. Both of my parents' health has been declining. Dad is in ICU right now and my mom has (undiagnosed) dementia (I'm in the mental health field and can diagnose but mom refuses to have an assessment or brain scan for official diagnosis). I have two sisters that live out of state, both over 1,000 miles away (so 17-20 hr drive). I live an hour away so am at this time the caregiver for both parents. I'm not sure if my dad is going to make it. I have attempted to plan ahead to avoid a crisis situation, as we have now, but my parents were not willing to discuss this. They are having a hard time accepting this reality, which I understand. My mom seems more open now that dad is in the hospital.

I have 2 concerns/stressors:

1). My sister is the medical and financial POA and wants complete control over everything (I looked in dad's checkbook because he was concerned about whether he paid a bill and my sister called me up when she found out and was angry. This was during his hospitalization and I didn't have time, nor even considered discussing this with her, as I was just trying to reduce his anxiety around this.) My mom chose my sister as POA because she is the oldest. Mom is considering changing POA to me but I will get kickback from my sister, or she will attempt to manipulate mom. I feel as the local caretaker I'll need this authority for medical and financial decisions and do not have time to ask permission for everything, nor reimbursement for money I spend. Unfortunately, my sister adds much stress to all of this. How does a local caretaker care for parents with no authority? I am new to this.

2). I am already operating at a high level of stress, due to requirements of my job and several recent losses. Ethically and legally, I need to be mentally competent to work in this profession. I cannot change careers and support myself. I know the importance of self-care but that has been a struggle and now is non-existent. Because I am in a "caregiver" profession, this is essential. It is hard to care-give all day then go home and care for elderly parents. I have thoughts of packing up and moving away, to end the stress. I wont do that but it sounds wonderful. I love my parents dearly but am overwhelmed. I am considering telling my mom that if I am to be the caretaker, I will need authority to do so (so will need to be POA). But I'm completely overwhelmed. When I have to be at the hospital or caring for them, I have to cancel my patient appointments, which is not good for them, nor my employment stability. Further, I do not get paid unless I see clients and I pay $8,000/yr for private insurance. I'm single and have no help. My parents have no family or friends to help out. I am it. My parents do not want to move where my sisters are, they do not want to go into a skilled nursing facility, and they want to live in their home. My sisters are not able to fly or drive in to help due to their health or job or schedule. Mom cannot drive and dad should not be.

Everyone, my sisters and even AARP, talk about "their wishes" (may parents) which of course are important - but don't work for me and won't provide them with the level of care they need. My mom will at some point need more care for the dementia. It is a 2 hr drive for me there and back

I KNOW I can't do this on my own (and don't even know if I can do it AT ALL without losing my job and income) but don't know how to proceed. I have researched resources and have an idea of how to get in-home care for awhile, but they will have many other care needs. I don't know what the outcome will be with my dad but if he gets well, he will have a long recovery period and my mom is not able to care for him. He will go to a skilled nursing facility possibly for a few weeks, as per hospital recommendation. My sisters will both be in town this weekend so I am hoping to discuss options. Thanks in advance for any feedback or ideas!

For me the whole question ground to a halt right here:

"1). My sister is the medical and financial POA"

What you say to her is - enjoy!

Look. Your father is in ICU. You will want to visit him, to support your mother, and to pass on to your sister any information that you pick up at the hospital or at your parents' home. Of course you will, these are your parents, you love and care about them, you are a functioning human being.

But the *responsibility* for planning your parents' care, and carrying out their known wishes? Nope. They gave those to your sister, and she accepted them.

You're off the hook.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Countrymouse
AnonymousUser Mar 20, 2019
Thanks! I do agree with you. It's challenging though due to my sister living 1,000 miles away and not willing to be with them physically, yet I she drops the ball and I am here, expected to do the grunt work and pick up where she left off. I will take that approach when we discuss options - I am not a caretaker option. My sisters are taking a "team" approach but on their terms. Appreciate your feedback.
See 1 more reply
I would call up Sis and tell her that someone with authority to act MUST be with Mom....that Dad and Mom need full time care, and you cannot deliver that because you have either the authority or the ability.

the POA must deal directly with the hospital. With Doctors, etc. etc. that means she has to be

tell her that she needs to drop everything and get over

then say goodbye. Not open for discussion. You cannot really handle this even if you had the POA deliver this to Sis without inviting any discussion. SIs is going to do everything she can to keep you on the not engage in conversation.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Katiekate
NeedHelpWithMom Mar 21, 2019

Responsibility without authority is not a good thing.

If your sister wants the authority, time for her to get busy being there for your parents.

It is so stressful to deal with this situation and to know nothing you say holds any authority and your sister can turn all your hard work upside down with one decision is even more stressful.

This isn't about control, it's about being able to do the caregiving requirements in the most efficient way.

I would tell my sister that I am not going to have my butt jumped because she has and wants the power, so she needs to move into their home and deal with it to a done or give up her percieved power.

Good luck getting her to take the responsibility she so longs for.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
NeedHelpWithMom Mar 21, 2019

Absolutely correct! What a shame families do these things. We all have idiots in our families!
I'm just going to pile on here. Back away from this train wreck.

What would you tell a client who told you this story?

You'd say, " Well, your parents gave authority to your sister. It's your sister's job to handle this crisis, not yours. Additionally, when you
" interfered before, sis got upset. You need to cal your sister end tell her that your parents are in crisis and need her right away".

Isn't that what you'd say?
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
AnonymousUser Mar 21, 2019
Ha ha yes. Thanks for your response. BTW - I love the picture of your mother and the fact that she received her BS at age 81! She sounds pretty amazing!
See 1 more reply
You say you work in mental health. Your employer should have an anonymous employee assistance program. Call them! You too need the help of a professional to help yourself reduce stress
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MACinCT
NeedHelpWithMom Mar 21, 2019
Good suggestion!
Thanks for your response! Love your answers - they are very logical during an emotional time for me. ;)
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to AnonymousUser

Absolutely care for yourself and your career, first!  If you go under, then what happens to parents?  This is just simple fairness and common sense. If your sister is POA and wants that authority, then it is her responsibility to care or arrange care for your parents. Her responsibility, not yours. 
Their needs are becoming beyond your ability to meet and they will grow greater with time. Either POA sister arranges for hired caregivers or moves parents into a facility. 
Their wishes?  Let's be sensible here - your parents growing aging problems are THEIR problems and they must be willing to make the changes to accommodate THEIR needs.  Why on earth should their preferences drive your life?  No one has the right to devour another person's life.  Elders have to face up to unpleasant realities just like the rest of us.  You love them and want to help, but realistically there must be boundaries and endangering your health and finances are outside of reasonable boundaries.
The problem with staying in their home is that, unless they are very wealthy and can hire whatever help they might need, there are too many chores associated with maintenance of a house and daily living, like cooking, cleaning, etc.  By downsizing they would be able to eliminate at least some of these chores.  Respecting the wishes of elders goes WITH the understanding that they will not commandeer other people to maintain their preferred lifestyle. They can make decisions, but THEY must take the consequences. No one else is obligated.
I would advise having sister keep POA but making it clear that you are bowing out of any regular caregiving responsibilities because you have to work and she must help them make other arrangements.  And stick to it - because the sooner they are "forced" to act intelligently, the better the results will be. Enabling finally causes a lot of problems.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to rovana

I do NOT have my mother's financial POA, but I share her health care POA with my 3 brothers (we can all act independently or jointly). Sometimes it is a pain that I don't have her financial POA, but I have found a silver lining -- I get PAID for my time by one of my POA brothers. The POA document specifically excludes the POA from being compensated except for reimbursement of expenses.

I don't know how I could function if I didn't have the health care POA.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to CTTN55

This isn’t worth losing your career over. Or your peace of mind. I feel your pain! You sound very responsible and reasonable. You’re going to work through this, it’s just a pain in the a**!

I hope you don’t have to spend too much time sorting it out. Not telling you anything new, you know your big sister, but she is going to be mad no matter what you do.

I don’t think you are going to do anything to gain big sister’s approval. I mean, really, what do you care about her approval?

In our family, my mom has tried to stir the pot among siblings and lay a guilt trip on me or she will have an unrealistic attitude, thinking we are supposed to live in a fairytale world and all magically get along during challenging situations but even in fairytales there are problems.

Used to bug me so much. Now I say, I am not listening and walk away when she plays one against the other.

I am primary caregiver to mom for many years. I know what you are dealing with. It’s challenging. Sorry you are dealing with all of this.

I also told mom that I was no longer her personal assistant regarding communication with the siblings about these matters. If she wants a message relayed to them she has to deliver it. I do not want to be placed in the middle anymore.

Sure, I would like to have siblings that were reasonable and we could have a good relationship but I am not holding my breath for it.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter