Conflict with sister over care for elderly Mum(8 Posts)
I posted about this issue in Relationships about a month ago and got some good advice. I then asked for the thread to be deleted as I believed my sister might read it. Things have got a great deal worse since then, so I'm back for more advice.
Long story short: my Mum needs in-home care. She has a temporary team of carers who come in 3-4 times a day. My sister said a few weeks ago that she plans to take over Mum's care herself by moving in if necessary but with no outside help except a cleaner 3 hours a week and the odd weekend I can come over to give her a break. (I live a 5 hour drive away.)
My sister suffers from depression and anxiety and can barely cope with her own life. She is also not in the best of health physically. She is very angry with me for being Mum's favourite. I never realised just how angry she was about this till recently, but it seems to be colouring our every interaction now. A major issue has arisen because I expressed the opinion that it would be too much for one person to cope with Mum unaided and that she should think very long and hard before giving up her job to do so.
She also wants me to have Mum for 6 months of the year at my house. I would agree to this in principle but I would need carers in as well to help me. She thinks this is wrong of me as she believes only family can care properly. I run a small business which I would have to give up unless I had some help and I also have my partner to consider.
She has communicated with me less and less over the last few weeks and if I ask how Mum is she tells me to ask Mum directly. Which would be fine but Mum doesn't always know how she is! And of course the less we communicate the more likely there is to be confusion over Mum's needs when I visit to be the respite carer. Mum's short-term memory is a bit iffy now so I can't always find out from her what's happening or what needs to be done.
It has got to the point now where she is refusing to talk to me at all (which quite frankly would be a relief if it weren't for the necessity to keep channels open for Mum's sake) and instead will 'issue instructions and simple orders' when I need to do anything, but will not be explaining to me the reasons why I should do it.
An example of this was an instruction she left me to park Mum's car in a certain place 'to keep the driveway clear' without explaining any details. I assumed it was so the carers can get in and out easily. There are actually two positions it's possible to park a car to keep the driveway completely clear. Mum chose the alternative one so it didn't block her view out of the sitting room window. The next day I get a furious FB message from my sister claiming I'd 'taken advantage of my position as favourite' to get Mum to say I should park it where I wanted because I couldn't be bothered to reverse it into the other space.' My sister insists there is a reason for putting it EXACTLY where she said, but as I'm not the primary carer I don't need to know what the reason is. WTF?
My sister has a history of stubborn and rigid behaviours and in fact lost her last two jobs because of her inability to compromise even on the smallest issues. Until now she's never really been like this with me.
The irony is that my sister absolutely HATES my Mum and has told her so on numerous occasions. Because of this hatred and bitterness her thinking can be quite skewed. I noticed Mum was very breathless and my sister said 'You realise she puts it on to get attention, don't you?' Two days later she was in hospital with heart failure. I think (hope!) she realised this was a mistake on her part but how can I be sure her rigid agendas won't lead her to misjudge things again.
I understand that she is bitter about me being the favourite and I will have to accept her not talking to me if that's what she wants. I understand that it's probably the depression that makes her act this way.
It is possible that she has reconsidered her original decision to take over Mum's care 24/7 but she won't discuss it with me. Once the temp care team has gone I have no idea what's going to happen. I have asked Mum what she wants to do going forward but to avoid upsetting anyone she just goes along with whatever she thinks the person she's talking to wants to hear. Her heart condition exhausts her and she hasn't got the energy to deal with all this.
I originally posted because I was afraid I'd lose my sister over this. Well the worst has happened and I'm sad but resigned to it now. I know from her past history with other people that she will likely never forgive me and I can't change that. My worry now is more how to take things forward so that my Mum's care is not compromised.
Speak to your mums GP and care team, social services etc. You and your sister are mums NOK and you should both be involved. Also raise the fact that your sister has health issues and is possible a vulnerable adult herself. Good luck.
Do you think your mum is safe being looked after by your sister? Do you think your sister is capable of looking after your mum's needs and calling for help from professionals when she is ill?
If the answer to these questions is no, then you need to call social services and explain that your mum is a vulnerable adult at risk.
I'm sorry it has turned out this way for you.
Oh, God. I agree that you need to call Social Services and explain all this. Your sister seems very close to blocking your Mum from receiving adequate care.
She's telling your Mum frequently that she hates her, which is verging on emotional abuse. The stress of hearing that also can't be good for a person with a heart condition.
She is proposing to dispense with all social care apart from herself. A cleaner wouldn't be keeping an eye out for your mother's health and wellbeing - it would be entirely in the hands of your sister. That would potentially be isolating her from people who can help her.
She is also proposing that your mum go and live with you for 6 months at a time - could she even cope with regular moves? - but is then trying to impose conditions which would prevent you from looking after her properly. Refusing to 'allow' you to find carers for her, and withholding information that you really need to know if you're to be involved in your Mum's care.
She really does not sound mentally capable of looking after your mother. I'm particularly worried by the fact that she wants to deprive her of her carers. Can you imagine being body-and-soul dependent on a person who says that she hates you?
I agree with a PP that your mother is a 'vulnerable adult' at risk in this situation. I'm really sorry that things are like this in your family. Elder abuse by carers can happen, and I'm sure SS will have dealt with similar situations before.
Doesn't sound a good idea at all your sister caring for your Mother, I agree, about getting social services involved.
Is your mum of sound mind enough to apply for a POA for her welfare and one for finance.
I think you should speak to your mum if you can.
If this doesn't work you need to be speaking to her carers, well you need to do this anyway.
Couldn't agree more about SS, but also perhaps have a word with GP/district nurse? A colleague was in a similar position to you but her brother was already living with their mother - the GP surgery were very good at making sure that the mother's needs came first. Your mother's surgery will, unfortunately, probably have seen this sort of dynamic before. Heart is going out to you - it's a very, very tricky situation.
Thanks for all the advice. The GP service is frankly terrible but Mum's current care/rehab team will be referring her back to social services when their time is up. I will discuss the PoA properly with Mum when I see her in a couple of weeks as she is still competent to sign.
One good thing: my sister and I are now talking again and have agreed to start over which is a huge step. She is a good person but her life has been blighted by depression and anxiety, and she has suffered several personal losses in the last few years. She was the only person who could properly get through to me when I had my own period of depression a couple of years ago and contacted me regularly to make sure I was OK. I want to support her as best I can and for as long as she will let me.
Thanks for listening, mumsnet!
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