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Dear Wendy

Care for my great-aunt and her kids give us trouble

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  • #1096125 Reply

    Me and my Dad look after my great aunt who just turned 100 a few weeks ago. We moved into the flat right opposite her last year to be closer to her and my Dad has looked after her for over 30 years because her kids are never around. She has been hospitalised twice with very serious problems and both times we contacted her 4 children to come down to the hospital and not one of them came. They each only live a few hours away so it’s not impossible. Two of them don’t drive but they can easily get a train. My Dad does everything for her, he spoke to social workers, organised carers for her, sorts her hearing aids out, does her food shopping, organises her eye tests and the doctors, we both go in every day and do lunch for her and the 5 days the carer isn’t there we take it in turns to do her tea. None of her kids visit her and one hasn’t spoken to her in 10 years! Whenever there has been a problem my Dad is told to take care of it.

    We were going to do a surprise 100 birthday party for her, and as they hadn’t organised anything i sent them invites and got a rude response back saying we were disrespecting my great auntie’s wishes. Safe to say we cancelled the party as we didn’t want to cause any problems. Her kids informed us that they were going to see her on the morning of her birthday but hadn’t told my great aunt so we informed her and for weeks she begged me and my dad and auntie to be with her when her children came. Suring the visit she constantly called for us to check we were still in the room with her.

    So of course we abided by her wishes and stayed while her children visited her and everyone seemed to have a lovely time. Then nearly two weeks later me and my dad received this note:

    ‘Just to say thank you for the well staged performance. The oscar goes to (my aunt’s name). How disrespectful that you did not have the good manners to let us have our quiet time with mother. We at least let things go over our heads so as not to upset her on her special day’

    We are very upset and angry and not sure how best to respond? Are we in the wrong here or what? We don’t want to cause any problems but feel that the way we have been treated by them is horrible. We are the ones looking after their mother and this is the way we are treated?

    Any advice on how to handle this issue would be appreciated.

    #1096127 Reply

    If no one other than the people in the room were copied, leave it alone. They’re just trying to make themselves feel better. If you want to at minimum acknowledge it, you can respond “I’m sorry you feel that way.” which is not an apology whatsoever.

    If anyone who wasn’t there was copied, then I’d be tempted to outline all that you do for this woman while her kids spend one day a year with her and question why they believe they know her needs when they don’t even know how she takes her tea.

    #1096128 Reply

    You need to think about what outcome you want. Nothing you say or do is going to make them behave better.

    #1096187 Reply

    I don’t see the point in responding to a message that’s so clearly trying to bait you into a fight.

    #1096514 Reply

    What a strange hostility. It seems that there is a conflict or estrangement between this old woman and her children. Anyway they take you for the help. They like to pretend they are the children and deny their own guilt at not doing anything for their mother, relying on your family. I would either not reply or reply in one sentence : we stayed because she asked us to do so.
    Then I would reflect on your role of saints. Why do you do all this? Does your father have power of attorney? He could charge the children for his help. I think a discussion about the practical organisation of his help should take place. Stop being taken advantage of.

    #1096537 Reply

    I agree that any response to this is a bad idea. I get the tempration to say something pithy. Really —- I do. But no good will come from that. I’d just ignore this. And carry on.

    #1096538 Reply

    Is there any chance though that they are a wee bit pissed in that you ruined what was their attempt at a surprise party? Was this perhaps the reason that they never told their mother that they were coming?

    #1096568 Reply
    Ready To Mingle

    Who surprises a 100 year old woman? That just seems like a lot of stress for an older woman. My guess is that they wanted to corner her about her will/their inheritances. I would ignore them. If they can’t be bothered to visit, likely you will never see them again.

    #1096872 Reply

    The good news is, their relationship with her is 100% not your responsibility. At any point they could have asked you or her for some privacy. Or, you know, they could come visit her literally any other time of the year. Anyway, I recommend ignoring the note they sent. It was clearly intended to goad you and nothing you say in response will make them any happier.

    From your post, it sounds like you really resent doing so much work for your great aunt while her own children do nothing. While that’s an understandable way to feel, the reality is that you don’t have any influence over them. Let go of what you think they should be doing and focus on what’s reasonable for you and your dad to give. If you’re overwhelmed by the responsibility, it’s time to look into other options such as hiring additional help, calling in other family/friends who are actually willing to assist, or looking into social services that may be available.

    If you simply resent the fact that her kids do nothing, remember — you aren’t doing this for them, you’re doing it for her. And when she’s gone, you’ll know that you lived according to your values and you’ll have no regrets. Her kids probably will. And regret lasts a lifetime.

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