Annie's Mailbox: Sibling feeling burnt out as caregiver


Dear Annie: Seven years ago, my mother had a stroke. She recovered quite well physically but has never been the same mentally. My aunts wanted to put her in a nursing home, but my sister and I decided to assume responsibility for her. The plan was that Mom would spend six months with me and six months with my sister.

Somehow, my sister's turn never came, and seven years later, my mother still lives with me. The entire time she's been here, family members have never visited, but they will often drive to my sister's home - three miles away - to visit Mom when she is there. They send invitations to family events addressed to my mother at my house and to my sister at hers but exclude me.

I am totally burnt out with the medical appointments, medications, meals and arrangements that are involved in being a caregiver. I know there are support groups, and I've taken advantage of respite care. The most my sister will do is help out with one doctor's appointment and then withdraw, claiming she can't do anymore.

I am near retirement age. I have a wonderful partner and am grateful for all the support he has shown me. But I am resentful of the respect my sister gets from the family when they invite her to functions along with my mother but don't include me. How do I change my situation?

- Used and Neglected

Dear Used: You need to be more assertive about your needs. It's possible your relatives think you need a break and this is why they invite Mom alone, so tell them this is not acceptable. Ask if there is something lacking in your home hospitality so you can fix it. Then say you are hurt and insulted when you are excluded from family gatherings. You also have allowed your sister to avoid her obligations. Set up a schedule so she knows when she is responsible for taking Mom to an appointment, and if she refuses, ask her to contribute financially so you can hire someone to do the things she is unwilling to do.

Dear Annie: I am 17 years old and the youngest of three brothers. The problem is my mom. She does not like my girlfriend, "Taylor." She says Taylor is too young and immature. Taylor is 15 and very sweet and kind. She's never done anything to make my mom dislike her.

Mom still likes my ex-girlfriend. She has said, "I can't find anything to like in Taylor." But that's because she doesn't want to. Her attitude really hurts me. Mom and I get in a lot of fights over this. How can I make her see my side of things and respect my feelings for Taylor?

- Unhappy Teen

Dear Teen: As much as we don't care for your mother's dismissive attitude, we have to agree that Taylor is a little young for you right now. Seventeen-year-old boys can get into a great deal of trouble with 15-year-old girls, and you would be wise to wait until she is 16. Other than that, however, your mother may have developed an attachment to your old girlfriend and is reluctant to let her go. Give it time.

Dear Annie: You've printed a few letters about the provocative way some women dress. Am I the only one totally put off these days when I turn on the morning news and see a skin flick?

What is it with news ladies and their low-cut tops showing cleavage? It's 7 in the morning, for heaven's sake. I'm not an old fogy. I'm in my early 50s. I have stopped watching my favorite morning program because of this. A true lady can dress nicely without having her chest hang out. Those news stations with sleazy newscasters should know my TV gets turned off, too.

- Turned Off Again

Dear Turned Off: Producers and advertisers believe sex sells, so they will use it as long as it appears to be effective. Of course, it tends to apply mostly to women.


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