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Elderly mother living abroad

(23 Posts)
IamAporcupine Fri 08-Nov-19 19:05:25

I have posted a couple of times about this, but I could do with more advice.

I am 48, work full time and have a 7yo DS. DH has just now started a new full-time job with a long commute. We are trying to adjust.
My mother is 87, she lives by herself in something like sheltered accommodation in a European city (3 hr flight)
My (half) brother is 66, is married, has two adult sons (who are married and have children) and has just retired. He lives in the same city as DM. In fact his house is 10-15min drive to hers.

DM was ill last week and was admitted to hospital. Nothing serious but she was in quite a bit of pain. She is back home now, but quite fragile. We have arranged for a nurse to go and see her 4x day to make sure she is taking her medicines etc. It was quite stressful at first but it seems to me under control now.

Similar situations have happened in the past. Short stays in hospital etc. Obviously DM is not getting any younger and every time it gets more difficult. I have always tried to travel to see her, either when she was admitted or to help her coming back home, or if that was not possible as soon as I could. This time I will not be there until the following weekend.

I have talked to my brother and by the end of the conversation he said to me 'you owe me one'

I can totally understand that he feels frustrated because almost everything falls on him, and he must be tired and even fed up with it all. He does not particularly have a good relation with DM which makes it more difficult.

I try to be as present as much as I can provided the circumstances. I look after anything that can be done from here. I understand that sometimes he'd like me to be there right then, but that's not always possible, I have other responsibilities, and if it is not an emergency I cannot just leave everything and go. Apart from bringing my mum to live with us, I am not sure what else I can do to make him less angry with me?

Fortysix Fri 08-Nov-19 19:39:22

I’d point out to him that he’s had the benefit of his lovely mum for 18 years more than you have so actually he owes her...

IamAporcupine Fri 08-Nov-19 20:53:30

@Fortysix - thanks, I understand your sentiment, but he most definitely does not see it that way.

Ginger1982 Fri 08-Nov-19 20:59:34

Caring for an elderly person can be very draining and as he does live closer to her, naturally you're going to expect him to pick up the slack. It's also frustrating to have a sibling/family member sweep in, quickly mop a brow and then sweep back out again. I'm not saying that's what you do but it maybe seems that way to your brother.

GameofPhones Fri 08-Nov-19 21:01:17

Ask him what he thinks you could do. Is there any (unrelated) favour you could do for him? Possibly he is angry about something else.

ColdRainAgain Fri 08-Nov-19 21:11:44

Someone is always closer. Someone usually takes on the bulk of responsibility in these situations.

Did you move away from the family home? Or has DM and your brother moved away? Not that it matters, but it can change how people feel. I think you are doing what you can - and frankly, even if you lived 15 mins away, he would probably be doing more simply because he hasnt got a job or small child.


user1471453601 Fri 08-Nov-19 21:15:55

I was in your situation when our Mum was alive, except that my Dsis also loved Mum.

Dsis did the majority of the caring because she lived five minutes away and worked partime. I worked full time and lived thirty miles away.
I tried to share the load, but with the best will in the world, I couldnt.

I always have felt that Dsis was a hero and carried that heavy load.

I would cut your brother a lot of s!ack. There is nothing you can do, except to let your brother know just how much you appreciate his involvement

IamAporcupine Fri 08-Nov-19 22:16:01

Thanks everyone

@GameofPhones - I sort of asked him today what else I could do. He said I "should get there sooner." You are somehow right about him being angry about something else - I think he is angry with DM.

@Ginger1982 - he might see that way, but I never mean it that way. Also, I don't actually 'expect' him to do anything.I know how he feels about DM, so I would never dream of asking him to do anything that he does not want to.

@ColdRainAgain - thanks, I never thought of that in those terms.
Re your question - we all moved. My brother moved away first many many years ago. I moved away 20 years after that in my late 20s, but to a different country. Then DM moved to where my brother was.

@user1471453601 - cut him some slack?

user1471453601 Fri 08-Nov-19 22:30:02

No, not some. A lot of slack. Your btother, who does not have a loving relationship with your mum, is carrying the load.. Because of your circumstance you cannot share that load.

Why do you find that idea difficult?

IamAporcupine Fri 08-Nov-19 23:04:11

@user1471453601 - I am totally confused by your comment, sorry.

PurpleWithRed Fri 08-Nov-19 23:11:43

User1471 means you should give your brother a break, recognise this is harder for him than it is for you and be grateful. I was in your brothers situation, my sister felt guilty for not being on hand but she was brilliant doing things like calling mum every day and coming to stay for a week to give me a break.

IamAporcupine Fri 08-Nov-19 23:22:13

But I do! Of course this is harder for him, no one denies that.

I just do not understand in which way you think that I am giving him a hard time?

Fortysix Sat 09-Nov-19 08:14:59

OP I think you should take some comfort from your mum.
On this board many of us have elderly parents who don’t down size and don’t plan for old age.
Could it be your mum when moving to his city decided for herself that because of life stage etc she should be close to one of you for practical reasons and decided on balance that he was more settled?
She sounds pretty independent. I think possibly he feels a pressure which actually is of his own making?

Fortysix Sat 09-Nov-19 08:30:41

Probably should have worded that last sentence better. Maybe he feels a pressure to do more for her than she’s actually asking him to do.
I know of many instances where the daughter or son who lives far away actually does more for their parent than the one close by...

IamAporcupine Sat 09-Nov-19 15:47:38

@Fortysix - absolutely. She left our home country only a few years after I left; I was in my late 20s but still a student, my brother was in his 40s and totally settled.

She does ask him for help, but not constantly. And yes, she is quite independent, still at 87.

helpfulperson Sat 09-Nov-19 18:54:59

Do you ever comment on the choices or decisions he makes? When you are picking up the bulk of elder care even a slightly less than positive comment from a sibling can feel like they are just swanning in, criticising and then leaving.

IamAporcupine Sat 09-Nov-19 19:44:37

@helpfulperson - no, I don't do that. I don't always agree with the way he talks/thinks of DM, but I do not tell him this.

pallisers Sat 09-Nov-19 19:52:25

I was in your position and my sister was in your brother's (although she did love mum but also clashed with her a bit more than I did).

I recognised that she was carrying far more of the load that I was and was absolutely grateful to her for it. I would occasionally send her flowers just to say thanks. I did the eulogy for both parents and called out how much she did for both of them. I put up with her making decisions I didn't always completely agree with and I did feel I owed her one.

Actually our relationship is much better now that both parents are dead and we are back to dealing with each other as adults with no big obligations between us.

Maybe your brother just wants you to acknowledge that he is carrying the lions share of the load? Maybe he isn't really that angry at you but more angry that he is having to deal with this at all (wonder why your mother moved to be near him in the first place?)

The reality is that if you live away from your parents, the end of life/elder care stuff is very very hard. It is hard on you to have to travel 3 hours every time something happens, hard to juggle work and child rearing at the same time, and you will probably feel that no one acknowledges how hard it is on you. Maybe gently say to your brother that you really appreciate that he is the one on the frontline for this but your mother made the choice to move near him herself and you will do everything you can to support him/her.

AutumnRose1 Sat 09-Nov-19 20:03:03

“ We have arranged”

Who is “we”?

If your brother is struggling with the bulk of the care, he’s just angry, and I can understand that.

IamAporcupine Sun 10-Nov-19 00:26:10

@AutumnRose1 - I said 'we', because we (my brother and I) discussed it first and we both looked for a nurse who could do this. He made the final arrangements.

@pallisers - thanks a lot. Yep, that's exactly it. .

AutumnRose1 Sun 10-Nov-19 00:42:38

OP is it worth asking your brother if he’d prefer to do these things without speaking to you first? I’m in a similar ish position, or have been, and as the one nearby I’m happier making decisions alone. Just a thought, of course your brother might not feel,like that.

Mosaic123 Sun 10-Nov-19 03:28:59

I think flying over to let your bro go on a worry free holiday would be a kind thing to do. Is that possible?

IamAporcupine Sun 10-Nov-19 11:12:05

@AutumnRose1 - Is usually him who wants me to be involved in the decisions, but I will ask him anyway.

@Mosaic123 - I do that in the summer every year. I could not do it now.

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