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I am the younger sister who is a p/t care giver. I am overnight 4 days a week. I help them around the house, take them to doctor's appointments, go with them in the examination room to ask the doctors questions and make certain I understand the issues thoroughly (parents first language is not English and don't understand what's told them), take them grocery shopping, to the bank, etc. I've repeatedly asked my other brother, my only sibling, to assist. He lives 10 miles away while my home is 40 miles away. He says he will, but never shows. He's been passive-aggressive to me for years and years.


When I called him to help when my dad fainted and split his ear in half. Blood was gushing all over the kitchen. I thought dad had died. I was beside myself and called him to come by. He didn't. Dad had a heart issue and had a hairline fracture in his neck due to the spill. My brother did come to the hospital when I asked my mom to call him to come by.


I did "persuade" him to take my mom to the doctor's once. I asked my brother to sit in on the exam (no disrobing for mom) to understand her health issues. My parents told me my brother didn't want to go in and didn't.


I have asked my parents why he doesn't seem to help. They tell me he worked 12+ hours a day (starts work at 7am and goes until after 9pm every evening & weekend). He's a high school teacher at a private high school. I doubt his workload is this heavy. I could be wrong, but believe he is out with friends instead.


He's 60 years old, divorced and has a 30 year old daughter who is on her own. He does come once a week for two hours for Sunday dinner my mom cooks. He takes gifts of cash from my parents.


Has anyone had any experience with a sibling who refuses to help? I've asked nicely, I'm asked angrily, I've set boundaries. It's like talking to a rock.

I agree. It’s time for assisted living. And you are probably wrong about his workload. But even if he’s out with friends, that’s his right, his choice. He doesn’t have to run himself in to the ground so that your parents can remain at home.
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Reply to worriedinCali
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You are not going to change your brother and should stop trying - waste of energy. It is time to get your parents into a different living situation where they can be assisted by more than you - you will burn out. Assisted living.
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Reply to Kimber166
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I tend to agree with the other posters. Your brother had made it clear that he doesn't want to be involved in your parents' care so try to take him out of the equation and try to adjust your expectations. I know that can be difficult to do and it's not usually something we just do and move on. You might have to work on it everyday. Try not to call him for his assistance since you're only disappointed when he declines. And like a few others stated, you can't make your brother be involved. You can't change him.

Understand that he is not going to be involved in your parents' care and move on without him.
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Reply to Eyerishlass
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Your brother has no obligation to provide help to your parents, nor do you.

As he is a teacher, it is unreasonable for you to expect him to take time off work to take the parents to appointments.

I am concerned that he is receiving gifts of cash from your parents, that could spell trouble if you have to deal with a look back period.
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Reply to Tothill
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You have an interesting take that the idea that you should hire caregivers or seek different living arrangements means we all shills for an agency/facility.

I've hung around this forum long enough to know two basic facts
1/ the level of care needed always increases, and
2/there is no way to force anyone else to step up and do more.

Your brother could be lazy, he might even be an evil selfish prick; the only hopeful possibility is if he is just totally clueless and needs a wake up call. In the mean time you are slowly being sucked into providing increasing levels of care and you've come here because that needs to stop. So, if he can't be made to step up and you or your parents are unwilling to consider hiring help or moving what other kind of magic solution do you expect from us?
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EssieMarie Sep 18, 2019
Empathy perhaps??? This is same thing I've been dealing with for 10 years now. My mother has outlived her assets and burial money probably just won't be there for her unless my rich ass brother decides to pitch in. Which he says he won't after she sacrificed years of her own life to put him through college and babysat his kids for years. My psych doc says my brother's day of reckoning will come. So you my dear are not alone!
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Your brother has made it pretty clear he's not interested in contributing any level of care beyond what he is currently, as already stated instead of dwelling on that it is time to make another plan. If possible both of you need to sit down in a non confrontational way to discuss realistic, viable options for your parents as they age - that could include your parents paying you for your time, or hiring outside caregivers, or moving to a more supportive environment. What it can't be is a tit for tat squabble about who is contributing more or a shaming session over his lack of acting in ways you deem appropriate: the purpose of boundaries is setting limits for your own actions, it can not work as an attempt to coerce others to bend to your will.
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MMasonSt Sep 18, 2019
Hi, I tried this so many times. I'm calm and say we need to talk this over. I'm not shaming or angry. He leaves the room saying he has to go or says next time. This has been a constant. You are assuming wrongly about my repeated attempts.

I want to discuss this as two children helping their parents. He doesn't even want this. That's what's so bizarre. At this point even Buddha would get a little hot under the collar. I really give up.
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MMasonSt, you have my sympathy. You are in a tough situation which is only going to get tougher. I understand your anger.

My husband and I walked that same road for years taking care of my in-laws. My BIL was useless. Even with six weeks of vacation from work each year, he couldn't/wouldn't be much help to his parents although he was happy to take help from them. Because we lived closer and I was a SAHM, 90% of their care was on me (my husband and his sister did the rest). I do believe that family takes care of family and wanted to be that example to my kids. Their needs started small but became very time consuming as the years passed.

Early on, we called for a family meeting to discuss his parent's needs. BIL said he would be there and then "forgot" to show up for it. When his dad was facing a surgery that he had a 50/50 chance of surviving, BIL told him that he wasn't going to be at the hospital because it was "just a bunch of sitting around waiting." Who thinks that way much less saying it out loud to a person who might die?

This is the same man who didn't visit his dad the week that he was in hospice (a 45 min drive). He didn't see his dad until he was unconscious and died a few hours later. It may make a small person, but I will admit that I think that was karma at work.

My MIL lived with us for two years. A year into it, BIL visited her and then proceeded to tell us how much care she needed (like he knew everything after spending a few hours with her). When my husband asked how BIL was going to help, he replied, "She lives with you, she's your responsibility." My husband called him an a##hole and kicked him out of the house.

All this to say, you are losing time and energy trying to change a brother who isn't going to help. I wasted that time and energy and am still dealing with the resentment. It doesn't go away easily. I wish I had found this forum earlier to hear of other's situations to understand that it's a lost cause to hope that this sibling will have a "change of heart."

We have very little contact with the BIL today. Only enough to be able to see his daughter. She turns 18 next year so the need for BIL will be gone then. It's doubtful that we will speak to him after she graduates HS.

As others have said, you may as well consider him MIA and make the necessary choices yourself (get the POA paperwork in order if needed - protect yourself!!). I understand that you are reluctant to look into outside help. I was also but that was a mistake on my part. There is nothing wrong with knowing that you can't do it all.

Looking back, I realize just how much caring for my in-laws impacted my family - good and bad. My kids saw us taking care of family and had so much time being treasured by their grandparents. They also lost a lot of their summer time being dragged around to take care of the grandparents. In hindsight, I should have told my in-laws "no" to their needs/requests more often so they would have widen their circle of support.

While I mostly lurk on this site, the people here are amazing with their wisdom and advice. No one replying to your letters is looking (or able) to make a buck. They honestly want to help in any way they can. It may not be the advice that you want to hear, but they have the experience to go with their words.

I hope the best for you and your parents. It may take a while but you are going to look back on this time in your life with pride and gratitude. The love, support, time and caring that you are giving your parents will come back to you.
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MMasonSt Sep 18, 2019
Thanks for this answer. When made my reply, some of the answers were not helpful but hurtful. If I may make a suggestion, it's not what one says but how they say it. Many of the negative responses may be from care givers who are frustrated. If that's the case, get more support for yourself. Don't worry about me.

I have to go now. Will return later today to read the rest. Take care all of you who responded!
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So here is the thing. I don't have a sibling, or another sibling to help with the sibling I have who is needs help. I don't even live near him so the help I can render is not of a lot of consequence other than I can manage bills and monetary stuff for him.
And I think for all intent and purpose you do not have a sibling to help you, either. Knowing that he is unwilling to help you is the same as having no one. You are on your own with this. And all that you take on (4 overnights is a LOT if you have family), you take on on your own.
It is hard enough to do all you are doing without adding on the flailing at the windmill of your brother. He is NOT GOING TO HELP you. And you understand that on a deep level. So just leave it. You don't have to hope and beg and weep then. You just can leave him out of the equation unless he offers help.
What DOES matter now is how much longer you can take in all the responsibility for all of this. You have two elders in need of care, and I am assuming/presuming your own family as well. It may be time to think of things that WILL be or MAY be of more help for you. Such as hiring some help to do the work to be done.
I think that fighting the brother is somehow holding you back from realizing you cannot do this much longer. I suspect even with a more willing brother, perhaps the time is drawing near that this cannot be done without 24/7 care or placement.
I have utterly no idea the assets involved for your parents or their ability to provide some more care, but time to think in a more productive manner I think, leaving your bro out of the equation. Treat the whole thing as though he doesn't exist.
Perhaps write him a begging pleading LAST LETTER and let him know it is the last you will speak of this. Tell him that the amount of care your folks need now is overwhelming you, and almost impossible for you. Let him know that placement is likely in the near future, without more help. Tell him that you UNDERSTAND how hard he is working, and that he and his family need his time as well, and you are pleading with him for any help he can provide you. Tell him "If it is ZERO, do let me know; if you want to meet and arrange some availability, let me know; if you can help in an emergency or for a few overnights, let me know". Sign nicely and move away from expectations of the brother, concentrate on what you will do about/for your own life in light of what is happening with your parents.
I hope you will update us if you have any ideas that might work, or that do not.
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MMasonSt Sep 18, 2019
Thanks for your thorough answer. The letter is a great idea. I'm not expecting much from it, but at least it will help to have it in print to reread that I tried.
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You can't change your brother. You can only change you. Sounds like you are on your way to burnout.

What is the financial situation for your parents? Can they afford caregivers? Can they afford a facility? What's going to happen as they need more and more help? Right now, it seems like you are going to be expected to be the one to provide more and more help. Are you willing for this to happen? If not, better start making plans for another outcome now.

When you say, "I've set boundaries," what do you mean? Set boundaries with your brother? Or with your parents?
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Reply to CTTN55
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If you stay overnight 4 nights a week, who is staying overnight the other 3 nights a week? How did you start doing what you do for your parents? Did they ask, or did they offer? Do you have a job? A family?

Do you think your parents don't value what you do for them? I'm only asking, because that was definitely what my mother told me. My time wasn't worth anything, I was told. One time I suggested that one of my brothers do some ridiculous research task she was ordering me to do (regarding call buttons), and I was practically screamed at that HIS time was valuable, how dare I, etc. This was the brother who came to visit (from a few states away) as little as possible, of course.

I have two other brothers who didn't come much, either (also a few states away), but one of them tried to make it down here more than the others.

At one point I mentioned compensation, and my mother was furious. "You don't pay family!" Well, that was her belief, and it was my belief that you don't then expect one family member to do far more than the others. During her 17-day hospitalization (then rehab, then NH), I told the POA brother that I didn't think I could continue without compensation. He agreed, and even suggested back compensation, also, on an agreed-upon hourly rate of $20/hour. The money made me think of the caregiving (which became caregiving during the remainder of the hospitalization, then rehab, then permanent NH placement) as a job, and I was able to tolerate it.

I don't know if money enters into your equation or not. Maybe the money doesn't matter to you, and your financial future is secure. But I am wondering what's going to happen when your parents need even more help. Is it the plan that you move in with them fulltime? Do they have the funds for an outside caregiver? A facility?

Is it your parents' belief that the daughter has to do the caregiving? I think that was my mother's belief (also because I have a flexible job; I would have refused, otherwise). I didn't live with her, nor her with me. I did have to drive her places, though (and this took hours....), but I set strict limits on that (which she didn't like, but did adapt to). She lived by herself for longer than she should have (in a one-story condo seven minutes from me). She took a long time doing ADLs and only showered once a week, because it was difficult to climb into and out of the tub. She refused to hire someone to help. She refused to go to an AL facility.

I think you might be worried about what will happen in the future. Here your brother is doing nothing (and I don't believe he's working that many hours, either...and what about the summers off???), and you will only be expected to pick up more and more of the burden as your parents need more help, right?

What are your thoughts about that? Are you destined to become their fulltime caregiver at some point? Are you okay with that? If not, then what can you do now so that doesn't happen?
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rovana Sep 18, 2019
When I hear about mothers who don't value their daughters' time and energy, I wonder if Mom was a frustrated woman who was forced into a role she did not want and now is trying to validate that by holding to these antiquated ideas.
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