What do I do to get help from my siblings?
Answered by Karen Garner
I recently took my mother in to our home. She is 93 and has Alzheimer's. I have been taking care of her at her home for 4 years, but I had to go back and forth to my house, and it was getting too hard. I have 7 siblings and no one was to help - not even the one that has power of attorney. My husband is asking for some time, and I try asking for help from my siblings, but no one comes. I love my mother, but I am tired. She wakes up at 2 or 4 am to yell or just talk and it wakes up my husband. Then he has to go to work tired. What do I do?
Thank you so much for writing. This question comes up more than any other. It is very common for one child to feel the burden of caregiving for a parent, or in some cases, both parents. I am sorry you are feeling all of the isolation and pressure with little support and help. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a magic answer.
Without more specific and personal information, it is difficult to give you the best possible answer but I am going to try to give some suggestions I hope help.
First, is it possible to get help with the care from outside help? Either by hiring someone to come to your home or to place your Mother in a home? Your health and sanity are important and after caring for your Mom for 4 years with little to no help, your health could be at risk. I encourage you to look at options to take some of the burden off of you. I realize this may be difficult, but please understand that you have been a wonderful daughter and have taken good care of her for a long time. It is impossible to care for an adult at home with no help. Can you have someone come to the house so you and your husband can go on dates or spend some time working around the house together, or just sleeping in for a change?
Because she is getting up at strange hours for most of us, but normal hours for those with dementia, I encourage you to try to be open to placing her in a home. This is a most difficult task, but could eventually save you and your marriage. It is almost like admitting failure, but the true failure is not being able to be take care of yourself. Caregivers tend to have more medical issues that those they care for. Your husband misses you and is actually verbalizing this. I am sure you are feeling torn between two people you love, but it isn't fair to take on all the responsibility.
You will notice I haven't focused much on trying to get help from your siblings....if you have already tried, there is nothing I can tell you that will change it. You can reach out to them again with the threat of putting her in a home, but I am not sure that will change. It sounds like she is needing care 24/7 and needs someone who can be awake during the early hours. Anyone with a job or other commitments during the day will have a hard time filling your shoes.