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What would you do differently? Especially if you're the only one who lives nearby, you probably feel like you're shouldering the entire burden. What works and what doesn't to get the others to pull their weight?

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I could go on and on at what the POA has done wrong in my life and my Mom's life. But it wouldn't do any good to talk about it. She is just a strong willed child and she is right all the time and I am apparently wrong.
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I have 2 brothers in the transportation business. My 92 year old mother will not ask my brothers to take her anywhere. I have been her caregiver for the last 2 years, live the farthest away and work the most number of hours. I am also single and trying to take care of all the things necessary in daily life to survive. My one brother stopped talking to me the day he went to have his boat put in the water while I was trying to get my mother discharged from the hospital with pneumonia while she was experiencing some serious dementia issues. I e-mail my other brother and all he ever says is "ok." My sister live in the next state 1 1/2 hrs. away and she doesn't even visit. I have a very stressful job and am my wits end. I don't know what to do!
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I wish from the very beginning that I would have contacted the area agency on aging and took advantage of a case manager. Not sure of the cost, but at least it would have been an outsider saying "this is what to expect, this is what you will need, etc." Instead, I tried to be the manager, but as others have expressed, all I've gotten was their excuses, and the feeling that they are glad that they are not me. I definitely agree with what Castle posted about the changes in our culture regarding care of our parents.
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I received my answer to that question right here on this site. It was one simple sentence: Sometimes it is better to act like an only child than trying to get siblings involved. And it clicked for me. I was struggling trying to get my brothers involved in helping with my dad who has dementia. My mom is a wonderful caregiver, but she can't do it all. I have tried everything to get my brother's involved , all my time and all my energy. And nothing in return. So, now I keep the "act like an only child" mentality and put my mom and dad's needs first ... enjoy the memories and the blessings and know that I am doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And so thankful I'm able to be here and being able to help. And my brothers will have to be on their own journey in this situation. But if we don't take care of caregiver and ourselves (the one helping the caregiver) , we are missing out. Don't let the siblings take away from your joy of the situation. I just want to be an example and enjoy my journey and time with my dad. And be a blessing to my mom as she continues to be an amazing caregiver to my dad.
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I know many caregivers and there is a standard theme of where one does the work and the rest do some or have excuses it seems to be trend.

Today, I decided to communicate but I am not going to force or make them do anything. The reason is because once again today, I was reminded of why I do what I do. My husband and I take my mom out for shopping or siteseeing because it keeps her spirits high even when she is not remember much. This afternoon my sister that calls every 6 or so called today, it has been about a month, so we were surprised. Anyway, when they were talking mom was telling her about the yellow skirt we bought, our trip to the Alamo and her adventure to the State Capital. These are memories that I will treasure and have, they are priceless. So to me all of our adventures are worth the bad times and the time my husband and I do not get alone. So for me, this is how I keep things in perspective.
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Meant to say "BUT they will NOT want you to get one extra penny when your
parent passes away"...sorry for the mis-type
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Boy - all my answers would be cynical at this point.
Ask them once - and if you have to chase - do what is best for you. At least if
they don't help there are less people to meddle. Once you invite them in unfortunately you are then stuck with the peanut gallery. IT IS AMAZING that my brother and sister had no REAL time for my parent and yet when that parent passed away they want to know all the details of her belongings and asetts. They are completely content with "you" doing all the day to day - but they will not want you to get one extra penny when your parent passes away. IT WILL TRULY AMAZE you when it happens. Best to know...Not everyone thinks the way you do. And, KEEP RECORDS. It is really a sad time in life when you have to face up to all your family's dysfunctions and realize that the parent who spent their whole lives loving their children will only be helped if it suits their children's schedules.
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I think the MOST important thing is to do what is right for you. I wanted to be in my mom's life and care for her, so I did. I didn't resent the freedom my brother and sister had, because when I thought about it, I chose to be with my mom.

I learned that asking them to do things and being specific resulted in the miracle that I got exactly what I asked for. I didn't need them to be too involved, but I asked my sister to visit once a month and to cook and she did! The good news is that their terrible relationship was mended by the time my mom passed. I am so happy my sister had that opportunity and I got a weekend off every month.

After mom passed I told my brother to sit in the corner by the desk where my dad had kept a LIFETIME of papers. I asked my brother to clean that out. He asked the tax accountant for guidance on keeping and tossing paperwork and he spent 4 whole days working on it until every doc was shredded and I was left with two small drawers of papers.

So, the only thing I would have done differently is to think of really good questions to ask them.

The big mistake I have made recently is to tell them too much about the execution of the will. If I tell them a small step I've taken I am given TONS of suggestions (that I have already done!!). So, now I learned NOT to tell them anything until it is time for their participation in a decision or until something is complete or until I want them to handle something and I just turn it over to them... otherwise they cause complete chaos and everyone is an 'expert'.... a hugely disruptive expert.

Live and learn. Wish I had read the answers to this question before I made those mistakes. Thanks for asking!!
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The mistake I made was thinking that my sister cared about our parents. I now realize that people are guided by their emotions, and make time for things that are important to them. My sister visits our parents about four times a year (mostly on major holidays), yet she lives only 20 minutes away, does not work, and her two children are away at college. She calls them every few months. She has all the time in the world to visit our folks and help with doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, etc., but she does absolutely nothing, and never offers to help in any way whatsoever. She and I have had "words" about this, and she won't even acknowledge that she should help out. It's almost like an invasion of her privacy, to ask her to help out. Even if she just did grocery shopping once a month for our folks, that would be a heck of a lot of help. In addition, I am still undecided if I will be on speaking terms with my sister, when my parents are no longer around, as it has been a tremendous strain on me having a sister that has not even done the bare minimum.
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I asked! And was told without thought or hesitation, "you're Mom's favorite, you deal". Now that she's in a home, Sis feels guilty about having done nothing to help and now wants to be the hero who "saves" her by taking Mom to live with her. I told her to go ahead, if she could handle it. The only thing she's ever cared for was her dog. She is not ready for this. The nursing home Social Worker and nurse have flat out refused to allow this because of Mom's severe Dementia and Alzheimer's.
Really, I don't think there's anyway to make people do what, in their heart, they really don't want to.
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I have three sisters and three brothers. I'm the oldest. When our mother started to decline my sisters and one brother stepped in to arrange/provide help for her. I was too overwhelmed taking care of my husband with dementia to be of much practical help, although I took her to some doctor appointments. I often thanked the hands-on sibs and told them what a good job they were doing. (One other brother was disabled in a car accident and had health problems of his own. The remaining brother has young children -- although I think he could have been a bigger presence if he had made it a priority.) I figure these sibs gave our mother probably five additional years in her own apartment. Go Sibs! (And I let them know how proud I am of them.)

Dementia made it increasingly clear that even with lots of help Mother could not continue to live alone. Two sisters did the search and came up with a suitable assisted living place that also had memory care and skilled nursing. But before that went forward the other sister, who had recently retired, offered to have Mother move in with her and her husband. The rest of us heaved a huge sigh of relief and then cheered. She's been there five weeks. She pays rent so this is not a financial hardship on them. One sister visits often during the week. One sister stays overnight on Fridays so the caregivers can do their early-Saturday-morning thing. My husband has died, so I am not tied up caring for him any more. I live too far away to drop in often, but Mother will spend one weekend a month at my home. I don't talk to her much on the phone but I try to send a couple of greeting cards or notes per week.

After all the gloom and doom about difficult sib relations I just wanted to share a more "normal" or "functional" picture. How does it happen that so many of us will work together? I guess we were blessed with a mother with a pleasant, non-demanding personality. With the dementia she is more me-centered, but we all know her true personality. Not only is she relatively easy to deal with, but she was a good role model for tolerance of differences and for acting compassionately.

And the sibs? Do we always agree on everything? Heavens no! We love each other and we value family.
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Last summer all my sister's kids (6) came home. I assumed they had a family meeting to decide how to take care of their Mom. Learned NEVER assume. I backed off as I am only the sister, but lo and behold all the kids left, and nothing was decided or talked about, so me and 1 daughter of hers bare the whole of it. A lot not voiced or expressed. Sorry the opportunity missed!
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Great question! My mistake? I assumed too much and didn't ask enough of them when it became evident Mom could no longer care for herself on her own & needed to move in with me & my husband. When I did ask, I got (and accepted) their excuses. Sure, you have to work, and you have to drive/fly 2 hours to get here, so I can't expect daily help but they could also call our Mother at least once a week or two and ask her how she's doing (which never happens), instead of asking ME about Mom. They could offer to come stay with or take her for a weekend once in awhile, giving myself and my husband a few days to ourselves, but they don't. It's "easier" to turn a blind eye when there's a responsible sibling who shoulders everything, and I admit that is partly my fault - I made it too easy for them. As I've said before, I'm learning to speak up and not accept their b.s. excuses, but it's hard when none of us had the best relationship with our mother growing up. She has always been a negative & controlling person, & I get that it's difficult to "want" to be there for her when she needs us, but it's not fair to push ALL of the work onto one sibling either.
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I stayed angry for about a year and then realized it was just poisoning me and they were not going to change. Lately I have been trying to think of my caregiving duties as a "gift" that I am giving to my sibs. Let them go on about their lives, taking vacations, making sure they get their "rest" and enjoy their 50's & 60's - must be nice. If my sister pats herself on the back for the 10 minute a week phone call then so be it.
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Wow - I just found this very interesting article about the different ways men and women approach criticism, and the reasons for it. It really gives room for thought - Friedman says men criticize to hurt if they feel devalued, while women criticize to help their man change. He has good suggestions on how to see it all, and one of them is, "Don't" request a family meeting to organize care, as he will see that as an invitation for him to be criticized. Better to keep issues brief, low key, as they come up, and make specific requests, rather than analyze the situation at length with them. Food for thought, and I'll save this article to look at again! I think a family meeting is important, but a mediated one, or one with a time limit but also a plan to come back and revisit. Parties should pre-organized their issues, and someone lists them, and keeps a list of what has been solved and what remains, and next contact maybe by mail or email, with the list and check marks or questions by it....

The article is at marriedromance.
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BSO213 - dynamics - I'm beginning to realize, they are fed by cultural assumptions that have not changed enough since the days when women and extended families lived near each other. Today's mobile world has sent siblings very far apart, whether in distance or emotionally. I think culturally, many men expect a "home" as if it was just "there" - not left absent when the family home is gone. The larger culture has focused so much on younger separate family units, no one thinks of organizing a setting to provide care for frail members. With the societal focus on business, sports, youth, few prepare for making communities to support care needs, and there is also no societal expectation that adult sibs will stay in contact with each other - so in some families they do, and TV shows mention sibling relationships, but in others, men and some women, often professionals, feel it's justified and normal, to stop contact completely with any adult sibs they find difficult in any way. I read an article that said in our society, "shunning" is seen as an acceptable way to set boundaries and step away from undesireable behavior. So..... when the time comes to do a shared project, and women expect family to pull together, everyone avoids each other, and hopes the issues will go away (and if someone like you jumps in, their first relief is that someone helped them avoid dealing with the questions and family dynamics.) I did that in my family, caring for my brother - brothers helped at other times, with my mother and stepfather and mentally ill sister, but my brothers' version of "help" is not to provide any more than brief direct care -they want to delegate, while women believe it's more loving to be there and provide direct care, even if difficult.
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I just don't understand the dynamics of siblings. I am only the DIL but was elected 4 yeArs ago to care for my MIL probably my fault. I had no idea my MIL was going to get this bad, she has vascular dementia 89 yrs old and is a total maximum assist, she's very combative when she needs to be changed and bathed. She has 4 daughters the oldest cannot help because she's been ill, the 2nd to the oldest has actually moved in from up north 3 times to actually physically help but this last time she also had health issues which leaves me with 2 sisters one lives about 7 mins away and works PT the other doesn't even work and hasn't come or called to even inquire about her mother in ; months! I finally got outside help (had to) because I to have had and have health issues. But I still have to get up every morning and help the am caregiver change my MIL because she's so combative and for liability reasons. Still help on weekends as well. My husband and I rarely go anywhere until when and if one of his sister decides to come SIT with my MIL (she won't do anything else). And no my husband won't speak up to them and no he will not put my MIL in a SNF because she made him promise yrs ago. I love my husband dearly but he's in total denial when it comes to his mother and his sisters . It's the most pathetic situation I've ever seen. For those two sisters who live close but refuse to help nor care enough to help. I had to learn fast how to care for my MIL without official training but yet have to take her abuse in the am just to get her ready. That stuff messes with your head big time.
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After reading all of these answers it all seems so familiar. I have cared for both my parents for the last 20 years either financially or medically. My father was always the healthier of the two but he died unexpectedly in 2008. After this everyone promised to help me with whatever I needed but that was all talk and didn't last long. My sister lives about 4 hours away but is always "so busy" and has her own family. I do have a brother that lives nearby that will help if i keep bugging him but he needs step by step directions and my other brother lives too far away and has no clue how to help either if he is here. I know I spoiled my siblings by not asking for help at all. When my father was alive he knew that I was the "one" that would be here to help out and my parents talked to me about this when I was 20 years old. At that point my parents were still doing good but I have to say my father really knew his children because they are behaving just like he thought they would. My mom also has several sister but only 1 out of 5 will come around her. So couple years ago her dementia has been getting more severe and she is getting more confused now. in 2011 she broke her hip and went through a 3 month stay at nursing home to recover but she did very well. I went to visit her daily and also had my brother do the same thing to keep her spirits up. After this stay I decided I would keep her at home as long as I could. If my sister had her way my mother would be in nursing home for years so she doesn't have to deal with her. She calls my mother maybe once a month but they have always had a strained relationship. But after she got home from nursing home was able to setup homecare and this did well for a while giving me a break for when i was working or just some free time for myself. But as her dementia gets worse I have her set up in adult daycare monday through friday then has homecare for 2 - 3 hours after. But I have found out that homecare is very complicated. The service is having a terrible time keeping homecare nurses and at this point I have several days with no homecare. I am taking one day at a time, this site seems to be helping me a lot so far and they are having a caregiver conference in couple weeks that I will attend to see if it helps.
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In my case, I am still going through it and this isn't my first round so I should know better but it stresses me out. When my dad passed away almost 14 years ago of this posting and my mom was still in her right mind, I was the one doing the responsible thing for dad. My 3 other siblings were off in their own world even though we were all at the hospital together. I was the one communicating to the doctors and nurses. I was the one with dad 24 hours a day and I was the one with him when he died. I was the one that helped mom take care of everything, so you would think I would have been better prepared myself. But as crazy as it sounds I am the one trying to get them all involved now.

I am the black sheep of the family in that I went out got a higher education and did other things with my life. I did not live near my mom for over 20 years, but I had an opportunity to go back and help her clean up her home, she was a pack rat. The plan was my husband and I were going to stay 6 months, now we are at the 2 year mark.

My oldest sister, who has always been close to mom and lived within a mile of her home. For the first 12 years after dad died, she drove mom places because mom didn't drive, but if you listen to her tell the story she took care of mom. Which is interesting since mom could walk, cook, do her own laundry and everything for herself but drive. There was much not done for mom, but if you listen to her tell it her and her husband did so much stuff and know what it is to care for someone. Anyway, the only thing she will do is perhaps come sit with mom so my husband and I can have a dinner date, but she dictates how long we can be gone because she has things to do. She also doesn't like me to be gone too long because she has lots of excuses as to why she is unable to assist our mom on the port-a-potty. When we are not in town at mom's house she calls a few times a day to talk with me and perhaps once every 2 days talks to mom.

My next sister, right above me does not even call my mom except when she feels like it. I have done my best to try and convince to call my mom, but she is either in denial or just doesn't give a damn. So I am no longer trying. The other day she upset me because of something she was doing, but she couldn't take the time to call her mom. I almost came on here and vented, but a couple of my friends talked it out with me.

My youngest sister does not call my mom much in the past, but since mom's diagnosis of Alzhiemer's this January she is trying to call more frequently. She has volunteered to try and call mom on days that she has a bad time to see if it brightens her days. She has asked for more emails from good or bad about how mom is doing. She says she will try to do what she can from where she lives.

So for me there is no break just my husband and myself. We take turns sitting with her so every week we do get time out by ourselves. But my mistake is trying to convince my sisters and the grandchildren just to make a phone call to their mom or grandma. I am not even trying to get them to help, just to give her a call, and it is a waste of my time. They are all so busy in their lives and when the time is over it will be their own fault for not trying to do the right thing.

We have planned a couple of family trips as a way to try and get people together. My aunt and uncle are planning a family reunion and I believe it is to try and get people together before mom forgets most of them. But outside of this my husband and I are trying to show my mom a good time and keep her busy. When my mom is busy she has far better days than when she sits around.

So I have no specific advise other than sometimes it is more stressful to try and get assistance from my siblings than it is to just do what has to be done. I am just grateful that I am able to work from home with a flexible schedule to where we can make some special memories with mom.
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hi this is a hard one i have two sisters and a brother, we all live reasonably close to mam but still a car journey, my two sisters and I share mams care we do two days each and rotate the sunday but mam goes to day centre and we have a little help on a morning. It was difficult at first I think everybodys family is different we are just about getting it right now we try to take responsibility for things we individually find easier to do, I prefer cleaning and housework than doctor and hospital appointments, but its taken time to open up the lines of communication between us and were still learning and squabbling sometimes. I dont think its fair to give any one more responsibility than any one else, my elder sister might not work as many hours as my other sister, but then she worked all her life and should really be enjoying her retirement, my other sister has to juggle her full time work and I have health problems, my brother however does not involve himself in mams care, he calls once a month if were lucky, nothing we can say or do can change this. like i say its a tricky one but mam is all of our mams she would still walk over hot coals for any one of us we should really be prepared to do the same for her
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I think that what needs to happen also, is study or organization that actually ASSISTS caregiver sibs in multi-sib families - and plans to set up family models where any sibs that are not involved, each contribute a certain amount of money for the care time given by the dedicated one.

Taking responsibility for my disabled brother lasted 40 years - I learned skills, got better at it, etc., and maybe I can make some living from my knowledge, but I should have been packing away retirement money for myself, no matter how small. Early on, discussion was needed, about how much money is often involved in paying someone to care, then my brothers might have seen me as the bargain that I was, instead of assuming that if they didn't hear of crises, everything was fine, even if it was me preventing the crises. After 30 years, I finally insisted on a pittance, but the arrangement is still informal. I have an additional issue from those who care for parents, because my parents have died, and I must make arrangements with my siblings - I figure that's OK even if difficult, for we need to make community, not just receive it, and learning to understand each other is part of that. I just hired a Geriatric Care Manager with small funds I get for overseeing my brother's care, as a start - my brother jumped when I said her wages are $90 an hour! I'll only hire her for an hour or two a month, but just defining someone involved in the day to day stuff as a formal role that costs money, is a help to shift the family consciousness that alternates otherwise, between "your brother is lucky to have an angel like you' and "don't ask us for anything, it was your choice to help him." They have no idea of the costs of alternatives.
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Lovingmom,
Kind of makes you wonder who he thinks is going to care for him when he can't take care of himself, doesn't it? He might want to start to save some of that cruise money for paying for a nursing home. I'm impressed you even implied you would be willing to care for him if he saw an estate planning attorney. You are a better person than my sister and I.
Bless you for becoming a caregiver, especially with a teenager at home. I don't think I am that strong. Granted, one never knows how strong they are until challenged, but having done each job separately I don't think I could do them both at the same time.
Maybe your brother isn't talking to you because he feels guilty. HIS problem, not yours. You sound like a really caring person. You are right. You really don't see a person's true colors until a situation like this comes up. Your colors are vibrant, bright and cheerful! Have a wonderful day.
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I was quite surprised when two of my siblings who I thought would be more helpful made it clear that they were sorry this was put upon me but they were not going to disrupt their lives to help. One especially, my brother, retired early and takes cruises all winter. He has more time than I do, I work and still have a teenager at home. Now he's not talking to me because I told him I didn't think it was fair that this was dumped on me, and I also told him if he wanted me to handle his affairs if he were to become unable to do so, then he needs to see an estate planning lawyer now. He told me he would not and he wasn't going to discuss it again. Not only selfish and self-centered, but short-sighted. He is single and has no family. Good luck to him. You really do see people's true colors when a situation like this comes up.
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littletonway, You did nothing wrong other than perhaps trying to keep "unwilling to be involved people" involved. All that did was add more to your already heavy load. I am glad you found caregivers to help. We have two that we could not function without. They are now part of our family.
I'm not sure there is anything that can be done to light a fire under the rear-ends of siblings that don't want to be involved. They are usually too involved with themselves to see their lack of responsibilty. When my brother was trying to act like he cared, he told my sister that I did not tell him what needed to be done. She told him to walk into their home and see what needed to be done. I just wondered who he thought told me what needed to be done. Now he has no contact with my parents. Daddy no longer remembers he had a son, Mama is hurt by his lack of caring and my sister and I have just written him out of our lives. I'm not saying that if he decided he wanted to come back and treat our parents right, we would show him the door, but he is going to have to show that he intends to help (even if just calling Mama occasionally). At this point I will not allow him to see Daddy. Daddy suffered a great deal thinking his son was dead before he just forgot about him. I will not allow him to be put thru that again.
All you can do is provide an open door. If siblings want to help, they'll walk in it. If they don't, don't let them add to the burdens in your life. There are much more important things that need your attention. Learn to "let go" so sib's irresponsibilty does not haunt you.
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My biggest mistake was even thinking my sister was going on this journey with me. She told me she wasn't interested in getting involved and I should've listened. She was mom's favorite and could do no wrong, I should've accepted it. But I fought it, thought it was grossly unfair and cried a river. I was trying to change dysfunctional family dynamics after too many years and was doomed to fail. As I move forward, for when my time comes to require care, I will encourage my kids and my husband's kids to get a plan of action and get on the same page, at least. My kids were very active in caring for my mom so they were involved in the battle on the front lines. I sure hope they learned from all the mistakes.
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I love the question, thank you! And Littleton's experience is telling - and should help us find strategies to deal with different perceptions of reality: the person doing the bulk of the care, is actually a Care Manager, Innovator, Project Manager as well as the list of tasks. People who "pitch in" - are part time helpers. I think in families particularly, confusion exists among the part timers - they don't fully realize that the old home is gone, and it is another sibling who now oversees the responsibility for making sure all gets done which changes as things evolve - making a new, safe "home" for the ailing parent. My mistakes that I see now - were not differentiating the phonecalls - trying to discuss my disabled brother's care needs, which I was overseeing - in my contacts with distant brothers. The focus left me out - too many details to include in individual conversation to describe both my struggles and my brother's needs - they would hang up the phone thinking they had done "their part" by listening to me rant. A pretty easy part that only cut minimally into their lives. And, if you don't actually SEE a situation and have to deal with it, your time frame is different. I think we need to come up with some designated term for the caregiver who actually does most of the work, like a Care Manager - so that the other sibs realize this is who they are talking with - and plan 4 times a year conference calls among all sibs.
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Seems this is a very comment complaint. One left with the responsibly the others glad its not them. Me, I have tried many years to have my sister help. You know, getting her hands dirty. I finally gave up in August 2012 (6 months). When I told her you have to come out. That was the last time she did. Mom gets the once a week 10 min phone call. Then I look at FB and see the bike rides and the time she spends with the husband and daughter.

I feel now that I am getting over it and have moved on. Take comfort that you are doing what is necessary and right.

Take care. When it gets tough, go outside and enjoy those few moments
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Thanks for sharing, Littletonway. That sounds stressful! They really didn't seem to get what you were going through.
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I wish I knew what I did wrong! Thought I was doing it all by the book; family meeting at the beginning with a mediator, printed out calendars, sent daily updates to each of the siblings. They would show up and sit! But there was always something they needed to do if I requested a break for a few hours. There was never any "offer" to help in those two years.

It was easier to pay someone to come daily for a few hours. Siblings did take vacation time so I could take a couple of long weekends with the hubby. But upon the return home, I had to listen to everything they did for Mom, what they didn't "get" to do at home and an accounting of the number of hours each spent here. It was easier after that to have a paid 24/7 caregiver when we left and let siblings continue being visitors. They were more comfortable in that position.

The old saying goes something like this: Two parents can raise a dozen kids but a dozen kids cannot take care of two elderly parents.
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