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She cannot tell me. I live 1000 miles away from my mother who is in a nursing home and not doing well. There are three sisters, of which I am the youngest with a large age gap. One of the sisters lives near my mother with her family and is the primary caregiver. The other sister lives 5 hours away, and I have figured out that she is being updated regularly, so I know it’s not an issue of being too busy.
About a year ago I started a new job which I had to wait 12 months to earn a week of vacation. By the time I had gotten to my one year anniversary, the company was sold and for the past two months is going through a restructuring. Basically I have been told no vacation until this is over unless it’s a family emergency. I can’t afford to fly, so going for a weekend won’t work, plus I know from my last visit this won’t really be enough time to help out. So a weeklong visit is really the best option at this point, but not really available just yet.
The caregiving sister rarely answers my calls and hardly ever calls me back, and text messages often go unanswered. I usually try and contact her or my mother about once a week to see how she is, so I am in no way being a pest. I used to call my mother much more often, every day at one point, but since her health is failing talking on the phone is a strain for her. When I do get my sister on the phone she is often abrupt with me, and when I have tried to explain why I haven’t been able to get up there yet, she is basically done with our conversation. I have offered a time or two to help out with phone calls and arranging things when I can get her on the phone, but she basically brushes me off.
I feel like I am being shut out. I am hoping to be able to visit soon, but honestly am dreading seeing my sister after her behavior towards me, and am not sure how to navigate this. I know she is under a lot of pressure being the main caregiver. I have thanked her for her care of my mother and I know she is in great hands. I would gladly have my mother in my town, but even the suggestion of that would be met with disgust in the family, as family visits have almost always been one way….me going to them. I feel like this lack of contact is intentional, and is intended to punish. I am frustrated because I feel like we are all adults, and any disagreements should be put behind us when dealing with this type of situation. I have never questioned any of my sister’s decisions regarding my mother’s care, and have only expressed gratitude for what information has been given to me. Any advice?

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Compared to other families I would say from my experience, we are not a very close family. Maybe some of my concern about not being in the loop stems back to an experience I had several years back when my grandfather passed. Basically I found out about his passing when my mother apologized for forgetting to tell me but he "passed away a few weeks ago, but don't worry, we sent a mass card in your name.". To this day I am still stunned by this. Even though I know it would never go that far in this situation, unanswered calls and texts do leave me on edge a bit. I suspect after experiences like that, this would be normal. Thanks to everyone and their imput and suggestions. They have been very helpful. :)
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I am one of three children; one who lives close to where we have mom in a NH; he and his wife visit nearly daily and take care of financials; I'm an hour and a half away and do the medical management on the phone with the NH, docs and the rare off site appointments. We have a baby brother, 11 years younger than I, 5 hours away by car. He shows up every 2 or 3 months for a visit with mom, doesn't respond to the emails I send him (because I update everyone, including cousins and the older grandchildren). My younger brother is BEYOND pissed at him. I try to be understanding. But when you leave phone messages saying " mom is in the hospital and the docs say she may not make it through the night" and you don't hear back for three days, and then only because you are ringing every number you have for him and you get one of his kids who tells you that he's gone on vacation and hasn't told anyone..... Well, maybe you can understand why we say his name with a sigh after it. Send you mom a funny card at least once a week. Send your sister emails saying that you love her and hope that she's doing okay. And dear lord, YES, send her a gift card to a spa, send some cash, send ANYTHING. What I could use MOST right now would be for someone to pay a bit toward a housecleaner. But I'm not going to ask my brother to do that. If he offered, I'd say yes in a heartbeat. Understand that your sister is under enormous emotional and physical stress; please don't add to it. Just start mailing mom and emailing sis.
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It is good that you are concerned about your mother. Possibly you could fly back for a week-end to see your Mom, and also Thanksgiving is coming up soon. Are you off of work on the Thanksgiving holiday week-end and are your week-ends in general free? Even if you don't have the cash on-hand, you could put it on your credit card, if you have one, since obviously seeing your Mom is important. Maybe if you visit you and your sister also can talk about things. I do believe you care, and I hope things work out.
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I just found the great tool that exists here to let others get an update on the one you care for. Perhaps you could share this tool. It only takes a few clicks to give an update and the categories are already set up. Maybe your sister would consider doing this as it requires minimal time/effort but can really give you some detail.
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Powerhouse, by chance could the sister who is 5 hours away be able to give you updates on your Mom? Maybe she feels she's not kept as up to date as she would like to be.

Sometimes with a large age difference between siblings, like 20 years, there seems to be a generation gap. The baby of the family will always be the *baby* even if they are independent and out in the working world.
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You have a great understanding, really, of what's going on. I can read it in your post. Your sister is probably busier than a one-armed paper hanger. And if you've read posts on this site, you know that the primary caregiver often feels resentful when they think one or another of their siblings isn't pulling their weight.

See, she's kind of STUCK with the caregiving -- because she lives there. You don't. So you can't be blamed, especially -- MOST especially -- in your current situation. But she doesn't care. She's still carrying the lion's share of the responsibility and is probably close to burnout.

Unless your mom can't answer the phone -- or can't talk on it -- I think you should show your support by calling her more often than once a week. If she can talk on the phone once a week? She can talk on the phone three times a week. I also think you could send her cute cards at least once a week. She'll enjoy them. If she can't touch you in person more often, at least let her 'touch you' in a card and phone calls.

Your making phone calls for your sister makes no sense in my book. By the time she's explained the purpose, who to call, what to do and why? She can just make the call herself. But you can gift her an Olive Garden $50 gift card once a month along with an appropriate card to express your gratitude for her hard work.

Get your updates from your other sister. She's apparently updating her. That's enough. She's busy. Talk to your other sister. If you have a BIG question? Then call your sister. And whenever you talk to her? Before you hang up the phone? Tell her what a yeoman's job she's doing and that if she can think of ANYTHING you can do to ease her load, to let you know.
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Chicago that is an awesome idea! Maybe a gift card to her favorite restaurant.... :)
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Flyer, thank you for your kind words. I am actually in the process of hopefully getting a new job with a company that is on solid footing, and hope to make the 14 hour trip to see my mother in between changing jobs very soon. My mother is having difficulty with speaking on the phone, and she hasn't answered at all over the past few weeks when I have tried. I have been told she is too tired and weak and has been very confused. You are right about the emotional distance with my sister, and may be right about her feelings as well, even though I have always looked up to her. She has always been the closest to my mother, so when the decision was made for mom to be closest to her, even though I would have been thrilled to have my mother here, and I wasn't really allowed into the decision making process, I just wanted my mother to be where she is happiest, so I agreed with it. I guess I just never expected this blockade of sorts, and don't understand why the other sister who herself lives hours away in another state is kept up to date yet I am not. Maybe it's because they are closer in age, maybe it's because I am further away. Again, thank you for your thoughts.
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I understand that you can't go. I would send money. Caregiving is very exhausting and expensive. I would write a nice note and say I am sorry that I am unable to help you, please use this cash for something for you. Maybe hire a sitter for the day and get a massage.
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powerhouse2002, you mention there was a large age gap between you and your sisters, thus I am wondering that one sister was always emotionally distant from you even when you were growing up.... parents do have a habit of babying the youngest, even though you have no control over that when growing up. Maybe there is some resentment there.

I fully understand that it can be a strain talking to one's parent when their health is failing. My Mom is 97, in good health, but our conversation is less than one minute because Mom is almost deaf, even though I try to get Mom to hear at least one word, example I say *rain* and she can understand that and she will talk about the weather.

As for your work, merging of two companies is a logistic nightmare, so I understand fully why you need to be at work during this time frame. I know you are doing the best you can.
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I have a sister like you. She doesn't do any of the heavylifting in caring for Dad, a 93 year old with Parkinson's disease. In fact her idea of caregiving is the same as yours calling me for updates, so she can feel good about herself. A geriatric nurse, she made it very clear 3 years ago when i started the 24/7/365 caregiving, that she was very busy, and don't bother her. You want updates? You want to be informed; start contributing more than excuses. Otherwise don't waste your sister the caregiver's time. Geez you can't even call your mother, you picked the wrong forum for sympathy.
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