Assert your needs for mom’s care
Dear Annie: Seven years ago, my mother had a stroke. She recovered quite well physically, but has never been the same mentally. My aunts wanted to put her in a nursing home, but my sister and I decided to assume responsibility for her. The plan was that Mom would spend six months with me and six months with my sister.
Somehow, my sister’s turn never came, and seven years later, my mother still lives with me. The entire time she’s been here, family members have never visited, but they will often drive to my sister’s home – three miles away – to visit Mom when she is there. They send invitations to family events addressed to my mother at my house and to my sister at hers, but exclude me.
I am totally burnt out with the medical appointments, medications, meals and arrangements that are involved in being a caregiver. I know there are support groups, and I’ve taken advantage of respite care. The most my sister will do is help out with one doctor’s appointment and then withdraw, claiming she can’t do any more.
I am near retirement age. I have a wonderful partner and am grateful for all the support he has shown me. But I am resentful of the respect my sister gets from the family when they invite her to functions along with my mother, but don’t include me. How do I change my situation? – Used and Neglected
Dear Used: You need to be more assertive about your needs. It’s possible your relatives think you need a break and this is why they invite Mom alone, so tell them this is not acceptable. Ask if there is something lacking in your home hospitality so you can fix it. Then say you are hurt and insulted when you are excluded from family gatherings. You also have allowed your sister to avoid her obligations. Set up a schedule so she knows when she is responsible for taking Mom to an appointment, and if she refuses, ask her to contribute financially so you can hire someone to do the things she is unwilling to do.