How do I deal with my anger and resentment toward my older...

8 answers | Last updated: Nov 19, 2016
Mjmaple asked...

How do I deal with my anger and resentment toward my older sister, who has not seen our elderly mother in three years due to "health" problems (i.e., drinking)? It has been up to me to look after Mom since my sister has  lived out of state since the 1970's, but now that I could really use assistance, she, as usual, is no help at all. Advice?

Expert Answers

Your situation sounds really tough and I understand why you're angry. At the same time, I agree with Anonymous (below) that acceptance may be your only recourse, since you can't make your sister help if she is unwilling or unable. I also agree with Anonymous that you should do all you can to seek support and practical help for your mother elsewhere  ('s directory of local resources can help you get started), rather than wating for your sister to change.

If your sister has a serious drinking problem, and it sounds like she does,  than she is in the grip of her own disease, and probably wouldn't be very reliable, even if she tried to help.  I'd recommend that you seek help from Al-Anon, a 12-step program for the famlies and friends of alcoholics. Al-Anon will help you come to terms with your resentment, and. by taking care of yourself, you'll be helping your sister as well. 

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Find out all the resources in your area that can help you with your mom and then use them.  If you have more time for you, hopefully some of your resentment will be decreased.

From discussions I have had with friends about parent care, it seems that in many families one child ends up with all or most of the responsibility.  It is a huge pill to swallow, but the other extreme is to have a sibling that talks the good talk but does nothing.  I have had to learn to accept the responsibility and then try to do my best just for my own sake.  In the end I hope that I will have little to regret when it comes the last years of my parent's life. 

You can only control  your own actions, you can't change someone who doesn't want to be there to help, no matter what you do. Even if your sister lived next door to your mom she may not be willing to help .

Being out of state is not really an excuse for lack of action on your sisters part.  She could be doing research, paying bills, getting answers to questions, come in to give you some down time, and the list goes on and on.

My heart goes out to you as I have gone through the same feelings that you are going through. It is so hard to watch this disease process in action, deal with everything that goes along with it and then have a sister that is of no help.  It is really hard to understand how your sister thinks when it comes to caring for your mom. Acceptance may be a key to your over all well being in the long run.

I really would hit the streets. telephone, churches, etc asking for advice and help. ----You may also want to read the suggestions on how to get a brother to help in care.  It was a good answer for places to try.


A fellow caregiver answered...

What you really need to do is accept the fact that the older sister is a self-center, self-serving person! I have the same situation. All three of us kids lived out of the state Mom lived in. But my brother and I were there - after comparing phone conversations with our Mom and realizing she was trying to "snowball" us!

When diagnosed as "terminal" - the eldest sibling's reply - "just let me know when she gets worse". She also has an alcoholic problem. She just "could not be bothered" until Mom passed away and found out Mom set up her Assets leaving the eldest sibling out. Her response - filing a lawsuit against my brother and me! And the Court didn't even go by my Mother's valid Will!

You just can't change people - especially if they are like my eldest sibling! They feel and act as if the "world owes them everything"! I'm still very angry and frustrated how she was able to "manipulate the Court system" - but she knows it very well with all the lawsuits she has been involved with over the years! I still cannot "just let it go".

Wishing and hoping the best for you. Sending hugs!

Frena answered...

i see a lot of families where one sibling does the work and the other(s) do nothing. one thing to do is to realize your angry feelings won't change those others and they do use up lots of your needed energy.

you may not think so right now, but i'll tell you this -- the one who steps up gets the benefits. that one grows in heart, soul, smarts and essential human beingness. you'll be the one with no fear of death, while others cower.

so, do know that you're growing soul, spirit and smarts right now. which means you know your sister's a lost cause as long as she's an addict (and maybe forever.)

give up on her right now and instead get hold of the other help and local resources around you. there's lots of them, though maybe never quite enough. check with your local senior services of area agency on aging and start getting the help you need.

that way, you won't feel so alone.

Newby1961 answered...

Honestly the only way to get rid of resentments is to pray for the other person as much as that is probably the furthest thought from your mind. It will give you peace because being angry with someone and letting them rent space in your head is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die, it just doesn't work that way. It is a sad situation all the way around but if your sister does have an alcohol problem then she has her own demons to contend with. If you really think about it, if she was around you would end up having to deal with her drama to so your probably better off. I am talking from experience I have spent many years disapointed with my sister and two brothers and I have learned for my own sanity I have to come to peace with the fact that they are going to act the way they are going to and I have no control over it even when it hurts like hell and I feel alone w/o a family. Happy Holidays and good luck

A fellow caregiver answered...

All the answers have been very helpful to me.

The caregiver's voice answered...

Unfortunately, most families experience a similar situation. My older brother lived in our father's home and my older sister lived five blocks away. I traveled 1,800 miles to care for my father...finally moved him into our California home and sold his home.

Our siblings are adults and make their choices.

Your sister has a choice--she can choose to get help or miss her mom while she is still alive.

If your mom has any assets, one option is to use them to hire in-home help so that so much doesn't rest upon your shoulders.

3generations answered...

I'm so sorry you have to feel this pain. I know it well. My younger brother and his wife have been neglectful at best, and hateful at worst, to my parents over the past few decades, especially during the last decade when our parents lived with me.

Both my brothers were less than helpful during the decade our parents lived in my home. My resentment built, especially after Dad could no longer drive (due to dementia & pin strokes -- and Mom never drove), and my brothers both refused to help, saying it was my problem, since they lived with me.

My Mom died of cancer in June of this year, after an 8-month battle. My Dad has suffered from dementia for years, and had several complete breakdowns after she died. Last month, we had to put Dad in a nursing home. Despite the dementia diagnosis, my younger brother refuses to accept that our Dad is going to say strange and/or delusional things; he takes it personally, gets angry, and leaves. He is refusing to see our Dad this Christmas because of some delusional things Dad said. How sad.

My older brother had a complete turn-around during the last few weeks of our Mom's battle with cancer. He was there with me through her death, helping me with everything. He wants to be there regarding Dad now, but only for me, not for Dad (due to long-term emotional baggage).

The best advice I ever received about all of this was from a best friend who works for a care-giving company, and sees all kinds of family problems. She told me that I cannot control what Dad says in his dementia; and I can't control how my brothers react; but I CAN control my response to all of it ... that the best thing I can do is NOT let any of it change who I am. For instance, no matter what Dad says, I can't let it change how I love him and care for him. And no matter how hurtful my brother(s) actions are, I cannot let it change who I am -- how I treat them or their children, how I always pray for them, or how I view life in general. I cannot let their mindsets or behaviors change who I am. Best advice ever. I hope it helps you.

Good luck. My prayers are with you.