Being the Bad Cop

policeman-23796_640My brother with Down syndrome has been in rehab for a week and a half with a broken femur. Starting physical and occupational therapy was slow, but, finally he is catching on and showing progress. Of course, the progress is nowhere near what it needs to be for him to come home. Now the conflict arises.

As his older brother and conservator, it seems I have become the "bad cop," meaning he sees me as the obstacle for returning home. I am there every therapy session watching from a distance. He loves the therapist (they seem to enjoy him too) and is richly rewarded with their complements. Once the physical therapy session is completed, I return with him to the room. It seems that I'm the last person he wants to see because I cannot grant him the wish to come home. "I want to go home," he asks. I reply: "Not yet. You have to get stronger."

While I know that my brother has an intellectual disability, it's darn hard to deal with being the "bad cop." My encouragement is met with anger and resistance, while other friends and family visitors are welcomed with his laughter. I've cut back my visits so as not to deter him from complying with the therapist (It appears he's very cooperative when I'm not there, so I am told.) Of course, I know that he loves me as I do him, but it does take away a lot to be met with such contrary behavior.

In my opinion, my brother has transferred the "parental" figure from our deceased mother to me. After her passing, he became a very independent person. Living on his own in the family house with 24/7 caregivers (I live across country) my brother blossomed. However with this recent fall and surgery, I had to return to set things up for rehabilitation. I know that I have to do more of "letting go" but I still have the ultimate responsibility for his care. When I see that his rehab has reached a point for him to safely return home with caregiving, I'll leave, but return for Christmas.

I know that my brother is frustrated with this interruption in his life and routine, so I can't take it personally, but nevertheless, it does bother me. I'm curious to know how other siblings have handled this issue.

Join our mailing list

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter that includes caregiving tips, news, support and more.