What to do when siblings don't understand?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father lives in my house, so I am in the best position to see what's really going on with him. But when my brother visits, he argues with me about everything "“ basically telling me that I'm imagining things and Dad isn't that bad yet. Now my brother wants to take Dad on vacation with his family. I just don't think it's a good idea. How do I get my brother to listen to me, take me seriously, and trust my judgment? We have a hard road ahead and I don't want to fight with him every step of the way.

Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

This is like telling a child not to touch the hot stove. Until, the child does, s/he won't be able to understand the concept of hot.

I recommend that you give your brother the opportunity to touch the fire by caring for your father for a week in his home. Once he experiences first hand what you're experiencing, he'll understand without you having to constantly explain yourself.

Besides, this approach will gift you with respite while Dad experiences a change of pace. Through the early moderate stage of Alzheimer's, loved ones have been known to "pull it all together" for a period of time in a new setting.

Should your father and brother enjoy their week together; Dad might surprise you by keeping his composure long enough for a vacation with your brother's family before returning home where he can relax and let go.

Community Answers

Dsand answered...

I think that is an excellent suggestion.

Donoharm answered...

The brother is in denial. For some reason, the sons in a family have a more difficult time accepting the aging of a parent. From experience I'd say it's because they don't spend the amount of time a daughter spends with the parent. Arrange blocks of time for your brother to spend with Dad. Do as the pro suggested and take a breather.

Carol wright answered...

Like donoharm suggested...arrange a block of time for your brother to care for your father...and then call and say your car broke down and you can't get back for another four hours. Arranging for your brother to care for father is one thing, but for it to become real...trap him there. Or arrange for that week, then call and say you are delayed two days....

As long as your brother can sense an end to his shift, he won't think it that bad. When there is no end, and he cannot escape...and this is what it is like year in and year out...then it is serious.