Dear Donna:

I’m the primary caregiver for my parents. They only live about 15 minutes from my husband, son, and me. While my siblings don’t live very far away, I am the oldest daughter and our parents’ care has fallen to me.

In the early days, taking care of my mom and dad primarily meant picking up groceries and helping them with lawn care. It was easy and allowed them to stay in their home.

Lately, however, it’s become a full-time role. In addition to working part-time, I still have a teenaged son at home. I’ve tried to drop hints to my siblings that I need help, but they either don’t get it or aren’t interested. My husband is getting more and more angry about it, and I’m not sure what to do.

Do you have any advice? The time has come for me to have some help.


Lisa in Holland, MI

Tips for Getting Siblings to Help with Caregiving

Dear Lisa,

Let me start by saying you aren’t alone. I’ve had similar conversations with more eldest daughters than I can count over the years! It’s very common for families to look to daughters, especially the oldest, when an aging parent or parents need help.

Here’s what I would suggest:

  • Schedule a family meeting: Invite your siblings to meet at your house. It’s best to find a few hours when you won’t be interrupted.
  • Make a list: Create a list of the caregiving duties you and your husband have been doing. Then make a second list of items you want a sibling to help with.
  • Be direct: It sounds like dropping hints hasn’t been working. You need to come right out and say you need your siblings to pitch in. Be kind but emphatic.
  • Take notes: Keep good notes detailing everyone’s caregiving duties. Let your siblings know you’ll provide each of them with a copy after your meeting to make sure you are all on the same page moving forward.
  • Offer alternatives: If one or more of your siblings isn’t willing or able to assist in your parents’ care, perhaps they can help finance alternatives. For example, will they pay for someone to clean your parents’ house each week or for a meal delivery service? Or perhaps a week of respite care for your parents at an assisted living community every six weeks or so?
  • Utilize a geriatric care manager: Some families find it useful to hire a geriatric care manager, also known as an aging life care expert, to help them navigate the situation. They have experience helping families work together and find solutions.

One final piece of advice is to consider that your parents’ quality of life might improve if they moved to an assisted living community. From nutritious, well-balanced meals to daily activities, it’s an environment designed to support success for seniors. And it will allow you to spend more quality time with them. “Benefits of Moving to Assisted Living” might be a good article to review before you sit down with your siblings.

Please let me know if you have any more questions!

Kind regards,