We're one dead dog short of a sad country song
May 29, 2012 9:44 AM Subscribe
How can I best support my siblings, who are managing my parents while I live almost 1,000 miles away?
Less than 3 months ago I moved with my family (husband and child) about a 1000 miles away from my parents and siblings. It was a career move for my husband and returning home is not an option. It is a long term job (think tenure). There are three of us children: older sister, little brother and me. We (the siblings) are late 20's-mid 30's, my parents are in their late 50's, so not elderly. My sister is married, has a two year old and works in the service industry (so difficult hours). My brother is single and also works in the service industry, so also weird hours.
My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer in April of 2010. She has been cancer free since her treatment ended, but it popped back up in May of this year. She began chemo last week. My sister spends one of her two days off a week taking my mom to Chemo and sitting with her. My dad works M-F, so can't really do this, nor would he want to. The facility is really a ladies zone. I did half of the chemo treatments with her last go round and very rarely saw men in the facility. So, now my sister has this task solely on her, and I'm not around to alleviate any of that stress or help out--going to appointments, taking her to chemo, etc. My brother has never been there and just doesn't really show an interest in going with her (which again, ladies zone).
Fast forward to this Sunday. My dad was taken to the hospital by ambulance for a possible heart attack. He's had 3 prior heart attacks, the most recent one was 10 years ago and he had 7 bypasses. He's not overweight, but does smoke, and just generally isn't as good at taking care of himself as he could/should be. We are still awaiting test results to find out exactly what happened. My sister and her husband both had to leave work immediately so her husband could pick up their daughter from my mom, and my sister went to the hospital with my mom.
Then, this morning, I contact my mom and sister about 10am. No one is back at the hospital, and no one knows what is going on. My dad is not answering his cell phone, so they're just like "well, he's not answering his phone!" They both sleep late, my mom due to chemo and anxiety (doesn't sleep well at night), and my sister because she works nights. While that was frustrating, I didn't say anything, because really, what can I say? I'm not there.
And, of course, there are some financial issues. My mom is on LTD, my dad does not bring home a lot, and there's the cost of living and medical expenses. So, my sister and I have both lent them money (well, I gave, she thinks they might pay her back someday). My brother is really not in a position to help them financially right now, and he's at that point where he carries some resentment toward my parents for not being the most responsible people on earth.
But, to get to the point of it, how do I help my sister with this? Are any of you caregivers for your parents with out of town siblings? Is there anything they do that makes your life easier? I can only tell her I'm sorry I'm not there so many times, and I think that just makes her more frustrated when I say it.
Sorry for the long background, I just wanted to try to lay out a full picture.