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CARENOTES / Past Carenotes/ Discussion Forum


Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 07/03/08

I have two older brothers, and they both have wives. They both live near me. I am the caregiver of our mother who is 81. I can't get any of them to understand I need their help. My mother lights up when they come visit. I can't get them to come visit more often. What do I do?

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Name: Carol
Location: Michigan
Date: 07/03/2008
Time: 06:24 AM


It probably won't work, but just keep asking. Keep reinforcing that you need help and how happy Mom is to see them. Lay a major guilt trip on them. Caregivers just have to be demanding sometimes. We have a right to feel what we feel, and have the right to ask for help. If you can't get it from your brothers, contact every agency you can think of. Senior Center is a great place to start, Commission on aging is good, most importantly find a social worker you feel comfortable with. My mother passed away a year ago and I am still close to the social worker I got to know. I consider her my friend.

Name: June Archer
Location: Danbury, CT
Date: 07/03/2008
Time: 07:38 AM


Unfortunately, not a whole lot. I finished caring for my mom nearly a year ago. My siblings were absent for almost the whole three years I cared for her, with the exception of my younger brother. Ironically, he lived the farthest away but made a supreme effort come and visit as often as possible. My sister was the most obviously absent. Now that Mom has passed, I hear from her more often. Sometimes it's a question of old hurts that stand in the way, sometimes it's a selfish attitude (that stands in contrast to your obviously selfless attitude), and sometimes they just don't care. My mom used to light up when they came as well, and it's the disappointment I know she experienced at their absenteeism that hurt me the most. I was vocal about it to my mom. In hindsight, I guess that wasn't a good idea, but you have to talk to someone! I can't help but feel sorry for my absent siblings now that Mom is gone. I miss her terribly and I am glad I had so much time with her, tough as it was. Even if they won't admit it, the siblings have to have some level of guilt and sorrow that they will live with the rest of their lives. I will keep you in my prayers. You are doing valiant work, and you will never regret it.

Name: Lois McNaught
Location: Regina, Saskatchewan
Date: 07/03/2008
Time: 08:43 AM


I can really appreciate what you are saying - I have went through the same scenario - just add an older sister to the picture. My Mom was 92 - I'm sad to say that she passed away on June 5, 2008. I don't need to describe the hurt, anger, confusion I have felt towards my siblings - try as I might, I could not begin to understand why they hardly visited Mom - and when they did, it was for such a short time. When she had to have an operation, they all showed up - on the same day. Once the operation was over, they all disappeared. Seemed to me that Mom would sooner have them come when she was able to visit with them versus when she was sedated and asleep? I actually sent them all a letter - stating the facts about how much Mom "brightened up" when they came to see her etc. etc. etc. - to no avail. I sent an email to all of them, stating the situation again. I didn't even get a response. I had to move Mom to a Care Home in February 2008 - to provide 24 hour care - they didn't even come to help me pack, move her. My two brothers and wives were there once each - for about an hour - my sister never did see the Care Home. I made so many excuses for them - to Mom, as to why they weren't ever there - like not feeling good, weather bad, etc. etc. - so that Mom wouldn't be hurt anymore than she was, about them not visiting. I could go on and on and on - but I think you are probably experiencing so many of the same things. The only advise I can give - from the bottom of my heart - is for you to do all you can for your Mom. At the end, if you feel good about yourself and what you've done for your Mom - that is what counts. Unfortunately, we can't make others do differently - even though we know they should - and I personally found that I was wasting a lot of my much needed energy on trying to get them to do what they weren't going to do anyways. I finally just concentrated on being there for Mom, telling her how much I loved her, holding her hand, ensuring she always had a rose by her bedside, rubbing her back, etc. etc. I have no regrets and you won't either. Sincerely wishing you all the best as you go through this difficult time.

Name: Diane Keil
Location: Newport Mn
Date: 07/03/2008
Time: 08:57 AM


Wow, someone else who is walking in my shoes almost to the exact detail. I too was the caregiver for my Mother who passed away on 6/1/2008. One of my siblings lives within blocks of my house (Mom was living with me) and another sibling who had to travel approximately 35 miles one way and is disabled. What I did to encourage help from everyone, not only siblings and spouses, but nieces, nephews and friends, I created a monthly calendar and for each day, I put in the time that I would be available and also listed times that I needed someone to be there because I could not. I then emailed the calendar out to the appropriate audience and gave them all an opportunity to fill in the blanks. This worked VERY well. It gave everyone a chance to pick the time they had open to come over and either help me with Mom or stay at the house until I returned from whatever errand I needed to attend to. At times, I would leave a timeframe open, even if I was going to be home, just to get someone signed up so I could get respite in my own home, meaning, they would come over, take care of Mom and I could take a bath and go to to my room and go bed earlier than normal or read a book or just shut myself away from the reality of the other side of the door. It was amazing how people noticed how much work it really is to be a caregiver and to really see that when they "stop by to visit", Mom was much more likely to be cheery and pleasant and not presenting the reality of what she was living vs being a caregiver 'x' number of nights a month--where it is obvious then of what was really going on with Mom's health. I certainly feel all that you are going thru. I hope this example helps you. It helped me. I didn't have to call anyone and "ask" for help or guilt anyone into helping me out. I just made due with the times that no one would cover. If I had to take Mom in again and have the opportunity to change anything I did--Nope would not happen. I would repeat what I did--over and over and over again. I gained such a wonderful relationship with Mom during her journey and I will forever be grateful to our Lord for the opportunity to do so. God Bless DLK

Name: Robert
Location: Ohio
Date: 07/03/2008
Time: 11:38 AM


Your brothers are reluctant to give up their freedom and sacrifice the demands of their families to help care for your mother. They probably feel guilty for putting it all on you and it makes them feel uncomfortable to come visit. I can sympathize with them because it tends to impede your lifestyle when you try to care for aging parents and I know it is a burden for you. The question is, are you asking too much of yourself? Have you looked into other options for your mother including home care services, possibly even a retirement home if her health is failing. Maybe you brothers would participate more if you were working together to find other options for your mother. Sometimes though, you have to do what has to be done to help yourself. It is OK and I would even recommend that you seek assistance from your local agencies for the aging.




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