My thick headed brother.

My brother thinks that I am overreacting to my Dad’s situation. He is not eating well, rarely has a bath, does not take his medications and just watches TV. He really is no longer able (in my humble opinion) to live alone and take care of himself. I live close by and do most of the running around with and for him. My brother shows up on some weekends or when his wife will let him out. How can I get it through my brother’s thick head that Dad needs more care?


Hello Ivanna:

Caregiving would not be so hard if all we had to do was deal with the actual giving of care. The reality of caregiving is that it is complex, ever changing with new and old nagging challenges. Sometimes the nagging challenges come from our own families, sometimes because they either do not listen well, do not listen at all, or just don’t believe us. Ever feel like a broker record? Some of the biggest challenges can be accepting that a parent’s health is changing and agreeing on a care plan that is affordable and sustainable.

As caregivers, we wear many hats; often we wear the hat of a “salesperson”. Our negotiating, sales pitches and abilities to clearly articulate what is really happening can be exhausting. It is however very important to properly paint an accurate, honest picture of what is happening and what needs to happen. Here are some ideas to consider:

Idea #1.

Be specific about what you see, what is happening. Your brother may not see or know everything that is happening. Perhaps he only sees a snapshot.

Take pictures or videos. Document everything. The more ways that you demonstrate what is happening, the more likely you will be believed.

Idea #2

Give your brother some time to absorb your findings and ideas. Your brother may not want to believe that your Dad has declining health. Living in denial is a way of life for many.

Give him some time to let “things sink in”. Tell your brother that you will track and keep him current. The more details you tell him, (on an on-going basis, over time, the more likely he is to believe you).

Idea #3

Perhaps your brother’s head is just too thick. Sometimes despite our best efforts, getting some people to understand, learn and support the changes happening in our families are beyond their abilities and interests. Do your best to keep your brother current with all major events and changes, but also know that you must do the best for your Dad with the resources available to help manage his care. Your brother might be the type of person who only deals with reality once an emergency happens. Perhaps your brother will believe you only when a real crisis has occurred.

As the old expression says: “Lead, follow or get out of the way”. Every day, every new challenge will give both of you an opportunity to decide which of these three roles you will play. Perhaps over time, your brother may follow and agree with you. Just imagine if he ever took the lead!

Best of luck

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