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Desperately need my brother's help caring for our mother

Answered by David Troxel

September 7, 2014

My mom was diagnosed with in 2008. My dad passed away two years ago in August. My brother is her power of attorney and he doesn’t want to let her go. He expects me to come over there and spend and 1½ hours feeding her every afternoon, and then come back at seven to get her ready for bed.

I do this seven days a week. He has no family besides her. I have my own family to try to spend time with. My question is how do I tell him I’m tired and don’t want to do this anymore and to live with the guilt if doesn’t want to let me see her again?

This is causing mental stress on me. I am on two antidepressants, and a nerve pill three times a day. I would welcome any advice.

I’m sorry you are in a difficult situation, but I think I see a solution for you. Tell your brother that on doctor’s advice you can no longer continue this routine (and I’m confident the doctor would write a letter on your behalf).

Let him know what you can and can no longer do. For example you may want to cut your schedule in half or tell him that you will provide the evening support but not lunch time.

Your brother may react badly at first but I’m guessing that he will still welcome your involvement and support, even at a reduced level.

I find that Alzheimer’s can bring families together or tear them apart. Hopefully your brother will go to a support group or get some individualized counseling to work through his own issues around denial and loss. Keep your eyes open for a workshop or class on caregiving to take invite him to attend with you. Ask him what he wants the family to look like after your mother is gone. Hopefully this will help him reinvest in his relationship with you—for the long haul.

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