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I am one of 4 children- 3 daughters and a brother who is the oldest. My mother is 93 widowed, and living alone. She cannot care for herself anymore. Attempts to discuss living alternatives (moving in with one of us, moving to a home in close proximity to one of us, assisted living, etc.) have been a total waste of time because she cannot/will not make decisions. My single brother (from out of state) flies down and visits every few weeks, and we appreciate that. We daughters live closer to her, but she has hoarded. She does not want us there because we tried to convince her to let us clean and organize. There is stuff from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. No room at the kitchen table to even put down a plate. There are paths to get from one room to another and all other rooms are full and no room can be used for its purpose except the bathroom.


We gave up on trying to clean, but we tried earlier this year to get our brother to discuss her declining condition with us and with her and hopefully, convince her to find a safer alternative. She trusts him the most, so we needed his help. The $#*! hit the fan between siblings and years of resentment came to the surface. As the youngest, I was not much a part of that screaming argument, however, my brother is not speaking to any of us. My mom seems to have personality changes- she is being mean and she seems different. She seems to think we were trying to put her in a nursing home because she keeps saying things like "Why don't you go volunteer in a nursing home?! See how they abuse old people!!" I was not trying to put her in a nursing home. One of my sisters suggested assisted living or at least looking at one. I suggested adding a room addition to my home and letting her live with me- at least someone could come and help at my house- she won't allow ANYONE in her house- not for any reason.) It is taking an emotional toll on me because I no longer feel loved by my mother and I feel betrayed by my brother. (I believe he is using his role as "the good one" to take all the inheritance while maligning me and my sisters.) All three of us have offered to help her- I offer to bring fresh milk and produce or whatever she needs, I offered to help her bathe once a week, I told her she could live with me...but she tells me not to come. (It's too far... You're too busy...I have everything I need...and so on.) She has never really allowed me to help. She actually gets mad when I come because the house is so full of stuff and clutter that she does not want my kids to come and she does not want to tell me not to bring them. I can't win. There is a (perhaps) unhealthy or at least odd relationship between my mom and my brother. He never married and never had a relationship that we know of. My mom has pitied him and been pining over him all his life. As a result my oldest sister (close to his age) always felt unloved. I'd call it sibling rivalry except for the fact that it has become painfully obvious that my mother really did favor him because he continues to evoke her pity as a 63 year old man. I don't expect my mother to live much longer, and I have no idea what I am supposed to do when that time comes. What do siblings who do not speak do when their only remaining parent dies? I don't know if she is leaving anything to me. If not, that is okay but I don't know. I hoped to get the childhood pictures of myself if nothing else. I also don't know what to do if I am the sibling who finds that she has passed away. I do not know any of her wishes because she has never shared them. I think the only one who knows anything is my brother, but we do not speak. I am wondering if I should end my relationship with both of them. What do people do when this kind of thing happens?

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Lauren,
In your circumstances with your mother, I would detach with love. You have been hurt, and just don't need that anymore, imo.

If your Mom is living in unsafe conditions, or you have proof brother is exploiting her, call APS, then detach from this toxic mess. You already said she will not allow you to help. Yes, that is sad.

This part concerns me for you:
"What do siblings who do not speak do when their only remaining parent dies? I don't know if she is leaving anything to me. If not, that is okay but I don't know. I hoped to get the childhood pictures of myself if nothing else. I also don't know what to do if I am the first one to know she has passed."

Please consider seeing a therapist to work these things out in your own mind.
Or, if you can just let these thoughts go, you may get relief from suffering so.
There is such a thing as "do not borrow trouble"; "try to live in the present", "today has enough trouble of it's own.

Focus on your own life and responsibilities today, imo.

Do you have any pressing things of your own to take care of?
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Lauren88 Dec 25, 2018
Thank you for replying! It is an emotional roller coaster. I am grateful for this forum since I know of no one who has this problem. I guess it is not the kind of thing people talk about. I'll be reading every piece of advice as I try to navigate through this situation.
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Please keep this is mind: you are not "bad" just because someone says so! Consider the source - your mother is described as a hoarder - it sounds like she has untreated mental illness of some kind. Has greatly favored your brother - nor rare at all, unfortunately.   She simply is NOT competent to judge you as a person!  Basically, you cannot assume her opinions are valid.

If she refuses your help, well, you generously offered. So her refusal is on her - not your fault at all.   Unless she is judged incompetent and you are appointed guardian, there is in fact very little you can do.  So, I would suggest detaching and working on your own life and relationships.  No point is worrying over things you cannot fix. Never borrow trouble.
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janeinspain Dec 28, 2018
Great advice rovana. :)
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To answer one of your questions, if your mother has a will there is an executor who is responsible for dealing with the estate once the death has occurred. Do you know who it is? If it is your brother, he may find it difficult, and you may find that all the contents of the house have been cleaned out by a contractor and put in a skip.

My suggestion would be to write a snail-mail letter addressed and sent to all the siblings, saying that one of you is quite likely to find her after her death (and I am assuming that she is in her 90s). Say that it would be good to know what that person should do, and in particular if there is a will with an executor. Say that it would be a good idea to keep in contact about the practical issues, even if you all don't want a close relationship.

Clearly the interpersonals are now very complicated. If you keep your letter totally business-like, it may work better. The contacts will have to be made when your mother dies, and it would be a great deal better to have a plan in advance.
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Hi Lauren,

My Mom is in the earlier stages of dementia, so she's still coherent enough to tell us what she does and doesn't want. (As a side note she was a severe hoarder for many, many years. The only thing that stopped it was when we took away her car she couldn't go out and buy anymore.)

I think when our parents tell us what they want, we need to believe them. Your Mom has told you she doesn't want your help, and I think for now you should just respect her wishes and step away from the situation. There's nothing for you to feel bad or guilty about, she just doesn't want your help right now. If at somepoint she asks for help then you can reevaluate the situation at that time.

I also have "that" brother, who is an addict, stole all of my Mom's money and jewelry over the years. At the time I was livid, but when I'm honest with myself I was never going to inherit a penny, so it really doesn't matter. He is living with his Karma.

My suggestion, which has literally helped me survive the last 10 years, is to have a hobby like art or journaling. I pour out all my feelings on the pages and it's what has allowed me to not walk around angry all the time. My Mom was not a great mother, and I was very angry that any of us should have to care for her at all. Thankfully through therapy and art I've been able to release most of those angry feelings. Now I spend the time with her that I can (mentally/emotionally), which is usually breakfast or lunch once a month, and then she comes to stay at my house for a week a couple times a year. I'm comfortable with the amount I'm able to give, and that's all I can do.

I hope things improve for you, and you find some peace! Kathy
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KatKat124 Dec 28, 2018
I have "THAT " brother too. What is with the mama boys? And why can't the mothers see "THAT " brother is just using ,stealing, and lying to them ?
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Hi Lauren,

I’m sorry to read your story. This sounds like a very dysfunctional situation and I can understand that you have complicated feelings about it. Your mother is not the first to favor a son (who may or may not be deserving!) and she won’t be the last! The hoarding is evidence of the dysfunction, and so perhaps there is a role for social services to help you and your local sisters at least ensure her safety. Has she seen a doctor recently? The personality changes you have noted should probably be evaluated - this is not going to get better. Finally I recommend you read a recent thread that was started on this forum by GingerMay - the title was “Family dysfunction and the holidays.” It contains so much good advice that can help you get clear on what you can and can’t do in a situation like this one. It can be painful but sometimes we have to recognize there are some things we can’t change on our own. At least you have sisters who are in this with you - you’re not alone. Good luck!

Jane
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Lauren88 Dec 25, 2018
My oldest sister took her to a doctor after she had dizziness earlier this year and my sister gave her round the clock care at her home- kept a record of her diet and meds, kept her clean and comfortable- made sure she drank water on a schedule and did her physical therapy. She cared for her for about a month and mom was so unappreciative and criticizing of her that she could not do it anymore. So now she has my brother take her to the doctor, and my sister is the bad one. She never would have gone to the doctor if it were not for my sister. Thanks for you reply. It is such a train wreck.
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If your mom doesn't want you to visit and your brother won't talk to you it makes sense to let go. It's less painful than continuous rejection and you'll feel better with time.

Regarding wills, I have read that if a will is filed with the county it's public information and you can get a copy. But your mom may not be that organized...

My mother has always favored my siblings and anyone who sucks up to her. My brother is a lifelong alcoholic and sister is a sociopath who never visits or calls, just uses my mother. Thus my mother is giving chunks of her estate to my siblings, their spouses and kids. There may be a little bit for me but she's always been jealous of me and I've sensed since I was a teenager that she wanted to leave me out. She has narcissistic personality disorder and jealousy and delusion are part of their mental makeup.

I've never been able to get through to my mother and she can't see things as they are--it's as though her mind is sheathed in a thick wall of rubber. She won't accept help and I don't enjoy her so I have begun to stay away and that feels right after 62 years of banging my head against the wall.

Now that we can all talk openly over the internet it comes to light that there are lots of these unbalanced situations in the world. Because there are so many mentally ill or unfair parents, I see many benefits to mandatory inheritance laws.
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Isthisrealyreal Dec 28, 2018
Ssorry, inheritance is a gift not a right or entitlement.

My husband and I worked hard for our money and don't want anyone telling us what we have to do with it. Just more government involvement where it's none of their business.

My mom wouldn't even cross the street to pee on me if I was on fire, her boys were everything, I showed her, I made a success of my life and don't need or desire anything from her. It is the best solution.
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Lauren88:

[ You said: "I feel betrayed by my brother. (I believe he is using his role as "the good one" to take all the inheritance while maligning me and my sisters.)" ]

Lauren88:

Trust your gut.

I have heard clients use these exact words many times, and they were always correct.

Your brother being so secretive is a clue that he is about to commit financial elder fraud by coercing your mother to give him everything. She may already have done this, or has a joint bank account with him or she has signed something that designated him power of attorney over your mother.

Some of my clients have told me that an adult brother had the mother sign papers without informing her that she needs to read the papers.

The most likely person to commit elder fraud is an adult son.

The sisters are almost always cut out because a lot of mentally disturbed mothers favor sons. Only mentally disturbed parents would have a favorite child that they actually give more to. A normal parent may have a favorite but will still treat all children equally from a financial perspective.

The fact that your mother has ALWAYS played favorites indicates that she may have had a personalty disorder. These disorders exist on a spectrum from minor to major.

If the disorder is minor, she can put on a mask that hides it for years. Then however, as the person ages, their mask slips more often and their true personality shines through.

Can you bring your mother to a doctor to have her evaluated for Alzheimers. If she is diagnosed with that, you may be able to have her declared incompetent and then an elder care attorney can overturn any existing POA your brother may hold.
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Invisible Dec 28, 2018
I do not agree. Her brother is probably POA. The POA has no obligation to share financial/will information. In our situation, I do not want my siblings to have expectations of inheiritence because it will affect how they plan for their own retirement and additional health costs could eat up any inheritance. Dad's will was drafted years ago before he asked me to help out. I have kept his affairs separated from my own. However, I do feel that siblings should be aware of end of life plans and they should be documented and filed with healthcare professionals. There should also be a backup POA and health guardian assigned in event the primary one is incapacitated. Your mother's life should not be interrupted because her children cannot provide.
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Hi, Lauren; my husband is in a similar situation with his family, but his mom is only in her late 70s. I know you have a lot to deal with and are navigating as best you can. Just wanted to comment on the family photos you care about preserving. About six months ago, I urged my husband to ascertain where all the family photos were in his mom's house, which he eventually did. His mom was actually glad he was interested in them. He used his phone camera to take photos of all the pages he could get his hands on. Perhaps your mom would give you permission to do the same? Maybe even sit down with you to look through some albums together? Just a thought since I know how much photos can mean to children, and it sounds like for your peace of mind you may want to do something about this sooner rather than later. Wishing you all the best going forward and above all, take care of yourself.
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Gotta love family 'drama and dynamics'... NOT fun. Agonizing is a better word.
Whoever is power of attorney (if mom has a will) calls the shots, for good or for worse.
Who pays her rent, or taxes, or bills now? At 93, someone else is obviously handling it... and with financial say-so comes the POA.

Parents believe many things over 'hellish nursing homes' they may have indeed seen at one time. They can't conceive of today's newer places or assisted living that are available. ( Or today's stricter restrictions on places regarding care levels.) My dad hoarded having lived through the great depression. (They don't see it as hoarding whatsoever.) They kinda get stuck and don't want help... or a move.

Siblings see things how they choose to see things - sad but true. Parental favoritism and codependency exists even in small families of two kids. If it is the 'favorite only son' (no surprise there) who is the POA- then it is what it is. He indeed might have done things in his own favor over the years... having her sign everything over to him or whatever. (No wonder he doesn't want any contact with other sibs...)

I would ask mom if you can have photos of yourself asap -as they are of no interest to anyone else... and get them in hand before ' dumping day' when the time comes to go through all of the stuff. Those ARE yours. Get them when you can.

It is a grieving process for you... the whole sad situation. The frustration with family... mom's freedom of choice yet at her age... your limited options and control of things... you are grieving for what was, what is, and for what could have been. It is a lonely path and is very painful.
Mom raised you... but whatever her words, choices or actions - it has no bearing on your 'lovability' or value as a person. She did the 'best' that she could with the tools and background that she had. (Even if it damaged everyone else.) You survived -and know what NOT to do with your own family. Keep looking forward, not backwards. Grieve this, too. It may be a long process to heal in this area.

You can state your wishes assertively ( without venting) to each of your siblings in writing - and hope they at least inform you when she passes. You could request a memento or two for your own kids and family to have as something of 'grandma's' that might be granted, who knows. You can request to know if mom even has a will or who will be executor of the 'estate' when she passes. Maybe no one else in the family knows either. Maybe brother will move into her place and keep everything....who knows! Don't be surprised if he does that.
I was written out of my widowed mom's will 5 years ago because she was angry at me for not doing what she wanted/demanded me to do ( to return to my own abusive marital situation when SHE said to... of all things! - ummm, NO, mom.... sorry, not your call there...) yet my only older sister who is the DPOA - and gets everything that there was and is to get- still expects my help in many areas regarding mom's care and visiting ... in which I do what I can, when I can, and what is right to do.
"Oh well!" I would not deself to mom's demands, and if the cost is 'stuff' ... so be it. My personal self-respect is worth much, much more than any stuff.

Dysfunctional families are sadly more common than not.
You can still choose to reach out to your siblings (mail or email), in a business kind of way -even if they do not do so in return. At the end of the day, you will know that you at least tried and did what was right. We reap what we sow. You sound like you care the most. You can still have self-respect even if no one else gives a hoot about you. Their choices need not define who you are.
All the best to you.
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janeinspain Dec 28, 2018
<emoji hands clapping> Well said RedBerry!

Jane
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Sorry to hear all this. I think Adult protective services should be called immediately. People with dementia don't know what they are saying or doing. She's not safe in her house. You can't feel guilty, once dementia sets in , it's not the same person you remembered. Medicaid can take over and put her in a nursing home , where she will be taken care of. It's too bad there was no trust or POA, unless there is and you don't know about it.
Step up and call APS....good luck....take care of yourself....
Been there, done that...
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