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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 - 08/26/09
I am a primary caregiver for my 80 year old mother. She has moved in with my husband and I, we have relocated to a new city. I am unemployed for the first time in years. My mother goes to day care 3 days a week. One of my two sisters has been taking care of her 1-2 days a week. There is a history of abuse between them which resulted in my caring for my mother.

My sister is resentful . A few nights ago I received a phone call from her which culminated with her screaming words that were unintelligible. Worst of all she is receiving pay from the county to care for my mother. I arranged this to help her out, as she was complaining about costs for transporting my mother to do errands and such. My mother is confused a lot and sends mixed messages. She can be downright mean.

This is a family dynamic that has continued for years. I now regret moving near my sisters; one is overbearing and bullying, the other rarely involves herself. I am stuck in a sad situation and I am struggling each day. My goal was to provide a safe and peaceful home for my mother and it is too overwhelming for me. How do you deal with an abusive sibling?

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Name: Maggie
Location: Titusville, FL
Date: 08/26/2009
Time: 12:39 PM


Some people are like animals who bite the hand that feeds them. I'd suggest increasing the day care and not have you sister involved in Mom's care at all. You cannot expect her to change at this point. Life is not fair. Many times strangers have more compassion than family members and these should be the ones to give hands on care. You must pay them for their service and let the siblings simply have visits with Mom. Plus, change your expectation of the sisters. Let it be next to nothing and then if they do get involved, it will be a pleasant surprise.

Name: Jim
Location: Maryland
Date: 08/26/2009
Time: 12:45 PM


First you should transfer the county subsidy to you. Second, you need to contact Social Services in your area and get all the benefits you are entitled to in your state. These are state provided services and you need a case worker assigned to you. Third put a “call block” on your sibling’s telephone numbers to stop the “obscene” phone calls from these two people. Yes, they are obscene. You are not going to be able to rectify this situation without strong steps on your part to show your siblings you are not going to be abused. Yes, it is abuse. You are now in control by the fact she is living with you. You have gone to great expense and sacrifice to try to give your mother better and kind care and it has not and will not happen because your mother is toxic to you and the family members. In my opinion, neither you nor your siblings are capable of taking care of your mother anymore because she has become mentally unstable. You do not know what this is from. Alzheimer’s or what? You are now to the point that you as the caregiver and your marriage are in jeopardy. You need to get her a psychiatric evaluation and can get one by having her committed for a 72 hour hold and evaluation. You are going to be criticized for doing that but if you don’t you will become as sick as she is and be of no help to her. You will need psychiatric help at this stage anyway because you and your family are in over your heads. I have been there and can say this from experience. You need someone to help you with the guilt and grief of having to do this. I hope this helps save you some grief and stress. Again, I have been there. These actions will start you and your mother to a better life style and there will be a time when you can maybe take care of her at home. But not now. Blessings on this journey. Jim in Maryland

Name: B. Lynn Goodwin
Location: Danville, CA
Date: 08/26/2009
Time: 02:25 PM


Since you cannot change your sister, the best thing to do is take care of yourself. A great line to say to your sister is "You could be right." You can also hold the phone at arm's length when she goes off. Or get Caller ID and be selective about when you pick up. Another way to process all of this is to write about it. Not sure how to start? YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? JOURNALING FOR CAREGIVERS can help. It gives encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence starts. Finish the sentence and you are journaling. You can find it on this website. Go to the Book Club page. I sincerely hope it helps. Lynn


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