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I live three hours away and my sister lives 2 miles from our parents. My mother has advanced dementia and was just checked into a facility by my sister and my father. My father is also showing early signs of dementia, and we worry about him living on his own, but for now he is still living in his house. My sister has been amazing about stopping in, buying groceries, and taking care of their finances. I visit once a month and used to call every weekend. Now that Mom is in a nursing home I call my Dad every day to make sure he's okay. Since my mother started to decline, my relationship with my sister has deteriorated. She has rejected all of my offers to help (legal fees, researching facilities, coming home to help move Mom into the home, and general offers to pitch in for whatever she needs--I just need her to say the word), but she is hostile toward me when I visit and it's clear she's angry with me that she is carrying this burden alone. (We have two brothers, but they aren't held to the same standards). She has lengthy explanations as to why my offers to help are not good enough, and she's constantly telling me things like, "Mom won't even know who I am, so if I visit its only for my own benefit." She told me that she didn't need me to come last weekend, but when I didn't come,she sent me a harsh email saying she was a annoyed with me for putting my own needs first (I am getting over a chronic illness and thought it better to stay home and rest). And then complained that she never has the option to put her own needs first. I recognize that she is under an immense amount of stress, and she feels that she is carrying this alone, but I don't know what else to do when she rejects all my offers to help. She is really amazing with the way she has taken charge of our parents' affairs, and I can only imagine the strain that this is putting on her and her family, but her way of dealing with the stress is to treat me like I am a heartless, selfish child. I continue to tell her that she's doing an incredible job and offer to help, but I'm at a point where I just don't want to talk to her again. Short of quitting my job and leaving my family behind to move home to live with my father, what can I do to get her to recognize that while she has the right to be angry at the situation, she doesn't have the right to treat me like the reason our mother has dementia? The worst part is I feel like I am not entitled to feelings of grief and sadness for what is happening to our parents because she is the only one who is actually sacrificing for them. So, I keep my feelings to myself now, and it's a terribly lonely feeling.

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I need to share the other side of this coin.... I, like you, volunteered and all the things you shared.... It was never received in the vein it was intended..... so I simply stopped 'doing it her way'.... I too understood the pressure she was under, but also took it to another level.... it was important to my sister to be a martyr....to be the long suffering, taken advantage of sister.... that was not the case at all... I did a lot 'behind the scenes' that she knew nothing about... many situations of caring for my dad who I could not stand to be in the same room with... she needed something from him that she never got... his approval... I didn't need anything from him, so I did things for ME... so that I would not have any regrets.... not saying your sister is like mine... just saying, do what you feel is right, for you, for your parents... you do not need her permission to participate.... and while all are saying she is overwhelmed... this is true... but every single day we all make choices about how our life is going to be....I'm not trying to be ugly here, just saying that some siblings take on this job and have an agenda that has nothing to do with us.... so do what your heart guides you to do.... and you have a very tender heart and are aware of the load your sister is carrying.... but if she is the one confused, not sure how to express herself,,, well, then do what you need to do and want to do..... most everyone here would sell their own family to gypsies to have you as a sister.... good luck and simply follow your heart... have no regrets....
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I have a sister like you. Rather than take some of the burden off me, she placates herself with offers that never materilize. she wants to talk, to communicate. What she doesn't understand that this drains me of what limited energy I have. Respite is the number one need of all caregivers. Give your sister one day a week 8 hours, that she can make plans. Plan your schedule around it, not if its convenient for you that week. If you do that you will see a great change in attitude from your sister. Good luck
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to beachdog, I appreciate that you do visit your parents.
I am the local caregiver, at my paretns house nearly every day, but my siblings never visit, and when they do, they expect parents to put them up in a nice hotel, restaurants, gas money or airline tickets......
it's wonderful that you are willing to set aside family "stuff" and still visit.
but also, please remember that the "local caregiver" is probably beyond burn-out, even if you have come to visit, and IMHO I hope you are paying the local sibling some real money. that person is saving your parents estate a bundle of money, you owe your sibling a lot of credit for what they are doing, and they didn't ever ask for that job. please dont' take this the wrong way. I just have to stick up for the local caregivers among us, who are far too often, taken advantage of, and usually unpaid, and letting their own careers suffer, just to make sure mom & dad have a home-cooked meal, and drive them to doctors.
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You've gotten some wonderful answers here. I agree with everyone that you should continue to see your parents and be as kind and loving about your sister's negativity as you can. I can be ticked off at my brother from time to time when he tries to help but winds up causing more work for me in the end. But I don't get that from your post. I think your sister is just angry at your parents' decline and like others have said, you're the nearest punching bag.

I hope she can come to appreciate what a gem she's got in you. A lot of us on here would LOVE to have someone offer to help and really mean it!
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Having both parents in crisis, slowly losing them both, the day to day caregiving - it's all so overwhelming to your sister. And I think sometimes we lash out at those closest to us because we know they aren't going anywhere...unconditional love. Your plan of action sounds solid and just because you haven't been close doesn't mean you can't become closer. Some of the most profound lessons and gifts from my dad came after he was diagnosed with Alz.
Katiekay's thoughts are right on the mark - a certain amount of resentment toward the out of town sibling is a natural, human thing. But a genuine, ongoing concern by the sib goes a long way. I'm currently caring for my inlaws and my brotherinlaw never calls us to check status. I know he's too far away to help, but it would go a long way if he expressed concern, didn't refuse to listen or acknowledge that this is now serious. You are doing these things....just keep being loving and supportive.
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I feel pretty lucky most of the time w/my situation. I have one brother who is a good person, but because of his 'issues' he has a lot of difficulty coping with this stuff. There are times when I resent his inability to be more supportive and involved, and there have been moments where I've let him know that I'm struggling. And I'll get some lame "there, there" type of comment, or no response at all. But, on the bright side, he is not malicious, undermining, or causing any trouble whatsoever, and I know that's a huge blessing.
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I am the closest sibling to my parents and so am the one everything is falling on. My situation is different then yours in that my dad's dementia is in the beginning stages and my siblings are much farther away. I am 90 miles away from my parents.. but am by far the closest. Anyway.. I wish I had a sibling that took an interest and was actually offering some help. I thought I would chime in on some of my wishes from my siblings:

1. Take an interest in my parents.. just because I am closest doesn't mean that EVERYTHING should fall on me. Even if I knew they were involved and interested in helping (in some way even).. it would make me feel like I am not alone with the entire weight on my shoulders.
2. I wish they wouldnt ask what I'm doing this weekend.. and when I say .. oh going to Mom and Dads to help with (whatever).. my sister actually says.. Oh.. fun.. then proceeds to tell me her (actual fun) plans for the weekend.
3. When I try to bring up uncomfortable topics they change the subject.. or just say.. yeah.. well.. i don't know what to say.
4. I have to beg them to keep in touch with my parents.
5. I do lots of research, calling, internet searching that they could do.. but when i ask them to do something they come back with one google search.. and text it to me.. and I could have done that in 2 seconds.
6. Would be nice if they recognized what kind of an effort I have to make and how this has completely taken over my life.

Anyway.. I agree with the others that you should visit your mom.. and good for you for seeing passed your sister's anger and resentment. I sometimes feel that resentment as well but I'm trying not to let it take me over. I think it will help her to see you are making some sacrifices in your life to help out as well.
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thank for all your feedback. I was feeling particularly vulnerable when I wrote my post and my feelings were very raw. All of this advice is well-received, and much appreciated! I have to keep focusing on the fact that my sister is reacting to a highly stressful situation, and while I don't need to be her punching bag, the least I can do is recognize the reasons she is reacting the way she is and I can try to be there for her. If I can keep stepping back and recognizing where the harsh words come from, then it will be easier to avoid taking the bait. She is just as scared and sad as I am, and it's just such a shame that we don't have a relationship where we can support each other. Our family has never been close, so the tension has always been there under the surface. It just took a stressful situation to bring it out in the open. You are all right though. regardless of my relationship with my sister, I have to make time for my parents. I've decided to take tomorrow off from work to drive up to see my Mom and Dad and told my boss that I will need to take some time off intermittently to be there for my parents. Thanks for the support!!
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Continue to call ( more frequently please) both your Father & your Mother in NH if that is possible. Also keep in constant contact with your sister. Don't take the bate & be as supportive as possible. Visit your Mother!!!! Even if it is just to make you feel better about yourself. DO IT!
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Once in a while, a long, hand written letter gets a point across that all the back-and-forth arguing and fussing cannot. Your feelings matter, your being denied the opportunity to do what you can to be of help matters even more, and out of guilt or pathological need for self-martyrdom your sister is denying it to you. And denying the help for herself, which she obviously needs. Just because you could not do what she wanted you to do when she wanted you to do it exactly the way she wanted done, it should not make you worthless to her - on the face of it, this makes no sense. Three hours away isn't half a world away. Don't let her discouragements stop you from visiting.
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Your sister seems to be overwhelmed with losing Mom to dementia. She is angry and you seem to be in the path of that anger, but I doubt you are the cause of it. She is not dealing with the stress appropriately but she may not be able to handle figuring out the "right way" to do one more thing.

Continue to visit your mother. Even if she doesn't know who you are, she knows that someone kind is paying her attention. Even if she doesn't remember your visit when you leave, she was aware of it at the time. Come at least monthly, as you have been doing, and take the opportunity to visit Dad, too. You do not need to bother your sister with your arrangements. Once you are there, ask if you can help with the shopping or anything else. If she says no, so be it. Take Dad out for a beer or a malted milk or whatever treat he likes.

Try to be gentle with your sister. Express your grief and sadness to your friends, if Sis cannot deal with that now. Of course you have a right to your feelings, too. She is not "right" in her attitude, but she is truly hurting. Forgive her. You and she will need to work together on Dad's behalf. Try to retain at least a polite relationship.
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