Sibling Issue~ she is no longer speaking to me. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Sibling Issue~ she is no longer speaking to me. Any advice?

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My mother has dementia, about 3 years now. She lives with my sister in what used to be her house (my sister bought it a few years back for $1). I offered to take her to doctor's appointments, etc., but my sister never has let me. I also asked to attend appointments with them so I have a better understanding of what's going on with my mom, but have been denied.


I have been taking my mom for about 2 weekends a month for the last two years. Over the last few months, she has been worse and worse each time she is at my house. She doesn't sleep, she has bathroom issues, she is agitated and keeps asking to go home. I try to reason and distract her, but she gets angry and sulks. I tell my sister after each visit how she does, but I get told that she doesn't do that at home, or just 'OK'. The last time she stayed over was the worst. Besides being anxious and angry, she charged at me with her fists, tried to headbutt me and threatened to knock me down the steps. I told my sister that my mom can't stay with us for the weekend anymore since she gets so out of control and anxious. I said I would still take her for days (pick up in the am, drop her off after dinner), and continue to help (I've picked her up, stayed with her when she had issues with her home health aid, etc). She told me that doesn't help her and now is no longer speaking to me (blocked me on social media, won't return texts or calls). I still want to see my mom. Can she prevent me from doing that?

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Dear oldestgirl,

This is a very tough family situation. I have a sister and its not the easiest when it comes to caring an elderly parent. I'm sure you sister feels abandoned and burden. My parents did the same thing to me. Here have the house and take care of me. Me, failing to realize what this meant on a day to day to basis and the toll it would take.

I don't know if you want to consider talking to social worker, family therapist, or get in contact with Adult Protective Services and get all your options. Maybe its time for the family to talk about assisted living or a nursing home.

I hate to see any sibling relationship broken. Maybe try writing a letter to your sister. I'm sure she has a lot of anger and resentment about the position she finds herself in and feeling very burdened.
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It seems like your mom and your sister made a deal a while ago, your sister takes care of mom in her old age and the house is your sisters. That’s not a good deal for your sister but she’s in it now. If she doesn’t take your offers of help just stop worrying about it. You can see your mom since there’s no reason you wouldn’t be allowed to. Pick her up for lunch or offer to stay with her while your sister goes out. What can you do about people who won’t speak to you? Enjoy it!
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I'm sure the care is getting to be too much. Her husband travels alot for work too, so she ends up doing most of the care during the week at night (she goes to adult day care 5 days/week). I've tried talking to her about finding a facility for my mom since I know it takes awhile to find a good place. She said she wants to keep her at home as long as she can and that my mom never wanted to go into a facility. I told her that I understood that, but mom never expected to get a disease like dementia and that if she needs round the clock care (which she does), then getting her into a good facility that meets her needs is the best thing. She kind of agreed, but that was when she was speaking with me.

And I have no idea what my mom's financial situation is. That information has not been given to me when I've asked in the past.
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Buying the house for $1 in exchange for taking care of Mom probably sounded like a good idea at the time, but now your sister is left taking care of a parent with increasing dementia.

Is the care getting to be too much for your sister? Does your mother have assets to pay for a facility?

I hope that you and your sister can meet and make a plan for going forward.
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If your mother has dementia, she will indeed become worse each time you see her because she has a degenerative disease. That's what happens. You say you try to reason and distract her but please know you cannot reason with someone who has this disease because their brain cannot process it anymore. You say you notice her sulking but it is more likely she is frustrated by your attempts to "reason". This is common in someone with your mom's disease. If she charged at you with her fists, it is perhaps an outlet for that frustration. If your sibling says these things don't occur when your mom is home, it may be due to your sister having learned how to use behaviors and language with your mom that does not trigger such issues. Things such as not telling them they're wrong, but instead agreeing, etc. Perhaps your sister believes you have not quite gotten your arms around the complexities of caring for a loved one with dementia and is only looking out for the best for your mom. I think it's great that you are offering to help and want to see your mom, but please try to have patience. If you have not already done so and want to learn more about dementia and caregiving there's some good info at alz.org. Also, others will post here and likely chime in with some good advice too. Take a deep breath and take care of yourself. This is a long and difficult road to be on. Blessings to you and your family.
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She can't prevent you from seeing her. No surprise mom has anxiety staying with you on wkeds - as disease progresses, any change in routine, people, housing makes persons with dementia/ALZ anxious and fretful.

Ask sister if you can have a sitdown conversation over coffee to discuss the situation. Tell her you want to help, not make things worse, no demands. Consider going over to sisters house on weekends and babysitting mom, while sister and family get away. Consider offering paying for a cleaning lady, or in-home care a few hours a week to help sister with caregiving responsibilities and costs. Consider cooking extra and bringing over frozen meals every other week for sisters family and mom. Consider giving sister a giftcard for dinner out and you come over and stay with mom. Can you go over and take mom to senior living center and staying with her there a couple days a month?

Lastly, you say you've offered and sis says "that doesn't help her" -- ask sister point blank to tell you or write to you "what would help her with mom?"

Its sad it has gotten to this; but you aren't the first person -- there are so many on this forum who are going through this. I hope they will respond and let you know their outcome good or bad.
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