Should I push my schizoaffective brother to get a job?

My 37 year old brother is schizoaffective and on disability. He lives with our elderly parents. He hasn’t worked in over 8 years. The jobs he has had didn’t last long. He attends a clubhouse everyday for a few hours but there aren’t many members and he stays to himself. His therapist says a job would be good for him but he seems to be avoiding the subject. My parents and I have tried to encourage him to work part time so he is less isolated but he always has an excuse not to. Should I let it go and let him be? He spends all day in his room alone on the weekends and the evenings he isn’t at the clubhouse. He always complains he has no money but refuses to get a job. Advice?


I don’t think you can push anyone to do anything. Only they can get motivated to do something. There’s an interesting school of counseling called Motivational Interviewing which might work. It attempts to get an ambivalent person to get motivated to make changes in their life.

If a person does decide it would be in their best interest to earn more money, then I think Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans is the best book out there for that.


I was very lucky that the desire to work was always strong in my daughter. She never has not wanted to work, but before medication, couldn’t work in a group. But I have gotten her all of her jobs. She has no idea how to find a job on her own. Since the SMI, she cleaned condos once or twice a week for awhile even while talking to her invisible voices. Then she had a job in a baseball stadium walking around on her own, part time, picking up trash during the games. Now she’s been a housekeeper in an assisted living facility for 2 years. I was upfront with all potential employers about her illness. So they knew she had a disability.

I don’t think you can do anything but mention work every so often to your brother. Perhaps you could actually find something that he could do, or there is a government group that helps with finding jobs for people. We used the Florida Vocational Rehab office to get my daughter evaluated and placed in the nursing home. That was very successful. I managed the whole process though, setting all appointments and driving her there.

For your brother, the problem is the future, when your parents are gone, and maybe he can’t see that he might have to support himself.


How old are your parents? I also have a brother who has schizophrenia. He was able to have jobs
on and off until he was in his early 30’s. By your brothers age he was not able to work any longer.
at the beginning he would not last more than 6-8 months at a job. his longest job full time was for one year when he was around 26. My parents found him jobs with people they knew. He could never do anything complicated, once he reached 27. He was diagnosed at 22 but probably had schizophrenia at least 1-2 years earlier.
Once my brother was unable to work any longer ( he was not dependable to show up anywhere)
my parents supported him. My dad died 4 years ago and my mom developed dementia a few years before dad died. I am living your future in 20 years from now. My brother is currently 57. Once dad died , I had to completely take over my mom and brothers life. You cannot prepare yourself for this until you are in it.
Get him on disability as soon as possible . This will help you in the future once your parents are unable to care for him or they themselves are no longer alive.



My Dad is 77 and my mom is 71. My brother is already on disability which is helpful but is probably why he choses not to work, he has money coming in and lives with my parents rent free. I’m sure your situation is stressful. Your brother and mom are lucky to have you to care for them. My brother has worked in the past but something always happens- he disagrees with a coworker, threatens management, thinks other employees are against him and he quits. I think working will help his self confidence and improve his social skills but I can’t force him to do anything. Maybe volunteering would help him out himself out there more. I anticipate him living with me when my parents are no longer here but I want him to do more with his life than sit in a room alone all day and night.

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You are a special person to have already decided that your brother will live with you once your parents die.
There is no possible way I would ever allow my brother to live with me.
If you are interested in the full description of what transpired in my parents and brothers life from 35-57 I can bore you with the details .
My parents put my brother into an apartment near them when he was around 25. They could not live with him .They wanted to have a life ….

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My adult sz son is 38 and on SSDI and he can’t work. He tried several times through the years, and I always tried encouraging him to do something part time, but each situation caused such stress within him that it always caused him a major setback in his recovery. Eventually I quit pushing it and he seemed relieved and much more at peace.

He has things he does around the house and some simple hobbies he enjoys, and he always wants to go with me on errands and other things I do but he never minds if I go by myself either.

He thrives in a simple, predictable, quiet environment and he takes his meds faithfully.

This lifelong experience has taught me that you can’t will people to do things; they have to really want it themselves and sometimes they never will, and it’s up to us to find a way to be okay with that.

As for the money thing, I am my son’s rep payee for his disability check (as well as his legal guardian) and I manage his account and his bills, I work on teaching him what I am doing for him although he has trouble retaining what I explain.

He has a small amount of money on a Paypal card he can use as he wants for little things, but he has recovered much better (mentally) through the years not having money at his disposal. Not having it available, took away his ability to #1/ buy drugs and alcohol, and #2/ give his money to others that ask #3/ lose his money or forget what he did with it. All things he did before I was payee. It may be that someone will need to be a payee for your brother to make his money management come together. I wish you and your brother all the best going forward.