Save my sanity

I am 60 and a widow. My elderly parents are 90 and 87, both with health issues, ie blind, heart problems, stroke to name but a few.
I do all the caring inc bills, shopping, decorating , cleaning and care of a large garden, I have a retired brother and sister in law, who do nothing at all, who live around the corner from me, approximately 4mins by car to my parents house.
I have tried to engage them to no avail, and today whilst at a funeral unfortunately I let rip at them in front of my parents.
I know this was not an appropriate place or thing to do, so you can imagine my stress levels,
It’s 5.45 am I’ve not slept at all with the worry.

Please give me some words of encouragement.

Hello Jenn

I am also awake and worried about caring. I’m new and can’t offer too much advice but lots of people on this Board with experience will have wise words.

It sounds like you are doing so much for your parents (too much!?). Unfortunately it sounds like you need to lower your expectations for your sibling. Do you enjoy doing all the things you are doing? can you find someone to do the parts you don’t like? Perhaps that could be something your sibling might be able to arrange if they don’t want to do it themselves.

Good luck. Like I say, others can help. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone and you are being heard.


Thank you Canbrit for replying, I’m probably doing this forum bit all wrong, but it was my first post.
It was so nice of you to reply to me.

Like a lot of elderly they do not want anyone in the house. I’m so so tired, having my own home to run too, how can people be so selfish, they lead a life of Riley, playing golf, gym , cruising etc.
Overnight I’ve decided that I’m going to get a gardener, and take a bit of pressure off.
Thank you for your kindness
I hope you are well.

Hi Jenn
My heart goes out to you after being in a similar position. First piece of advice is to completely forget your sibling and in law in terms of support. If you don’t have any expectations you can’t let yourself feel let down or bitter towards them. Theyhave to deal with their own conscience so leave them to it.
Just concentrate on you and your parents. As we all get older the rolls begin to reverse and you become the one in charge of the way things get done. As parents decline this becomes more and more apparent. You go through a circle of parents thinking “you can’t tell us what to do!”. Then they start accepting things and eventually they can become like young children themselves depending on their ailments and need total support with everything and organising .
You will only be able to deel with this last phase of the cycle if you look after yourself in all of this so recognise (as you have done by posting here) that it is time to get some outside support. This could initially be help in the garden or help with cleaning, then later perhaps meals or just companionship visits so you can catch your breath. It sounds time to introduce some outside help into the picture at your parents expense. Are they claiming attendance allowance yet? Have you had a social service carers assessment and your parents a needs assessment. These are good places to start, Your parents will not like this or understand the reasons for it as “my daughter does that” but now is the time to make a stand. If you hit a total brick wall then go on strike until the wall gives way!!!

Hi Jenn. “I don’t want anyone in the house” is THE most common comment!!
Parents don’t realise that they control adult children - you cannot be forced or bullied into doing anything.

They are now both “very elderly” lucky to live such a long life (my husband died suddenly at 58) so now they are paying the price for their longevity and need help with lots of things. Write down a list of everything you do.

Explain that you get angry because you are tired and exhausted, if they don’t accept extra help you will get ill and then residential care may be the only solution. What help depends on their circumstances.

Do they have over £46,000 in savings? If you don’t know, now is the time for them to sort out all their financial details and put it all in a file.
Do you have Power of Attorney?
Do they own or rent their house?

Are they both claiming Attendance Allowance now?

Hi Jenn

Sorry to hear you’re having such a bad time. You just can’t go on doing everything you have been doing. In my experience, despite changes in society over the last century, male siblings still seem to assume that the sister will be responsible for looking after parents…

I’m sure they don’t want to have anyone else in the house, but you don’t want to spend your life being your parents’ servant. Why should their preferences come before yours?

I think the advice you’ve been given so far is wise. I think writing down a list of all you do is a really important place to start. What are you willing to do as a daughter for your parents, and what are you ‘having’ to do as a carer Take the list to your parents. Let them see just how much you are doing and how much time it takes. Write down what your brother does and what your parents are able to do for themselves. Then tell them what you cannot do any more and give them the choice - either they get a gardener, or the garden is left to itself. A cleaner, or the house is not cleaned. And they need to pay for it. If they can’t afford it, then they need to understand their lifestyle is not sustainable. I would also drop a list round to brother, with a covering letter explaining this is why you let rip at them. You could tell your parents and your brother you are going away for a week, and let them try and manage in your absence.

Definitely do all the financial things - LPA, AA etc. you have been advised to do. Have you thought of going to your GP to discuss the stress you are under, or getting a carer’s assessment for yourself?


Oh Jen,

My heart goes out to you!

Having looked after my mother (she’s now 92 and I’m 72 and an only child) I know exactly where you’re coming from. And your position will be harder than mine was because you have TWO parents to care for.

You really do have to take all the advice given by the other people on this site who have made contact with you, as hard as it is.

Otherwise you will become more resentful, tired and angry and no good to anybody.

My mother always complained that she didnt want “strangers” looking after her and that “you’re my daughter and it’s you’re duty to look after me”!!!

At one point she did say she would go into a residential home for two weeks so that we could go on holiday and then a week before refused to go saying “I can’t believe you’re going on holiday when I’m poorly!!” At that point I was so stressed and needed a break and for two pins I would have cancelled my holiday thinking is it worth all this hastle!!! In the end though with my husband’s encouragement (he said. .“we’re getting on that plane! !”) I organised carers to call in and meals on wheels. Mum wasn’t happy at all and on the day before we went followed me round her house banging her summer as she went calling me all the names under the sun!!!

But we went and she was fine.

But I digress Jen… back to you and your mum and dad. You certainly need a rest and I would suggest doing as I did. Tell your parents and your brother that you are going away for a break (even if you’re only staying at home). Be firm and organise them carers/meals on wheels etc etc and then GO!! Even better if you can go away somewhere and then you’re not tempted to visit them. Also give the carers etc the name and contact details of your brother as he will be 'in charge " whilst you’re away.

I know Jen, that it’s alright me and everyone else suggesting all these things but it’s you who actually has to do it and it is very hard. But once you’ve broken this chain of constant responsibility and accepted help from others things will get easier.

We all have to stand up to our parents when they get to this old age. They forget that we are getting older as well. My mother, who is now in a nursing home, still, I think, sees me as much younger and continues to say “you should be looking after me/I shouldn’t be in here/it’s your duty etc etc”.

We are all here for you Jen and you can “bend our ears” any time you like.

We are all anonymous friends on this site but are thinking of you and sending you a big virtual (is that the word?!) hroup hug.




Kind regards.

It may not have been the best time to speak out but it needed to be said. It was exhausting, never-ending and stressful taking care of my mother, although she was appreciative. Others here have offered sound advice. You need to look out for and look after yourself.

Wow, I am overwhelmed with all your kindness!
Thank you
I have applied for attendance allowance just a couple of weeks ago, and after more words were spoken this morning, they have agreed to a gardener coming in, which is a great first step.

When my friends found out I had lost it yesterday, I’ve either seen them today or they have called. Believe it or not my mum still cooks from scratch, and usually I go for lunch on a Sunday, but tomorrow I’m going out for lunch. I am also going away for 2nights with another friend ,whilst my other friend babysits them… so a lot of progress.
I have read a few articles/ YouTube about siblings that don’t help, and I now realise it’s not going to happen, so I can come to terms with that, and not be disappointed by his non action.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your advice and kind thoughts, I’m in bed with a glass of red wine, which is one of the benefits of being a widow, my husband passed on 17 years ago, so quite a few glasses have been consumed in that time !
Thank you once again, I’m so pleased I have found this forum.

Hi Jenn,

You need to get away for a while.

There are now lots of great holidays for single people, I go to Greece regularly, next year I’m doing a Saga holiday going to Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnissis.

What a great idea, I’ll look into it !