Dear Annie: I am 41 years old, the youngest of three daughters. I am also the only caretaker for our parents and am growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of assistance from my sisters.
I am underemployed, unmarried and uninvolved in any activity beyond the care of my 80-year-old parents. I contribute 100 percent of my income to keep us afloat, but we are having a hard time. I have no retirement and no savings. A recent illness put me out of work for several months, and my mother had to beg for a loan of $500 from each sister. I am still paying these loans back.
My sisters are married and financially well off. One lives three hours away, and the other six. Neither makes an effort to keep updated on my parents. They know my parents have a lot of debt, but their solutions are for me to find some magical government assistance program. Unfortunately, they are above the income levels for that kind of help.
My sisters say if they help our parents, they will be supporting me, as well, and they tell me to get a full-time job. But that means no one will care for Mom and Dad. How can I make them see I am doing all I can, but they need to do their share? – Taking Care of Everything in Iowa
Dear Iowa: Your sisters sound oblivious to the amount of care your parents require and unwilling to step up. Nonetheless, it helps no one for you to put your life on hold as a caregiver when all of you are drowning in debt. Call the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov) at (800) 677-1116 to find out what resources are available in your area. Also check with faith-based social service agencies, as well as county and state social service agencies. And frankly, as your parents require more care, they should look into selling their home and moving into an assisted living residence.
Meanwhile, ask your siblings whether they would hire a full-time caregiver if you agreed to find a full-time job.