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Posted: May 23, 2005

Practical Caregiving

Greedy Brothers Not in Parents' Will

Greed is a terrible thing, in business or our personal lives. Yet it finds its way into almost every aspect of life. This unpleasant human condition is bedeviling Lucy, who is dealing with the nasty side of her brothers after they were told by her parents that they will not be in their will, in favor of Lucy getting it all.

Meanwhile, Jeanette is just about at her wit's end trying to find qualified in-home care for her mother that Medicare will cover.

Can Lucy balance her way through this family fight? Can Jeanette find reliable help she can trust? Let's see how we can help these two caregivers pulled from my e-mailbag.


Dear Jean:

I am so mad at my brothers. Here's the deal. I am a single mother living close to my parents. They have helped me at times because my children needed shoes or clothes or something else. They also helped my brothers when they needed help.

Now I, as the only daughter, have been told by my brothers that I am responsible to make sure my parents have everything they need. I do the shopping, wash the clothes, drive them to the doctor's office, clean their house, and handle anything else they need. Mom and Dad are unable to do those things themselves, but they are still able to eat at the correct time, take their meds at the correct time and other things at home. I am happy to make sure they have what they need. I love my parents.

My youngest brother visits them once or twice a year and never brings his kids to see their grandparents. He only lives 80 miles away. My other brother comes around more often -- perhaps 4-5 times a year for an hour or two. Neither one of my brothers have ever done anything for my parents.

Five years ago, when they were able to take care of themselves, my parents made me the sole heir. They didn't tell us about it until a couple weeks ago. They told me that my brothers had abandoned them, didn't care about them, and had made a good living and didn't need their money. In fact, they told my brothers that they didn't need the money.

After my brothers heard about the will, they called Dad back and yelled at him for not giving them anything. That hurt me so badly. I can use what's left after they die, but I don't like to see my parents get yelled at that way. My brothers had already hurt my parents by ignoring them, so the yelling didn't upset Dad, but it sure did me. How can anyone be so cold and heartless? What makes them think my parents owe them anything? They don't do anything for my parents.

Lucy P., Tampa, Florida

Dear Lucy:

I'm so sorry your brothers feel the way they do. It sounds like your parents reconciled themselves to your brothers' attitudes several years ago, and they probably expected this outcry. That may be the reason they didn't tell anyone earlier. Now they see their time on this earth coming closer to an end, and they probably wanted to protect you from your brothers. They decided to say something now so your brothers would know it was definitely their idea and that you didn't coerce them into giving you everything. If money is their only concern, there is nothing you can do about it -- and, if so, that greed really says a lot about your siblings!

There is something else you might want to try to help the situation. Why don't you write your brothers and ask them if there is something in the house they want for sentimental reasons. Be careful how you say it; you don't want them to take everything of value out of the house and leaving you and your parents with a bunch of junk. It is possible there is a lamp, picture or something else they would like to have.

Good luck. Try to remember that not everyone has the same feelings toward their parents that you do. And there may also be circumstances in your brothers' lives you are not aware of. No matter what the situation, try to center your attitude and keep it there. It will make a huge difference for you and your children.


Dear Jean:

How can I get decent help taking care of my mother? The government will pay for someone to help, but I have trouble finding anyone who will do what they are supposed to do. Most of them don't want to do anything. Some have even hurt Mom. What can I do?

Jeanette S., Bakersfield, California

Dear Jeanette:

In order for the government to pay for the help, you probably need to go through an in-home healthcare agency. There are many, large and small, all over the United States.

First of all, don't be afraid to ask questions. Call different agencies and ask about their hiring policies, employee background checks, range of services, the number they employee and their positions, cost, and the criteria for keeping an aide in the home with the government agreeing to pay for it.

When they want to send someone out to help with your mother, ask the agency how long that person has been employed by them, and probe their qualifications. Also, ask if they have been accused of stealing or not doing their job. You don't simply have to accept everyone they want to send out. If you have a legitimate reason for not wanting a certain person in your mother's home, they should honor that request. I had to tell an agency more than once not to send someone a second time when I found they didn't do what they were supposed to.

Also, drop in on your parents unexpectedly when the help is there. You can find out whether they are actually doing what they are supposed to that way.

If one agency either won't take on your mother or discharges her after they accept her, call another agency. There are certain government rules they have to follow that make this necessary.

Your problem is not an unusual, but there are many people out there that are good help. Don't give up.


© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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