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Does anyone else have family that just doesn't seem to care?

AKAngel's picture
Posts: 74
Joined: Mar 2010

My mom has been diagnosed with liver cancer since June 2009. My dad back in 2006 had major surgery which resulted in amputation of part of his right leg and left foot. That being said, he has been relying on my mom to take care of him, because he can't drive or do lots of other things he used to. Now that my mom is more towards the end stage, she has let all of us kids know (I being the first, since I was there when it was discovered...where's my flag? lol) but my sisters and brothers don't want to take the time out to come see her, as most live in other places around the NW country, and 'have their own lives to deal with'. They keep putting her off, saying 'oh i'll come next month' and then changing it again and again, like she's going to just get better. Now, she had chemo done and her doctors told her her body became immune to treatment. Her physical state after all the chemo left her exhausted and unwilling to become a 'guinea pig' for all possible treatments that may be out there. I told her that I understand that she doesn't want to spend her last days on earth constantly fighting for a solution that may/may not work. I respect her decision, even if I don't agree with it. But my siblings seems to think she's just gonna keep living, one even asked for a loan! like it was just another day. Since I'm the youngest of 6, my siblings think I should just let her be and her and my dad just figure stuff out for themselves and I should go on with my own life. Does this seem wrong to anyone else?? She will die, and I will have to consider how my dad will maintain some quality of life without putting him into a 'home' or some such...but none of the others seem to care about this. They call every once and awhile, but that's about it. I have a couple of friends that are supportive, but now I signed up here for some more options and feedback. I love my parents dearly, and feel it's my duty and honor to help them when they most need me.... Am I wrong to feel this way? I'm worried to see my mom in pain or distress, and just as much so to see the rest of my family care so little. Don't they realize that they will have their life to continue after she is gone? Can't they take a little time out now before she's so weak and helpless she can barely know who she's talking to?

Barbara53's picture
Posts: 658
Joined: Aug 2009

Angel, there is no doubt that you are doing the right thing by your parents. The only one you can save is yourself, though, which includes maintaining personal boundaries where your siblings are concerned. One of my three brothers always comes through for whatever is needed, but the other two seem to want me to tell them what to do. So often times, I make very specific requests of them, which tend to get better responses than general “you need to call and go see mom.” Last week I had one brother come to fix a drawer, and asked another to bring some very specific treats. And while I don’t complain very much, sometimes I do it on purpose (not in front of Mom) to remind them of how much time I am spending as a caregiver. This is not so much for me as to make them feel guilty enough to show up for Mom.

With so many siblings to deal with, you may need to get strategic or you will spend all your time on the phone. Does everyone do email? When my dad was dying we used the “family coconut telegraph” (email) to keep everyone in the loop. Perhaps if you post every few days on what’s going on with Mom and Dad, AND get your sibs to commit to calling on certain days (Joe on Mondays, Jane on Tuesdays, etc), they will start getting more involved on their own.

I know these are manipulations, which are supposed to be bad, but all’s fair in love and war. It’s hard to get straight on the best way to love a dying parent. Everyone handles it differently, but nobody gets away clean.

Posts: 50
Joined: Jun 2009

I can relate what you are going through. My mom has inoperable uterine cancer and has just started Xeloda for her chemo. I have only one brother, who doesn't seem to do much. I live about five minutes from my mom. He and his wife live about twenty minutes away. The other day I told him he needs to help me out. He came to see my mom on Saturday and spent about an hour with her. He needed to help his wife baby sit her grandchild!!! I had asked him to do some grocery shopping for her but it never got done. I am tired of his excuses.
Hang in there.

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

I am sorry that you are having to deal with so many things on your own. I think it is important to remember that the only person you can truly control is you. You don't say how old your parents are, but they need to get involved in the planning for your dad's future. Also, have you gotten hospice involved. They can help all of you. Don't be afraid to talk to them about your concerns about your other family members and your father. They have social workers as well as medical people. I would also agree that you may need to be more direct with your siblings. Try using specific I statements like, "I need you to help me by coming to a family meeting" or "I need you to come visit Mom and Dad next week so I can have a break." If that doesn't work, assume you are on your own. Sit down with your parents and possibly a hospice worker and come up with a plan for your mother's care and your father's care. I would add many care facilities are no longer the "homes" we envision. Many are very nice places with good care, activities,and companionship. Also, remember the number one rule of caregiving, take care of yourself. You can't care for others unless you care for yourself. Fay

AKAngel's picture
Posts: 74
Joined: Mar 2010

Thank you to everyone that posted a reply. It's been really hard to deal with these things, and I can't believe I didn't look for support online before. My mom and dad are 62 and 78. They are...difficult. My mom insists that since no one has been able to tell her when she's expected to die, she doesn't want hospice's help until she literally can't move or do anything on her own, and only after her doctors have said she should have hospice. So while I'd love a little social work action to come in and assist, it still appears I'm on my own. My dad's idea is to go back to driving himself and just get a little apartment somewhere after my mom dies and live out the rest of his life here in Vegas. Well, I don't know how he's gonna do that when we were all told before with his amputations and his heart condition that he wouldn't be able to drive himself around anymore, at all. But he will not discuss this with my mom, so as not to upset her, and expects me to just sit on this info. I do know that telling my mom his plan won't help her mood at all, so I'm willing to go with this, and make sure I go to his dr's appointments and hear whether he is able to drive again or not. Though he's lived with this condition for 4 yrs now and hasn't once spoken up about this driving himself around at all. But back to my mom and dad, their financial state isn't what it should be, and they won't ask for assistance from anyone. I've explained that I'm willing to help financially where I can, but my parents don't want to depend on me, feeling like they are a burden. But I consider it a duty to help them, however I can. As far as my siblings go, they call her but then she doesn't want to talk to them because she's tired of hearing that they can't or won't come down to see her. I've got one brother and one sister that live in Vegas. My brother only calls occasionally and comes over to do laundry and leaves...usually before it's even finished so my mom feels obligated to finish it for him (despite my protests); and my sister just recently lost her husband to suicide last year and still has two little ones under 11 to raise after her 9-5, and she wants to see my mom (her step-mom) but my mom doesn't want her to visit with the kids and my sister won't invite her over to her house so that my mom doesn't feel like she has to 'entertain' people in her own house. Did I say my parents are difficult?? Out of the others that are out of town, one sister will be coming down next week, but only for 2 days at most. She's done this 2x before in the past year, but it's like 2 days aren't enough. She doesn't get to see the struggle that my mom goes through. As I'm writing this I feel so frustrated and at wits' end. My mom barely eats, she's upset almost all the time, the little I do never seems like enough, or that it doesn't last long enough. My dad just quietly sits there and barely does anything, I can't even get him to talk to me about how he feels about anything. Can you hear me scream through this?? I'm trying to maintain myself like you've all reminded me to, but maintenance is rough.

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2010

For some reason, I felt like I was the only son of three sons that would help my mom when my father had surgery and was stabilized for six months after stomach cancer. My older brother has mental illness and takes meds, so he can't help. My other brother is the smart one, maybe that's why he didn't help. I could not let my mom and pop down and helped my dad all the way to the end, nine months after surgery. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I call the oncologist, they gave my dad an appointment three weeks later cause it was during the holiday season. My brother, who works an office job, yells "You have to do better and get a sooner date." Now I was wonder, that ****** sits at an office, he could have called to get the appt himself. Anyway, an early appt was gotten, long story short, my brother did not lift three fingers until my dad's last ten days. An even then, when he was watching my dad at home, he took his last breath and my brother did not know. I came upstairs after an hour and a half and said, "Dad's not breathing, you were suppose to watch him." I had to wake up my mom, who was stressed and took a nap to tell her her husband of over sixty years had passed. My brother did a fake cry. I didn't cry much the first week after his death, but I cry almost daily cause my father is no longer here. I was told by friends that in some families, there will be siblings that will do everything and some that will do nothing. I know you will do the right thing and you will be remembered for it.

webozo's picture
Posts: 82
Joined: Feb 2010

i have found that siblings are the same in every family. there seems to be one that take on the care of sick and dieing parents and the rest seem to be uncaring. all though i do not believe this myself. i think it is more that people do what they can emotionally and physically. i helped take care of my farther and i helped with my mother-in-law. i couldn't help much with my mother because i was the only one in our house hold with a job and during the time frame i worked 225 days in a row including x-mas thanksgiving well alll the holidays i thank god for my cousin candy who took care of my mother on the day to day. my brothers couldn't. my farther-in-law its was me again. at each of these times i got angry when they had pasted and the other siblings acted as if it were a great lost to them. (it was) as time gose by and you see it through new eyes less tired eyes it is what i refer to as god's strength. it seems the one in the family that has god's strength is the one that is the care giver and it usually seem to be one and only one. now i am faced with an ill daughter and i can not be with her (she lives in kanass and i in michigan) i feel guilty for not being there with her to help with her children and the care of her home. this is the way it is and if i lose her it will be a great lost. i ramble sorry in short each of us do what we can do. we get mad we get sad but in the end we are thankful that we could do the things that needed to be done. blessings be to all the care givers.

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