I have an 85 year old mother with dementia she has lived with me and my family for almost 4 years now. Up until now I have not needed help from my siblings. Can you tell me how to get them to help care for our mother and to help them understand the severity of our mothers condition?

Hi Nancy,

This is unfortunately an all too common discussion and one with no simple answer. First of all, I commend you for taking care of your Mother for so long.

That being said, there are several different ways to try to tackle this problem and without more information; I am hoping one or all of them will help.

One of the first things you can do is have them all over, or meet on neutral territory, and explain how much stress and burden it is for you to be the sole caregiver for their mom. You might want to have some examples because without them actually having been caregivers themselves, they will not be able to comprehend what you are dealing with day to day.

If you have tried this approach to no avail, you can make plans to go out of town or something like that and “make” them take care of your mom while you are not available. This can be tricky, but it might help get you a break and might help them see and understand what you are going through.

You can also ask them to help cover the costs associated with bringing in help.

Ask your siblings if you can set up a schedule and stress how important it is that they share in the care of their mom. It won’t be easy, and you will want to also keep in mind that you will want to have some sort of relationship with them when all of this is over.

Please keep in mind, you are taking care of your mom out of the goodness of your heart. You will be able to look back one day and know you did all you could and you will have the memories from her good days that no one else will have. You will be able to know you were there for her like she was for you all growing up.

This may not help you much now, but sometimes, when I am struggling with Jim, I have to remind myself that I want to respect myself when he is gone, and I look back at the task I had and how I handled it. I don’t want to regret anything. We all end up with regrets, but sometimes it is helpful to keep in mind you are seeking a way to not have them later.

This is a complicated, delicate and important issue. I wish you well, and please let us know how everything turned out. Maybe you will have some suggestions for someone else going through this same thing.

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