Issues with older brother. Any advice?


(I apologize in advance for the length of this:)

As of the end of June 2014, my older step-brother moved from the Southwest US up to our home in Ohio. We've never been close, there's about ten years age difference between us (he's 63) and we're very different people.

He's lived on his own for 30+ years and has a mean streak. He is highly intelligent and highly self-centered.

He suffered moderate strokes in March and April of this year. He spent two months in a TX nursing home, and found the experience very unpleasant to say the least. He very much wanted to stay on his own but finally realized he just couldn't do it by himself any longer and finally accepted our offer for him to move in with my family. He walks with the aid of a walker (when needed), he's able to bathe himself, go the bathroom, feed himself, drive around town, self - medicate,etc.

Between his SS income and his receipt of a lump sum disability payout, he was able to cover the costs of the move which included us flying from Dayton to Dallas, meeting up with him and driving back in his car.

It was agreed that we would provide him a private room, cover all his food expenses, laundry, trash, utilities, help with transportation, etc. In return, he agreed to pay us $500/mo.

My wife is a RN and it was expressed by us that having a nurse around could be useful should questions arise about health issues, medications, etc. Due to a degenerative back condition, she no longer does floor nursing. I too have a similar back condition that requires medication so more physical tasks such as moving this person are beyond our capacity.

Our hope was that he could remain independent and perhaps improve in Ohio with less stress and more help available. Finding his own apartment here in town also seemed a possible path that would've given him even more independence.

He is a 1.5 pack a day smoker....we permit smoking only outside-to which he has complied.

Until recently we'd felt the transition had gone reasonably well. We've tried to be as attentive as we could be to his requests, food preferences, laundry needs, setting up his bedroom, getting his driver's license, etc. I've also made it a point to try and sit with him for 30-45 minutes a day to visit. In other words, I/we've tried to make him feel as welcome as we could. No other family member or friend offered him a housing alternative. Just us.

The bumps that came up were...

1) a complaint of being too cold: The thermostat is set between 69-70 degrees. IN the summer, it doesn't usually fall below 72. We've also blocked the air vent in his bedroom, provided him a good quality space heater, and made available additional blankets and sweaters. He thinks we're keeping it "cold" just to :control" the issue...

2) one morning, he nastily complained that he was unsatisfied with the food situation. He claimed he spoke to my father (his step-dad), our sister, our aunt and his attorney and said if he didn't start getting prepared meals-he was going to refuse to pay his rent. I reminded him that a) the vast majority of the items he'd communicated to me that he wanted we in fact in the house and that b) if he wanted something else-he needed to let us know and c) "prepared meals" were never a daily service. Wife works 7 days on, 7 days off with 12 hours days, and my schedule is highly erratic. d) When we do have prepared meals, he's always welcome to join us. (As of a week or so ago, he acknowledged this issue had been resolved satisfactorily...)

3) the use of his car: In the month leading up to our going to TX to bring him back, he often and regularly offered us the unconditional use of his car. Knowing one of our vehicles was in need of a fairly serious repair-he almost daily remarked, "Well, once I get up there-you'll have another car to use as you need to..." To be clear-we didn't ask for this---he offered...

Once in Ohio, he continued to make the same offer, so we took him up on it several times a week. We liberally replaced whatever fuel we used. After a few weeks (and after the food complaint) he stated he was feeling abused about us using his car as we had been. I was floored. When I reminded him of all the times he'd reminded me of the availability of the car, he stated, "that's what you say." I asked him firmly if was saying I'd lied about the matter and he wouldn't answer. I told him it was certainly his car-and he had a right to change his mind if he wished on how we used it, but that I found it offensive to suggest I'd made it up. He then said "only in the case of emergencies," which we immediately respected.

Things were pretty quiet for about a month...

About 2.5 weeks ago, while the 3 of us were eating dinner on a Friday, out of the blue he tells my wife if it would make it easier on her she could use his car for work all week. We were surprised and identified a single day when it really would be helpful. Unfortunately, the next Monday, he fell in his bedroom and sustained another....

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing


1 2 3
OP, I have to say both you and your wife are wonderful people. You both gave it your best shot and went above and beyond. You have enough on your plate with your daughter and grandkids.

You can visit him in the NH. I find it very suspect that someone who isn't even a blood relative all of a sudden out of the blue gets back in contact, it sounds like he wore his welcome out in TX with everyone he knew.

You offered your home for a ridiculous price, $500 to include food and laundry is a deal. None of us on here know for sure if his behavior is health related or as you said he has always been self centered, it doesn't really matter when it comes to him living in your home, that isn't going to work.

He is in the NH, and that is where he needs to stay.

You're wonderful people for making the effort.
Helpful Answer (2)

CB, a bit of distance between you and your stepbrother seems like a good idea to me. Let more water flow under the bridge, then see.

Similarly, while it's sad, you're quite right that if confidential remarks are not going to be kept confidential then you need to mind what you say to your step-sister. Well, sigh, she made her choice. If she wants to be a mediator, then she has to respect your boundaries. If she can't do that, then you can't be totally frank with her. It's a pity it isn't as obvious to her, that's all.

The car, the car, d**n that car… Well, if there's no space at the NH for residents' cars, you'll have either to find safe storage for it elsewhere, the rental on which your brother will have to meet; or to sell his car on his behalf, with his permission, and hand him the proceeds. Since it isn't likely he'll be driving it again himself I imagine he'd be better off with cash in hand than a depreciating asset that costs him money to maintain, no? Or, I suppose, you could make him a going-rate offer for it; but that last option, given his earlier attitude, is perhaps a little fraught. In case you or he might be wondering, no he can't expect you to look after the car for him, for free, indefinitely.
Helpful Answer (1)

C, make sure he gets a good neuropsych eval. Dollars to donuts he has some vascular dementia. He's not lying. He's not denying. He's got a dysfunctional brain.
Helpful Answer (1)

Update: As of yesterday, my brother officially transferred from the hospital to a local nursing home.

I dropped off some personal items for him with the nurses and fortunately discovered I know the admissions person from another long term care facility in town where I've performed in the past. (I make my living providing musical entertainment at nursing homes, retirement communities, clubs, private parties, etc...Starting my 18th year on Labor Day!) She and I had a very nice chat about how things would work at the home, as well as me giving her some additional context about my brother.

My brother called yesterday around lunchtime and commented that I hadn't stopped into see him when I dropped the items off, and I explained I was quite busy today (partly because I'm driving everybody and their brother all over the place, LOL) and that I would see him Saturday at some point. He then asked what was I going to do with his stuff-would it be ok to remain at my house for a while? I said yes...for a while. That I'd be packing his things up soon however and either putting them in his storage shed or something so we can use the bedroom for someone else. He seemed fine with that.

His tone was more reserved than earlier in the week. Neither of us referred to the offensive comments he made during that prior conversation. He did say he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to be "a burden" to us. I'm not entirely sure if he was being genuine or sarcastic.

When I see him Saturday, I assume the issue will come up and I will be frank with him. No, you can not live with us any more. But, if you regain your independence after a few months here at the NH, and they find a suitable place for you to move into, I will be agreeable to helping with the move and any other related tasks to help out.

If he's smart...he'll be fine with that. If he's not, oh well...

A related issue with my step-sister has emerged...

She and I spoke every day or so with me consistently requesting that our conversations stay private. She always agreed, sometimes with a touch of irritation in her voice. I had no issue with sharing with her my thoughts on our brother, but I really wanted to avoid any direct "Well, Bill said this" or "Bill said that..." type stuff. I communicated with her out of respect for her and as a courtesy. She broke that confidence with our brother yesterday and discussed his tasteless remarks to me the prior day.

I explained that I understood she was trying to help the situation and that there was no malice intended. Regardless, I told her it was wrong of her to violate my trust and that while I would continue to communicate with her about our brother as needed, it wouldn't be in the detailed way it has been the last few weeks.

She asked what harm did it do. I responded that #1) its a trust issue between her and I and #2) it very much effects what I can tell her because I don't want some circular confusion thing going on. We had avoided that entirely until she broke our agreement. I suspect my conversation with my brother will involve some of this come Saturday. He's already denying he said this or said that.

Oh joy...

A new question I have involves his car which is at our house. We have space for 3 parked cars. Usually, we have mine, my wife's and his. FINALLY, daughter #1 will be buying her own car in the next week or so and will need a place to park as she and her kids are living with us for a time. So, he/we need to find a different place for his car to be parked until he is driving again. I've asked the NH if his car can be kept there until he's discharged and was told they need to check with the Administrator or Director of Nursing.


Thanks again for the interest and support!

Helpful Answer (0)

Well, from your description of your brother I would have expected this outcome. People don't change. They grow meaner, crazier, stranger or whatever as they age or get sick. He is just showing you he has not changed. Please don't be surprised. Put him in a nursing home and let him complain all day to people who are used to hearing it.
Helpful Answer (2)

He sounds like a good candidate for an assisted living facility. Why not check into it?
Helpful Answer (1)

@Linda22- It was my wife's car---I still have mine...

Yes, the insurance company will cover up to 3 days from the time they send the settlement check. But, we have to front the money and turn in the receipts...Not practical right now...
Helpful Answer (0)

As your only car is totalled, will the insurance company cover a rental car for you for a couple weeks?
Helpful Answer (0)

Do NOT let him back in your home. There are numerous posts on this site about people not being able to evict someone from their home. Pack up his stuff today and move to garage or storage unit. Let the discharge planner that do to health problems, you will no longer be able to care for him. They will find other arrangements. Let him know in front of others such as the head nurse or discharge planner. Also let him know you have already packed up his belongings. Don't wait until he is ready to be discharged to spring it on him that he can't come back. He will need time to readjust to where he is going. You wouldn't want to know at the last minute about your own living arrangements. You gave it the old college try. It's no crime it didn't work out.
Helpful Answer (3)

I would not put up with his attitude one minute and would be looking into assisted living nearby. I have also had relatives who never bothered to get close and then suddenly show up wanting help, and while I tried to help, it was also extremely stressful at times. If you have cooperation from someone, care giving is hard enough, but to have someone who acts deceitful and so hard to please will just simply wear you out and makes you chronically angry. Not worth it.
Helpful Answer (2)

1 2 3
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.