Should we put our mom with Alzheimer's in a home for my the sake of my sister's mental and physical health?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am so worried about my Sister. My Dad suddenly passed away four months ago. We have had no time to grieve as Dad was our mum's full time carer. Mum has Alzheimer's and is in stage 2. I live in another country and my other sisters are are of no help in fact they cause a huge amount of pressure and stress towards my sister daily. Border line harrassement. We immediatley got two full time carers to move in and live with mum and that is working out so far. My sister is in charge of the upkeep of the house and bills, the carers bills, the solicitor's sorting dads probate, the food for the house, mums care etc etc. Besides this my sister works full time and also has two teenage boys who are very busy with their school and sport activities. I feel so helpless being so far away and Im so worried my sister cant continue to cope with all this pressure. We both agreed to keep mum at home for as long as possible as she is happy in her spirit and we know once we have to put mum in a nursing home that will be the end of the mum we know etc and we want the best for our mum. I now am begining to think we need to put mum in a home soon for the sake of my sisters mental well being as I just cant see any other way. I know my sister wont agree as she will continue to try and do everything as she has been doing. Its not fair to my sister that her life is so stressful and its not mum's fault either. What do you advise? I feel so helpless living so far away. I wish my other sisters would just go away and leave my little sister alone as they are causing her a breakdown never mind all the rest of the stress of trying to cope with all new responsabilities. Plus she is missing Dad so much and I feel like she is dying inside. I dont want mum to go into a nursing home but I think it would be the best thing for my sister as she needs her life back. Any advice would be appreciated.

Expert Answers

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Dear Overseas Sister:

I'm so sorry to hear of your plight. I wish there were a simple solution to your challenge, but the reality of the situation as you describe it is that the sister who is caring for your mum won't admit that she's overwhelmed. As long as she is willing to put up with the harassment from your other siblings AND take responsibility of being a wife, mother, employee and caregiver for your mum, there's little you can do.

You're correct in your assessment that your younger sister will eventually be unable to care for your mum, and in fact, she herself may become a casualty of the incredible load she has chosen to carry and her health may suffer. Added to this challenge are her feelings of loss for your father. Those feelings will lessen over time, but added to her current situation, the stress she's under is excessive.

If you can manage to take the time, visit her and do so with the upfront agreement with her that you are doing so to be supportive as you both place your mum in a facility that will provide full time care for her. Doing so will allow your sister to escape the harassment of your other sisters and the daily care duties that she is currently carrying in addition to her many other functions.

Should your sister agree to your suggestion and reasons for visiting her, have all the arrangements in place to move your mum to the facility immediately upon your arrival. Do not allow the decision to become a debate upon your arrival.

If, however, your sister will not allow mum to be placed in a facility or changes her mind once you show up, you have little choice but to allow the situation to continue to deteriorate unless you move back home to be part of the caregiving, which ultimately won't change the outcome as your mum's needs increase.

Present your suggestion to your younger sister in a way that indicates your love for her, and let her know that her well-being is as important as is providing the best level of care possible to mum.

Remind her that mum will receive constant attention in a facility, and encourage her to visit mum as often as she likes, but to also focus on her responsibilities to her children, her husband and her employer. Let her know that if she tries to maintain her current workload and schedule of care, parenting and work, she is likely to become a victim of poor health. When, not if, that occurs, she won't be of any value to your mum as a daughter or care provider.

Because you live in a different country, your role is not to bear the guilt of helplessness, but to provide the best counsel and support you can to help resolve the problem. Your goal is to not allow this bad situation to also claim your younger sister.

As for your siblings, let them know what you have done once it's completed, but if they are as you say, adversarial and unsupportive, do not allow them to be part of the process of mum's move to a facility. Do the right thing and support your younger sister as she will feel the loss of mum's presence more than you or the other sisters.

This is a very tough situation for you and your entire family, and I wish you the best of luck in stepping up to become the voice of reason and to help your younger sister make the difficult decision to do what best for both mum and for herself.

Community Answers

Kazza answered...

Thank you so much for your response. I think since Dad is gone I dont feel like i have his approval and you certainly helped me realise I am doing the right thing. I will continue to help and support my sis as much as possible from over here and I know she relies on it. I love her so much I just want the best for her. I obviously love my mother also but I have to be realistic and deal with the cards we are dealt with in regard to finance, support etc etc. I have since writeing the above mentioned all of concerns to my sis in a very caring and sensitve way. She understands how I worry about her and I think she secretly is hopefully a bit relieved that I have brought it up. I think it will take time for her to get to the point where she knows she cant cope any more but I will be there for her when that times come and help with mum's transfer to a home etc etc. Thank you!