Overcome 3 Excuses from Relatives Who Avoid Caregiving

relatives who avoid caregiving

Caregivers need help

Many caregivers take on more responsibility for their senior than others in their family. In one study, 76% of family caregivers said they don’t get any help from family members!

Caring for an older adult by yourself is exhausting and damages your health. Every caregiver deserves and needs help because it’s a 24/7 job that encompasses all areas of life.

One obvious source of support is family. But for many, getting family to help is a challenge. Understanding why they’re behaving this way can help you find ways to get them to join your caregiving team.


Overcome 3 reasons why relatives avoid caregiving

Here are three top reasons why family members don’t help with caregiving. After understanding their thinking, use different ways to overcome their reasoning (uh, excuses) and get them to actually help you out.

1. They think you don’t need any help
This may sound crazy because you’re living the caregiving reality, but from the outside, it may look like you’ve got everything perfectly under control and that you don’t need help.

Often, people who aren’t involved in day-to-day care have no idea how much time, energy, and sacrifice is needed to care for a senior.

Telling them about all that you do isn’t as effective as having them experience it firsthand. A good way to start changing this misguided point of view is to slowly get them involved in day-to-day activities.

For example, ask your relative to help with a specific insurance or financial task. Or have them visit when you normally help Mom get ready for bed and then ask them to do some of the things you normally do.

They may not change their minds the first time, but if you keep involving them in aspects of your older adult’s care, they’ll soon see how much time and energy it takes.

2. They don’t know how to help
Another type of family member might not know how they should help. These folks need you to ask them to do something specific.

It might be annoying to have to constantly spell out what you need because it seems so obvious to you, but some people respond better to specific requests like “Next Saturday, I need your help to declutter Mom’s house so she won’t be as likely to fall. Can you meet me at her house at 2pm and stay until 5pm?”

3. They’re scared of doing a bad job
Ha! As if you had a choice when you started as a caregiver! You had to jump in and learn on the job, but someone else is sitting on the sidelines because they’re too afraid.

As difficult as this may be for you to swallow, this person might be willing to help if you train them and slowly ease them into caregiving tasks.

Starting out having them shadow you and watch while you care for your older adult might help them get over their fear and learn the ropes. The more firsthand exposure they have to caregiving, the more comfortable they’ll get.

As an example, you could ask them to come over for lunch. While they’re there, calmly talk through the ways you’re helping Dad — “I’m just going to cut up the chicken to make it easier.” or “Let’s gently encourage Mom to drink all her juice at lunch so she won’t get dehydrated.”


Bottom line

Getting one or more family members to help with caregiving will give you regular breaks and will make you feel less alone in the responsibility.

It might take some time and training for relatives to become fully helpful to you, but the long-term health benefits you’ll get are worth the extra effort!


You might also like:
4 Tips to Get Family to Help with Elderly Parents
4 Tips to Solve Caregiving Family Problems
Stop Arguing with Siblings about Mom’s Care, Try Elder Mediation


By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Source: Humana
Image: Forbes


  • Reply July 18, 2016


    My experience has been they simply do not want to help. I have s brother and sister. They have never done anything. I have sacrificed everything for years, and for over a year mom has lived with me. Neither has done s damn thing, and I’ve asked many times. Then they accuse me of trying to steal money, lol.

    • Reply July 18, 2016

      Connie Chow

      I’m so sad to hear that your family is so unhelpful 🙁 It’s unfortunately true that some people just won’t do their part and may even try to make things worse, like when your siblings try to accuse you of stealing. In those cases, there’s not much you can do except keep them up to date on major changes (if you feel that’s helpful) and otherwise avoid contact. A caregiving team can still support you — turn to other relatives, friends, professional caregivers, programs like adult day services, and even community volunteers for help.

  • Reply September 10, 2015



    • Reply September 10, 2015

      Connie Chow

      Hi Sandra, It’s so sad, but unfortunately true for too many caregivers 🙁 One possibility in those situations is to build a caregiving team of helpful relatives (if there are any), friends, and hired professionals. There are people out there who are willing and able to help.

  • […] For many, getting family to help care for seniors is hard. Understanding the thinking of relatives who avoid caregiving helps you overcome their excuses.  […]

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