First let me say, my brother and mother are not physically abusive. My mother spent childhood on a ranch. She has always been very demanding and driven. Early to bed, early to rise. Always (and I mean, ALWAYS) has work for everyone to do. She insists my 65 yo brother get work done, constantly, treating him like a child most of the time. She is very verbally abusive. She has always thrown water on us to get up, even when we were children. After many episodes of this, my brother threw water back at her. Now she is acting like he beat her. I have suggested that my mom come stay with me, but when I did, she became furious and said the family (my dad's family in particular) has tried to run her out of her home all her life. I suggested that my brother take a break for a weekend, but he says the trouble he gets when he gets back isn't worth it. I have tried to set up the senior center activities and bus service for them, but they won't go. I have suggested counseling, but they won't go. I still work full-time with a husband at home, so I can't take her everywhere. I find myself avoiding both of them because all I hear is complaints about the other and whining about how life has treated her unfairly, for hours. I worry about my brother's mental health. Mom is really horrible to him but he won't help himself.

Quite honestly it is difficult for us all to handle our OWN lives without trying to take on handling the lives of others, which is utterly impossible. Your brother at age 65 is apparently now living with Mom and has chosen to act as her primary caregiver. I don't know why he is doing so or how long he has been doing so, but it is unlikely that your suggestions for change will help either party here.
I would attempt "not to pick up the luggage" when you hear the stories. Try to act more as a supporting friend; sympathize but do let your brother know that how he proceeds is in his own hands. Suggest he may want to seek counseling to decide next steps forward for his own life.
Basically for yourself do just try to embrace that you cannot change others. Your writeup suggests that things have not been a lot different where Mom is concerned historically. They are unlikely to change. I surely do wish you and your brother good luck going forward.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to AlvaDeer

When my MIL and StepFIL were constantly in financial and health trouble, we were there helping them and figuring out solutions for them -- none of which they tried. Then I decided that in the future when she'd call me whining and crying that I would just keep changing the topic off of her and onto something totally unrelated. She finally got the message and stopped calling to complain to me in the middle of my work day.

We're not responsible for other people's happiness. We can't have their "recovery" for them. The best thing you can do is go on with your own life until your brother decides to actually do something to help himself.
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Reply to Geaton777

You’ve done all you could. Plus her throwing water on someone to wake them up seems like abuse. That is considered causing physical discomfort to another in an instance when all she would have had to do was call, “Dear sweet child, please wake up and join us in this delightful day.” I don’t know why you care about her anymore. And you don’t need her living with you. Ugh.
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Reply to Fawnby

If he won't help himself, not much you can do. I am assuming he lives in her house. How much help does Mom need? Could brother live somewhere else close by. He really shouldn't be doing bathing and toileting of his Mom. Can she afford an aide.

With more info on brother, we maybe able to help him with options.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to JoAnn29
Connie1234 Aug 27, 2022
Why shouldn’t an adult son help his mother with bathing/toileting if he is able, especially as a primary caregiver? If she refuses his help that’s one thing, but sons can, should and do help their mothers with these needs. I guarantee daughters are bathing/toileting their fathers, but few people see this as an issue. My husband did this for his mother so his sisters could take respite breaks. Primary caregiving in the home shouldn’t be based on one’s gender.
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You are not responsible for their happiness.
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Reply to Becky04469

This is their little dance together. Just let them dance to finish, but tell both of them you don't want to hear about it.
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Reply to MJ1929
BurntCaregiver Aug 29, 2022
No, MJ1929. It may not be just their little dance. The brother may very well have reached the end of his rope here and needs help.
Nobody wants to see a situation like this end tragically. Many do though.
I would listen to the brother to a degree. Not hour after hour of the same whining and complaining. He may actually want help and not know how to help himself.
You are a wonderful sister and have looked into everything that you can. I would simply tell brother to let you know how you can help in the future. Unfortunately some people are very comfortable in their personal chaos. That’s what they know and are accustomed to.
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Reply to caroljnorris

His is not functioning as a caregiver. He is doing chores. He needs help in separating himself by just doing chores. He is "prime" to abuse her. He has already started as "they do not get along". He can not make himself to be a Caregiver cause he is not at the present time. When he accepts Her being horrible to him...he will and probably is "neglecting" and this will increase "abuse". Both are "getting something out of this relationship" and are willing to continue what neither wants to change or get help. She probably has not changed Her "lifestyle". You have probably dealt with it till you "left home"The current relationship will deteriorate and she will be "in danger to herself" in living there because she will further decline and mentally she will become "dependent" and He will not meet her needs. Your brother is willing to continue their relationship from "childhood". I am saying again...They are both getting something out of it. Results...they both are willing to "live with it".
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Reply to DKelso34
LoopyLoo Aug 27, 2022
Hmm? “This” reply is “surely” well-intentioned “but is” a “bit confusing”.
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"Mom is really horrible to him but he won't help himself."

I suppose my angle would be to follow the advice I received from a Social Worker;

1. Offer advice
2. Let him/her choose
3. The consequences are his/hers

4. Leave thinking time/space
5. Repeat

You can't change either your Mom or Brother... but you could keep your message to your Brother on repeat.

*You CAN change the situation if you want*

He may feel trapped. But mostly people stay trapped due to their own mindset.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Beatty

Joyce4mom: You've stated that "my brother and mother are not physically abusive" although certainly throwing water on a person may in fact constitute abuse. In addition, it creates more work, e.g wet clothing and bed linens that must be laundered, not to mention hair to be washed and dried. Your brother may indeed require respite, if only he advocates for himself.
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Reply to Llamalover47

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