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First post - Feeling abandoned by siblings
Posted: Sunday, November 14, 2021 10:44 PM
Joined: 11/14/2021
Posts: 1

For the past 3 years I have basically been the sole caregiver for my mom with Alzheimer’s. She is currently living alone at home. I expect she will be moving into memory care in the near future.  At the start my brother and sister gave excuses why they couldn’t help—no time, can’t handle, lived 15 miles away while I live only 2 miles away. I got tired of arguing and tried to accept they wouldn’t help. Of course, mom has declined over these 3 years and all of a sudden I’m feeling completely overwhelmed and all I want to do is run away.  I decided it was time to meet with my siblings to discuss mom’s future and to tell them that I need a break because I’m heading for a breakdown. We met today and it did not go well. After being repeatedly attacked by my sister over things that happened in the past. I told them I needed a break, that I was going away for a few days and I would not be able to do the grocery shopping or fill the pillbox next weekend as I usually do.  Also for the first time in 3 years I’m not calling every day I’m away to check on her. Now they’re angry with me. I know sibling conflict is common in these situations, but I can’t believe that they refuse to help out so I can get a break. I’m not even asking for a complete break. I would still be paying bills and I have a meeting with a case manager next week. I’m so hurt and angry. I feel like I’m losing not just my mom but my whole family. Do relationships ever get repaired after this?
Posted: Monday, November 15, 2021 1:07 AM
Joined: 10/6/2017
Posts: 209

Hello Sadie43, welcome to the forum this Sunday. Yes, unfortunately sibling conflict is common, and it always seems to get worse when there are changes in the person with dementia. Some say they worst conflict comes when a decision has to be made to place a loved one.

Does it ever get better? It can, but it usually does not happen on its own. Some people have had success having a neutral third party present whenever they have a family meeting. Some people have used therapists to try to accept that family simply will not meet expectations. Sometimes the death of the person with dementia and time lets family relationships heal even if they are never quite the same.

It is easier to cope when you are not overwhelmed and tired out. I hope your break helps.

King Boo
Posted: Monday, November 15, 2021 8:22 AM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3545

Relationships do have repair after this very stressful journey, if it is as you describe.

However, you have new lenses to see your family members thru, without a doubt.

Setting boundaries for your self preservation is a very good thing.  They will have to step up out of necessity when you are gone.  If they won't ask them to pay for respite care, present it as a non negotiable choice.

Posted: Monday, November 15, 2021 2:14 PM
Joined: 3/6/2020
Posts: 10

Hi Sadie:

I am so sorry you are going through this.  I, too, have been the sibling in charge for the last three years.  Both of my parents are now in a skilled nursing home, my Mom going in a year before my Dad.  My sister refuses to help and my brother is limited due to his location.   

Your situation probably won't change as long as your Mother is alive, and possibly afterward.  Frankly, my relationship with my sister is over after all of this.  And I'm okay with that.  I begged, pleaded, screamed, and shamed her over her abandoning me.  But nothing moved her.  So I'm done.  I have handled everything - doctors, nurses, hospitals, lawyers, banks, accountants, state assistance office.  Cleaned out their house, sold their house and assets.  Every phone call, every meeting.  I had to preplan their funerals and pick their headstone.  So I know where you are coming from and where you are headed.

You have my sympathy on the loss of your family and mostly the process you are going through with your Mom.  Get all of the help you can from the case manager next week.  They know what you need to do.  If you don't have a Power of Attorney, get one!  There is a lot coming your way and you need to be ready.  

You didn't say how far along your Mom is in her dementia journey.  If you are struggling, you may need to place her in a facility sooner rather than later.  Although it is so hard to make that decision, it could be the best decision for both of you.

Your mental well being is vital.  I started seeing a therapist recently.  It has really helped me deal with my sibling issues.  And of course deal with my parents' health issues.  It is a lot to handle alone.  

My prayers and best wishes are with you.


Posted: Monday, November 15, 2021 5:38 PM
Joined: 4/7/2019
Posts: 262

This is so difficult, and unfortunately my experience matches what others have said.

In my case, it's my sister who has dementia, and my brother is pretty much MIA.  He just can't be bothered, so all of my sister's care has fallen on me. I tried mediation with him, which didn't work.  While we were in mediation I made sure to get power of attorney and other legal documents that I needed. I'm covered.

Like RosesareRed, I'm done with my sibling. We barely speak at this point, and that's fine.    Can this relationship be repaired? I sincerely doubt it.

I guess if there's any silver lining to this it's that given my personality and abilities, and given my brother's personality and abilities, I know without a doubt that I've been able to give my sister much better care than if I left her care to my brother.  Sure, it would be much better if we could have been a team, but that isn't going to happen, so I've moved on. My mental health improved once I made that decision.

Posted: Monday, November 15, 2021 6:30 PM
Joined: 11/14/2021
Posts: 13

This may not help and I'm very sorry you have this burden alone. But here is part of my story.

 My mom had dementia and was taken care of by my father until he no longer could. (My husband now has dementia.) I lived 7 hours away but went frequently and would stay several days.  When my dad could no longer be her caretaker, we moved my mother into care. When his health declined he moved into the same facility.  At that point I went and stayed a week every month to make sure they were being well cared for.  They were.

I took care of everything when they died.  Everything.  I made sure my brother and sister got anything they wanted from my parent's home as well as making sure their wills were executed as they wanted.

What helped was I never expected my siblings to help me.  My brother lived overseas or he would have helped.  Helping/caretaking is not in my sister's DNA.  So I never expected it nor asked for it.

Not expecting help from them meant I looked elsewhere for help.  A psychologist/gerontologist for counseling as to what to do when. Home health and then the assisted living/memory care facility.  Friends for moral support.   So I did get help.  Just not from my siblings.

What also helped me was they were appreciative of what I was doing.  I know so many siblings are not and that has got to be awful to deal with along with doing all the work and worry.  

If family is not going to help, we cannot make them help.  Maybe some here have found that asking, demanding, begging, pleading got some help.  But if nothing works to get them to help, then that is not an option for help. 

Get the rest and care you need.  Please.  You may have to find a caretaker to help out so you can get the rest you need.  Is there any daycare available where you live?  That helped greatly with my husband until I had to move him into MC.

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2021 2:57 PM
Joined: 10/26/2021
Posts: 1

Going through the same thing but it’s my in laws.  My father in law and mother in law have lived with my husband and I for the past 14 years.  Father in law has dementia for past three years and there two sons don’t visit at all.  It’s so heartbreaking.  Sister in law comes to my house Saturday afternoon around 3:00 pm and is out the door at 12:00 pm on Sunday.  All she does is complain when she is here.

I’ve just accepted they are not going to help and I roll with it.  My husband and I do take vacations and sister in law comes to stay with them.  

I’m fortunate to be able to work at home full time and he is still pretty independent but the time is coming to get in home help.

I hope things get better for you,

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2021 8:32 AM
Joined: 11/20/2021
Posts: 7

HI, I feel your pain and frustrations,  I too care for my mom,  I do live with her but also have 4 siblings (all older). Although we finally came together to help with my mom. It's still just me doing all the work and care. They will call her but I never knew the conversation and mom couldn't remember what they talked about.  I just felt like an only child. They didn't care about my health,  or my giving up my independence so they could enjoy theirs. It's time to place her so she has a better quality of life as winter approaches here in ia. I can't do it alone. It's been 3 yrs and within 3 months my mom doesn't know where she is, what day or time ot is and hilucinating every waking moment. She's become someone else and it's the hardest thing I've ever experienced.  In 1992 she took out a nursing home policy that they don't even have anymore, thank the lord for that. W can place her in a very fine place,  the transition is what I'm most worried about. The waiting forcmy siblings to come and help me is even worse. My friends help me more than anyone else and feel terrible asking for help. Even just time to shower is virtually impossible.  I'm here to support you if I can and would welcome any ideas you may have how to cope. She seems to get angry with me and it's VERY difficult to find a way to get her calmed down. Just wanted to get a  quick note in for now as I need to go get her breakfast and ready for another long day. Hang in there, I hope the best for you. I truly understand.
Gogo’s carer
Posted: Tuesday, November 23, 2021 9:29 AM
Joined: 10/15/2021
Posts: 6

my heart goes out to you.  You're not alone.  I've lived that experience single-handedly caring for my mom with VD for 12 years.  My siblings completed checked out.  I went through a process of anger to final acceptance, it is what it is.  Not everyone has the caregiving DNA.  in my case, friends and my aunt who lives overseas stepped in.  I leaned in on my network of friends who have been more supportive than my siblings.  It seems to be a common problem in these situations.  The most important thing is follow your heart and care for your LO unconditionally.  You will be at peace.
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 6:39 AM
Joined: 7/23/2021
Posts: 39


I'm in the exact same boat with my 93 year old dementia 4-5 stage dad.  Sad thing is my siblings are 5 minutes from me and my sister sequestered my mom in her house.  I haven't seen my mom in over 2 months now and she's 5 minutes away.

I tell you this only to let you know you aren't alone, many of us feel your pain and are here.  I totally get how hard it is accepting this crap of our siblings, but at the end of the day it's either we go insane or see ya to them.  You do you and the hell with them.  It's your soul you have to live with adn you must know you did your best as I'm sure you are.

Hang tough and please do not, I repeat, do not neglect yourself.  Take time for you and your sanity, it's a must!  Be strong and my God bless you.

Jo C.
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 11:09 AM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 12161

We are all different; we all come from different experiences in our life histories and past relationships with family members and we are all built differently.  What one person experiences will not be the same for another even if  the dynamics are very similar.  Feelings are feelings.  No right or wrong; it simply just is.

For me, in my experience, one of the most important lessons I learned from the dementia journey, and I learned it early, was all about "letting go."  Period.  To let myself get all up in arms, arguing, demanding, becoming bitter, etc. would only upset my inner self and my inner spirit, no one elses.  Once I realized the lay of the land with the adult sib and step-sibs and the absence of any support from said sibs, it was simply . . . . let go.   Didn't have to like it, but it was what it was.  Consider myself an "only child" and do it without rancor. Far easier on my stomach and ability to sleep.  Letting go is not always an easy lesson to learn.

My mother had a behavioral variant of FTD (Alz's on steroids), and my step-dad had Alz's; both at the same time!   I have a brother who lived only 25 minutes away, but he was SO far away inside himself; there was no way he would be involved - it was not within him to do so.  My step-dad's kids who lived 40 minutes away were in absentia both mentally and physically.    None of them bad people, just not of the ability to have a mindset for addressing care needs and they all distanced themselves.  As someone else mentioned, "not in their DNA."

As said, I found it best after thinking about it when I realized how things were going to go, to let go and consider myself an only child for the duration.  All care, all appointments, all bill paying, all house management, financial management, running back and forth to the many ER visits for emergencies that arose, being there for hospitalizations and back home again; groceries, cleaning, etc. etc. etc.  There was the time when I could hire some assistance for some of that and every little bit of that helped so much.  The parents had saved a little money for a "rainy day" and it was storming, so I used that to gain that help.   

When the time for alternative care came, it was me that made significant search and arrangements for mother's care needs and I was her only visitation; step-dad still at home with all his care needs, so I made a new career out of tap dancing while juggling watermelons and whistling "Flight of the Bumblebee" all at the same time.   It wasn't easy, but it was necessary. Still working.   Not looking for any accolades at all, and never expected a penny in any sort of reimbursement.  I was the one who accepted doing what I did; no one forced me.  Since I accepted doing it all rather than walking away, then it was on me.  No one else.

I did have some very difficult times; the FTD behavior was relentless.  There were times I felt undone; but managed hanging on by my fingernails.  Going to sit by the ocean for an hour or so from time to time when there was a rare opportunity to do so gave me fresh air respite.  Something that small helped.

After both parents deaths, I was the one who had to manage the emptying of the house if it was ever to get done and listing and selling the house. So much time and so much effort involved.  Afterward, I also divided the very small proceeds from the little estate to the three adult children besides myself.  

What I realized was that getting my guts in an uproar hurt no one but me.  I also understood that long after the deaths of the parents, there is still family and many years ahead of us and the dynamics would fade away over time.  That is important.  Would rather not go into those future years as an adversary in a huge extended family schism.  I did not want that to perpetuate itself unto our children and grandchildren some day.  It is a blessing not to have that happen.

If the sibs can donate a bit of money to hire a person to come in and help a bit, that would be great; but not everyone can do that.

Just one person's story amonst many.  No perfection in any of this; just the best we can do under the circumstances with the challenges at hand.  That is saying a lot.


Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2021 8:32 PM
Joined: 10/18/2020
Posts: 13

Sadie43: so sorry that you aren’t receiving help or support from your siblings. I know the resentment and anger that you must be feeling toward them. My husband and I have dealt with the same issues. Like others on this forum, we eventually stopped expecting anything from them. They would go MONTHS without seeing their mom (blaming my husband and the pandemic). Oddly enough, after my mother-in-law went into AL is when his siblings decided they should start seeing their mom on a semi-regular basis. The relationship between you and your siblings can be repaired if you choose to forgive them in the end. Unfortunately, I’m not so certain my husband is capable of that much forgiveness. The resentment runs too deep.

Hopefully you have your own family and friends to lean on for support. Good luck, stay strong and if it helps at all, know that others are thinking and praying for you and your mom.

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