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Woman Accuses Sister-In-Law Of ‘Forcing’ Husband To Help Out With Dementia-Stricken Mom

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As our parents grow older, they begin to need more and more help from us.

While most people always want to help their aging parents as much as they can, it can nonetheless feel like a bit of a burden.

Particularly for those who, voluntarily or not, become their primary source of care.

Such was the case for Redditor Future_Yam9236, who took her mother in after her health took a turn for the worse.

Knowing that her older brother could be of more help, the original poster (OP) finally convinced him to become more involved in caring for their mother.

A development which the OP’s sister-in-law was less than thrilled with, and was not afraid to say so to the OP’s face.

Wondering if she had stepped out of bounds, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for ‘forcing’ my brother to help out with caring for our mom who has dementia?”

The OP explained how they finally got their older brother to help out a bit more with their ailing mother, much to the annoyance of her sister-in-law.

“I (27 F[emale]) live with my husband (29 M[ale]).”

“My mom (58 F) has early onset dementia, and was diagnosed around a year ago.”

“She’s been living with me and my husband, as none of my other family members were willing to let her stay with them.”

“There was a certain pressure on me specifically to be the one to look after her because I happen to be a nurse and I should ‘know about this stuff’, but it’s a lot different when it’s your own mom.”

“I know she’s only going to get worse.”

“At the moment, she’s still enjoying life and is quite happy to watch her favorite movies and play card games.”

“She can’t be left home alone as she’s very vulnerable, and could accidentally start a house fire.”

“She also frequently forgets where she is.”

“I have one sibling, an older brother “James” (36 M).”

“Until recently, James has never helped out with caring for our mother.”

“James lives with his wife (35 F) and they have two kids, (11 M) and (8 M).”

“I’ve asked James a few times in the past for help, and he frequently uses his kids as an excuse and says he’s too busy taking them to and from school or some extracurricular activity.”

“Over the past month, I’ve been a lot more pushy with James and told him that she’s his mom too, and the least he can do is help out one day a week.”

“Now over the past month, every Sunday, James takes our mom out for the day, normally to go get coffee and go for a long walk in the park.”

“She really enjoys it and looks forward to it.”

“It gives me and my husband a break as well.”

“James’ wife has made it very clear that she’s upset with me over this.”

“She said I’m ‘stealing James’ and that James should be spending time with her and their kids.”

“She accused me of making her life difficult, and said that when James comes home from it, he doesn’t want to help out with housework or entertain the kids.”

“I told her that’s not my fault and that our mom’s care needs aren’t negotiable, and it’s not fair for me and my husband to do all of it when James is capable of helping.”

“She said we should just put her in a nursing home.”

“I told her that we can’t afford a nursing home, unless she and James want to go 50:50.”

“She said there’s better stuff they want to spend their money on.”

“I told her that’s tough t*tties and James will have to keep helping out then.”

“She said I’m a jerk for ‘forcing’ James to help out.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community unanimously agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for getting her brother to help out more with their mother.

Nearly everyone agreed that the OP’s sister-in-law was being selfish and unreasonable, with many pointing out that the OP’s brother should relish the time he has left with his mother before her condition worsens, even if some encouraged the OP to make firmer plans for the future.


“If your SIL wants your brother to spend more time with her & the kids, they can all spend Sundays with Grandma.”- sarpon6


“Why can’t James involve his wife and kids in spending time with mom?”

“I do think y’all need a long-term plan for her care.”

“Contact your local Council on Aging to begin coordinating her care, as the costs are based on her income, not yours.”

“It’s better to get her into secure housing soon because it gives her time to get used to it, which will help as the dementia progresses.”- Vavamama


“It’s only to get harder as you well know.”

“Your brother is perfectly capable of helping out.”

“And at this stage of your mother’s illness it’s good for your brother to be able to spend time with his mother, quality time.”- BBAus

“Historically, the onus has always been on women to take care of the relative in these situations.”

“I think it’s as much to do with the fact that you’re a woman as it is the fact that you’re a nurse.”

“I’ve seen this scenario play out too many times to count.”

“Your brother’s wife has issues.”

“To state that you’re ‘stealing James away’ is very revealing.”

“Not all children feel that they want, or indeed can take on this responsibility.”

“However, if your brother is not willing to pay half for a nursing home then I feel he does bear responsibility to care for your mother too.”

“Why should all the onus be on you?”

“Also, his wife needs to get a grip.”- AutumnalAristocrat


“Good for you for insisting on help, it is too much for one person to take on.”

“Your sister in law is a royal witch, holy sh*tballs.”

“Have you seen a lawyer to get your moms finances in order?”

“Not sure where you are, but in the US this could be a nightmare later on.”- Similar_Pineapple418

“If your mother has any assets, money, or investments, you need to speak to a lawyer now, before she gets worse.”

“I know you said that she doesn’t have health insurance.”

“Does she have life assurance?”

“Some of those policies pay out early in the event of a serious illness.”

“I don’t know if dementia would be included in that.”

“Have you investigated the availability of any state care such as home help, respite care, grants?”

“Talk to a charity dedicated to dementia, they might have pointers and insights for you.”

“Not everyone can contribute money, and not everyone can contribute time.”

“But to contribute neither would be extremely heartless of your brother, putting 100% of the physical, mental and financial workload on you.”

“What about sitting him down and asking him what his solutions look like?”

Have you had to give up your job in order to take care of your mother?”

“I really hope not.”

“But if you have, is there a carer’s allowance where you are?”- BeneficialDark1662

There were some, however, who were a little more sympathetic to the OP’s brother and sister-in-law, even if they agreed the OP was justified in asking him to help out more.


“As someone from a family that went all in on looking after a grandparent with dementia.”

“We had a grandparent who had 5 kids (my mum and aunties/uncles) and they each had at least 1 night a week with her.”

“Then she got worse and went in a home and they again each had 1 night a week with her.”

“They felt the obligation that you feel to look after her.”

“But dementia is the worst f*cking disease in the world and I’m never going to berate someone for not wanting to see their loved ones as much and here’s why.”

“They slowly change into someone you don’t know.”

“Our gran became cruel without realizing and while not remembering who you are she picked up on your biggest insecurities saying things like oh I don’t like him, she’s ugly, he’s fat etc.”

“You know they don’t mean it and it still hurts.”

“At some point she started to kick my dog who previously she loved.”

“She lost the abilities to go to the toilet and it can be hard work for many to clean their parent up.”

“We had carers in a home but wanted to do as much as possible we could for her and so if you were there on duty you did everything.”

“She became incredibly vocal.”

“Screaming, shouting etc.”

“After 3/4/5 hours on top of a full workday it was exhausting.”

“It’s so hard I know.”

“As grandchildren we would always take her out etc, at the stage you mum sounds like she’s at.”

“Just for ice cream and stuff so we cared a lot but we reached out limit well before she passed on.”

“It just became too hard to do and became something we dreaded.”

“Our parents kept on until she passed way after about 4 years in a home and I think it broke pretty much every one of them.”

“My mum was absolutely exhausted working as a mental health carer from 8 to 5 and then traveling 30 mins to a home to care for someone for another 4 hours and then driving home.”

“It caused depression in a lot of them and her funeral ended up being one of relief as the primary feeling.”

“I’d like to think most people would help their parents but I can’t call someone an a**hole because their limits are different.”- shorty1988m

It’s a sad thought that spending time with one’s parents should ever become a “burden”.

Though that feeling often comes from a state of sadness, if not outright denial, owing to the declining state of one’s parents.

Here’s hoping that the OP and her brother relish every single moment they spend with their mother, and that her last memories with them will only be happy ones.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.