Can my half-brother keep me from seeing my mother, who is in a nursing home?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I just found out my mother has Alzheimer's and is living in a nursing home. Because of family problems, I haven't seen her.  And now my half-brother is taking over and won't let me visit her. What can I do?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

I'm assuming you've already had the hard conversation -- very tightly focused on what's best for your mother -- with the half-brother who is hell-bent on blocking your access to her. If not, try it. You may be able to find out specifics about his concerns that will help you all be able to pull together rather than be torn farther apart during this difficult time.

But you have lived your life with the ins and outs of your particular family members. If that urging just seems too Pollyannaish or futile, your best bet may be to do an end run around your half-brother and contact the administrator at your mother's nursing home. He or she may work with you in finding a solution, which may be as simple as setting up a staggered visiting schedule for you and your half-brother.

Many nursing homes also have family councils or dispute resolution panels that help resolve conflicts that involve their residents.

If your heart tells you it's time to try to make amends with your mother, then persevere, no matter how difficult it may seem. You won't always have the chance.