Overcome 3 Excuses from Relatives Who Avoid Caregiving

Why some family doesn’t help with caregiving and how to overcome their excuses and get them to help.

Caregivers need more help and support

Many caregivers take on more responsibility for their older adult than others in their family. 

In AARP’s 2020 report, half of all family caregivers said that nobody else provided unpaid care.

Caring for an older adult by yourself can be exhausting and damaging to health. But getting family to help is often a challenge. 

Getting a better understanding of why family members aren’t doing their part helps you find ways to get them to participate in caregiving.

We share 3 top reasons why family members don’t help with caregiving and suggest how to overcome their excuses so they’ll give you the help you need and deserve.


Overcome 3 reasons why relatives avoid caregiving

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

And telling your family member about everything you do isn’t as effective as having them experience it firsthand.

A good way to start changing their 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 task – like a health insurance claim issue or financial housekeeping.

Or, arrange their visit for when you’d normally help Mom get ready for bed and then ask them to do some of the things you would normally do.

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


2. They don’t know how to help
Another type of family member might not know how they should help. These folks do better when asked to do specific tasks.

It might be annoying to have to constantly spell out exactly what you need because it seems so obvious to you, but these people often respond better to requests.

For example, you might say “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
When you started as a caregiver, you had to jump in and learn on the job.

It might be upsetting to think that someone else has the luxury of sitting on the sidelines because they’re too afraid.

But this person is more likely to help if you slowly ease them in and train them on caregiving tasks.

Start out by having them shadow you and watch while you care for your older adult. That helps them get over their fear and get familiar with the routine. 

The more first hand 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 to chew.” or “Let’s gently encourage Mom to drink all her juice at lunch so she won’t get dehydrated.”


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


  • Reply April 10, 2021


    I had to comment.
    My sister has ha my mom for years, but she needed a break after her third and final child, so I let my mum come stay with us while she recovered from the birth .

    It was a nightmare, my mum thought she was getting control of our home, money and the right to attempt to turn our routine upside down and the final straw was she wanted to pick up and go to the store when she wanted after my husbands spent a full day working!

    She didn’t care about COVID-19 only that she had her soda, ice and cigarettes she is a dry drunk not a sober one and everything was about her habits!

    People were dying left and right, but she would not make do with a monthly trip she wanted to go to the store all the time, she can clean and bath herself but wanted to slouch around in grungy clothes and not bath.

    I insisted on twice weekly shows and washing her clothes weekly mom thought she was entitled to being a slob and smoking too close to the house No.

    Look I helped my sister as she needed help, for respite. but I am never moving anyone in again they think you are the housekeeper, and they can yell and scream at you when they feel bad about anything.

    Do not move in with them or move them in with you, instead oversee their care from a distance, otherwise they will try to make your home a twenty-four hour a day work house.

    Where you are toiling away because they imagine they have rights to bully you, because they are old and need care.

    My mother is disabled, but she was not unable to care for herself, she just thought it was ok to be sloppy and sweaty because she was comfortable to hell with everyone else comfort.

    It is hard to help people who do not want to care about how helping them affects you. Some elders do not admit they think of carer as a tool to be used and abused and get angry when you assert limits as human.

    • Reply April 11, 2021


      So sorry to hear that your mom has been behaving this way 🙁 It’s a major challenge to care for someone who doesn’t respect that you have needs as well.

  • Reply September 21, 2018

    Irma Reyes

    I’ve been with my mom about ten or more years. I have 4 brothers I’m the only daughter have one brother who tries to help me 1 lives in the states , one lives with me but not much help and the oldest worries more about he’s mother in law then his mom.I work so I can kept up with the financial.

  • Reply September 20, 2018


    My siblings become so sad and upset by the changes in our parents. They are kind of unstable in their own lives, and it is just too much for them to handle. It is frustrating to me.

    • Reply September 21, 2018


      I’m so sorry you’re in this situation 🙁 It’s tough to shoulder the responsibility alone. Would they be able to contribute financially so you can hire some help? Or, maybe they could help with non-care tasks like errands.

  • Reply September 19, 2018


    I don’t actually related to the excuses outlined in this article. In my experience, my siblings’s reasons/excuses have always been: 1. I don’t have time; 2. I have a life; 3. I can’t do what you do. While they “appreciate” what I do, they always seem to have “plans,” and don’t want to “give up their own life.”

    One thing I’ve said to them is “you make plans because you can.” I can’t walk away.

    • Reply September 19, 2018


      I’m so sorry your siblings have been unwiling to help, that’s a very disappointing situation to be in. Maybe you could get them to contribute financially if they refuse to help in other ways?

  • Reply November 29, 2017


    For me it simple,I have a brother who dose not want to be part of it and has clearly said so.
    He was not raised that way.
    I am in alot of pain myself and I have been at this for over 35 yrs.
    Also I think and feel it is sad he doesn’t see them,they will not be here forever.
    In short it is sad,heart breaking and disheartening.

    • Reply December 5, 2017


      Maria — I’m so sorry about your brother 🙁 I hope you’re able to get help with caregiving from other sources so you can have time to care for yourself as well ❤

  • Reply September 12, 2017


    All of these stories are so true. I have 2 brothers, 1 we don’t hear from and the other is pretty responsive. But we are in different states. The bottom line for me is I will do as much as I can for as long as I can. My mother has always been there for her family and didn’t bail if it got to hard. My sadness comes from the fact that she won’t be here for ever and my siblings are missing so much. Their loss.

    • Reply September 12, 2017


      I’m so glad you’re able to be there for your parents ❤❤

  • Reply July 27, 2017


    I have 12 brothers and sisters our mother began needing help last September I stay with mom over night at her house she comes home with me in the mornings so i can run child day care i only have one sister that will stay overnight and she only does that one or if iam lucky two nights a month they help with a few dr app but that is it i never get to see my own family and i am beyond tired atleast six out of the 12 have done nothing but they tell me i have plenty of help i really don’t have family support

    • Reply July 27, 2017


      I’m so sorry that’s happening 🙁 If your siblings aren’t willing to physically help, you could ask them to contribute financially so you can hire some help and get some well-deserved breaks.

  • 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


      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


      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.

    • Reply November 10, 2020


      This is true in our family. We are four sisters, and the two youngest really do not care. In many ways I understand this because my mother was and is a very difficult domineering woman who was borderline abusive to us as children, when we were sick. She just could not handle it, so we were punished in many ways. I did not learn to nurture or give care from her at all. Despite that, as the eldest I feel it is my duty to give support, as does my one sister, who does a lot. Mother is now 93, livig in her own home, financially comfortable, but miserable to be around. She is fine with others, but lashes out at us daughters. We have given up on asking teh two younger sisters to help, although they are very kind and understanding when I need to debrief.

      • Reply November 10, 2020


        I’m so sorry that you and your siblings had to grow up with a mother who behaved that way 🙁 It’s so kind of you to care for her now that she needs help. And wonderful that you have another sister who’s also willing to help. Perhaps listening to you when you need to talk is all that your other two sisters are able to contribute in this situation.

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