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Can we discuss the phenomenon of the non-helpful adult sibling?


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15 hours ago, Farrar said:

I think that sibling is probably preferable to another "type" in that situation - the one who sweeps in from out of town, disrupts the care, has to suddenly weigh in about everything and question everything, gives the primary caregiver a bunch of hassle, gets tons of praise for their efforts from the sick elderly relative, and then sweeps out of town again, leaving everything to the primary caregiver sibling(s) again.

I've never had that situation exactly, but I've seen it play out in once removed relative groups and with friends.

 

This topic irritates me so much that I've avoided reading more than once.  Ooh, it irritates me.

DH's grandmother and (now late) grandfather had 4 kids.  After moving them around some, the kids settled the grandmother (Nanny) and grandfather (Grandpa) in an assisted living place in the town they're from, where DH and I and DH's twin sister and several cousins and one uncle (the oldest of the grandparents' kids) live.  Grandpa was really not in good enough shape for assisted living - he needed at least daytime and really also night time care.  So they hired people to stay with them, which to me pretty much defeats the point of assisted living, because you could set them up in an apt. for a lot less than $4k/month.  Anyway, DH and I and the kids, and then just DH and the kids, visited the grandparents every weekend for years and years - Grandpa only lived 6 months but they kept going to see Nanny, every weekend for several hours, cooked dinner, etc.

Dh's twin sister went occasionally too.  

The grandparents' children, though, included the do-nothing - who lived 15 minutes from the nursing home and insisted that they choose one that close! (we lived an hour away) and the swoop in from out of towners.  The out of towners were massively more annoying.  They'd come out once or twice a year and decide things like the kids needed to stop going outside when they were there because there was dirt on the carpet once, or want to change a million things, etc.  At one point they wanted to save $ by moving the grandparents in with us.  DH said sure, we'll take care of them in their old age (and we would have) but we need medical and financial POA, because if we're doing the work we're also making the decisions.  

Surprise, the siblings were not interested in giving up the power - just the responsibility.  They as a group are like 50% of why I have a prejudice against Boomers.

 

Oooh, now I'm irritated.  

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I think many families have one like this.  My close relative who lost his dad has a brother who, as far as I know, never visited dad in the hospital though he was sick for a long time, like years.  (Brain cancer.)

I think in the end the person it hurts is the one who doesn't show up. 

I wish I had some wise words to tell the person so he'd understand.  Nobody loves hospitals / visiting sick people, but it is rewarding in its own way, as well as giving comfort to the visited person.

 

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7 minutes ago, moonflower said:

 

This topic irritates me so much that I've avoided reading more than once.  Ooh, it irritates me.

DH's grandmother and (now late) grandfather had 4 kids.  After moving them around some, the kids settled the grandmother (Nanny) and grandfather (Grandpa) in an assisted living place in the town they're from, where DH and I and DH's twin sister and several cousins and one uncle (the oldest of the grandparents' kids) live.  Grandpa was really not in good enough shape for assisted living - he needed at least daytime and really also night time care.  So they hired people to stay with them, which to me pretty much defeats the point of assisted living, because you could set them up in an apt. for a lot less than $4k/month.  Anyway, DH and I and the kids, and then just DH and the kids, visited the grandparents every weekend for years and years - Grandpa only lived 6 months but they kept going to see Nanny, every weekend for several hours, cooked dinner, etc.

Dh's twin sister went occasionally too.  

The grandparents' children, though, included the do-nothing - who lived 15 minutes from the nursing home and insisted that they choose one that close! (we lived an hour away) and the swoop in from out of towners.  The out of towners were massively more annoying.  They'd come out once or twice a year and decide things like the kids needed to stop going outside when they were there because there was dirt on the carpet once, or want to change a million things, etc.  At one point they wanted to save $ by moving the grandparents in with us.  DH said sure, we'll take care of them in their old age (and we would have) but we need medical and financial POA, because if we're doing the work we're also making the decisions.  

Surprise, the siblings were not interested in giving up the power - just the responsibility.  They as a group are like 50% of why I have a prejudice against Boomers.

 

Oooh, now I'm irritated.  

Oh yes, we've had that too with dh's siblings. Two of them live out of state. They wanted her to move here, be his responsibility entirely, and have us do all the work, but were beyond angry when she gave financial and medical POA to him. Especially his sister who is a not nice person, and will NEVER lift a finger to do anything. His brother only comes up once per year, but at least when he is there he does maintenance on her house, finds out what her future needs are - like this coming summer he and his son are going to put a wheelchair ramp on since she is starting to walk regularly with a cane and has a few steps going into the house - and such. He isn't entirely inactive. But honestly, when he got mad about the POA, I simply said, 'Then move here and take care of her yourself." He eventually conceded that if he is 800 miles away and only comes once per year, it isn't reasonable to be making these kinds of decisions. Sister simply has been a jerk and remains that way. She is six years older than DH, and thinks she is the queen of the family. Mostly I think she wants to make all the decisions in order to preserve the money, and then claim it all for herself.

Thankfully, MIL is smart and has it all set up in a trust, advance directives on paper, everything taken care of so there can be no argument about it.

Quill, that is one thing to consider. When the decisions get to be tough, "Do we continue medical intervention, should she have a ventilator or a feeding tube or whatever?", how is that going to play out in this sibling group. Does anyone have POA, is there any agreement among the sibs? This is something to definitely be working on right now before she slips any further. Emotions run high, very high, and not all of it is always someone just being a jerk, or making a power play. I think that often sibling groups under immense emotional pressure with a medically fragile parent revert back to some childhood style relationship interactions - kind of a reflex - and forget their supposed to be mature, grown ups. The stress can push them over the edge. So if they can come to some agreements now, and get it on paper, it may save some bad interactions later.

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I would wonder if he is reading the group chats at all.  I generally turn off alerts on group chats.  I hate having my phone chime constantly.  I generally scroll through and see if there is anything I need to address, but don't read them word for word. If his wife is in the group chat, I could totally see him assuming she will tell him if he needs to know something.

I also suspect that he feels his wife went in his place, so he is doing his part already. I think there needs to be a clear, non-group message sent that asks him to take on the extra shifts in addition to his wife, OR he can find someone to help out more in his place.  

My family is mystified why I don't spend time visiting and caring for my aging mother. It isn't because I am a horrible person, but it is absolutely due to her and my relationship as I was growing up. I don't visit because it is the only boundary that keeps me sane. I call once/twice a month and that is the limit of what I am capable of before she drags me down emotionally. She once told me that she was purposefully not as nurturing to me (as my sibs), because she didn't want me to need her like my older siblings did. She was tired of raising kids and wanted me to grow up independent of her. She succeeded. My siblings assume I had the same relationship as they did with her, but my world was Vastly different than theirs.  (I am the baby of a big family, so some of my siblings were adults when I was still a young child. The closest age sibling is 6 years older). Now, instead of taking physical care of her or spending time with her, I send her money and practical gifts (space heater, warm clothes, pay bills etc). I doubt she tells anyone that I send her money, because I know for a fact that she will ask my sister for money to pay the same bills as she asks me to pay for, then secretly pockets the rest.  Money and gifts are what I am capable of and comfortable doing. BTW..I am raising my autistic niece so I am doing my part for the family, just not physically caring for my mom as well. 

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

The thing about the bolded is that this has been going on with the only difference being it is not being asked of only him. So, in the convo chain we have going, there have repeatedly been these stated requests, like this: “Jane will be there from 8am-noon and Bob is coming from noon until 5, and Sue is planning to stay overnight, but we still need somebody for the evening, 5-9.” It’s just straight up never going to be him. He’s never going to say, “ok, I’ll come 5-9.” Or even, “I can’t get there till 6, but I could do 6-9.” His wife has already offered to take another turn and everyone is on at least their second “turn” now (except person who lives in another state). 

For the last part of your post, he does not even help much in his own little niche ways he could do. So, i.e., he is very outdoorsy and handy and could theoretically be very helpful for outside maintenance at MIL’s farmhouse, while another brother has severe allergies and cannot really do that well with those tasks. But it has often been the allergic brother doing tasks with red, streaming eyes anyway. 

I wonder if he feels having his wife take a turn IS him taking a turn? Like, she's taking his place, and fulfilling his obligation? 

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2 hours ago, solascriptura said:

It's likely that if his wife volunteered a second round, he knows that he should go.  Unless his schedule is completely filled up, isn't it that he just doesn't want to go for whatever reason?

Yes, that’s what I’m saying: he clearly means to avoid helping with this. I don’t know exavtly what his reasons are, but at this point, it does not appear that he will ever come, no matter how long she is there. 

As of this morning, one SILis planning to send out a Signup Genius, because they don’t see any possibility of MIL being discharged soon. She is virtually helpless and they won’t discharge her with the blood pressure instability she is experiencing. 

Things are very stressful around here and I go for radiation begining next week. 

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14 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

I wonder if he feels having his wife take a turn IS him taking a turn? Like, she's taking his place, and fulfilling his obligation? 

It’s possible, of course, but I very, very much doubt he can really think this. Literally every other child and son- or daughter-in-law (except for out of state pair) has stayed there at least once. Others (even in-laws) have gone to different facilities to see if these places are suitable for her once she has discharged. Truthfully, I don’t even think his wife is very comfortable with it because it is not her mother, but my impression is that she’s doing it because he isn’t. I get the feeling she’s trying to make up for his drop-out by coming herself so they won’t both look like turds. 

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1) You can't change other people. 

2) I think it's awesome that there are at least several family members who are willing and able to share care taking duties. That's a really nice thing about a large family! My family is tiny, so in each generation, when these things come up, there's rarely been more than a couple folks to share duties. 

3) People have issues; many times they don't share them. So, your negligent relative(s) may be in the midst of a marital, health, mental, addiction, or other issue in their own life or a close friend or family member that you don't know about. Or, they might have suffered some trauma or abuse that you don't know about that may even involve someone you love. Or, maybe a medical trauma that makes it exceptionally difficult for them to participate in care. I find it helpful to use my imagination to think of the many things that might be causing someone to behave in a way I'm not liking . . . and to recognize that many/most/all of those causes are none of my business and/or the related suffering might just be "freezing" someone's actions. So, if I care about someone (and even when I don't), I try to "assume the best" . . . and in this case, that means, assuming that BIL has a good reason for his behavior, and then moving on with my life. 

4) If you want to involve BIL but not demand a specific task (care-giving/ side-sitting), and you think he's capable of participating in another way . . . Say, you know he's financially comfortable . . . You could ask, "If you don't want to take turns sitting with Grandma, would you be interested in paying for and/or arranging for a house keeper once a week for the next few weeks . . . or paying for meal delivery . . . or paying for a paid caregiver to sit by her side . . . " or whatever OTHER things might be helpful either directly to your loved one in need OR to the family members who are carrying most of the care giving efforts on their own. I.e., give an option that doesn't have the same emotional impact as sitting by her side . . . but could allow them to be meaningfully helpful. 

5) Being a caregiver to a loved one in need is a blessing to YOU. No matter how hard it is right now, IME, you will be thankful (later if not now) to have been by your MIL's side and to have done your very best. You (and your dh) are setting a great example for your own kids. You will *miss her* when she's gone (assuming you really love her, which isn't of course always the case), even though who she is right now isn't quite the same woman you loved for many years. I found that when my mom passed away, I mourned who she was with her dementia, as I'd already been mourning my pre-dementia mom for several years. I had been too busy and overwhelmed to realize that my "new mom" was dear to me in an entirely new way. The child-like dependence and trust she placed in me along with my own duty and responsibility to her really got under my skin and into my heart, and I didn't realize that until she had passed away. 

(((hugs)))

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

I wonder if he feels having his wife take a turn IS him taking a turn? Like, she's taking his place, and fulfilling his obligation? 

I've seen the situation play out this way, especially with couples who take on very traditional roles within their marriage. One of my husband's coworkers was going out-to-lunch with friends, attending his weekly Bible study, and generally doing whatever while his wife sat by the side of his dying mother. And this guy adored his mother. Nobody could understand it. But he just viewed caregiving as women's work, so he thought it was his wife's job.

At the office Christmas party after his mother passed away, I was sitting with him at dinner. And he started telling me that he didn't know how to work a washing machine. Apparently his mother did his laundry for him during the 8 years he was in college and grad school (even driving several hrs to his college to do it for him). Then he got married and his wife took over the job. He was 60 years old and had never done a load of laundry, washed a dish, swept a floor, or made his own toast. That sure gave me a bit more insight into why he felt fine letting his wife do all the caregiving for his mother.

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I agree with having someone there as often as possible. From personal experience, I urge people not to have 24/7 as the goal, with absolutely no brief periods when one person has left and another has not arrived. It is simply very difficult to sustain beyond a few days and, no matter how dedicated everyone is, there will be occasions when someone is unable to be on time and the other person is unable to stay. If a strong expectation of 24/7 has been established, the patient can get upset over even brief delays (and the caregivers feel a lot of guilt). 

If m-i-l is not capable of being alone for short periods of time, the hospital absolutely must be made aware of this. They can discuss a safety plan with family with this in mind. 

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1 hour ago, heartlikealion said:

May not be applicable but I did have a blind spot with a sibling. When my grandmother was living in a nursing home and I was staying with my sister after the hurricane I wanted to visit my grandma while I had the chance. We barely went and didn’t stay long. My sister looked physically uncomfortable and I wondered what her deal was. Like is this too sad? Do you have other things you want to be doing? What is the deal? Well years later I found out she’s an empath and certain things really weigh her down. We went together because I didn’t have a car or know my way around. Otherwise I would have probably just gone myself. 

i absolutely am this way in nursing homes. I'm fine in a regular hospital, no issue at all. But a nursing home makes me almost physically ill I am so uncomfortable. It's like all the accumulated memories of all those people, over all those many decades, are pressing down on me. I know that sounds ridiculous, even to me. But they make me want to cry or vomit and I have to hide by myself for a while afterwards to cope at all. (oddly, large thrift stores, especially ones with lots of clothes versus knick knacks, do the same thing to me. My only -and admittedly crazy- thought is that the clothes also are holding memories or vibes or something? Or maybe more practically thrift stores and nursing homes are full of some mold I react to, lol)

But that doesn't excuse him not offering to do something else to help out. 

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Ktgrok,

I get it. My boys have very visceral reactions to nursing homes. When they were 10, 8, and 7, I took them with my children's choir to the local nursing home to do a short program. The staff physically abused a patient right there in front of the students and me as if this were normal. It was horrible. I am pretty certain that every single one of the children were scarred for life on nursing homes, and will have trouble with them in adult hood. I really struggle to visit people in that facility even though it has changed hands due to the complaint. It still looks the same so I tense up when I go in and find myself viewing the staff automatically with suspicion.

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8 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

Ktgrok,

I get it. My boys have very visceral reactions to nursing homes. When they were 10, 8, and 7, I took them with my children's choir to the local nursing home to do a short program. The staff physically abused a patient right there in front of the students and me as if this were normal. It was horrible. I am pretty certain that every single one of the children were scarred for life on nursing homes, and will have trouble with them in adult hood. I really struggle to visit people in that facility even though it has changed hands due to the complaint. It still looks the same so I tense up when I go in and find myself viewing the staff automatically with suspicion.

I hope the authorities were called immediately. Someone should have cared for the children's choir while the other person called for help.

 

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3 hours ago, Quill said:

It’s possible, of course, but I very, very much doubt he can really think this. Literally every other child and son- or daughter-in-law (except for out of state pair) has stayed there at least once. Others (even in-laws) have gone to different facilities to see if these places are suitable for her once she has discharged. Truthfully, I don’t even think his wife is very comfortable with it because it is not her mother, but my impression is that she’s doing it because he isn’t. I get the feeling she’s trying to make up for his drop-out by coming herself so they won’t both look like turds. 

haha.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what she's thinking.  Personally, If I was the wife and I saw my dh doing that, I would have trouble not thinking my dh was a "turd."  

After seeing this dynamic in generation after generation, I sometimes wonder which one of my kids will be the "turd."  It seems like most families have at least one.  lol.

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I didn't give it much thought at the time, but I did hear the comment that my uncle didn't visit his parents in the nursing home because "he wanted to remember them the way they were before." He wasn't the youngest, but perhaps he was the most intense, I don't know. If he and I were in the same generation I would have been supremely annoyed.

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4 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

I think this person exists in almost every family. They just do. Getting spun up about how they should act will only make you crazy. Try proceeding as though they’re a more distant relative and expect MUCH less going forward. 

This is what I pretty much do.  However, when I think about it a little, I just can't help feeling disappointed.  It's not just anger or frustration; disappointment is worse I think.

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8 hours ago, heartlikealion said:

Have your siblings asked about your relationship or know? I would have probably told. 

Yes, I have told two sisters at different times, but they argue with me and tell me that mom isn't like that, so I must have under strood.  But, it is because they have a different relationship with mom than I do, that they assume everyone sees her as the same person.  A super clear example is that once when I was about 19 yo my tire got damaged on my car, and I needed to replace 2 tires (tire shop couldn't fix them so I had to have them replaced that day). I had all the money except $10. I asked my mom for a loan for a few days until I got paid. She refused because my mid-twenties, married sister, might need to borrow money to pay her rent. Sister hadn't asked, but my mom just assumed that she might, so she wouldn't loan it to me.  When I was an older adult, my mom finally told me that she purposefully made me be more independent. I brought up a few examples like the above situation. She told me (summary, not exact words) "you always land on your feet and figure things out on your own. You sisters and brothers rely on me to solve their problems. If I don't pay their xzy bill (ie rent) they will end up homeless.  I didn't want you to be like them, so I didn't enable you like I did them." And.....I did figure it out. I borrowed it from a friend instead.  So, I guess she was right. All of my siblings have each moved back home for several years at at time, because they can't manage money and still in their 50s rely on her. She loans them money, that they don't pay back and she bailed a few of them out of jail. I have never asked for a single thing from her since that day, and even on the few times when she babysat my kids, I paid her going daycare rates to do so. She helped raise/babysit two nieces for them majority of their lives for no reimbursement and let them live in her home at the same time for free.  

My siblings, have no idea how different I was raised because I was the last and they were teens/mid-twenties and living their own lives as I was growing up. I appreciate that I am not like them!!! It is just hard when they try to judge my relationship with her, like we have the same parent.  We don't. 

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