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‘I pay my sister to help me but she makes my life hell’

Dear Coleen

I’m a 48-year-old woman and I was always pretty healthy up until about six months ago.

Now, I’m in a situation where I need just a little help, maybe an hour a week, around the flat as well as a lift to a monthly appointment with my doctor.

My sister offered to help, but it’s turned out to be a nightmare. The problem is, she is taking advantage of my temporary vulnerability in a really horrible way, even though I pay her.

I’ll check with her about an appointment and she will either not show up, or complain about having better things to do. She doesn’t work and lives 15 minutes away, so it shouldn’t cause this much stress.

When we do go to see my doctor, she threatens that if they don’t see us within 15 minutes she’s leaving, so I’m terrified she’ll just take off when I’m in the exam room and leave me stranded.

The other day she left my flat in an uproar and slammed the door really hard. I’m totally through with her.

My question is, how do I sever ties with the least amount of damage? She’s also made veiled threats about getting me in trouble with mutual friends and with the management company that oversees the flats where I live.

She’s even threatened to take my cat! I just want to end this arrangement.

Coleen says

You need to rely on someone who is reliable and if you have the money to pay someone, you don’t need to rely on your sister.

It’s a hard lesson, but we can’t always rely on family just because we’re related. You’re not well and shouldn’t be feeling worried, vulnerable and at the mercy of your sister, who sounds as if she has her own issues to sort out.

She doesn’t seem balanced or in a fit state to be helping other people.

It’s important for you to regain control and take the power away from her. Simply tell her that you don’t need her to help any more. If she pushes you for a reason, then just say you feel it’s inconvenient for her to help you out at this time.

In the meantime, set something up with a cab firm to take you to appointments or ask friends – maybe they can do a rota.

If you need help around the flat for an hour a week, then use the money you’re paying your sister to pay someone else, maybe one of your neighbours or a friend’s teenager – students always need extra cash.

If she does make threats, so what? If you’re really worried, you could have a discreet word with the management company and your friends, and warn them in advance about anything your sister might say.

More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems

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