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How can I get my mentally disabled sister to do her share of the housework?

My husband and I have my mentally 9 year old sister as a roommate. We have 3 adults in the house so we divided up the work like this: I do the bathroom and hubby\son and my bedroom and hubby does the kitchen. Teresa is expected to keep her room clean and do the livingroom. She doesn't do it unless I tell her to about 5 times and she gets tired of me asking. Then when she does do it she takes short cuts instead of doing a good job. For example, just today I was looking under the sofa for something and found all kinds of trash she stuffed under there instead of putting it in the trash can. I won't even talk about her room. You can't even walk in there because she has trash all over the floor. I am about to take her stupid cat the shelter because she never feeds it or cleans the litter box. I am just done. What should I do?


Asked by Anonymous at 10:04 PM on Sep. 1, 2010 in Adult Children (18+)

This question is closed.
Answers (19)
  • I know you're frustrated but you know her mind capacity is that of a younger child so take a deep breath, remind yourself of your duties as a sister to her, and then brainstorm.

    What does a nine year old work well with? Rewards right? Give her a reward chart, nothing spectacular for the reward, maybe a book she likes, or a cd, I dunno, just something she likes. Another option is to do it with her begining to end every day at the same time, and then you can allow her to finish the last bit alone, and then allow her to finish half of it alone, etc until she is doing it all solo.

    This will help her build a routine, will frustrate you maybe, but in the end you will not have to remind her and she will do it automatically. Usually people with a mental handicap or development problem respond well to routines, but it will take time on your part for sure. Good Luck

    Answer by DomoniqueWS at 10:22 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • Well, what would you do for a nine year old? What about a chart or a reward system? What kind of stuff does she like? If her mentality is that of a 9 year old, it would make sense to me to think about how you would approach this situation with a 9 year old and then go from there.

    Answer by emilex at 10:06 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • OMG - Please tell me this is NOT for real. You want to take your 9 yr old mentally disabled sister's cat to the shelter? How damn cruel can you be?

    Answer by twinsplus2more at 10:08 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • A 9 yo is not a room mate, she is a dependant. If she is mentally disabled she may always be a dependant. She may never be able to clean a room or take care of a cat.


    Answer by Gailll at 10:12 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • If she is 20 but mentally like an 8 yo that means you shouldn't expect her to be responsible for cleaning rooms or taking care of pets. She can help do things with people watching her. She should have no responsibility for a pet at all.


    Answer by Gailll at 10:15 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • This IS for real. And yes, if she doesn't start taking care of it I will.

    Answer by luvsmysonjames at 10:09 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • I agree with twinplus2more. If she is mentally ill, she is not going to function like normal or how you want her to. You can't really rely on a typycal 9 year old to do all that...much less a mentally impaired one.

    Answer by BradenIsMySon at 10:09 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • She is actually 20 but mentally about 8-9.

    Answer by luvsmysonjames at 10:11 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • Ok, I am a little confused. I understood your post to read that your sister is a developmentally disabled ADULT who has the mental capacity of a child aged 9. Is this correct?

    Answer by emilex at 10:11 PM on Sep. 1, 2010

  • Correct.

    Answer by luvsmysonjames at 10:12 PM on Sep. 1, 2010