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Mother is 100.9 years old and lives in a nursing home. She broke her hip, had surgery and went into the nursing home at age 98.2. She now eats very little and has mild dementia. It was suggested that if I enroll her in Hospice, she would qualify for more services to improve the quality of her life even though death is not imminent, so I did so.


My older sister has had an extremely contentious relationship w/Mother and the rest of the family for many years. She does not communicate with any family members including son and granddaughter. She was told when Mother went into nursing home almost three years ago and since then has been to visit approximately 3 times. Cards on birthdays and holidays are sporadic and mostly non-existent. She has not reached out to me, her younger and only sibling, to inquire about Mother's health until a few weeks ago. At that time it was a text "so, how's Ma". I told her if she really wanted to know, she should come visit, which she did. Apparently, when she was there, she noticed on Mother's calendar when the Hospice nurse signed in. After the visit I rec'd a text asking about it. I confirmed, that yes I had done that.


Now I have rec'd several text messages from her irate because I did not let her know and telling me I have no right to judge her interest in our Mother's care or well-being. Well, I am not judging. In my life experience when someone is interested in anything, they make time to visit, call, inquire, etc. which is NOT what has happened in this case. She didn't contact Mother by phone or visit when she was well and it's the same now.


If Mother had a diagnosis of imminent death, she would be contacted; just as she was when Mother broke her hip.


I guess I am looking for any input that folks may have or experience with similar situations. I am now feeling guilty about this, which is of course just what she wants...

So, when was your mother enrolled on the hospice service?

Your sister is upset for all sorts of complicated reasons, most of which will be quite beyond your ken. I should try as far as possible to let it wash over you. If you must respond, or even if you just think it would be rude or inflammatory not to respond, try to keep it neutral, something like: "I will be happy to keep you informed in future. How would you like me to do that?"

I don't think it was unreasonable of you to feel that if your sister had any questions your sister would ask. She was free to do so at any time, assuming that you hadn't previously rejected any enquiries or approaches - had you? If she's bouncing about now, it's because:

she misunderstands the concept of hospice as applied to your mother
she feels hurt that she was excluded (I know, whose fault's that? - but that's not the point)
she believes she ought to have been consulted
this nothing incident has opened all sorts of other old wounds

Whatever. It wasn't your responsibility to track her down when you had the decision to make; and you can't alter what has already taken place even if you felt so inclined.

So, to take away -

You haven't done anything wrong.
She is upset, see what you can do to help her feel better and avoid similar misunderstandings in future.
Your sister's issues, whatever they may be, are not your fault and not your problem; but acknowledging her feelings and reassuring her is still the right thing to do. You don't have to feel responsible for a problem to want to help put it right.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Thank you to all for your insightful responses. Just to clarify, I do answer all of her texts and I told her when Mother was admitted to NH. As someone on here said, she knows shes 100+ and won't be around forever. It's now or never...
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Janeyd54
At 100 years old, death is always imminent. Hospice or no. One doesn’t need to be a nurse to know that.
Your sister has her own demons no doubt. Most of us do.
There is no reason to feel guilty. You did nothing wrong.
Your sisters response is all on her. It’s about her feelings. Not yours. Enjoy your mom and perhaps you can simply ask your sister to keep in touch going forward. Then let it go.
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Your sister sounds exactly like my brothers. You are the responsible one, like I am in my family. You did nothing wrong. She most likely has a guilty conscience and is putting the blame on you. Crappy thing to do. My brothers do that to me all the time.

They think they can square things with me by once in a blue moon saying thanks with empty, insincere gratitude to me for doing it all. Not buying it.

By the way, your answer to your sister when she finally inquired about your mom was absolutely brilliant! By telling her to come see for herself she gets to see firsthand how mom is, also firsthand how you have been the one caring for mom.

You have enough on your plate without dealing with your sister. Your primary concern has been your mom. It is your sister’s responsibility to keep up with your mom. Hate to say it but she brought this on herself because people like her are hard to get close to. They don’t want intimate relationships but are the first to complain if they are left out. Well, they can’t have it both ways. She should respect you if she wants respect in return.

You are doing a great great job and your mom is blessed to have a daughter like you.

It’s a tough, long winding road with lots of bumps. I hope it gets better for you soon. Take care, hugs!
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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A lot of people who don't understand how the system works equate hospice with imminent death, so quite likely when your sister heard hospice that is what she thought. If you can be patient enough you can explain the difference and that you will let her know when the time is near, other than that I don't think it should be necessary to point out that someone who is over 100 years old hasn't got much time left.
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janeyd54 May 16, 2019
Thank you, cwillie. The funny thing is, she's an RN!
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As a volunteer with numerous patients and families over the years I have learned that it is virtually always better to take the high road and tell the siblings/children/spouses when the person is in Hospice. Give them a chance to make their amends/peace with each other, Keep your conscience clear that you did the right thing. Do not let anger/revenge control your actions. There is too much bitterness in the world today as it is. You never know what a good deed like this will do for you as well as those involved. Don't give anyone the opportunity to blame you if they choose not to follow the "right" path.
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To me, people who are in the wrong are the ones who should feel bad, so, if I did nothing wrong, I don't put any bad feelings on myself.

I suspect that sister was perturbed when you told her that if she wanted to know her mother's condition that she could go and see for herself. In her mind, she saw that as you saying she didn't care about her mother. So, she got defensive and is trying to prove that she is interested now. Now, she sees she's on Hospice and the idea of death is making her scared. Fear makes people act irrationally sometimes.

I'm not sure if I would have worded it the way you did when you told her she could come visit if she wanted to know how mother was, because, I likely wouldn't have been invested enough to type out that many words to an uninvolved person. I'd probably just say, Ok. Hanging in there. You know....but, your comment wasn't terrible. It's how you felt. So, that's just something for her to work out in her own mind. I'd try to stay out of it. I try to let discord roll off my back and focus on positive things that i can control and not negative people who I can't.
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cherokeegrrl54 May 16, 2019
Exactly!!
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You certainly don't have any reason to feel guilty about anything. Maybe you "should" have told her maybe not that's a matter of opinion and perspective and really no longer relevant. that ship has sailed. Mom is still alive, still in the same NH she has been a resident of for years the only thing that's really changed is the amount and type of care she is getting, you are all getting and that's a positive not a negative. I'm sure the label Hospice is what jolted your sister. I know you are angry at her and she is way out of line but if you could find your way through letting her crap go, it's her crap and simply tell her exactly what you told us maybe even throw her a bone; I'm sorry Sally it just didn't seem like a significant enough change that it was important to report to anyone. The doctor suggested I bring Hospice in because Mom would qualify for more services through them that could make her more comfortable and increase her quality of life not because they felt she was any closer to passing than she was the week or month before. I have learned through all of this that qualifying for hospice doesn't always mean a patient isn't expected to live more than 3-6 months, if that was the reasons doctors gave for suggesting it I would have let you know right away." I know this is being more generous with her than she has been with you or Mom but my guess is your attempt at smoothing this over rather than carrying on tension will be appreciated by mom even if she cant put her finger on it. Better for you too, why waste your time and energy on anger and frustration during this time, even though it's perfectly justified. My 2 cents anyway but I'm also fortunate and have very involved siblings so I may not be relating as well.
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Reply to Lymie61
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I’ve been there.

Please do not feel guilty for one second.

Your sister is trying to pick a fight. Don’t engage.

You owe her no information. (You might even resent her for suggesting this).

If she was around, she would know what’s going on.

If she was decent to you (and your Mom), she would be next to you, helping with all the decision making / and then she would know very clearly what’s going on.

At the very least, even if she didn’t visit, but just used common sense, based on your mom’s numerical age alone, she could pretty easily guess what’s going on.

Since she is a registered nurse, she cannot claim ignorance or fear (of seeing your mom sick) as an excuse.

How would things be different if you had told her? They would not be different.

I did tell my sibs that Mom was on hospice. They did not even come to visit then. I couldn’t believe it.

Im so sorry your sister is behaving badly. I know you could use her support.

It’s hard for her to take accountability and easy for her to place blame.

At least she is living up to your expectations (and to her past performance).
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cetude May 18, 2019
I told my two brothers mom is on hospice. Not one visit .
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Your sister is gaslighting you. She needs you to question yourself in order to feel less crappy about her own lack of involvement in her mother’s care.

I don’t mean to be insensitive to your suggestion that “death is not imminent,” but at 100 there are fewer days ahead than behind. Your sister has known this since your mother was in her 80’s. She’s understandably feeling guilty as time passes and she loses her opportunity for closure on their relationship, however strained. That’s natural. Whatever their situation, a maternal bond exists, as does your sister’s wish that their relationship had been better. But she can’t go back. And with the onset of dementia, their ability to connect may be gone as well.

Don’t let her guilt become yours. I have an absent sibling as well. I know that on some level, he is jealous of the closeness I have with my parents in my role as a caregiver. He almost regresses when he visits to the point of a spoiled brat. It’s obvious he’s struggling, but he’s not my responsibility. Our parents are.

You’ve done as best you can by your sister, especially given her lack of interest. Do yourself a favor and only communicate via email. That way, things can’t get misconstrued. And, it deprives her of a chance to manipulate you. If you give her the contact numbers, she can be responsible for how much information she gets. Make clear to caregivers that she is an “information Only - not decision-maker” family member, and be done with it.

We all have fewer days ahead than behind, as well. Make the most of them by only surrounding yourself with things and people that add joy to your life. Your sister needs to sort out her issues for herself.
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AvaC42 May 19, 2019
Good point about the email. I've had to go back to my texts on more than one occasion about what transpired. Since it's there in black and white, there's no changing history with a "he said, she said".
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