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Full disclosure - I'm a bit of a lurker here right now. And before you hands-on caregivers read me the riot act, know that I'm appalled that families have to endure so much stress and bureaucracy to ensure the elder years are safe and healthy. I support fully socialized medicine and a system that would not require people to sacrifice their own health and happiness to care for elders. We need compassionate care for all. I have learned a ton from what I've read from many of you and am grateful for the honesty and openness of much of what I read. My situation (like life itself?!) contains many shades of gray. So some of the "black and white" perceptions and quick rush to judgment occasionally expressed here - in response to the barest minimum of information provided by one involved party - is hard to read at times. So please friends:


- consider that long entrenched realities - on a wide continuum between harmless habits and serious dysfunction or abuse - may have influenced our past and current choices such that our distance is entirely rational;


- recognize that we may care for in-laws, neighbors and others in our communities in part because we have been prevented from providing or even offering care to members of our families of origin;


- don't automatically assume we are shirking our "duty" or that we are heartless;


- allow that physical distance and independence may have solidified over time from a desire to avoid being a burden to parents struggling with a more problematic sibling or other issues of their own, and a need to create safety and security in ways not provided by the family of origin;


- don't confuse physical distance with emotional distance or assume that someone who is not physically present cannot or should not be involved productively, and may feel both a right and a responsibility to be so;


- stay at least open to the idea that a distant sibling may have very useful clarity about the situation because of that perspective;


- understand that yes, we may care about whatever inheritance was promised to us but likely no more or less than anyone who is a member of a family may have such care, and possibly considerably less than a family member who never lived independently or who chose to become dependent on an elder's estate at some point (not saying that is wrong in every case, but it is a choice);


- don't be surprised when we offer input particularly if it appears obvious that an elder's reasonable wishes are being blatantly disregarded, or when unreasonable wishes are being fulfilled at the expense of the elder's well-being;


- acknowledge that where we ALL are is the result of many choices - we've all made them and continue to make them every day. If you aren't happy with your choices, you're the only one who really has the knowledge and the power to change them.


Any distant siblings out there want to add to my list?


Thanks for listening.


Jane

Jane,

No riot act here ...you seem well read as well as well spoken... I'm sure you have no desire to hear from me.

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. " --Tolstoy

You paint with very broad brush strokes... Most of us began this journey without any idea how it would resolve itself. 3 siblings total .. no abuse ...no mistreatment in childhood. Out of state sibling has called twice in the last year -- once to inquire why she did not receive her birthday card (check) and once to let her mother know how offended that she did not receive card/ check for her grandchild. This particular sibling by the way is living free in my parents vacation home. Second sibling local but very busy ...so very busy. His main concern is that my mother is paying the vacation home bills and that is cutting into his inheritance so until she stops that he is too busy to help.

At the crux of this issue is a person... I agree our system for elder care is broken ... I'm aware .. I live it every day. I'm the furthest thing from needing to be here. I have a big house with a husband .. 4 kids... 2 grands... I began 15 years ago helping my parent with errands as her sight was going... she is now blind ..dependent on a walker after 3 falls... I take care of her ADL s 24/7 and I am sleeping on her couch while my side of my marriage bed stays empty.

Dropped out of college ( went back at 38)... quit my day job for doctors appts... quit my night job when she started falling at night . So I'm here ... my husband .... my kids they all pitch in as much as they can but ....

Easy for an outsider to say " Oh .. you chose that.. put her in a place ".. well to the absent sibling judging me I need to sell the house your selfish behind is living in in order to do that.

The healthcare system will not be fixed in time to help us ... neither will my " thoughtful" siblings...so I will continue 24/7 to take care of my mother and when my bible quoting sister cries her crocodile tears I will know I did the right thing .

As far as me... I have no siblings... the damage is irreparable and that's ok with me.
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janeinspain Sep 19, 2018
I don't mind hearing from you. I love that quote. And hope your silent screaming is punctuated by some moments of joy and peace.

Jane
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Jane - thank you for your thoughts and insights. Much food for thought. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Always good to look at things from all perspectives.
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janeinspain Sep 19, 2018
Hi Kristen - thank you too. And you're right. Some people can be selfish, careless, cruel and completely unable to see things from another point of view. Those qualities make any relationship difficult, especially one involving the stress of care giving.

All best,

Jane
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I will eventually be the absentee sibling. actually my brother probably already considers me it. The thing is, my parents CHOSE to move 6 hours from our hometown when they retired and despite hating where they are and being so far from their grandchildren, they have CHOSEN not to move back. (My mom talked about it for years but they never got off their butts, there was always some excuse). They are both disabled now and not in good health. My brother has his own issues-among them alcoholism and hasn’t had a job in over 10 years. The way I see, they’ve supported him financially and emotionally all these years so he can return the favor. My children are young & in school and while I will do what I can for my parents, it won’t be much because I am 6 hours away. If my brother isn’t willing to help then my parents will have to hire help or move to assisted living.
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janeinspain Sep 19, 2018
Hi worried,

I understand this. Maybe (MAYBE!) there was a window some years back in which they could have managed a move with a good outcome, but....they chose not to. Maybe they were even adamant (as many parents are) about staying in their home, so you probably didn't push it. And as time went on they became more entrenched and also a move could have been harmful (thinking of muscle memory and the difficulty of olders adjusting to new settings). Your jobless brother can be helpful, but his alcoholism is certainly a reason to worry. And you're probably aware of the risk that he may eventually try to control everything, including your ability to even talk to your parents. Things can spiral downhill quickly. Hopefully they are not so helpless and have done some estate planning to prevent that, but being 6 hours away definitely makes keeping tabs on it tough.

Good luck,

Jane
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My position has always been that it's a personal decision as to how much time, energy, resources and attention a family member will devote to a LO, who needs care. I've gotten a little perturbed when family hasn't called, sent a card, visited even once or made any inquiry in years, but, that's still something that I have moved on from and no longer take issue with. It's their decision and I make no judgments.

I suspect that some family member caretakers have an internal compass that dictates that adult children are responsible for their ailing parents and that these duties should be divided as equally as possible amongst the children. I sense from what I have read that this strong sense of duty comes from a good and loving place, but, it's to the point that they cannot fathom their siblings not sharing their moral obligation. And so, they get frustrated and resentful. It's like they can't let it go, even though, it's not going to change.....

I think it creates a real dilemma. Until my parents became older and I started seeing the issues that my senior parents' friends had with their adult children, I hadn't realized what a common problem it is. Based on what I see in my community, relations between adult children and their senior parents are quite strained, stressed and dysfunctional. This is even for those who all live within a close geographic area. It tends to be that the ailing senior wants more help from their children and can't get it OR the children see the need and try to meet it, but, the ailing senior parent REFUSES it.
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Kristen246 Sep 18, 2018
Sunny - thank you for your perspectives. Good food for thought.
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I am an only child but have to agree with you. I am so tired of the posts from people who have literally given up their lives to care for an often abusive parent and are upset that all their siblings don't want to follow their lead. It is all about choices. You made yours and now you must be respectful of the choices others have made.

There may be a very good reason why a sibling does not get involved. You don't know what they are going through in their life and they may not have anything left to give. They may have had a totally different relationship with the parent than you did. Often an elderly parent is critical and the absent sibling may not want to put up with abuse when all they are trying to do is help. Some people are just not capable of being a hands on caregiver. Some people can't handle seeing a parent deteriorating. Some people are just too self involved to want to help. Your parent may have made a lifetime of bad choices and a sibling may not want to sacrifice their life to 'fix' a parent's life. They may not be able to handle the 'its never enough' issue many of us have with a parent. Maybe they don't want to deal with the hands on sibling because their take on the situation is vastly different (ex. hands on sib wants parent to live at home at all costs while far away sib sees they need to be in a facility but their is no talking to hands on sib on this subject).

The whole situation we have now with the care of an elderly parent needs to be addressed by the government/medical profession. There has to be a better way to care for our aging population.
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janeinspain Sep 18, 2018
Agree! Another member in another thread I can't locate right now mentioned that it will take the tsunami that is coming to make changes in the dysfunctional "non-system" of human welfare we have now. I wonder if members of this forum have made any such proposals? There certainly is plenty of evidence here that reform is badly needed!
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Hi Jane,

I hear you. I was "gone" 42 years and painted the errant child by parents who presented themselves as angels to the world. The truth was much different.

I've read that around 50% of children are seriously abused. Hearing of the many adult children who never call, visit or help makes me wonder what their real back stories are.
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janeinspain Sep 18, 2018
Hi Davina -

I've not heard that statistic, but I'm guessing this is like other kinds of abuse in which what is reported is a small portion of what is actually occurring. So between emotional and physical abuse, particularly in the older generations that often could not even acknowledge a problem let alone take steps to solve it, the numbers could be quite high. Back stories indeed - "gone" can be the best of reasonably possible outcomes.

Jane
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Very good points Jane. Instead of being judgemental about a non-involved sibling look at all perspectives and at all of the people involved in the equation.
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Kristen246 Sep 19, 2018
Good points to consider and sometimes a valid reality. But, sometimes it can also just come down to the simplest of human facts; that people can be selfish, self centered and/or ungrateful and lack compassion, for the loved one, or for those caring for them. Many do cry “victim” as a convenient way to excuse themselves from personal accountability. All are points to consider.
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Thank you ...you make good points.
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