The Truth About Siblings and Caregiving

Caregivers and healthcare professionals know, “there’s always one.” In most families there is one sibling who shoulders most of the responsibility for caregiving. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of six or the only child. There’s always one.

Sometimes you become ‘the one’ because you are a natural leader or doer. Sometimes the role is yours because, admit it your bossy, and you don’t make lots of space for other siblings to help or have input. Sometimes your parents choose you and sometimes geography does. It doesn’t matter so much how you come to the role. What matters is how you handle it.

If you are ‘the one’ there are certain things you need to watch out for – besides burnout, of course. Beware these four traps: resentment, wishful thinking, indecision and indiscretion.

The four traps of caregiving with siblings

Resentment: It is easy to become resentful when you are ‘the one.’ “Where’s the help?” “Why is this on me?” “Why do they get a pass?” And of course, “This isn’t fair.” It’s not that your resentment isn’t justified – it very well could be. It’s just that negativity can eat you up. And when you are the caregiver, you need to take care of your self – mentally, physically, and emotionally.

When my parents were both hospitalized, I kept a spreadsheet of all the things I needed to do for them. There were 196 items on the list at one point. Plus I had my full-time job. Plus I had my kids. When one of my siblings would tell me they needed to take a break from our family crisis to buy groceries or do laundry it would make me crazy. I could feel the effect my resentment was having on me and I knew it was only going to make me sick or permanently damage relationships I wanted to preserve.

Unable at the time to seek the help of a professional therapist due to time and money constraints, I had to find a way to deal with my feelings. It was during my morning gratitude practice that I decided I’d rather be thankful that I was able to manage so much, than be resentful that I had to do so much. How lucky I was that I had the strength, stamina, resources and organizational skills to handle our family crisis. And who was I to expect everyone else would work the same way I did? We were all caring for our parents in our own best ways. This shift in how I thought about my responsibilities was huge for me. I was truly grateful for what I was able to do.

Wishful thinking: Even though I learned to be thankful for my role, my husband did not. “Why don’t you ask for help?” he’d say. “You have a family. Someone else needs to do that.” I understood where he was coming from, but I also knew he was practicing wishful thinking.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses. I am great at execution. I can manage logistics like nobody’s business. I have mad Google skills. Couple that with my assertiveness and I am often the best person to ask questions of oncologists, negotiate assisted living leases, lead meetings with the eldercare attorney. I do my research, prepare my questions, and ask for what I need.

I’m not so good when it comes to the emotional tasks or the soft skills. My sisters are much, much better in those areas than I am. So it would have been wishful thinking to ask them to take on some of my tasks and expect they would handle them the way I would. Better for me to ask them to step in where I wasn’t very good. “Hey can you call Mum? She needs someone to talk to.” Or, “Can you keep in touch with the relatives so I can deal with the doctors?”

Indecision: If you are ‘the one’ chances are you are, or will be, your parents’ power of attorney and healthcare proxy. If that is the case, you are in charge. Own it. It’s good practice to ask for input from your siblings, but know when to stop gathering opinions and take action. Your parents gave you the role because they trusted you. You need to trust yourself. If your siblings don’t like it, that is unfortunate. But, you are not caring for them.

One way to avoid indecision while also avoiding alienating family members is to take a high input low democracy approach. Get everyone’s’ feedback. Value it. Weigh it. And then make your best decision. Hopefully, your family will understand if your decision isn’t in line with their input. And if they don’t, just know you listened and acted to the best of your ability.

Indiscretion: As a caregiver, you will most likely spend plenty of time with your aging or ailing parent. And during those interactions you may be tired, stressed, and frustrated with your siblings. Don’t mention it! Find a friend, a spouse, an online support group to vent to. Do not unload on the person who requires care. They have enough to worry about and do not need the guilt, worry and stress that comes from knowing family rifts are forming.

About a week before my mother died, one of the last times she was awake, she took my hand, and said, “Promise me you will be good to your sisters.”

“Damnit, I was trying to avoid this moment,” I joked. “But of course I will Mum.” It was what she needed to hear.

And I meant it.

You might also like:

How To Talk To Your Siblings About Your Aging Parents

21 Telltale Signs You Are a Working Daughter

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85 comments on “The Truth About Siblings and Caregiving”

  1. Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com Reply

    Hi Liz! Just found you on the link for Women of Midlife on FB. The title of your post caught my eye because I think the majority of us in midlife face this issue if we have siblings. I know it came up with both my mom and dad. And while I was not the “primary” caregiver for either of them. (Dad took care of mom and then a friend took care of Dad) I was sort of the “lead” in many of the issues you address. In some ways I had it easier that many others, but there is always that dynamic with siblings. Two of us lived closer and two lived far away. The biggest challenge for me was that my older sister “exected” to be the lead but wasn’t really that good at it (IMHO) and my parents felt because she was older she should be the one in charge. So while I did most of it, I still had to let her feel like she was doing it. Fortunately it did work out because we love one another but it is seldom easy. Thanks for shedding light on this issue! I’m sure it is helping others. ~Kathy

    • admin Reply

      Thanks for your comments Kathy. These issues are universal – but they all play out differently based on the families.

    • Mar Reply

      Your story is so much the same as I have experienced. I too have been in this predicament for 7 years . Now mom has passed 6 months ago I still cop the brunt of this task. What was supposed to be shared never happened what was supposed to be love between siblings towards care for our beloved parents never happened what was supposed to be kindness to each other never happened. However we can hold our heads high with love and honour towards caregiving to our parents. Being once a aged care nurse I saw this happen to many families I never ever expected it to happen to ours. You are the best soul loving compassionate caring and human never beat yourself up we do our best we hold them to the best we can ever do. God bless you and you will have your hearts memories hold them cherish them your world and your giving will never be forgotten in the loved ones whom you hold their hand through their journey of life.

  2. Linda Hobden Reply

    I see this happening all the time with my mother in law being the one to look after her own mother and mother in law; my own mum was the one who did most for her own parents when they were alive; and now with my own mum I feel that both myself & my sister should help together – my sister & I don’t always see eye to eye and our personalities clash so That should be interesting! I’m the eldest but my sister is more bossy! LOL. Thanks for sharing !

    • admin Reply

      I’m the youngest and bossiest Linda! Don’t expect your sister to be anything than what she is. Our styles become more dominant under stress. Work to her strengths.

  3. Tara Reed Reply

    I’m THAT ONE… thankfully the other two step up but I’m the closest, have the most flexible schedule and don’t have small children. I’ve seen things play out so much worse in other families… The best advice you gave was NOT TO COMPLAIN to the person needing care. It’s so important! Thank you for the article – glad I found you from Midlife Bloggers on FB. 🙂

      • Darren Reid Reply

        I am the youngest of 3 and my parents are both 91 and disabled and I am the one. I live close by and retired from the police last year with I’ll health problems.

        My older brother is local but has issues himself the other brother works overseas but has had lots of time to assist or give me a break but there is always a reason why he can’t.

        I feel very resentful towards my brothers as they should be helping me.

        Running out of space to hold this in and I can see things getting nasty.

        Never discuss this with or in front of my parents.

  4. Kristina Reply

    This really brought me to tears. I am the middle child and single mother of 2 girls, one of which was diagnosed with a mental health disorder. My father just spent 3.5 weeks in the hospital and 8 of those days were in the ICU. I was everything for my mother during that time and now they depend on me for a great deal as he is disabled and in the early (rapidly progressing) stages of dementia. I am a FT employee and mompreneur, as well. I have an older married sibling with grown children and a younger adult brother with no spouse or children. The load, however, rests on my shoulders. I sold my home and moved closer to my parents, but the other two are in their own worlds…one choosing to live on the complete opposite coast. Every now and then I find comfort in knowing I am not alone and that all things will work out just as they are meant to.

    Thank you for this post!

  5. Chelsea McGraw Reply

    We shared the last five years of our mum’s care, but my sister was particularly gifted in the emotional and physical parts of her care. My brother and I let her know in many ways how grateful we were, but most importantly we dropped everything, at a moments notice, to support her and jump in to take over on a regular basis. We all did the best we could and got through it with compassion, humor and love.

    • admin Reply

      Humor is an underrated caregiving skill Chelsea. Thanks for your note. We all play a different role – and that’s okay.

  6. PC Lim Reply

    I’m the youngest among 3 siblings. My dad has been diagnose of stage 4 nose cancer. My eldest sister migrated to melbourne with her family and my eldest brother is living at my place after divorce. I have 2 boys the youngest is Autisctic. Im a working mom at the same time i need to care for my dad condition day to day with my mom help as well. Is very draining and exhausting for me. My bro lives with us but he simply dont bother to help us on any domestic housework. Today he was told to sleep at living hall as he snore too loud! It cause my dad unable to sleep well having insomia anf chest pain. He wasnt happy with it and went off. My sis only ask for updates on my dad via mom. Im so stressed up! Despite my dad went for radiotherapy or having any checkup they are no where in sight.

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry you are dealing with so much and with so little help. Focus on what absolutely must get done and the rest can wait. And I hope your siblings step up.

  7. Bonnie Reply

    I did it all for my elderly Dad off and on for years. Full-time in the end. When he passed, my sister questioned every decision I made. Instead of being there for each other, she stuck with her husband’s family and was her typical uppity self.
    She was upset that he left assets in my name, knowing full-well that I would share equally with her. I fully believe that if it were her husband’s family that was in need, she would be there with bells on her toes. More money over there on that side. This is after years of me hosting holiday meals and just basically trying to have a happy family. Inheritance rolled around and I was as fair as possible. There was not a whole lot to get. Sorry, but she can’t fatten it up at my expense. All you caregivers out there, do it because you love your parent. You cannot control others if they have a selfish agenda. I have never felt so alone in my life. While my Dad was alive, I just made peace with the fact that I doing all the work. Now that he’s gone, it seems just as hard because, well, he’s gone. A big loss in my eyes, indeed.

    • Melanie Reply

      I cried when I read your post. I do understand.I wish you comfort for your loss. Yes I love my mom. She has dementia, she does not know me. I go to the nursing home every other week for a few hours, I know its not much at all. My sister does not go ever. she says she can’t its too hard and she would want to bring mom home. She says she feels guilty and that everyone hates her because she’s sick too. Sister ends the conversation saying Thank you so much for going, your going to get a crown in heaven. This is stupid. I want her to check on momma, not guarantee me a crown. I am not sure how I feel towards my mom, I believe I do love her but its mostly sadness that I feel. My own children barely know her and do not feel inclined to go see her. I have (1) niece that goes up there. So I’m not doing everything, but I dread going sometimes.. I just don’t understand my sister and I did get angry and asked her “When can you go up there” she replied “I don’t know” and never went. I just can’t NOT go. I do feel better when I leave the nursing home , glad that I went. Did Mom enjoy our visit? Not sure. Really. My mom does not talk anymore. Only makes sounds. At times she crys, acts like I’m hurting her, even if I’m putting lotion on . I wash her hair every time I go, I pull the chin hairs out (or she’d look like an old man. I bring fresh flowers & throw out the old, clean &straighten the room & bathroom. I feed her if I’ve arrived at meal time and play music on my phone for her. the 60’s music she used to like to dance and sometimes she still bounces in her wheelchair and smiles.Then I bring her a chocolate drink, do her nails. I clean the closet. I bring bag of new socks. I bring clean clothes. Not always new ones because they walk off. I bring all my beauty aids for her in my bag, because blow dryers, shampoo, hair ties and perfume walks off. I read all these stories and feel uplifted. I am going to be thankful that I can manage to get up there and stop being resentful that sister don’t go. Its the most valuable lesson learned lately & I needed it. Thank you all.

    • Michelle Reply

      Hi Bonnie, Thank you for this comment. My sister is doing the same. I am looking after my dad on my own living in his house & my sister is too busy with her family. She wasnt very nice to me when my mum passed away so I am expecting worse if & when my dad passes. I do feel alone & I feel like banging my head against the wall but most importantly I am there for my dad & wouldnt have it any other way. He has looked after both me & my daughter through the years.

      • Shannon Reply

        It’s been 10 months for me looking after my dad. My mom was going to put him in hospice. I said no he’s not ready???! My mom & 2 sisters haven’t spoken to me since… I feel anger some days & I’m dealing with trauma from over 2 years ago nearly losing my life to breast implants. He’s maybe got another 3-6 months.
        It’s so hard some days 🙁
        3 meals a day etc.. running around getting everything. Almost 1 year.
        I miss my space ..etc…
        It’s very heartbreaking seeing my dad grieve over his marriage these past several months 🙁
        I hope we’ll be sane after this !!!!? 🙂

  8. Rene Reply

    My younger sister is good at and does a lot with my mom . When I offer to take my mother to app or take something off my sisters plate she says no.

  9. Kathy Reply

    I’m having a hard time because it happened unexpectedly that I became my fathers caregiver. He stayed with me half the year and was a snowbird the other half. But within months, he declined to the point where he can’t live alone. My siblings feel I should take full responsibility because I’m retired. This enrages me to no end. Because I don’t work full time now (I do babysit for extra $), it all falls on me? It’s astounding to me why it takes so much time to take care of his business (paperwork, banking, rides, errands, medical appointments, shopping, etc.) but it’s pretty time consuming. My siblings do help somewhat with rides and two of them are very helpful with many things. But the rest of them enrage me with their lack of concern for either dad or me. There’s no answer. They know how I feel and I ask for help. One did stop for a haircut, another did stop at the drugstore with dad to get the pneumonia vaccine. But I just asked for someone to take him to get his new glasses and got crickets.

    • admin Reply

      Can you try asking a different way? “Let me know who’s taking Dad for his glasses this week. I will be (fill in the blank.)

    • Lk Reply

      I have the same issues. I am retired my Mom is still in her house but do all of the apts, shopping, paperwork, cleaning, etc. When I ask for help from my sisters they say they work and have no time. Mom doesn’t drive anymore and uses a walker. If I ask for help get told off from them. I get no respect and do this for nothing nor do I except pmt. How do I get some help from them? I am stressed out.

  10. Sue Farmery Reply

    I had full time live in care of my mother,who had dementiait, it certainly wasn’t how I expected to spend my early retirement. I had one morning and one Afternoon a week when siblings came to visit. Those hours off were cherished, I go out for a coffee, go and check my own flat or sometimes just had an uninterrupted nap. But the times siblings cried off with very little notice had me in tears. Why their doctors appointments had to be on the one morning they should have mum. So what if they were asked to pick up the grand children from school. I had gone through a night of our mother screaming and raving, the only thing getting me through was the thought of three hours to myself the next day. But an 8 am phone call of “I have a bad head today so I can’t come this week” had me i tears. I even screamed at my sister once, I’m bloody exhusted you get here by 9.30 or Mum will be on her own I’m going out, resulted in her irate husband calling me selfish! After two year I put Mum in a nursing home, sold the family home to fund it and picked up my life. Neither sister was happy, by the time mum died all but £25000 had been spent on Mum’s care. One sibling even accused me of losing her inheritance!.

  11. overwhlemed Reply

    Unfortunately, two of the four siblings in my family are incompetent and cause trouble rather than help.

    My one sister is psychotic, and adds to the burden. My one (well) sister and I had to take care of her while my father had cancer after a severe psychotic event that involved the police, $20,000 in damage in a day, and a hospitalization. My father died while she was in her 11th month in a psych rehab facility that took me 3 months to find.

    My brother lives in a cabin in the mountains and hasn’t worked in the ten years since he’s been released from a prison 12 ,00 miles away. He has temper explosions, and is angry all the time. He also does nothing to help (at least he hasn’t been arrested – trying to deal with embassies and a foreign prison is unbelievably difficult).

    This leaves my well sister and I to take care of my mother, who lives 2 hours away, has Alzheimers, lives alone, and resists help. I’m still trying to finalize my father’s estate,. which even included finding a bag of gold coins a few weeks ago that I sold for $9,000.

    All of this has made it hard for me to work for the past 2.5 years. Both my sister and I are burned out., having taken care of a sick sister, sick father and now ailing mother in that time.

    Those of you siblings who are competent and not helping, please jump in – your other siblings are suffering. Please forget your excuses …

  12. overwhlemed Reply

    PS: yes, both my sister and I have neglected kids because of all the family caregiving. I’m a single father and my kids’ mother abandoned them after our youngest daughter died.

  13. Jody L. Both Reply

    JodyB868801 13 minutes ago
    I have been caring for my disabled 83 year old mother for 3 years now, but I have lived in the house with her for 48 years, we were raised and I raised my children while living in the apartment that was built when my grandmother asked our family to move in after my grandfather died. When my grandmother died in a home, my mother turned to me and asked me to promise her that I wouldn’t let anyone put her in a home. She wanted to stay at home, that was in 1995. I told her I would, so in 1998, she wrote up a paper with her husband as a premarital agreement. The paper was signed and witnessed by a lawyer. The agreement stated that whichever of her children stayed in the house and cared for either her or her husband would be entitled to half the inheritance of the house, I don’t care about that, however, I just lost my mother 7 days ago. What I am being faced with is the sister and brother who let us down in my moms time of need, and never really had the time to come and see her, let alone help me to care for her, no matter how much we begged them to. They have been waiting to rid themselves of me, not even giving me a chance to adjust to my mother’s death, my brother pulled me aside and told me that now since they got my mother taken care of, I needed to get out of the house cause they are selling it. Can I clean and gather my mother’s things up? I couldn’t believe he was talking about the house, which is paid for, no mortgage, and I just let him talk. I chalked it up to shock. The next day, I couldn’t get out of bed, I just cried and cried, but my sister and brother banged on the door, they had to get clothes to bury my mother in.. I could barely function, and they are out like it’s a grand event they are getting ready for. At the dinner after the funeral, as I was leaving with my son, who also lives in the house, my moms friend stops me to tell me to get the house cleaned and ready, she is coming on Saturday with a For Sale sign to put out. I almost lost it, what is going on. Who doesn’t allow for time to grieve the loss of their mother, especially when it’s thier mother too, and jumps to selling a home out from under her sister, without any idea of where me and my son will live. It’s a good time to be homeless is what was said, as it’s getting warmer out. What recourse do I have, and I don’t know if that premarital agreement will do me any good, my sisters and brother may not remember that it even exists. My mother made me lock it up after it was all signed.

    • admin Reply

      Jody, I am so sorry for your loss and for what you are going through now. I am not an attorney and cannot offer legal advice but I would recommend you consult one. Perhaps try the lawyer who drafted the premarital agreement. HOping things work out and you can take the time you need to grieve and care for yourself and your son.

      • advice Reply

        One of the best pieces of advice from friends, was to consult a lawyer. For between 0 and $250 they can tell you your rights. Make several notarized copies of that paper and take the original and a copy to a lawyer. Let them tell you your rights. My guess is that you do not have to go along with the siblings. It is contested. Do not move out!!!!!!! You have rights. You lessen them if you move out. When the realtor comes do not let them in. When the realtor leave take the for sale sign down. The realtor is just a person for hire. The lawyer visit will tell you all about your rights and you will then feel more in control of your situation. They cannot just ride rough shod over you and your feelings.

  14. Veronica Reply

    I feel ya….I’m sorry I had to laugh at the cricket comment, I get that from one of my siblings every time I’ve asked for help. Her excuse. “I have plans”. Too bad she can’t include our mother in her plans.

    • admin Reply

      Sooo frustrating. But you have to laugh otherwise you’d cry, or sceam, all the time.

  15. Feeling guilty Reply

    A NOTE OF SUNSHINE

    My mother always prayed daily, her prayers have been answered in having a sweet personality. Recently she broke her leg and as a very old person it has not healed; she is facing another surgery.

    I am feeling a bit guilty because I cannot work and also take care of her full time. Turned over her care to another sibling in another state, who is overjoyed to have her. There are many siblings who want to spend one on one time with her. This sibling thought he would never get the time with her. Flew her out this morning. I have taken care of her for a decade. She was happy and able to drive and see her friends until this incident. Her friends are angry with me.

    When ever I called my other siblings for help they drove from different states to help me with mother through this or that surgery. They held her hand and did the lions share of her care. At the present time, some of them are mad that the sibling who lives farthest away is now getting a chance to have her stay with them for a few years. She will be facing another extensive surgery and he is happy to see her through it. They are mad because she is now several states away and they cannot visit her as easily. My mother is happy and sad. Sad to leave her home and friends, happy to reconnect with her son, who had the least amount of one on one time with her growing up. I try to placate the sisters that did not get picked, they are hurt. So, this is a story of siblings fighting to have a mother that is wheelchair bound on a walker facing another surgery. I Just wanted the world to know that prayer goes a long way to making a tough situation better. My mother’s prayer’s have been answered. We all love her and fight over her. After ten years of taking care of her, I do feel guilty sending her to another sibling when the care has gotten really tough. On the other hand with many sibling who are fighting for her presence, why can’t I fell good about sending her to one who stays home and has the time, desire, need, and money. Anyway, I thought writing about this would make me feel better and display a different scenario. One where mothers siblings, and her children all want her to come live with them. She is a wonderful loving kind person and has little money, but the love…..

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry you are dealing with this. You should never feel guilty for earning a living. We are all doing the best we can.

  16. Stressed out Reply

    Reading all these comments makes me feel a little bit better. Last year in 2018 my mother was diagnosed with dementia and primary Progressive aphasia. This led to us three siblings getting together to get her house sold because my brother offered for her to come live with him and his family. She could no longer drive and we thought it would be best for her to live in that scenario since he was offering. Mind you he does have two young children and a wife. After about 5 to 6 months of her living there we decided it wasn’t working out for her or them. Very stressful because my sister-in-law was doing most of the work for my mom… Doctor appointments, errands, paying the bills, finding ways to keep her busy. So we decided to move her down closer to where I am into an assisted living facility. Right now I think this is the best place she can be but of course they cannot meet all of her needs. Since I live the closest to her I have to take her on errands or two doctors appointments and visit her because my other two siblings do not live locally. I also have two young children and a husband. Our eldest sister who is 11 + years older than me and my brother and has grown kids of her own decided it was best for her and her family to relocate two states away. That was about three to four months ago. I have not heard anything from her in four months. She calls my mom maybe once a month but my mom’s communication skills are going. Her Aphasia makes it hard for her to remember things and find her words. I honestly don’t know what’s going through my sister’s head by not calling me to find out how my mom is doing. Mind you in the past we have all had Family dysfunction here and there. I believe that she’s a narcissist to some extent also so maybe it’s better to just keep on not talking. I can feel the resentment kicking in because I’m over here doing the majority of the work and there’s been 0 contacts from her asking how I am doing or how my mom is doing overall. My brother and sister-in-law have been a source of moral support and even came down a few weeks ago to see my mom and call her on a regular basis. I just can’t bring myself to call my sister because I really don’t want to have to resolve issues with her while I have so much going on with mom. Also my husband has a multiple myeloma diagnosis from two years ago so she knows I’m caregiving for my mom while my husband has cancer… Although it is only stage one and he is able to work. I just don’t get it though. Where is the empathy?

    • admin Reply

      I thin k you are smart not to risk delving into old issues with your sister. You can’t change her and you don’t need any extra drama. Focus on who and how you want to be.

  17. Anna Reply

    I will never be a caregiver for anyone again! No one helped me out of 5 siblings, my older brother ask me not to come back because he had an 18 year old girl that wanted to be paid, my other brother and his girlfriend said they wanted to take care of him- but one weekend I had the flu and they did not bother to step in during my one week of being sick, my sister 50 yrs old said she couldn’t do that, and my other brother just didn’t offer, oh and one more brother said in so many words- he wasn’t killing himself doing that!.. This is how it went down; in the end I was accused of stealing- which I didn’t, in between my dad coming home- after about 3 times driving 2 hours to take care of my dad- my mother became very hateful to me, it was Thanksgiving and not a one of my siblings came to visit my dad while I was there, my mother told me in the end not to come back it made my siblings mad when I came there, I was totally banned from even coming back to the house I grew up in- it has been a decade now, I was told by my mother I was disinherited and taken out of her will, I was threatened by them shooting into the phone, my name is still being slandered by anyone that ask about me, I called my mother and told her I was diagnosed with cancer stage 3 and was told that they did not care if I died- I was laughed at and mocked because I had cancer- they just left me to die, at the same time my sister in law had cancer and no one even told me she had it or when she died because they didn’t want me there, my own sister caused trouble and I had to leave the hospital when they did euthansia on my dad, and I also took care of my mom when she came down with pneumonia, should I go on??..Also I studied not just CNA, but I studied Nursing at a community college and worked in hospitals and nursing homes…What the heck?? All I can say is ‘not a one of them had better ever ask me to be there for them when their time comes!… If I caregive for anyone else, it will be for someone outside my x-family…..And by the way, I never asked for any money to take care of my dad but yet my older brother wanted to pay an 18 yr old with no experience to take care of my dad..My mother and siblings spend every chance they get to destroy my name, and for what? I did everything just perfect. It was hard for me to come each time to take care of my dad, but I made him a promise I would see it thru and I did. My dad was euthanized on June 2, 2019… I am still trying to get over his death to this day… I was treated so horrible by my own family… I am through with all of them and anyone that judges my by their lies! And I know my dad noticed how they were doing me. Why could they couldn’t just let him die happy?

  18. Violet Garay Reply

    Thank you for the post, my biggest challange has been time management and lack of privacy. At times it leaves me feeling sad. I have a few friends that are very supportive and I tend to talked/vent to, they lift me up when I feel overwhelmed. One of my biggest has been feeling guilty for not being able to do more at times. I’m also a full time employee, so I find myself balancing job responsibilities, moms errands and taking care of me. I moved in with my mom to help. It’s been a struggle at times I feel very unappreciated. I’ve had to make adaptations to my life. But still feel guilty when I need to pull away from home to just get away for me time. Glad to see I am not alone.

  19. Kim Reply

    I am “the one” as well. I only have one sibling. He is older and lived closer to our parents, but I was the one they chose to be POA. I have been dealing with resentment towards my brother for years due to the fact I was handling everything (while working full-time) and he felt stressed. During our Mom’s recent health crisis. I spent time with my brother in the hospital waiting on advice from doctors. It was then I realized how I was clearly more capable of being “the one”. I now do not hold (as much) resentment because I am trying to be grateful for the opportunity to give back to Mom.

  20. A. Reply

    Thanks. Reading these made me realize that when I got away from being my parent’s full-time care giver with zero help from my sibling for five years, and there for all medical issues for 30 yrs with zero help, and then being accused of being a thief and worse, that there is no going back. My sibling got control of everything. Now he has to give up his life to take care of dying parent. My parent just called to ask me to come daily for several hours for pay. I refused.

  21. Paul Reply

    I now know most people , particularly siblings, are inately selfish . I’m the youngest of four. I had to look after my dying father, and now 17 years later I’m the one caring for my frail, home bound and dying mother. Siblings don’t help, they do nothing… they can’t even be bothered cooking a meal to help out with the tiresome workload. You get no thanks, zip, nothing.
    It is rubbish to say.. “oh put up with it, maintain relationships”… what a croc. People on the whole are truly lothsome and selfish, and the worst of the worst are siblings. Full stop.

    • Kim Reply

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m the youngest of 6. I’m caring for my 94 year old mother. She moved in with my husband and myself a year ago. I’m the only one out of all the siblings that works. I might add my husband and I also take care of her home that she still owns and her yard. Not one offer to spend an hour with her. Very few phone calls to ask how she is. One sibling lives less than 2 block away. Yes the same neighborhood. Another lives 10 minutes away. And the rest all within a 1/2 a mile. I keep saying when my mom passes, I’m done with the whole “FAMILY”. I’m burned out, angry, sad, depressed, tired, angry and any other feeling you can have. I want my old life back

  22. robin doherty Reply

    I have cared for my mom, (89 now with moderate dementia), for 19 years since my dad died, 2 of my siblings agreed to take mom for 2 months a year, my older brother took mom every year for 2 months, missing one year due to damage of his house from a hurricane, my older sister took her once maybe twice for 2 weeks until after she retired and bought a house in Florida, she has taken her for 2 months for the last 3 years. Both live in Florida and are retired, so one eventually took her for 2 months then the other did. I cared for my mom mostly 10 months a year except for the last 3 which was 8 months straight. This year mom went down to Florida on Jan 1, and was supposed to return home May 6th. However due to the pandemic the airline cancelled her flight, I live in NY which is the hotbed of the country. My older sibling called and said he wanted to bring mom home the first day the airline started flying to NYC, I asked/insisted that the wait until the smaller airport near me opened, (both siblings are retired, however my husband and I still work, me part time), the reasons for returning her were, the first one he said was they were expected to have a busy hurricane season and he didn’t want her down there, I asked don’t you get at least a 7 day warning?, then he said my sister couldn’t do it anymore since she can not walk, (only along the beach), (I walk with a limp and a cane), then he said he hadn’t seen his daughter since the end of December, I haven’t seen my since September, well after an argument and me hanging up the phone he sent me an email saying how childish I was to hang up…at the end of the email he said he would fly up with mom, “no need to see you”. well a few days later I got another email saying he and my sister would be driving up to NY with mom in an RV in the next two weeks. I do feel safer that she not be on a plane, but am so hurt by the way they are rushing to get “rid” of her. I know it is not easy, but to put her well being at such a risk and making up poor excuses to defend their decisions instead of just being honest is more than I can take. Going to be a long time before we speak again, Mom can’t travel anymore so no more Florida and the care rests souly on my shoulders for the rest of her life.

  23. Morgan Baylor Reply

    I took care of my siblings since I was 10 years old. Atleast my twin brothers – My mom had me when she was 17 and she’s always been young and most of the time irresponsible. She’s always out and Partying while I took care of my brothers . We were always close but her going out problem has made me resentful to her . She treats me like a maid , telling me to Make her room comfortable for her and her Company. I got tired of being treated like a Robot . She uses things that make me happy to try and control me . For Example ; my Boyfriend was having home problems – She offered to let him live with us. He lived with me for about 3months – and it helped a lot with the weight of taking care of my brothers … He helped me do everything that involves taking care of them . For these 3months we’ve adjusted to her being gone and now when she tries to come home she wants to be rude and controlling . It’s Unfair for her to try and restrict or rule when she is barely in the house ! So Everytime I speak up she yells and Swings at me – she’s hit me multiple times for speaking up about her going out problem. My Boyfriend has been my HERO if it wasn’t for him .. so much would go down. He’s been there to block the hitting, He’s been there for every mental break down when so couldn’t take it anymore, He’s been there to save me from myself when I got suicidal . So now that I stand up to her she says “Your boyfriend can Really go home.” He has done more for her kids than she had … I couldn’t take the control or trying to manipulate me or trying to revoke something because I spoke my mind. This time I broke down I let out all my pain ! And she closed the door when I was hurting ! I kicked and I cried and I yelled and My boyfriend did everything to calm me down . I moved out and Into my Grandma’s I’ve been crying everyday since I left.. I miss my brothers a lot even though it was a weight taking care of them most of my life … I miss them Everyday . My boyfriend can’t live with me anymore due to my Grandmas Rules … I wish people understood how close we were and how much we handled together . I feel lonely … I don’t get to wake up to him everyday anymore .. I’m depressed.. I can’t call my brothers because I blocked my moms number since she kept texting me negative things . I literally Haven’t been okay . I don’t wanna go back to my mother … I just feel Very Lonely and Depressed .

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry you are dealing with so much. No one deserves to be hit-ever. Here is the number for the abuse hotline: 1-800-799-7233. You deserve support. And here is the number for the suicide hotline should the depression lead to suicidal thoughts again: 1-800-273-8255. I hope you get the support and care you deserve.

  24. Karen Jimenez Reply

    Thank you for this! I’m the daughter-in-law of a fiesty 91 year old and my husband has been her caretaker long before we met 7.5 years ago. Like most families, there is a complicated family dynamic. But, out of all her children, she trusts my husband the most because she knows he wants what is best for her. My issue is less about the caretaking (which is stressful enough while working full time) but more of the opinions of what family members including grandchildren think we SHOULD be doing. Yet, the most time they spend with her is a 4 hour visit every few months. They never see the reality of it. I really appreciated your advice about trusting what we are doing and if they don’t like it, too bad, we aren’t taking care of them.

  25. Nicole Reply

    My mother has been ill for years. I took care of her mother (my grandmother) so my mother could have a good quality of life. I have 2 other siblings, one is 20 min away and the other 2 hours away, neither one ever help me out even when I asked. My grandmother passed away , and I am taking care of my mother with no help yet again. They always have excuses. When I have asked for help they become dismissive, they ignore that I have asked for help, they have also become nasty to me. I am the oldest, I have back issues, a full time job, and my own family. The disappointment in my siblings is effecting my physical and mental state. I don’t know what to do. I feel emotionally devastated and it is consuming me. What do I do????

  26. Pam Reply

    I don’t know how to fight this scenario… I have one sibling, we both live fairly close to parents. I am unmarried with no children. My sister is married with a couple of teenagers. I work a very full-time rather stressful job, my sister does not work. For some reason, I am always the one my parents turn to for help. They seem to resist giving chores to my sister. I visit with them regularly, she does not. Anytime I raise the issue of her maybe helping out more or getting down right frustrated with her lack of help, I am made to feel like I’m complaining. Often they use the excuse of her having a family so doesn’t have time.
    They always call me first to help them with anything. It’s exhausting and so unfair but I don’t have any way to talk to them about it. It isn’t that she won’t help, but it’s like you have to call and she has to fit it into her schedule and that could be weeks away as she’s very involved in kids activities and taking courses etc. It came to a head this weekend when I pretty much threw groceries at my mother after doing a big groceries while feeling totally exhausted and having bad period lol. Not good! And only reason I visit regularly is of course because I want to see them but if I don’t visit they call non stop. So I started going over once a week just to deal with any little issues and a visit that they could rely on and save all their issues for that one day. It saved my sanity. After my grocery throwing incident I said I will start doing online shopping for them and pick up after work and my sister can start doing the big in store shopping. When either of them is ill and needs to go to hospital, it’s always me that goes, that gets the call. I’ve had my own health issues through all of this as well. I just don’t understand why they put sooo much of it on my shoulders. It’s a responsibility I’m capable of and of course I want to help them but I am so independent, I’d be taking taxis and ordering online myself so I find it difficult to understand the incredible dependency. Help.

    • admin Reply

      Ultimately, your parents and your sister are making choices – who to call, when to help. You have the same opportunity – you get to choose when and how you will help. It’s not easy, but every choice comes with a consequence. What will happen if you are not avaialble? Your parents will have to make another choice. How can you choose to be the caring daughter you are without becoming a stressed out, overworked person?

  27. Jacque Reply

    Moma was diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer and was gone within 6 weeks. My older sister couldn’t deal with it. She only came once. I remember the last night Moma was home before she went to hospice, crying and asking me if my sister was coming. And I said “No Moma. She’s too scared”. And Moma patted my check and smiled at me and said “Its ok honey. I’ve known her longer than you have”. It was the last time my mother ever spoke to me. It took me a long time but I finally figured out that if she could forgive my sister, I had to. And a couple of years later, my sister said “I know how hard what you did for Moma was. I will always be thankful because it was something I just couldn’t face.” Asking her to do what I did would have been like asking me to be taller. (I’m 4’11”). That was really all I needed to hear. So, if you are the sibling who didn’t go – tell the one who did thank you.

  28. Rosemarie Reply

    We care for my father in law at our home which is half way across the country from my husbands 4 siblings. Dad asked to live with us 2 and a half years ago, even though 4 of his kids live in NY. My husband and I both work, although I own my business and have been able to work from home and I’ve gotten done part time help with Dad. My dilemma is this…. my husband is really overwhelmed and stressed. He is frustrated that when he suggested to his siblings that maybe we could share this responsibility that they chose to say that Dad needs to be in a facility. My father in law doesn’t require tremendous care and he’s very quiet however he just likes being taken care of and having company. My husband feels stifelled and feels he just can’t just come home and relax by hiMyself. He is growing more frustrated with me because he thinks I do too much for my father in law and he doesn’t feel it is fair that his sisters aren’t stepping up to the plate to care for his dad it even his brothers. If we could all do a few months the burden wouldn’t be so bad. It won’t be easy for Dad and he might be unhappy at others homes Uti isn’t it right that they ( his siblings) should try. Dad had gone back for 5 weeks last summer and they said he was miserable and didn’t talk much. We work hard to involve Dad and include him, sometimes he’s not happy but I really think if the other siblings could just take the time to try new things it wouldn’t be so miserable. Dad enjoys listening to Music and trying to remember singers names, watching g old movies etc. aim worried about my marriage, my husband is getting resentful and I dont like this about him. Plus I know it’s not healthy for him. My husband and I-work together to take care of Dad. I do most of the “women” stuff and the Dr visits etc. Dad prefers to be with his son and is always looking for him. I try to sit and watch tv with him so my husband can watch what he wAnts I. Another room for a break. My husband always says without me he would not be caring for his Dad. He feels his siblings are being selfish and he won’t even talk with them cause he doesn’t want to hear their excuses. I don’t either but it’s time for us to get a break. We would use respite but with this pandemic , facility care is not an option. I’m going to call my brother and sister in-laws and tell them I’m concerned about their brother and our marriage and pray that they will figure out how Dad can be cared for back east and give us a break without hurting Dads feelings and they need to make him feel wanted. Sorry for my venting but it felt good to write it down. Pray for me tomorrow!

  29. Kathy Reply

    Oh my goodness! All of these stories are so sad. It really hits home. I’m the youngest sibling of five and had to quit my job and move in with my mom to take care of her. I have been with her for two years. I left my home in Arizona and moved into my childhood home with my Mother. My husband is living in our home in Arizona with his Father who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. We try to travel back and forth to see one another but have not had a vacation or spent time alone with one another for these last two years. We each have siblings that want nothing to do with the care of these aging parents but I can assure you they will be there when the time comes to collect their inheritance. The laughable thing is my mom put a brother back East as Power of Attorney and Trustee. Therefore he has full control of the funds and makes me answer for every dime. Where are they all when I need help with the everyday tasks. They don’t even call or write other than to send pictures of themselves and they’re grandchildren on vacation. Sadly, my mom asks me to step aside so she can see their photos more clearly!! I’m laughing while really crying inside. When will I have my life back??? I turn 60 in three days😢

  30. Keely Reply

    Some of what you write is in a more perfect world. The truth is…many of us do not have that sibling that even remotely helps out with any form of caregiving…whether it be the planning and negotiating or the soft emotional help. Let’s face it much of our world is made up of, and fostered to be, all about oneself… a selfish society for sure. I have been riddled with resentment towards my two siblings. It is true…this has been so beyond unhealthy for me and I have gotten better and better and just forcing myself to realize that it just “is what it is”. I mean I don’t even get a call asking how things are. I cannot remember my 50’s, yet my siblings lives have moved on. When I have tried to take to them about how incredibly burnt out I am…I get all sorts of crazy responses. The truth is…there just are individuals in this world that are not empathetic, are not caring, do not have the ability to put others before themselves….unfortunately two of those individuals happen to be my siblings. It is a constant battle to work on my mental health and keeping the extreme resentment at bay!!!

  31. Chrissy Reply

    I’m the youngest of five kids in CT, USA.
    I’ve been caring for my mom since I was about 25 when my father passed. I’m 49 now and my mom passed
    last year right after her 86th bday. I cared for her for TWENTY YEARS ALONE.
    My mom got worse, got thyroid cancer, was bed ridden, had pain EVER WHERE and my siblings all live
    close by. I changed diapers, made sure she didn’t get bed sores, took her to every appointment. I was the ONLY ONE
    at the hospital back in 2012 when my mom had cancer surgery; my siblings came “later” when she could’ve died because they either went to work, we’re in Jamaica or had things to do”.
    They have lie after lie, excuse after excuse and they all wanted her in a home and I PROMISED her I will
    keep her home.
    Meanwhile, I was working full time, caring for her, then she got worse and I went to part time work and took her
    for radiation treatments……..THEY TOLD HER TO TAKE A BUS!!!!
    I was also diagnosed with BREAST CANCER 3 years ago and had over 13 PAINFUL biopsies, a double mastectomy, a full
    hysterectomy, it spread into my lymph nodes, I’m left with heart damage from the chemo with other side effects and I STILL WENT TO WORK AND TOOK. ARE OF MY MOM, and the house and everything else.
    I have a hearing tomorrow because the HYENAS are fighting the inheritance because my mom KNEW and FELT
    my LOVE for her. I kept my promise and kept her home and took care of her. She left me the house and money.
    I was going to give them some but not after this.
    I got her her last rights, I have masses said for her, I CRY and struggle with PTSD and sometimes suicide. I’M the one who gave her her medicine, washed her, put diapers on her and made sure she was at peace and got EVERYTHING she needed. I’m the one who has memories of her choking on her medicine when I had to give it to her by syringe
    because she couldn’t swallow and lost ALL her teeth due to the radiation treatments. I’m the one who several times
    had to pick her up off the floor or watch her get put in an ambulance and I’m the one who watched her get carried
    out of OUR HOME in a body bag.
    I’m NOT SELFISH, but WHERE WERE THEY????? Now, they’re like “crows on a crime scene” seeing what they can get.
    I even let them take fine china, fur coats, shearling silver, DIAMOND jewelry and more.
    They don’t think I deserve the house and the money because I devoted TWENTY YEARS of my life to making my
    mom my EVERYTHING!!!!!!
    I asked them, “when you go to work every day and get a paycheck at the end of the week, who keeps the check”?
    They said “I do”….. I said EXACTLY! I got up all those years and took care of her but somehow YOU’RE entitled to money
    FOR DOING NOTHING.
    If it weren’t for me, THERE WOULD BE NO MONEY TO FIGHT OVER!!!!!!!! Do they know how much a home cost or a private nurse????

    I pray my hearing goes in my favor tomorrow.

    Some people are just greedy, selfish, cold hearted and disgusting!!!!K
    I WANT TO FOR and everyone who’s paying attentionG THEM……………AND I WANT To FORGET THEM!!!!!

    • admin Reply

      I am sorry you are dealing with so much. Please, if you feel suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 800-273-8255

  32. Megha Reply

    I’m so happy I came across this page! I’m the second youngest of 4 and although I’m only 19 and my parents are still pretty young, I feel like I’m the “one”. My dad works hard every single day and has some health problems. My mom also has arthritis and she’s been struggling as she can’t even walk to a park. I always try to lower their stress and be there for them as much as possible, but what I just don’t understand is what the hell is wrong with my siblings? Why don’t they care as much as me? I’ve always been very empathetic and sometimes it’s too much. I always want to do everything for my parents and take care of them, run little errands and whatever else they need. They’re honestly the best mom & dad they have spoiled each and every one of us, but somehow my siblings still don’t see that. They take everything for granted and don’t bother helping in the house or anything. No one cleans. No one does the groceries. No one cooks or does the dishes. It’s mostly just my mom that takes care of that but I clean often. I always have a break down cuz I wish my siblings would care!! Why am I the only one? My parents deserve so much better. It hurts me so bad that they don’t feel loved and cared from all their children.

    • admin Reply

      I’m glad you found us too. Try to focus on the positive: the love you have to give, and not on the love others are not giving. Controol what you can control.

  33. Eleanor Gaccetta Reply

    There is a common assumption among many people that caregiving is an exhausting and stressful job. Even though there is a bit of truthfulness in such assumption, in reality, caregiving is not just entirely exhausting and stressful. More often than not, caregiving can also be fun and fulfilling. Yes, there are days when caregivers would experience fatigue, but there are also days when they would feel satisfied and cheerful about their job. Especially when the care recipient is a loved one, caregiving can be a life-affirming experience.

    • admin Reply

      Yes. You will also find articles here about the caregiver’s gain: the upside of caregiving.

  34. Carol Reply

    I’m a caregiver to both my parents nearly 90. They live independently but I’m there on a daily basis to help with cleaning, cooking, meds etc. I have siblings. Because my dad ‘pays’ me some for my time, they clearly think this is my job. It would be nice to hear from them once in a while. It’s a tough job and they have no clue. One sibling has come to stay in my house while I took a break. Then my house gets treated like an air bnb with her out of town kids staying. Thanks for your article. We do our best and soldier on.

  35. Sher Reply

    I have been looking after one parent for twenty some years and the other for about fifteen years. I have had to look after them with hardly any help, though siblings live nearby. They were out traveling, going to concerts, etc. It has been exhausting and I have done without a social life, lost friends, etc. So now I have been told that I have cancer and these siblings have suddenly came forward to help out a bit and let me know just how WONDERFUl they are as they are REALLY TRYING to HELP me…. after twenty years. I told them about the cost of caregiving to me and the impact on my life – and the lack of response from them just reinforced the idea that they really don’t care. There doesn’t seem to be any conscience or guilt, or any concern really for my life. It’s almost like I should be grateful that they are doing anything at all. My poor parent is scared about what this means for their care because I did such a good job caring for them. We never thought about the possibility that the parent would outlive the child. Do not throw your life away. It’s all well and good for other members to tell you ‘ oh you should NEVER put parents in nursing home.’ So then WHY are they not helping? I knew I had a selfish family but it is astounding to me that you could value a sibling so little as to only think of them as hired help. If the table had been turned, I could have never treated someone like this. I read that about 39 percent of caregivers die before the one they are looking after – the stress and family drama alone is enough to do you in….

  36. Blanca Reply

    How do I ask potentially to my siblings to help out with my 99 year old dad
    I feel burned out

    • admin Reply

      It may require a series of conversations. If the arrangement was that you would care for your Dad then it’s time to renegotiate. Acknoweldge that you had an agreement but let your siblings know it needs too be revisited. If there was no agreement, then maybe you don’t ask. You let them know what you will and will not do.

  37. Karen Krowzack Reply

    I am geographically in the role, plus I’m a childless widow. My main ask of my out of state siblings is to periodically check in with me, to see not only how my 86 and 91 year old parents are doing, but to send me an encouraging text/email/call with their support. This is hard work. It’s always me letting them know the latest news, after a while, I don’t even bother giving them updates, since they rarely ask for any

    • admin Reply

      You need to take care of your parents and you. Anything else, like updating opthers, is gravy.

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