Mom won't ask her other daughter for help. Any advice?

Follow
Share

My mom is not in need of intensive caregiving (yet) as she is still mobile, but she has been driving less and less, and often needs rides to her appointments and errands, etc. This trend will no doubt increase over time.


Unfortunately, she relies almost exclusively on one of her two daughters (me) to take time off from work to take her to appointments, to pick up needed items, run errands, give her financial support, etc. My sister -- who lives just 10 minutes away and does not have any family of her own to take care of -- is rarely asked to help out. When I ask my mother why she can't ask my sister for help more than just once in a great while, my mom hurriedly changes the subject. ("I'll just ask the neighbor if you can't do it!")


My sister tends to be totally uninvolved/estranged with other members of our family (while I am in contact with everyone). However, this is not the case with our mom; lines of communication are open and there is no feud or anything like that. It's just that Mom seems to see us totally unequally when it comes to helping her. I think my mother is afraid to ask my sister for help (which she claims not to be). I would just like my mom to contact my sister once in a while to arrange transportation, so that it isn't always me having to ask for time off work. (I'm the easily available daughter who's made out of money; while my sister is poor, struggling and SO, SO busy with her side projects -- or so my mom seems to think.)


My mom sometimes has used the local senior transportation option, which is free, but she sometimes balks from this because she is nervous about some of the drivers. Then she's back to asking me to take her -- never my sister.


Things need to change, and there is no "outside observer" in our small family to step up and make my mom understand that she has another daughter who can ALSO help her and SHOULD be asked more often than she is. (My mom dismisses my unhappiness with this situation; and as I don't want it to turn into an ugly "Why does my sister get away with murder while I have to do everything, etc etc" squabble, I usually don't push it very hard.)


What can I do to clue my sister in that she really needs to step up and reach out to my mom more (and ask "is there anything you need")? I've tried telling her this, but her attitude is "Mom can call me at any time" -- but my mom never will do that.

11

Answers

Show:
I agree with building boundaries now. Parents have funny ideas about their kids. I took care of my mom and dad and I have a brother living in another state. I asked him to call one day a week, so I could have a day of rest. Then my mom would tell him he didn't have to call because he was "so busy". He was retired, married, no kids and wealthy.

Mom never said to me, "Oh don't do the laundry or take her to the doc visit or get her meds or any other of a million things I did for her and my dad. Used to really tick me off.

Just start saying "no" if it's not convenient for you. Mom has other resources (bus and sis) and she needs to use them. Her needs will only increase over time, believe me. Set your boundaries now while she's still mobile.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to blannie
Report

Everyone is right. You need boundaries. Figure out what you are willing to do and do only that. Take a shot at asking your sister for help since you know mom never will. If she says mom just has to ask tell her YOU are asking.

Try being less available for mom. Say no once in awhile. It gets easier. My father would call and want me to leave work to see him immediately. Or at least come right after work. I learned to put him off a few days and found the crisis righted itself.

I am an only child so I did all the driving. At first he was very respectful of my time when making doctor appointments. Then he wasn't. I got to the breaking point when he expected me to leave work TWICE in one day to go to the same doctor, as if I had nothing better to do. It happened three times before I put my foot down and told him he needed to call a friend if he needed to go back so badly. Well he didn't want to 'put his friend out". So it was ok for me to have to use vacation time and leave work but not ok to ask a retired friend for a lift. I refused to budge, it was my hill to die on. He finally called his friend. It got so bad that I ended up quitting all doctor appointments. I even refused going to the ER because he went on so many frivalous trips. Guess what, he learned public transportation and senior rides.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to lkdrymom
Report

jdmason, I know this is a tough situation as your want to help your Mom. Time to set boundaries, such as no longer taking time off from work.

Wish I knew about setting boundaries because I was taking a lot of time off work, used up all my vacation days, all my sick days, and days without pay. Had to make changes.... only drive my parents when they had a doctor appointment or professional appointments. No taking time off the grocery runs, shopping, hair cuts/barber shop, etc.

Also I had to learn to say "sorry, I can't possibly do that", and yes I got the guilt treatment. My Mom just didn't understand how important my work was, Dad understood. Just because they refuse to move to a retirement community where driving is offered, it was their choice not mine..... [sigh].

Let Mom call her neighbors. But she doesn't.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to freqflyer
Report

Possibly she doesn't ask your sister because she knows that the answer would be no and she knows that you are more apt to do what she wants with less fuss. You can't force your sister to do more than she is willing and you can't force your mom to ask her, the only behaviour you can change is your own. I agree with Freqflyer, learn to say no.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to cwillie
Report

My mother also prefers one of her two local daughters (me) to take her to all her errands and medical appointments. I think I'm somewhat more accommodating than my sister, and I think Mom is just more used to me. That said, my sister and I try to divvy up the tasks as evenly as possible. When Mom needs to go to the doctor, for example, my sister may call me or I'll call her and say "Mom needs to go to the doctor on Wednesday morning. Can you take her?" My oldest sister (now deceased) would also say "If mom needs something, she can call me." She rarely got called, unless my other sister or I tried to drag her in.

At least try to approach your sister with specific dates/times/errands that your Mom needs, pointing out that you can't take so much time off from work to ferry Mom around. My mother knows that, as much as she prefers me, she does not ultimately decide who will take her our or do her errands. I've even dragged my brother-in-law into a few errands for my mother, such as picking up prescriptions or grocery items for my mother.

If you leave it up to the elder, they'll always turn to the person they're most familiar with or most comfortable asking. You can't leave it up to them, if you want any semblance of fairness in the way responsibilities are allocated. That's my experience, anyway.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to CarlaCB
Report

She realizes that you are the one who will actually help her. Mothers know these things. But yes, it will escalate and one day you will be wandering how it got so out of control, Try to get your sister a little bit involved if you can. while you can. Tell your sister to do one thing a week with /for her. Start it now and try to enforce it. Pick a day or night. My mother does not expect one little thing from my sibling, either. says the same line., "oh, he will call if he wants to." but refuses to call him. I think its an old mentality. Certainly a difficult one for the one bearing all the burden! Best wishes
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Anniepeepie
Report

You can start by setting all of her appointments on your time This worked for a time before she went into AL. I still do all of her appointments and occasionally ask my brother. I have much more peace of mind when I am in control. As for shopping, I have a list of routine stuff and pick it up when I do my errands or I pick her up and we both shop
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MACinCT
Report

heres another bit of advice from someone who began in a similar situation and is fast forward into the future. Wish I had gotten a care contract. I never thought I would need it. but its such a great idea in case things escalate. Google it, check it out and cover your behind before you are in a situation that is out of control
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Anniepeepie
Report

You are so wise to realize that this will escalate. I’m not sure why it takes a village to take care of a single adult but it can if we don’t get a grip.

It may look like your problem is your sister. It’s not. Put that out of your mind.

Next it might look like your problem is your mom. It’s not.

The problem is with yourself.
YOU have to set the limits. You decide what time you have available and stick with it.

Most of us use the same items most of the time. Get a list of brands, sizes and frequency needed and pick up these items when it’s convenient for you. Make sure your name is on her checking account so you can easily make the payments. That’s if you decide you will buy supplies.
Set her bills up on auto pay if you are asked to attend to those. Take her to the bank one last time and that’s to set things up. If she doesn’t want to do that. Fine. She can find someone else to take her.

Do not take off work for anything routine. That’s not a viable solution as a way for her to run her life and ruin yours.

Whether it’s a friend, your sister, public transportation, Uber or whatever mode of transportation your mother chooses, it is up to her. Now you don’t get to complain about how she chooses to take care of business. That’s part of the boundary you are creating.

Infringing on your responsibilities is not appropriate and puts you under too much stress.

Your mother or sister are not going to value you or your time when you don’t value it yourself.

Spend a little time deciding what you are willing to do for now. Don’t make promises you might not be able to keep. It’s your choice and your privilege to do for your mother, not her right to expect it.

FF has said it so well so often. As our parents lives slow down, they don’t want to change how they live but they don’t think twice about asking us to change how we live.
But again, don’t blame your sister for setting boundaries. Set some of your own.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to 97yroldmom
Report

Yes! Refuse to take time off from work. It will have to be a drastic step like that, because the way it is now, both your sister and mother simply expect you to do all the sacrificing, because you have done it up until now.

My situation is very different, as I am the only local sibling to my mother. She wasn't happy that I set strict boundaries on driving her around (Mass once a week, chair yoga and then shopping trip afterwards, medical/dental appointments). I work for my H's company, and I would NOT be doing any of this except for weekend Mass if I worked for someone else.

One of my three brothers does nothing for my mother. It's been nearly 1.5 years since he's been to visit (and he's only a few states away). (And last decade he didn't bother to visit my parents for FIVE YEARS!) The other two show up a few times a year, but at least they are involved to the extent that they have been "treated" to some of my mother's rants and have been berated (as I have).

Sonny-No-Show has not been berated or ranted at. He's so detached from my mother that she hasn't even dropped the showtiming act with him (as she has dropped it with my other brothers as she's deteriorated) on his infrequent phone calls.

I've told the other two that I will not be in charge, her advocate or the contact person if my mother ends up in a SNF. I have suggested several times that she should be in the SNF very close to Sonny-No-Show's condo.

My mother's attitude that Sonny-No-Show's time is more important than mine really rankles me.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to CTTN55
Report

See All Answers