Dear Mary: Welcome to My World

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Dear Mary: Welcome to My WorldDear Mary,

I have the major caregiver to both my parents for 14 years. My father died in 2000 and I have been looking after mom ever since. She had open heart surgery at the age of 85, she had a significant personality change. I also have a mentally challenged sister who has just been diagnosed with a rare lymphoma. To make matters worse, my brother, the alcoholic play boy has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He has nothing to lose so he tried to sell my mothers’ land and he will not pay for the farm land that is in her name.

I am enduring power of attorney and he has legal charged me of changing my mother’s will, spending too much on her clothing and hair, and he thinks that I should not help our sister financially. So for the past 3 years, I have had to produce a receipt if I buy mom magazines, tips to the hair dresser etc. I am a 63 year old retired nurse living on a pension. The extra out of pocket money is mounting, because I need to produce financial spreadsheets etc. If mom passes, I just want to run away and work relief projects in Haiti or Bosnia wherever. My family thinks I am losing it. I have been the most responsible daughter and sister etc for years. I am dancing a daily ” jig” between resentment and guilt. What suggestions do you have? Am I too old to have a mid life crisis.



Dear Marilyn:

Before you head to Haiti or Bosnia to do relief work, how about finding some relief for you and more help your family.

Your life sounds too full and complicated for one person to handle alone without help. I am sure that your mother and sister are very thankful and appreciative for your love and help. It sounds like your brother’s actions and demands have increased your level of stress and difficulties.

Not that long ago, I remember when somebody told me to be aware of “Caregiver Burn Out”. I just stared at that person, unable to respond. I had long passed the burnout stage. I could not recognize it because I was too tired to think. I felt like a living zombie and did not know what to do to change things. I hope you don’t reach that stage.

As one daughter to another, I truly know how you are feeling; please know that you are not alone. If you send me a confidential email, I cannot promise but I will try to connect you with people in your area that may be able to help you in your journey.


Message from Mary Bart: I was my parents’ principal caregiver for ten years. I have first-hand experience in helping aging parents, dealing with family dynamics, protecting parents from elder abuse and working with public and private organizations. Do you have a question for me? Please email your questions to:

An important note: I love answering your questions, but I also encourage you to seek professional legal, financial, or medical assistance. Mary.


| Caregiving Expert

Mary Bart is the Chair of Caregiving Matters, a registered charity that offers education and support to family caregivers. She was her parents’ principal caregiver for ten years and first-hand experience in helping aging parents, dealing wit...