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Dementia & Alzheimer's

useless brother

16 replies

Figureof80 · 01/01/2018 18:18

My Dad has dementia. Mum was in hospital over Christmas 2015 and died just after New Year 2016. It has been a struggle but Dad is still in his own home. I moved in with him for several months while I got care sorted. It was difficult as he lives in a rural area where services are restricted but now with a mix of private and social care he has 4 visits a day and I go up every weekend.

It is a one hour drive for me, on a good day, so a two hour round trip on a very windy steep country road on which there are fatalities every year. I do all the work to support Dad living independently from sorting out the wonky rayburn and whatever else has gone wrong in the impractical old cottage that he loves and doesn’t want to leave, to organising a pension for his private carers. His needs are relentless and the only way for me to cope was to drop to 4 days a week at work. My career has been side lined and I am watching people much younger than me with half the experience being promoted. It is impacting my current income and will reduce my stakeholder pension. It also means I have to give up any hope of retiring before I am 67.

I am single. I have a brother. He lives 500 miles away so is limited in what he can do, he is married and has two adult children both in their 20s, i.e. has other calls on his time. This year he came up for a weekend in February, a weekend in May and a week at Christmas. So 7 months from May to December without even a suggestion he might visit. He forgot Dad’s birthday in September.

Dad had a really bad time mid December with his bowels. I had to stay over to launder a huge number of shitty sheets, clean the liberally smeared bathroom, pick turds off the bedroom floor, help Dad put on incontinence pads and try to persuade him to put used pads in a waste bag not just leave them lying around his bedroom and bathroom. He is not usually incontinent he just needed the pads while we were trying to stabilise his bowel movements after several enemas.

I got very behind with Christmas prep because of this but didn’t sweat the small stuff like Christmas cards. There were however two presents that really mattered to friends of Dad’s who provide company to him throughout the year. I was run ragged the last Saturday I was up there and didn’t manage to get these delivered but thought I could ask my brother to do it as he was there for a week and SIL and one of his kids joined him for five days. I thought between the three of them they would manage to deliver a couple of presents to people who have been very good to Dad through the year and live within walking distance.

I asked my brother twice to do this, once by email and again when I saw them all on Christmas Eve. They didn’t do it. He said he forgot. He does nothing all year. I know he is far away and can’t do the horrid shitty emergency things but the very least he could do is remember the small things that make a difference like Dad’s birthday and delivering a couple of presents.

I am so angry, I sent a series of very nasty, extremely sweary emails. I’m sure he thinks it is a disproportionate response. But it matters because these are the people who provide Dad with the company that he doesn’t, these are the people that help me when he doesn’t, and he couldn’t even get off his arse for a short time to say thank you to them. It all seems part of his general disinterest and non-involvement. I recognise I am bitter and resentful and some of the anger is mixed up with the awfulness of Mum’s illness and death at this time in 2015 when again he was pretty much absent. But why does he get to be so fucking idle, feckless and uncaring? Why does he get to retire at 60 on a comfortable civil service pension when caring for Dad has pushed back my retirement and will reduce my provision? Is it because as an unmarried female my quality of life is less important than his because that is what it fucking feels like. What can you do with absent relatives to make them step up?

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thesandwich · 01/01/2018 20:56

Oh figure I am so sorry that you are having such an awful time. And it is the little things that trigger....
what can you do? We cannot change anyone only ourselves - trite bit true. On the elderly parent board there is much discussion of s*£& siblings who do not step up.....
You could try writing a rational letter saying all you have said here but he may well not respond. What can you do to protect yourself?

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Figureof80 · 02/01/2018 12:49

Hi Sandwich,
Thanks for replying. I'll have a look at the elderly parent board. I don't think there is much I can do. As you say I can't change him, he may care about Dad but he won't do anything that requires him to make a tiny bit of effort. I did write a long, rational letter in October when he didn't send anything for Dad's birthday. It wasn't an angry, sweary letter, I just pretty much said everything in my post above and ended it with, "I realise it is difficult when you are 100s of miles away but there are still things you can do. Sending him a card on his birthday is the absolute minimum. He is able to recognise us and talk to us why wouldn’t you send him a present on his birthday? I bought him a simple radio designed for dementia sufferers. You could have done something similar, just put in a tiny bit of thought and effort to get something that might improve Dad's quality of life. What is stopping you from doing that? Just because you don’t live next door doesn’t mean you can’t be involved. He is your father too. "
My brother did apologise then and said he would try to do better but, as you say, he is not going to change. I'm just wondering if it would be less stressful for me to assume I am an only child. I am certainly living the life of an only child caring for an elderly parent. I might be less resentful and frustrated if I just don't have any contact with my brother. Make sure it is easy for him to visit Dad if and when he wants but otherwise just don't engage?

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thesandwich · 02/01/2018 13:29

Your letter did get a response so that tone did get some result but as you say he won’t change. Assuming you are an only child might help you. Lower your expectations of him! On the flip side if siblings are involved it can make things harder if there are different views.... dh’s sibling had a different view on treatment post ils stroke which was incredibly stressful. And come and rage on the elderly board!!

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Lovely333 · 02/01/2018 13:35

You should tell him exactly how you feel, everything you wrote down in your first post and if he cant sympathise with you then he isnt worth bothering with.
You sound amazing by the way your Dad is really lucky to have you as his daughter.

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Figureof80 · 02/01/2018 16:28

Thanks Sandwich and Lovely, actually it has been therapeutic just airing it all here.
(Thanks for the lovely comment Lovely).

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thesandwich · 02/01/2018 18:13

You are amazing. As you say just setting it down does help. And there are lots of us who understand what you are going through and many very generous and wise posters. Keep posting if it helps you. Wishing you some joy and peace in 2018.

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Backingvocals · 02/01/2018 18:21

God figure that made my blood boil just reading that. You are right to be livid. And exhausted. And sad. It’s not fair and he should be really ashamed but I bet he spends no time thinking about it because it’s easier for him that way.

I feel so lucky to be one of three sisters - all local and all taking a fair share. All I can offer you is the recognition from a stranger of the work you are doing and the difference you are making to your father’s quality of life. You sound amazing. Flowers

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Namethecat · 02/01/2018 18:22

What I'm about to say may upset you so I apologise in advance. If / when your father no longer recognises you as his daughter, find a good care home for him. By then you have done your duty and he will be by then in the right place for him and also by then you have technically lost him already.

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Figureof80 · 03/01/2018 08:53

Thank you all for your support. Some understanding has really helped calm down my anger.
Namethecat, your comment didn't upset me at all. TBH I am ready for Dad to go into a home now but he still knows me and knows where he is. Actually getting him ready to move will be very hard work. He lives on a property with several out buildings and is a semi hoarder so getting his property ready for sale will be a nightmare. At present therefore although it is hard work supporting him in his home the thought of moving him out is even more intimidating.

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Namethecat · 03/01/2018 10:13

(((hugs)))🌼🌼🌼

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TickyTakky · 21/01/2018 01:24

((((more hugs)))) 🌸🌸🌸

I've no advice. I don't know what you can do, I don't think you can do anything to make your brother more responsible and I know you can't stop doing what's best for your Dad. I think it was a mistake to write the nasty emails but I completely understand why you did it.

Is your brother well off? Might he be willing to help you financially?

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Figureof80 · 21/01/2018 19:36

Thanks Ticky Takky, I wouldn't want to bring finances into it (though yes I was having a moan in my original post about the disparity in retirement provision). I just want to feel that someone has my back. I don't get that from anyone and I find it a very lonely thing providing care for a person who really isn't my Dad anymore.

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TinWhistleTunes · 21/01/2018 19:47

Bless you a thousand times Flowers

Forget about your brother helping. He obviously isn't going to step up to the mark. This is sad, and not right at all. .. but you have to face this unpalatable and unfair fact.

Do the best you can and make sure YOU have plenty of support. The financial situation is completely appalling, and can't be rectified. This is so unfair! But make sure you have good real life emotional and practical help Flowers

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TinWhistleTunes · 21/01/2018 19:51

My grandad visited his wife in the care home she was in (for dementia) every day for 15 years. She had no idea who he was, but it comforted her to see him.

Love like this cannot be bought or paid for. And it sounds like your brother will never have any idea about this xxx

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TinWhistleTunes · 21/01/2018 20:06

As for the hoarding. ... this is so difficult. Maybe one day when you are feeling really brave, you might go (with your brother? ) and find all the things that have significance for you - maybe photos, old toys, valued furniture or things which are sentimental.

After that, get a clearance company in. So much less distressing. (I'm in the process of selling my ex husband's things, and it is painful x)

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Figureof80 · 22/01/2018 16:31

Thanks TinW that is good advice.

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