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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.