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Care & carers

Brother who cares for Mum is behaving like a martyr

(126 Posts)
arcadia03 Tue 08-Jan-19 09:55:53

I live a long way from my elderly Mum who has sever dementia and multiple health issues. My brother is behaving like a martyr, claiming it's worse than a full time job looking after her, and that his washing machine is on 24/7 which is nonsense. I think he is also mismanaging her finances under his poa, and he is drinking a lot. In fact whenever I go to see my Mum (monthly) there is hardly anything in the fridge and my Mum is very frail and thin. Fortunately there are visiting carers and meals on wheels too, but it's all a worry.

Niobe Tue 08-Jan-19 10:07:44

Looking after someone with dementia and other multiple health issues IS more than a full time job so your brother has my sympathy. Why don't you take holiday time/unpaid leave and give him a month or two off instead of visiting once a month? That might let you appreciate what it's like for him.
We looked after our Mum who had heart failure but not dementia (thank God) and that was hard enough with me, my husband, two sisters in laws and my two brothers taking turns every day to do what we could as and when needed.

Lynne59 Tue 08-Jan-19 10:07:55

If there are carers going in and meals are being delivered, what is it that you're worried about? The lack of food in the 'fridge? Your brother's drinking? Or is it that you feel a certain amount of guilt?

merlotgran Tue 08-Jan-19 10:09:52

Try putting yourself in your brother's shoes. I've been there with my mother and believe me there were times when it grated that my brothers, who lived three hours away in opposite directions, had the freedom to choose when they visited and for how long.

Before my mother went into a care home her fridge also had hardly anything in it because she was no longer cooking for herself. I cooked for her as well as a regular meal delivery service. Of course the washing machine is on 24/7. What do you expect?

Cut your brother some slack and try and be as supportive as you can. In his position he will probably be feeling lonely and isolated.

MissAdventure Tue 08-Jan-19 10:17:11

Maybe you could allow your brother a few weeks off whilst you take over, then you may want to think again about whether he is playing the martyr.

FarNorth Tue 08-Jan-19 10:22:50

You have no idea what your brother's life is like, caring for your mother with severe dementia.
It will be far more work and definitely far more stress than a full time job.
Instead of criticising, why not give him some time off, as others have suggested.

Telly Tue 08-Jan-19 10:26:33

I would think that your brother is in needs of some help. Dealing with this type of issue is draining. I have a friend in a similar situation and her washing machine IS on 27/7. Perhaps its time for residential care?

Bridgeit Tue 08-Jan-19 10:27:42

Ummm just reread your own post, perhaps you will (hopefully) have a lightbulb moment !

ginny Tue 08-Jan-19 10:29:30

Have to agree with previous answers. I looked after my Dad for his last 6 months. He was very poorly but luckily no dementia.
It is really hard and your own life has to be put to one side.
You need to experience this before you can judge your brother. Offer your services and give him a break.

Lazigirl Tue 08-Jan-19 10:29:41

I have a mother in a similar situation who is managed at home by carers, also by my brother who lives near to her, his partner and me, who lives 16 miles away. It is more than a full time job, and I have 3 sisters who visit very infrequently because they live a distance away. It is not only physically, but mentally draining and one of my sisters, who was my mother's favourite, visits once every 3 months for 24 hours and is extremely critical of everything, does nothing constructive and has stopped speaking to anyone else in the family. She does not have a real understanding of what it takes to keep my mother at home and I can only think she has alienated herself from the rest of the family because of guilt. I can see how easily a career could turn to drink in such a situation! I would love her support, if only from a distance. Being PoA is not easy either, dealing with banks, council, and bills. I can also see why this sort of situation can readily split families.

Jalima1108 Tue 08-Jan-19 10:32:42

I agree with other posters.

Your brother needs a break and it could be time to think about your mother going into care.
Perhaps you can support them both through the process.

Or at least have your mother to stay with you for a few weeks to give your brother some respite.

Izabella Tue 08-Jan-19 10:35:34

This is a difficult time for you arcadia and you have my sympathy as a family. I think the suggestion made by Niobe is worth considering, as until you are caring for someone in this situation for any length of time, it is impossible to understand the strain. And yes I quite believe the fact the washing machine (and probably tumble drier at this time of year) are constantly on.

I did this for years with my own parents who lived many miles away. I used to 'do' weekends while my sister did the week together with other care providers. Perhaps take some leave and take over for a couple of weeks. Liaise with the local gp surgery and social services and see what support and respite there is to help your brother. Contact the local continence services if appropriate, and consider a total care package if appropriate.

This is a long and difficult road you are all on. Dont let it fracture the relationship with your brother.

trisher Tue 08-Jan-19 10:56:07

You are not doing the caring, you have no right to criticise. Follow some of the suggestions above and be supportive or just butt out. Your brother may be struggling to cope (who wouldn't) and your judgemental attitude will not help. Consider what will happen if you continue to criticise and he has a break down? How will that help your mother? He really does deserve a holiday why not help out so he can have one.

jusnoneed Tue 08-Jan-19 11:02:14

You sound like one of those, doing their bit "visit monthly", people who has no idea of the day to day life of the person actually doing all the caring/work involved. Until you have lived your brothers life for a few weeks you can not possibly comment on how he is doing things.
You would probably find your mother has very little appetite. Washing, yes I expect there is a lot if she has other health issues too.
I expect he needs a few good stiff drinks to help him unwind.

Lazigirl Tue 08-Jan-19 11:19:04

To everyone who thinks the solution is for the elderly person to go into a home, it's not always that easy. Nursing homes do not always give a great level of care, without money there is often little choice, and in my experience staff in nursing homes are just as rushed as home carers. There is also importantly the elderly person to consider, even when they have dementia they often are still considered to have "competency" in decision making, and often feel happier at home and don't want to go into a home. Children can feel very upset and guilty about "putting parents into a home", although realistically this may be the only solution, but sadly it ain't easy. I've lost count of the people who have said that my mother should be in a home.

Liz46 Tue 08-Jan-19 11:23:04

I looked after my mother for years when she had dementia and it was awful. My sympathies lie with your brother and I agree with the others that you should give him a break of at least a week.

My cousin is going through the same thing with my aunt and she spent an hour on the phone to me last night saying how stressed she is.

arcadia03 Tue 08-Jan-19 11:31:30

Bit surprised some people are saying I should visit my mother every week - she lives 300 miles away and my husband has had a stroke- I have to look after him too! When I see my Mum I stay for several days, liaise with the carers, and fully know what it is like looking after someone with dementia. It's frustrating for me if I feel she is not being given all the help she needs when I'm not there. In fact my brother is an alchoholic, but I regularly give my brother a break for 3-4 holidays a year. I use this www to try and get a bit of support and understanding, not to invite severe criticism.

merlotgran Tue 08-Jan-19 11:37:09

Maybe should have included this information in your OP.

We can only comment on what you have already written.

Jalima1108 Tue 08-Jan-19 11:38:28

Now comes a fuller picture!
So, your brother is an alcoholic but you leave your elderly mother who has dementia and other health issues in his care?

Constructive criticism from Gransnetters who may have cared for elderly relatives should help you.

MissAdventure Tue 08-Jan-19 11:44:19

Ah, more details help to understand your situation.
Really, if you feel your brother is abusing his position as your mums carer, and she is suffering as a result, then you could contact social services.
It is a difficult situation, but in the absence of anyone else to look after your mum, then there is little you can do.

Bathsheba Tue 08-Jan-19 11:44:30

arcadia it would have been helpful perhaps if you had given that information in your OP - that your DH needs care after a stroke, that you stay for several days when you visit, that you regularly give your brother a break for 3-4 holidays a year, that your brother is an alcoholic (not just 'drinking a lot' as you put it)

People can only advise or yes, judge, on the information given. I don't think any of us have crystal balls.

Izabella Tue 08-Jan-19 11:50:27

Yes, we gave what we thought was supportive advice (not severe criticism) with the information you originally gave. Now we know more the emphasis changes as MissAdventure states and others point out.

If you feel your brother is an incompetent carer due to his alcohol intake, then things are moving into the Safeguarding arena and SS need to be informed.

oldbatty Tue 08-Jan-19 11:58:01

Can I say from personal experience the whole area of very elderly relatives who possibly have not made provision is an absolute living nightmare.

Poppyred Tue 08-Jan-19 12:02:03

Arcadia03 sorry for your troubles. Unfortunately some of the regular users on this site can be very blunt and come across as very unsympathetic as I have found out recently. I did try to question it but was bombarded with scathing comments and they tend to stick up for each other. Not all by any means, there are some very kind people on here willing to listen . It’s sounds as if you need to have a heart to heart with your brother very soon to decide what to do next. I have been in this situation myself and eventually had to put my Mum in a home when things got too much.
Wishing you all the best.

grannyactivist Tue 08-Jan-19 12:17:07

Hello Arcadia03. smile

Does your brother actually live with your mum, or is he going round every day to help out? Either way he IS the person with the greater responsibility and so he can perhaps be allowed to express what a weight it is.

On a practical level it seems that you're visiting often enough that you most likely have a good relationship with your mothers team of carers, so in your shoes I would be checking the care file and asking questions about how they think she's being cared for. Does she have an eating disorder? Is her personal hygiene being attended to? Is she being kept safe?

Because you're at a distance it's inevitable that you will worry, but I'm afraid there are few options open to you other than to trust that your brother has your mum's best interests at heart - and support him, and her, as much as you're able.