My elderly father's health is rapidly deteriorating. He's the primary caregiver for my middle-aged brother, who is mentally, emotionally, and physically disabled. My brother doesn't want to go into a nursing home and my dad doesn't want to put him in one against his will. But my dad can't take care of him anymore, and is starting to have trouble caring for himself. Really long special snowflake details inside.
posted by kythuen to Human Relations (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My elderly father lives in the Deep South, USA, and is currently living with one of my brother, who is mentally and emotionally disabled and only barely mobile due to the effects of a stroke several years back. My brother is more than a decade older than I am, and very difficult to manage - absolutely incapable of ever working again, or of living alone.
I live in the Far North, USA - too far away to be of much assistance to either of them. I don't make enough money to visit often to help out. I have another brother, also older, also living with my dad, who helps a little with things like taking out the trash or taking the dog out. But he is an unemployed alcoholic with no driver's license, and extremely unreliable.
My dad is reaching a point where he is definitely no longer able to be my disabled brother's primary caregiver. I'm not entirely sure my dad is able to be his own primary caregiver at this point (I'm visiting at the end of the month to try and assess that).
My brother is on (very low) disability payments and is eligible for a nursing home via Medicaid, but so far, my dad is extremely resistant to taking this step. He doesn't want my brother to go without things like his giant television (seriously, it's half the size of a bedroom wall) or his computer (on which he plays video games very, very badly and basically all the time).
I'm trying to get my dad to move up north to be near me, where I can look in on him and help care for him. But Dad doesn't want to put my brother in a nursing home "until he absolutely has to", and he definitely doesn't want to put him in a nursing home in the South if my dad's just going to end up moving North.
Ideally, I could get my dad into an apartment near me, where my brother would live with him until we could get him into a nursing home up here. Then my dad could live alone as long as he can, and then either I would move in to help out, or we would move him to an assisted living situation. Either way, he would be close enough to visit my brother as long as he's able. If he were in any way mentally impaired, I could justify making decisions for him, but he's in full (or mostly full) possession of his faculties. He's just stubborn and overly soft-hearted.
I love my dad, and want him in my life, and I'm willing to do anything I can to help him. But I have a great job that I really like here in the Far North, the best I've ever had, where I'm appreciated and on track for a promotion. I'm finally making headway against a mountain of student loan debt. I'm single and have no children, but I have friends and a life here. If I were to pick up and move down there to be near him, I'd be basically throwing away everything I've worked so hard to achieve for myself. There are no decent jobs in my field in the extremely rural area where he lives (or in any field, really) (unless I literally want to work in a field.)
Here's the complicated/weird bit. I don't want to have anything to do with either of my brothers after my father dies. I don't want any responsibility for my disabled brother's care. I don't want any contact with either of them, ever again. I would happily fake my own death rather than have them in my life after my dad is gone.
I know this sounds cold. But for my entire life, these people have lied to and stolen from my parents and from others. They're alcoholic drug abusers who care about no one but themselves. My disabled brother doesn't drink anymore, but this is only because he is no longer capable of getting alcohol on his own. As long as he was able, he would sneak fifths of vodka into the house against my parents' express wishes and drink himself into oblivion every night.
They both treat my father like crap, unless they want him to buy them something. I have no relationship with them, and haven't ever had one with them since I was a child. They've never held a job, never had a relationship with anyone, basically never been of use to anyone on this earth, including themselves. They've destroyed my parents' lives. The comfortable retirement my father built for them was consumed by what I think of as their "refusal to launch" -- it turned a comfortable retirement for two into an impossible living situation for four.
I feel sorry for my disabled brother, but I don't feel any affection for him. He ate, drank, and partied himself into the health situation he is in, mostly with my parents money financing his self-destruction, and now he refuses to lift a finger to care for himself, even to the extent that he is able.
More than anything else in life, I'm afraid my relatively healthy middle brother will find out where I live and come find me and beg me for money and housing for the rest of my life, like he has done with my parents. And it's not just this; I'm also physically afraid of him. I don't think he would hurt me while my dad is still alive, but he is a vicious person with a horrible temper who drinks and blacks out, and I'm afraid that if he knows where I live and I refuse to help him, I and my housemate could be in danger. As far as I know he's never hurt anyone, but his anger is terrifying.
I'm also afraid of ending up financially responsible for my older, but still fairly young (50's) brother for the rest of my life. My finances currently stretch to care for me and a healthy cat. They won't stretch much beyond that.
So, finally, the questions:
1) When my father dies, he wants to be cremated and buried with my mother's ashes. I'm willing and happy to do this for him, but it will mean going home. Can I arrange for this to be done remotely?
2) If my father continues to refuse to put my older brother in a nursing home, and doesn't move North, is there some agency I can contact when my father dies, local to them, to let them know there is a disabled adult who needs care in his house? Would this just result in my brother ending up homeless? I don't want to have to care for him, but my conscience would prefer that he have a roof over his head somehow.
3) If my father makes me executor of his will and gives me power of attorney, does this mean I'll be responsible for finding a place for my disabled brother?
4) How can I successfully disentangle myself from my toxic family when my dad, who I adore, passes on? Am I a horrible person for wanting to?
My father has basically no assets; his house is underwater, and he has no investments, no significant property, no significant insurance policies or anything that would need to be divided. Sometimes I think, when they eventually call to tell me my dad has died, I hang up the phone and change my number and hope they don't find my address. That's how willing to walk away I am.