How do I cope with a sibling who is in denial about our mother's decline?

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My sister is not realistic about our mother's health. Our mother has had several strokes, has fallen and broken her hip, and is no longer able to be mobile without assistance. She is in a nursing home. My sister believes mom would be fine with more physical therapy and could go home if dad (who is in his 80's) would try harder. She is angry at dad and wants me to be angry too. How do I cope with this?

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This is so common and so sad. It may help if you can get some medical people to back up you and your poor dad. He likely feels bad enough the way it is without your sister's blame and denial. It's easier for those who don't have to do the direct care to blame. Please keep supporting your dad, and try to get some third party opinions to help your sister get past this.
Carol
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Everyone deals with grief differently. I have dealt with some of the same problems with my mother and sisters. I agree that bringing in third party may help but with my sister, she just decided the doctor was wrong. Your sister still may be angry but she will no longer just be hearing you and your dad's opinion. In bringing in a third party you are doing what you can then just do your best to support your father and realize you can not change other people. You just do the best you can and support your mother and father the best you can.
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Perhaps Mom could stay with your sister for 30 days. It is amazing how the experience can get through where words can not. For some, even one week will drive the point home.
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My family was the same. Total denial of severity of her illnesses. I was "told off" by several members of my family because they thought I spent too much time with our Mother and not enough time being a single young woman. Well, unfortunately, it took years for them to see the light of her declining health. Years... But, thankfully, today all but 1 understands the complexity of her health challenges and everyone thanks me for hanging in there with her as her fulltime caregiver. I even today enjoying a week off (my sisters are taking care of Mom). Woohoo! My first vacation in 3 years! :) Its sad I guess, but its why I'm all over this site. I'm sorta at a loss of what to do with so much free time. Things are too quiet too! LOL!
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I am going through the same situation with one of my brothers who does not seem to understand that our mother is not making good decisions in many situations. I have gone through trying to discuss it with him and have started trying to realize he is at one point in the acceptance process and I am further along in accepting the changes in my mother's behavior. I am choosing the issues that are the most important regarding my mother's safety and am stand my ground when I believe we need to protect her. I hope this helps some.
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I call this behavior "deep-dish denial." Isn't amazing that those who do the least complain the most?? And as everyone has mentioned above, it is not easy to deal with. Often expert medical advice is dismissed because these people have a fantasy that their parents being immortal. They may not be the type of person who can handle emotional realtities. Unfortunately, someone has to deal with reality and, right now, that person is you.
Is your sister interferring with the plans you have made or just wanting you to be her "venting ear?" If so, I would give her so many minutes to vent, then change the subject or always have a reason to leave the conversation. It does not sound like she is the type to "pitch in" so I would not get angry over it (dealing with this one myself.) I am sorry that your sister is badgering your father. Sometimes the elderly have no energy to deal with a whiner and just let them blather on.
My siblings just "blow up" anytime they are asked to do anything reasonable to help. So I just had to put some distance between us. With everything I have on my plate, I did not have the strength to deal with self-centeredness.
The last thing you need is to have to justify your sound decisions. Make good plans, follow through with them, and create some distance between you and those who are "energy vampires."
Good Luck,
Lilli
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Sounds like your sister is scared about losing her mom. She needs someone to blame and find a reason for her mom not being well. Maybe your sister DOES know what's going on, but can't bring herself to admit it. You know like when a woman is suspicious of her husband. As long as she doesn't say it out loud, it can still be 'just her imagination'.
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Your sister sounds very afraid of yall's mother's decline and dad's aging health which limits his ability as a husband and as a father. I would not be surprised to find fear of mainly her mother no longer being the healthy and strong one, but now declined and one day will die absolutely scares the daylights out of her. I think she's covering up her fears with anger toward you and yall's dad because you two are easy targets which makes it easy for her not to deal with her own emotions about all of this. In my opinion, she's being much more than unrealistic about your mom. She's probably not been as realistic about life in general as you have and now the reality of you are now joining the ranks of older adults now for your parents are about to exit just fill her with fear and that makes her mad. Thus, I would try my best to not personalize her anger and particularly so if after following all the good advice aboe, she chooses to still live in disbelief. How many years apart are you and your sister?
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Have the social worker meet with all family members and give an assestment of your Mom and she or he will be responsible to see that she goes home with appropiate help or stays in the nursing home in which case medicaide will have to be applied for and when your sister see's what this means as far as financies and home ownership goes she may change her mind and get involved if not at least she will know what is what and do not worry-I have been involved with the medicaide application and believe me it is an eye opener-maybe you want to give your sister one to go over and see what is involved-but it is not unuassal for a family member not to get it conserning what an elder is able to do and what a caregiver especially an elder spouse is able to do-it is almost impossible for a child of an elder to cope with caregiving let alone a spouse who probably has their own health concerns.
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CATH:

Don't take this literally, but slap some sense into Cleopatra Queen of Denial. Find support groups in your area and drag her along; doctors and nurses at the NH can help too. Eventually enough people are going to be calling her a horse she'll have no choice but to put on a saddle.

Help her see the Light -- whatever light that is --; as long as she begins to embrace the fact that life is a circle that all of us sooner or later complete.

Good luck.

-- ED
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