How to deal with a much older sibling wanting to micromanage without becoming the caregiver himself? - AgingCare.com

How to deal with a much older sibling wanting to micromanage without becoming the caregiver himself?

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My brother is 14 years older than me. My mom has Alzheimers. It's technically in the early stages and she is still living on her own. Dad died earlier this year, after a quick battle with cancer. I have two brothers, and the three of us have been trying to navigate this since then.


Here's the problem. He lives 1000 miles away. The plan, for the last 6 months, was that mom was going to move down to where he lives, either to live with him and his family, or to live in an assisted living facility. He has the grandkids and a large extended familial unit there - here, it's just me and mom. And I am in school and have a full time and part time job. It has always been clear that no one expects me to be the caregiver. I am not equipped for it.


He recently stated that mom won't be moving to Texas because, according to him "she doesn't want to move". I am now the primary caregiver here, by myself. However, he seems to feel as though he needs to micromanage everything from 1000 miles away. Literally. He will call and ask me what a $15 charge on her debit card is. He refuses to put me on the checking account (he IS on it) and generally refuses anything I say. It is quite clear that, in this situation, I am inferior. I am the little sister who, although she is 30 herself, has no business being the caregiver of anything OTHER than mom herself. It has been this way in our family always, he gets it from dad - women especially just don't get as much say. I've been fighting it my whole life. Every decision must be run through him, and he refutes just about every opinion or idea that comes to the table from myself or my other brother (he's my twin). My other brother doesn't live in either city, so he's pretty quiet on everything.


I don't know how to do this. It's causing so much strife with a sibling I thought I really understood, and so much anger and bitterness because really, if you're going to dictate that she stays with me, by ourselves here, it stands to reason that you would say, "You know what? You're there. You make the daily decisions for mom, financially, emotionally, etc. Big decisions can be made with all of us. Everything else, I trust that you're making the best decision for yourself and for mom." I know it's hard to give up that control but I just feel so crapped on.


None of this has been my decision, or anywhere close to what I want. Decisions are being made for me without my approval or consent, and I feel so chastised and condescended to. I'm often feeling so angry that I'm in tears at the end of the day. I don't know how to fix this.

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Here's the deal. Either mom executes a new financial and healthcare POA, or you send her to your brother who does. Period. Non-Negotiable.

Do not blink. You are NOT going to be saddled with every OUNCE of responsibility for your moms care without having the AUTHORITY for financial and healthcare decisions when mom is no longer able to handle her own affairs.

If mom is no longer able to sign new POAs, either your brother relinquishes the checkbook or he picks her up at the train station.
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Gee, I think I'd put her on a plane. Texas is lovely this time of year. But that's me, and I'm not a very nice person. I just think it's the only level of "wake up" call your brother is going to understand.

Having watching my mom care for several of my grandparents when we were children (and having been emotionally neglected as a result), I think the natural habitat of the elder in need of care is a facility, the same way that the natural habitat of a school aged child is school. Human beings, even the least sociable among us, do better in groups than we do with a single worn out caregiver.
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I think you're justified in what you feel; I've been though something similar, and feel somewhat as you do...and definitely not respected.

I think you're justified in telling him that if you're going to take care of your mother, you need flexibility, leeway, and above all, RESPECT. If he won't authorize you to sign checks yet scrutinizes a $15 purchase, tell him that either he learns to trust you or he can take over the caregiving, including moving your mother down to his home area.

What your mother wants is not the only governing factor; what you have in your life (education and jobs) as well as what you want and have time for are major factors as well.

He'll probably get angry, say that's not realistic, and you can counter with the fact that he's not being realistic in expecting you to bear the complete work burden of caregiving while he keeps a tight rein on the purse strings. I'm sure from what you wrote that he'll come up with something to disagree with that approach.

This sounds like more than family dynamic; it sounds like the chauvinistic approach that the woman should be the caregiver while the man manages the finances. That attitude may still, exist in some geographic areas, so apparently your brother needs a lesson in women's rights as well.

I'm sure he'll make everything uncomfortable for you. Stand your ground, limit your conversations, and if you have to, just communicate in writing because I have the feeling that conversations will get nasty and he'll be demanding.

Turn the situation around; YOU set the standards, you tell him what you need and that's the only method by which you'll handle the caregiving. And think what you'll need in the future as well, especially outside care.

Make it clear that you're not compromising yours jobs or education. Be firm, even though he may get hostile. You don't need to be bullied by either him or dominated by your mother.

Best method is to do this by e-mail, including any compromises or agreements he makes. That way you have proof that he acceded to your demands.

Mom may have to adjust her thinking as well and agree to move, as the situation as it is now is untenable for you.

If he takes the ultimate irresponsible attitude and accuses you of being responsible, you can point out that YOU'RE trying to work things out but he's not. If he were responsible, he wouldn't be interfering with your care of your mother.

Keep shifting the blame back to him.

You can also talk with your mother and tell her that if she wants you to remain as her caregiver, she needs to shift the financial responsibility to you. Otherwise, it's just not a workable situation.

Good luck; this isn't going to be easy, but don't give in. You're in the right; he's wrong.
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I think that you should point out that unless one of you plan to give up your own life and become a full time caregiver (and make sure they know that person isn't you) your Mom will eventually have to move from her home. The earlier in the disease she makes the transition the better, as she will have time to settle in and feel at home. Find a place that will offer her continuing care for her future needs as well as the amenities and social interaction that will be so beneficial for her now. Perhaps mom could spend the winter down in Texas to see how it goes, that little half step may get you all heading in the same direction.
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I ditto Maggie's answer. This board is littered with the broken lives of caregivers who have to beg for respite and money for a treat for mom.
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So, I have always been in charge of her checking account and her one credit card (meaning that I make sure no fraudulent charges are made, I balance it, and I ensure that the credit card is paid on time). Today, he changed the phone number and the email address to his information on the credit card account (instead of mine), so I am assuming he plans to pay her card and take that on instead of, again, letting the PERSON WHO LIVES HERE take care of it. I have never screwed these accounts up, have never made late payments...I have always been on top of this. It's a bunch of random stuff he's doing for no discernible reason. My heart is broken over this. I've written this email but haven't sent it yet. I asked WHY he changed this info and am waiting on the reply. If he replies like I think he will, something to the effect of him being the financial POA (again, only done because we all thought she was moving to live with him, a decision that doesn't make sense if that is no longer the plan), then here's the email:

"Okay. I love you so much, but here's where I'm at. I am not interested in playing this game with you for the next 10 years. It's unacceptable. You either trust me implicitly and respect me - as I do you - or you don't. If you don't, then okay, that's your choice; I will be moving her to Texas on my own, and putting her up in the best facility closest to you that I can find. I am not interested in stealing money from our ailing mother, and everything you're doing is indicative that you think otherwise. This is not okay - it's illogical, hurtful, and such a disgusting idea that it makes my stomach churn. She will not live here if this problem continues. I will not be moving in with her if this problem continues.

This is a terrible situation that we've all been put in, and I know that you, much like Dad, need to feel in control of all situations. I know it's hard for you to see me as an adult; after all, you changed my diapers. I know that Mom's decline is scary and heartbreaking and sometimes, that control is all you've got to keep you from feeling like your world is crumbling. I so often feel that way.

Unfortunately, it's not an acceptable situation the way it is now. It is up to you to decide the next step. This is your choice, but she will not live here if that is the road you continue to take. I will not lose my relationship with you over this, but I'm also not going to be the person who's good enough to be the caregiver but not good enough to be trusted with anything else.

None of this is up for compromise. I love you, very much."
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I guess nitpicking is his idea of caregiving. It's really annoying to have someone be so free and easy on the advice; but won't roll up their sleeves to help with the smallest things.

Ask your mom if she'd like to move to Texas. If she says yes, he should step to the plate and start doing some real caregiving.
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Don't bother to try yo read his motives. You'd only muddy the waters and give him an opportunity to refute THAT part of your argument. Just tell him what you will and will not do.
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Be honest. Tell him it is stressful enough caring for Mom without your scrutiny. Then in the kindest words possible write that the POA should be the caregiver to eliminate the unnecessary stress. Inform him when you and your Mom's plane will arrive. Ask him to meet you at the airport, thank him, kiss Mom goodbye, and get on the next flight back. Leave him with his duties.
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I hope you'll be comforted to hear that my hackles rose for you as soon as I read your first post. Grrrrrrrrrr….

Snottiness from people with financial POA is something I had to endure too. If I'm proud of nothing else, I am proud of not having punched anybody. It was touch and go at times. Like you, I was conscientious and reasonably organised (it got better with practice) about expenses; but it's the sanctimoniousness with which they wield the fine-toothed comb that just gets up the nose, don't you find? And, yes, I couldn't agree more, the insulting attitude that you're good enough to do the donkey work but not to be trusted with a bank account. It IS insulting. There! - now I've got myself all cross about it again.

The way I see it, you have two separate but equally major issues, here.

1. Where your mother is to live, and how she is to be cared for. Until such time as she has lost capacity, which is not likely to be that soon, this decision is for your mother to make. However. If your mother's plan relies heavily on your co-operation, unless you consent to it then she will have to come up with another. No one can force you to commit to it.

2. The great Responsibility v. Authority debate. At the moment, you are in the untenable position of being held responsible for your mother's welfare, with no authority to back it up. Your email to your brother could be reduced to one sentence: "responsibility without power: the prerogative of the eunuch through the ages. Not doing it."

I learned all this much too late: by the time I'd gathered the information about POAs, who had it, when they came into force and so on, I was already living in the same house as my mother and royally stuck. Moreover, mother's cognition was too frail to do anything about it, even supposing it would have been kind or sensible to reopen the debate. We live and learn.

So be warned, because you're not at that stage yet. You are well placed to think carefully about what you are and are not prepared to do in terms of caring for your mother, and what legal and financial tools you will need to do that much. But a tip for negotiations: don't present a position and say it's non-negotiable. Instead, ask what is required of you and ask your brother what he would do in your position. It's a negotiation, remember, not the last word. Practice detachment, too, and hold tight to your sense of humour, particularly when a proposal is being imposed on you that is absurd to the point where no one who didn't have 'welcome' tattooed on her forehead would agree to it.

Your other brother - tchah. Just tchah. I've got one like that, too.

Let us know how you're getting on. This will get better, just mind your boundaries. Hugs to you.
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