4 Tips to Get Family to Help with Aging Parents

get family to help with elderly parents

Get more caregiving help from family

It’s not easy to ask for help, especially when it’s not offered freely, but caring for an older adult is a job that’s best done with a team to support you.

Expecting to do everything by yourself without burning out isn’t realistic. It may take some effort to get the help you need, but these tips will help you convince reluctant family members to help.

Previously, we’ve talked about how to create a caregiving team and that you may also want to hire in-home caregiving help or a geriatric care manager. Today, we’ll focus on how to get family to help with aging parents or an ailing spouse.


Sometimes you need to take the lead

There are many reasons why people aren’t helping — it’s not always because they’re lazy and uncaring. Sometimes people don’t know where to start or what they could do. They might feel like you don’t want or need any help. And some people just don’t realize how much time, energy, and sacrifice caregiving really takes.

To increase the chances that family members will start giving you the help you need and deserve, use these 4 strategies.


4 tips to get family to help with caregiving

1. Start with a one-on-one conversation
Start off with a conversation just between you and one other family member. That makes it less likely that they’ll get defensive or argumentative because they’re feeling put on the spot or ganged-up on.

  • Tell them that you need more help with caring for your older adult.
  • Find out if there’s anything they’d like to help with or suggest tasks that fit their skills and interests.
  • Let them know what would be most helpful to you.
  • Tell them what would be most helpful for your older adult.


2. Be specific
If you want help with certain tasks, specifically ask for them. Don’t assume that anyone can read your mind or will be able to pick up on hints or signals.

  • For example, if you’re looking for someone to independently research ways to improve incontinence, let them know.
  • If you’d rather talk on the phone to discuss whether or not Dad needs to stop driving and brainstorm how you’d bring it up with him, make sure you say so.
  • Or, perhaps you’d like to take every other Saturday off from visiting Mom and have them take over on those days.


3. Write down schedules, important information, and instructions
When someone doesn’t know much about what’s going on, they can feel excluded. That makes them less likely to help. Solve this problem by writing down and sharing important information, such as:

  • Your older adult’s usual daily routine
  • Upcoming medical appointments, regular outings, or special events
  • List of medications and supplements
  • Any current problems or worries


4. Make a list of important tasks
Caregivers are so busy partly because there are so many little errands and household things to do. Make a list of all these must-do tasks so you can share it with your team.

For example:

  • Pick up prescription refills
  • Pay bills
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking and meal prep
  • Do laundry
  • Keep house clean
  • Arrange regular social events – lunch, family visits, etc


Bottom line

Even if you’re angry that someone hasn’t been doing anything to help, do your best to have these discussions in a friendly, conversational tone. As the saying goes, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Keeping your cool makes these conversations more productive and helps you get family to help care for your older adult so you can get some well-deserved time to care for yourself.


You might also like:
3 Ways to Deal with Family in Denial About Seniors Needing Help
Overcome 3 Excuses from Relatives Who Avoid Caregiving
Stop Arguing with Siblings about Mom’s Care, Try Elder Mediation


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Help! Aging Parents


  • Reply March 8, 2019


    I’ve been a caretaker for my step mother for 12 years (maybe a little more). She had a stroke and is unable to do anything on her own. I can count on one hand the number of times her son or daughter willingly (without it being her birthday) came to see her. The daughter is a six hour drive away, but her son lives in the same sub-division not five minutes away. I’ve asked for help from both. The daughter will only come if I pay her, the son just will not help. I disliked the woman from the beginning (I mean from the moment I met her, 22 years ago). Now no one except for my father (her husband, who got a girlfriend immediately after it happened) and myself help her. Make sure she gets to doctors appointments, as that is all she seems to have the energy to do. Feed her, bathe her, etc.. I didn’t want to do this in the first place however there is literally only my father and I can’t just abandon him. I’ve been doing this since my first year of college (that didn’t last long). We can’t afford a care facility and my father doesn’t trust anyone in the caretaker industry. I often wonder how much longer until I can stop. I hate this. It has taken control of my life. I haven’t had a girlfriend in 12 years now. Will I get to have a life at all?

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