Helping a Hard-to-Help Relative

How to 'do' for a difficult loved one while protecting yourself from frustration and burnout


02/11/2008 08:17:58 PM

my husband a neuromuscular disease is so bad to see him gone piece by piece. he was a special forces marine so is very difficult to him endure this situation. I play many roles spouse, doctor, friend , etc Im so ashamed to say this I AM BURNED I just want to leave... i try my best but sometimes is not enough for him he said i dont love him I just pray everyday to God to give the patience, the love, and the courage to continue with this situation.


10/16/2007 06:02:03 AM

I love my dad very much but wish I had help with him. I took care of my mother before she died 13 yrs ago (60 yrs old) and then last yr my dad had a stroke and passed out and drove under a tractor-trailer. My 17 yr old son and I moved in to care for him and since then I not only have 3 brothers and 1 sister that refuse to give me a break and help me, But my disability of my own,(back problems and depression.) My Dr. has said more of my health problems are caused from stress now. But what hurts me the most is I can't even talk to my BEST FRIEND about all this. YES, MY MOTHER! I can not take vacations or have time for myself, but I have dad. MJ


04/02/2007 01:38:30 AM

Hi I just recently went through a very horrible but yetincredible experience..My 53 yr old sister died March 18th the same dy my dad did 8 yrs ago... I called it 6 months ago .i have an excellent sense of intuition and sometimes get premonisions... she wanted to die at home, i dont know where the inner stregth came from but the moment i saw her. her husband couldnt handle this situation at all he stayed in his room . So everything was on me, washing her , medicine, lifting her to the commode.and so on. till the day came where i couldnt lift her anymore. She also stated 1 week before she died that she was going on my fathers anniversary, March 18th , which i just allready knew... i guess sometimes we dont realize the angels are with us to give us the inner stregth when we need it most. 4 yrs ago i fell 3 stories.then when dad died. So i would like to start again to get to know my angels better, should i just meditate and pray?? thank you LucyRose


04/14/2004 03:57:04 PM

Bob has holiday meals at the assisted living home with his mother (they are each other's only living family), and I have -- nothing. Last Christmas, my "Christmas dinner" was a bowl of mashed potatoes, made from STALE potato flakes from a box. One year, we had a small spiral ham from Bob's former employer for Christmas dinner, but that's the best we've fared here. I haven't had a Thanksgiving turkey dinner in so long that I can't recall when my last one was. If anyone has a Hard-to-Help Relative, tell them to contact ME, and I'll TELL them how GOOD they've got it!! (Sorry this was so long, but I've reached THE END!) (Thanks for reading it!)


04/14/2004 03:55:18 PM

So when I FINALLY realized what had been (NOT!) going on, I stopped sending them. It wasn't even so much that Bob and I got nothing from ANY of them (but I didn't like that very much EITHER) -- BUT my realization that they NEVER phoned me or ANYTHING -- EVER -- was the last straw! I sent them nothing last Christmas, and their birthdays have passed by, unacknowledged by me, this year. Even if I were RICH, their behavior would stink! But considering I am WAY below the poverty line AND disabled, that was a lot of money and a lot of work that went unacknowledged for over nearly seven years! In those seven years that I have lived here, with BOB AND BOB ALONE caring for me, I can count on both hands the number of times ANY of my "family" have been here to see me, and I would still have fingers left over! THAT STINKS! (CON'T)


04/14/2004 03:53:38 PM

(No one has mentioned my background to them, which I found to be rather ODD!) ANYWAY, I got the ballet-loving niece a portable, engraved ballet barre (not cheap), and the tap lover got a professional "tap mat" for practicing at home without ruining the floors OR one's taps! Did I get a copy of the videotape made when everyone opened their gifts? No. Did I get a phone call, wishing me "Merry Christmas" and thanking me for their gifts? No. Did I, even eventually, get a call or a card thanking me or even ACKNOWLEDGING those gifts? No. NEVER! They NEVER called me, thanked me, acknowledged receipt of the gifts -- NOTHING! (CON'T)


04/14/2004 03:49:20 PM

After I became angry about being placed "nowhere" on any member of my "family's" priority list, they handed me excuses out the ying-yang, all of which are now moot. I even quit smoking, after smoking for 25 years, so they COULD visit without discomfort. Then they had NEW excuses, not to mention excuses for not even CALLING me! ("Us Johnson women just don't CARE for talking on the phone!") REALLY?? I AM one (unfortunately), and I KNOW THAT I can talk on the phone for hours! I KNOW that THEY can too! Anyway -- they stopped sending me gifts, and stopped acknowledging my birthday completely, but I didn't. They always got a card and gift for their birthday(s), and TONS of Christmas goodies (bought in "spurts" over the previous year, so I could AFFORD them). The year before last was my last one, though. I took tap, jazz, and ballet for 17 years (plus a year of teacher's training by the Chicago Association of Dance Masters), and two of my nieces are taking dance. (CON'T)


04/14/2004 03:46:03 PM

I HURT like a bear after 15 minutes! I simply couldn't do it anymore! We left early, and I was crying my heart out the entire way home. So, I FINALLY got angry about being neglected and overlooked (and even "mistreated!") for so many years, and because no one ever bothered to talk to me about what is going on with me! They all believed "mother," and she didn't know either! She told everyone I was a "junkie," and "bipolar," and she tried to have me committed! (Twenty years earlier, she had enlisted MY help to get her youngest SISTER committed [I was studying psychology and nearly had my degree]), but I refused to help her, because my aunt was NOT "psychotic!"). I HAVE recently been diagnosed with Adult ADHD, which can LOOK like bipolar disorder to the untrained eye, but it is VERY different! (CON'T)


04/14/2004 03:40:55 PM

I always bought THEM really nice things as gifts and was glad to do so, especially for my nieces (I don't really know my nephew and barely know my youngest niece). I bought gifts for everyone, and often "did without" to do so. (Sometimes I did without some of my medication!) No one ever bothered to pick up the gifts from us; my fiancé had to drive them over there to THEM, and leave them for Christmas or birthdays -- whichever it was at the time. THEY all gathered on Christmas, opened gifts, ate a huge meal (I helped BUILD the tradition; I am simply not welcome anymore, and when I WAS "welcome," I wasn't considered at all, much less "accommodated for" -- the last time I was there, NO ONE would give up their "comfy" seat so that I would be in less pain for the duration; I was forced to sit on a hard wooden piano bench with NO back to it! (My fiancé even had to go find it and drag it into the room!) (CON'T)


04/14/2004 03:37:08 PM

(And, as my attorney has discovered, it was ALSO unnecessary. He has since lost his medical licenses and is being sued by over 25 people, including me.) But "mother" has told everyone here, and in my former hometown where I still have friends and relatives, that the surgery was "a huge success!!" HUH??? My hospitalizations were out of state, and she wasn't even THERE! Now I lie in bed and stare at the same four walls every day (as I have done for years), unless my fiancé must take a job out of town, in which case I am left completely alone here. I have no one to help me. With anything. I do have a power chair, which I use if necessary, and a portable toilet in my bedroom. No one has EVER bothered to ensure that we had holiday dinners available (I cannot cook large meals anymore, and my fiancé could NEVER cook them!), no one has brought or even MAILED gifts from across town, no one bothers to mail a Christmas card, and no one even CALLS us! (CON'T)


04/14/2004 03:32:12 PM

I am disabled, bedridden, broke, childless due to infertility, and my husband of many years died from cancer in 1996. I have many painful and disabling conditions -- the worst one was the most difficult to diagnose. So, for years, my "mother" told the rest of the "family" that there was "nothing wrong" with me! (Except that I was, according to HER, a "drug-seeker!") Finally, I was diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari malformation, and had brain surgery. The surgery was to halt the progression of symptoms; any "improvement" would be "icing." "Mother" didn't see it that way and perpetuated lies throughout the community (although she was thoroughly unfamiliar with ACM until I was diagnosed). She thought I should be getting "up and around," and just "grin and bear" any pain I had (which was substantial!). Then my (now former) neurosurgeon had more MRIs done on me, and two years later, I had another surgery which was nearly fatal. (CON'T)


04/14/2004 03:28:12 PM

I WISH that had THIS problem; MY "problem" is the flip side of this one. I have been disabled and bedridden for over seven years. I have four adult "family" members in the area ("parents," two "sisters"), two "in-laws" (sisters' husbands), three nieces (under 16), and one nephew (toddler). "Mother" is an R.N. and an ordained Methodist minister, so she is the parish nurse at THEIR "family" church. "Daddy" is a high school level French teacher, Sunday School teacher, Emmaus leader, and member of the church board. One "sister" and her family are avid church-goers. The youngest "sister" is an elementary school teacher and leads the youth choir; her husband is the son of Methodist ministers-slash-missionaries (in Tokyo, so he has dual citizenship); plus he, my youngest "sister," and my "Daddy" all perform in the same "Prayer Team Singers," along with one other person that they aren't related to. (Except "in Christ," as they say.) (CON'T)


03/09/2004 05:48:11 PM

I think too that we have to look at our own frustrations which can esaily get in the way of any help we want to offer that "difficult" family member. It's not easy, but casting those frustrations aside will go a long way in the right direction.


01/30/2004 02:30:56 PM

I wish I had had the internet and pages like this with which to interact with other people and get their views. I cared lovingly (yes and skillfully) for my Step-daddy still at 88 he passed away I held his hand while he was in hospital and was told very gently he had been "a rather difficult patient" and "really quite naughty" they could not understand when I broke down & wept, till I told them of the times I had had to dodge not always successfully, his stick, and he had taken a knife to me thrown his dinner at me, but strangely it was being told every day that I was a bitch evil and rotten and useless and a (deleted) nutter, that last was sad and I saId yes Da I guess I must be to stay by you when no one else in the family does. Bad yes he was but I could not see him suffer and I suppose it may be after just over a year now, on my own at last that I am an emotional mess. I earnestly request of my I/Net buddies your prayers please


01/29/2004 01:08:02 PM

I think it's important to meditate on who the difficult relative is each time before you interact with them. So many of our older relatives were products of the Depression, World War II and the later wars. Some of them know what it means to starve or to be abandoned as children, they carry regrets and bitterness which contribute to their rough personality. When I reflect on what made this person who he is I can much better handle interaction and dialog with a compassionate heart leaving my own ego out of it.


01/29/2004 11:31:12 AM

Not every parent will be open to a brainstorming session like the one suggested. My Dad, for example, would rather sit in the dark because he forgot to pay the electric bill (again) then admit that he's forgetful. Sometimes, you just have to step up to the plate in subtle ways. For example, calling billing companies and stagger out payment dates, so I can gently remind him when to pay. Sometimes they'll get ticked off anyway, like the first time I made up a grocery list for my Dad when I noticed his fridge and cupboards were bare. I told him "Use it or not, that's your decision." then ignored his rantings as part of his personality. I keep writing up weekly lists and he hasn't said a word, but I haven't gone back to a barren kitchen since.