4 Ways to Get Family to Help With Aging Parents

Get more help with these 4 ways to convince family members to help care for elderly parents

Why family doesn’t help with caregiving

Unfortunately, many caregivers are disappointed to find that family members don’t take on their fair share of responsibility.

There are many reasons why family members don’t help with caregiving – and it’s not always because they’re lazy and uncaring. 

Sometimes people don’t know where to start or what they could do. 

Others 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 get you the help you need and deserve, we share 4 ways to convince reluctant family members to do their part.


4 ways to get family to help with caregiving

1. Start with a one-on-one conversation

Choose one family member to start with and plan a one-on-one conversation with them.

Keeping the initial conversation private makes it less likely that they’ll get defensive or argumentative because they feel put on the spot or ganged-up on in front of a group.

And even if you’re angry or resentful that they haven’t been doing anything to help, do your best to keep 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 the caregiving help you need to get some well-deserved time for yourself.

During the discussion:

  • 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.
  • Tell them what would be most helpful for your older adult.
  • Let them know what would be most helpful to you.


2. Be specific

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

For example:

  • If you’re looking for someone to independently research ways to make incontinence care easier, let them know.
  • If want to 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.
  • If you’d like to take every other Saturday off from visiting Mom and have them take over on those days, bring it up for discussion.

3. Share information about appointments, important information, and instructions

When someone doesn’t know much about what’s going on, they can feel excluded or assume that nothing is going on.

Not having any information means that they won’t be able to understand the situation, which makes it less likely that they’ll help.

Solve this problem by 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 concerns


4. Keep a list of important tasks

In caregiving, there are so many errands and tasks that need to be done for your older adult.

Keep a list of all these To Do items so you’re ready to share the work whenever someone is available to help.

Your list might include:

  • Pick up prescription refills
  • Pay bills
  • Shop for groceries
  • Cook and prep meals
  • Do laundry
  • Clean the house
  • Schedule and organize social events – lunch, family visits, etc.


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


  • Reply September 30, 2021

    Linda Overton

    information very good and helpful

  • Reply May 12, 2021

    sheila gay

    my sister and i take care of our elderly mother. she had a stroke almost 4 years ago.but we take turns every 2 weeks. or vise versa. my mother would not want any one else taking care of her. nor would we. i draw a little ssi& and the rest ss. my sister draws her retirement. the stress can catch up to a person. .we do our best.because she is our mother. there has to be programs out there that pays siblings to care for her.in the state of ky. we have searched but cannot find anything. that can help us. so this being said, maybe someone can us.

  • Reply May 9, 2021

    Debi Monroe

    I honestly wish so much that I could help you somehow. I’m in a similar boat, and it’s a terrible ship to be on. My retired sister lived only five miles from my parents when Dad got cancer. Dad was caregiver to my Mom who has very limited mobility and is on dialysis. I lived 3000 miles away and was still working. But my sister, who calls my mom a narcissist, refused to care for them. So I had to pack up and move in with them leaving behind my daughter, son and grandkids. I feel even worse for you cuz you’re younger than I am. But this was very hard for us because we had just gotten a motorhome to travel in when we retired. Now the motorhome sits in storage. My Dad died last August from the cancer, and we’re still the only ones caring for Mom…taking her to dialysis, doctors, and her demanding to go somewhere every day that we’re not doing those things. My sister sits in her house give miles away and “helps out” for about five hours by taking Mom shopping one time each week. Even then she gets out of it when she can. I’m having a very hard time fighting against being bitter towards her and I’m frankly I’m losing that battle. Even Mom knows how demanding she is, but she doesn’t care enough to change. I’m depressed allot because after working hard all my life towards my dream to retire and travel in a motorhome, our own retirement plans are over. I guess all i can say is we’re the ones trying to do the right thing. It’s not much consolation when your whole life has been taken over indefinitely, but at least it’s something. I’m so very sorry for you, for all of us that are stuck in this situation. Wish I had some answers, but at least know you aren’t alone. I suspect there are millions of us doing the same.

  • 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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