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Hi everyone,

I just need a little advice about how I am feeling; any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I spent 28 1/2 years in the military and retired in 2006.  I stayed in the military all of those years to ensure I was able to fill in where my mother was unable to make ends meet.  During the last five to six years, I was finally told that she had alzheimers so I stayed even longer to ensure I could help pay for any and everything she might need.  The only thing I asked of my sisters and brothers was that someone stay with her and take care of her while I worked to provide financially.  My older brother stayed with her for years but I paid all of the bills; even though he made more money than I did he was too cheap to help.  Then he got upset with me when I asked him to help out and moved out leaving her alone by herself.  Finally, I convinced my older sister to move in and take care of her because her living arrangements weren't good either.  She was only required to pay half of the rent but after about 6 months she claimed she couldn't afford to pay that, so again I ended up paying all of the bills.  But, the problem was my sister would have everyone she knew to include her kids (now adults) and grand kids staying over to the house and runnig up all of the bills that I was paying; the house became the house where you could go to live for free, because I paid all of the bills.   They would leave my mother alone in the house and lock her in while they were out doing whatever and it really made me nervous; I can remember calling the cops from D.C. on numerous occasions.  Finally, I retired and about 6 months before that my sister claimed she couldn't take it anymore because she was tired; so I took on the responsibility but she wanted me to continue to pay her bills and I tried to help out which lasted for another year until I was just got tired of feeling used.  My problem and resentment is that I have always provided financial support for every member of my family who asked while in the military and all I asked them to do was to take care of "our" Mother.  They bought her to me weighing barely 100 lbs., dropped her off and are really no longer concerned.  My brother (who use to live with her) said he wanted to visit her and came to visit once (at least that's what he said) but his girlfriend who came along said they were on a mini vacation; he didn't spend much time with her and spent time sightseeing.  I have not had the opportunity to transition from the military before jumping into taking care of my Mother.  I am stressed out and the CAAC agency here says I can only get 3-4 hours of support a day because she can walk around physically; not really interested in her mental state nor the toll that caring for her takes on me.  I find myself getting frustrated and fussing at my Mother and feeling guilty afterwards.  I thought when I got out of the military I would be able to spend time with her as the Mother I knew but it is nothing like that.  She gets up early in the morning and walks around all day long; I feel like I never get any rest (mentally and physically drained) and she wants me to focus on her all day long.  I have two kids in the house and a spouse that is overseas, so my stress is 4 times the normal level.  I also feel like I am trapped in this house and can't move about freely; what is the fix?  I love my Mother with all of my heart and soul and promised her that I would always take care of her but I am really and truly tired and feel that I need a break, but I don't know how to get it.  I have 2 sisters and four brothers and none of them provide any help and it really makes me angry and sad at the same time because it is their Mother too but nobody wants to help.  They only call when they need financial support and it really hurts to feel like you are own your own without any support unless somebody wants something from you. 

Please help!!!!!
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Dear VJ,

I am new on this board, but was moved to make some suggestions for you.  I am also caring for my mother who has dementia.  It is probably one of the hardest things we will ever do in our lives and unfortunately, fatigue and frustration are usually daily burdens.  I wish I could offer you some guidance regarding your siblings, but I am an only child and this challenge has been mine exclusively for many years.  I'm sure others can make more useful suggestions, but you do need help from them!

I would suggest checking with the Alzheimer's Association to see what resources are available in your area.  You may also want to check with the local Agency on Aging for resources.  Your mother may do well in an adult day care situation, which will allow her some mental stimulation and you a chance for a break and to rest or do things you are unable to do with her.  These situations usually have fees offered on a sliding scale, which should be of some help.

Most of all, please take care of yourself.  Like we are told during airline safety instructions, help yourself before you help her or you will not be able to do her any good.  I have been reading how all of the folks on this forum are helpful to one another and they are all good resources for support and encouragement. 

Finally, I would like to thank you and your spouse for your service to our country.  Although I have not been active duty, I have been privileged to work as a military contractor in the health care field prior to becoming a full time caregiver.  I certainly have great respect for all our men/women in uniform.


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billie jo

vj. welcome. i am so sorry you are and have been dealing with this. i have not had to personally deal with uninvloved sibs. i just wanted you to know someone here heard you and cares. weekends are a bit slower and people will be wandering in and giving you support soon. hang in there. i do have an opinion though. you have worked long and have your hands full adjusting to life outside the military. you have the stress of an absent spouse and two kids. i know you love your mom, you have certainly done everything you can but it might be time to realize that there will never be any certainty of help from the sibs. if your mom is able to be up and walking all day she might be well off in assisted living. she would have her own apartment, be around others, have her needs met and you would be able to really appreciate your time with her in a less stressful manner. you can visit, go to lunch, do things together, she can sleep over once in awhile but when you need 'your time' you can go home. 24/7 can suck you dry. no matter how good your intentions are it becomes overwhelming when you are the only one relied on for companionship. the hours of outside help coming in is   great but when it comes down to it her, needs will become greater, expectations of you will increase and your sibs will become even more distant. you are a good daughter, great really! your sibs have had a free ride long enough. it's time to stop being the ATM machine for them all. anyway, i just get upset when i hear about sibs like yours. there are many here to have a lot of experience in that area. you will be hearing from them. until then, hang in there and take care. welcome

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Yes,  Welcome to our Family!!  You have found the most amazing people, who will be here for you and help any way possible.
There seems not to be a situation for which/about which...someone here hasn't beaten-the-path.
I, also, want to say a huge THANK YOU to you and your family for serving all of us.   I so respect and appreciate all our military families. 
You will be receiving replies soon from folks who know all about "unhelpful" siblings. 
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Hi vj, I wanted to welcome you to the board. It's a great place to talk, and read too.

First of all, no, if your siblings are no longer helping, they should not be calling you for financial help! That is just silliness.

But I actually want to tackle your post from a different angle than TBL, billie jo, and Redneck.

Your mother has Alzheimers. You are totally stressed, exhausted, tired, from taking care of her, right? Well guess what. That is what happened to your siblings as well. You have to look at this objectively. While they were taking care of her, you were sending money. Okay, that's great, but I'll tell you what, no amount of money in the world, makes up for living that life 24/7. You have no freedom, you are always worried, you can't just go and take a vacation any time you feel like it! It may be difficult to find someone willing to sit with your mother if you want to take a break, it's a big responsibility. So see what I'm saying? Everything YOU are experience, THEY experienced.

What is the fix? For them, they had to say "Enough!" and they walked. Oh, I can't tell you how many times the folks on this board who are taking care of an elderly person 24/7 -- Alzheimers or no Alzheimers -- have wanted to just walk! Depending on a person's stamina, they can get burned out after a year, 2 years, 5 years, whatever! Some get burned out after months. It takes a huge toll on your health too.

So now you are experiencing what they are experiencing. Why didn't your brother and girlfriend spend much time with your mother while visiting? Well, because they've put in their TIME, you know?? He burned out. He wants a break. He's taking it. If he doesn't, who is going to step in and let him?? No one. The person who is living with the elderly person is totally taken for granted. You're feeling it. Would you feel better if your brother handed you money?? I don't think so! Like I said, money does not give you a break from the caregiving.

So if I were you, I would be a little more understanding of what your siblings went through, now that you are experiencing it yourself. I would talk with them honestly and straight forwardly. To help matters, I would say "Now I know what you were going through!" and THEN, I would ask them for suggestions on what you can do to get a break now and then, or to get some help with your Mom. They might offer to come and stay with Mom so you can get away a bit - or they might not. It depends on how leary they are about being sucked into it again, 24/7!!

If you have money, then maybe Mom could go to an AL or NH temporarily, for respite, while you get a break.

Your mom's situation is only going to get worse and worse - Alzheimers is nasty. So what are your plans for the next 2-8 years?? Depending on how long she lives. If she lives for a few years, it may get to the point where YOU can't handle her.

As far as your sister locking your mother in the house if she left - what else was she supposed to do?? How was SHE supposed to get out for a little bit? If she hired someone to sit with your mom, would you have squawked about it? Maybe not, I don't know. But maybe she felt you would. Locking your mother in the house was about the safest thing she could do, without finding someone to sit with her, or taking her to 'Adult Daycare' or whatever.

Well, I don't have all the details, obviously, so maybe I'm coming way out of left field!! I just wanted to post from their standpoint.

I have a brother who lives several States away from me, and from Mom. He would make half-hearted offers, to come and "help" me when Mom was going through all her stuff, but I knew it wasn't genuine. And if he had said "I'll send some money" I would have been like "What GOOD is THAT going to do me?!!!!!!" So I've been on the other end of the stick, so to speak!

You may be in this all alone, at this point, and may have to do what a lot of us do here: decide you are an only child, and make decisions based on that.

But sending your siblings money for various reasons unrelated to Mom? No, I wouldn't do that!

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Hi VJ,

My mother has "dementia of the Alzheimer's type" whatever the heck that means.  I believe she started the process 7 or 8 years ago, but we didn't realize it until 3 years ago.  I'm a long-distance caregiver, so I don't have the "hands on" experience that so many people here do.  I will tell you that dementia/alz. is probably the worst possible way to spend your declining years - often much worse for the family than for the patient.

I have a different angle - does anyone in your family have durable power of attorney?  Someone should - along with a health care proxy, a will, and any advanced directives.  Getting back to the poa, whoever has it should be using mom's money - not yours- to pay bills and to get some kind of help - either in-home, assisted living, or a nursing home, whichever is appropriate.  There is no reason for you to be footing all of the bills and wearing yourself out for what 'daughter' rightfully points out could be years and years and years...

Perhaps you and your family should have some kind of conference to choose a better plan.  This one could kill all of you, or at least the relationships you've had.

Think about it, please.


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