(Closed) When the kids must take care of their parents

posted 5 years ago in Married Life
  • poll: Among siblings, whose responsibility is it to care for elderly parents?

    It's everybody's responsibility,equally, regardless of if you have kids or not

    If you're the sibling with no kids, you should be the primary caregiver

    Other - see below for a more lengthy reason

  • Post # 16
    5362 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: May 2016

    I’m an only child and I’ve lost both of my parents. My mom’s brother and mother have also passed. When it came time for someone to take care of my grandfather, it all fell on me. I am 22, in college and lived over an hour away. There were 3 cousins and I’m the youngest but of course none of them could be bothered, but could definitely bitch to me about money. My grandfather also had 3 sisters and 1 brother alive, but they were more pain in the asses than helpers.

    Granted, me and my pawpaw were two peas in a pod. We were each others life. I had no problem taking care of him after all he had done for me. Even though it was extremely hard on me, I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to do it. I felt like it was my job. Even though I blame myself for being on a plane when he passed, I know that I provided for him the best I could and he would be proud. 

    Ideally, I think everyone should help. But I don’t see this as what usually ends up happening. In your situation, I don’t think one’s kids should even be a factor. 

    Post # 17
    865 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: June 2015

    I think it really depends on the situation. I lost my mom, and I am an only child. It was hard. My dad helped, but it was incredibly physically demanding, even splitting the work between two people. However, my mom was home until the very end and needed to be fed, bathed, lifted in and out of bed, etc…, many people in her situation would have been in a healthcare facility at that point. And I won’t even go into how psychologically difficult it was; I think people see it as more natural for a daughter to lose her mother than a husband to lose his wife, and so it often fell on me to be the “strong one.” All that to say, I think if there are multiple siblings, everyone should endeavor to be as involved as possible to support one another, although realistically the bulk of the caretaking may fall on some individuals more than others based on availability and proximity. 

    For what it’s worth, my fiance is also an only child, and we chose our house partially based on proximity to his parents so that we’ll be around to both help out when they get to that age. I’ve already asked my dad to move closer to where I live (he moved out of state after my mom passed) if he gets into a position where he needs caretaking. We’re planning on caring for our parents as they age; since we’re onlies, we see it as our responsibility and are trying to plan accordingly. 

    Post # 18
    29 posts

    In my family the responsibility would likely fall to me because I am the oldest and more responsible and I have the means (money & space in my home). I don’t see how a family (husband & kids) would factor in the equation. My siblings circumstances will not have changed even if I am a wife & mother. Also, I find the child closest (relationship & proximity) to the elder parent usually finds themself being the primary care giver.

    Post # 19
    4238 posts
    Honey bee


    imo, caregiving and availability may go hand-in-hand, but, it doesn’t mean you’re better suited for care simply because you have better availability. And a good report with the caregiving can make all the difference, anyway. Personally, I would NOT expect the sibling with more offspring to do less when coordinating care for our dependent parents. Just my $0.02.

    Post # 20
    3164 posts
    Sugar bee

    I cared (not very well at times, but as best I could) for my mum for 15 yrs. I don’t have siblings or any help. 

    I answred red other because I think it would be lovely if everyone shared the responsibility but realistically that doesnt always happen. In fact my observation would be that it rarely does. But people still need to have the best care possible and if that means someone has to step up and do more than so be it. I’m fully prepared to totally care for my SOs parents if they ever need it and his brother couldn’t help for whatever reason. 

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by  Beegritte.
    Post # 21
    776 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: July 2015

    View original reply
    gingerminty:  Interesting topic really.. I think it just depends on the type of person people are.. When my mom got sick my dad and I were at the hospital every day. I would skip school and be there if my dad was working and such. My brothers, one 2 years older than me and one 4 years younger than me barely visited her in the 4 years that she was sick. Now that she has passed, I always wonder if they regret not being there for her. I know that I could never let my family (or inlaws) be alone through an illness without being there for them as much as I could. Some people I guess can just ignore it? I dunno, it still doesn’t make sense to me!

    Post # 22
    7309 posts
    Busy Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

    Other. I don’t think it is a child’s responsibility to care for a parent. I am saving a crapton of money so that I will be able to afford paid caregivers if the time comes. I don’t ever want to put that responsibility on my child. He will have his own life to live, family to raise, career to nurture, etc.

    Post # 23
    4160 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: October 2011

    Mother-In-Law always says she wants to live in a senior’s home, so that’s fine, but my Brother-In-Law and SIL both moved away, so DH would be the default caregiver – he is also the only one I could imagine looking after his mom as neither of his siblings are very nurturing.

    My mom is Chinese and because I’ve seen this in my culture, I’ve just always assumed she would live with us when it was time, and I would take on the caregiver role.  I’m more of a nurturing type than my sister, but she would definitely help as much as she could as well.

    Post # 24
    1038 posts
    Bumble bee

    Ideally I think caring for your parents at the end of their years should fall on all of the siblings, but I’m aware that this is something that’s not always possible due to geography, finances, resources, and even strained family ties. I watched my mom and my two aunts make sure their parents were always taken care of until the end, so its almost ingrained in me and my siblings that that will be the way it will be when the time comes for my parents to need care. For us, its what you do.

    Post # 25
    5789 posts
    Bee Keeper

    Actually, this is a conversation that should be had with your parents before they ever need extra care. They may very specifically request one or the other (or nobody) and may even  give reasons why or why not one or several may be chosen. They should also appoint powers of attorney for both medical and legal affairs before they may ever need to even worry about it. Anything can happen at any time, so it is really better to be prepared.

    That being said, from what I’ve experienced, the caretakimg of parents almost always falls to the women in the family. One would think it would be split evenly, but it didn’t happen in my case or in any of my relative’s cases either. I find it mind boggling that men seem to get a pass. We all have the same amount of hours in a day.

    Post # 26
    372 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2014

    I’m an only child and have told DH from the beginning I intend to care for my mum in her old age (my dad passed away when I was young). Id ideally like her to be able to live with us eventually if we are lucky enough to afford a good size house. DH had always been very understanding and supporting of this. At present (touch wood x 100) my mum is in good health and not elderly enough to need any care. 

    DH has two siblings however so whilst I would be more than happy to help with his parents as they get older I would not expect it to become our sole responsibility to care for them. Particularly as our parents live at different ends of the country! I’d feel it should be a joint effort with him and his two siblings Whereas I feel a sole responsibility to my mother as an only child 🙂 

    Post # 27
    995 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: July 2015 - City Hall!

    I take care of my Mother-In-Law (diabetes, pre dementia, and she should be blind within a year…to only name a very few problems) and Father-In-Law (just doctors appointments and meds). My Fiance works, I don’t. (Although I do stay at home with our children.) Fiance is the baby, there are 3 older siblings. 1 out of state, 2 in state. Yet, we are still the only ones who do anything. 

    I am okay with it, because what other choice do I have? Yes. It is extremely busy. Going from preschool to my MIL’s doctor appointments. Calling about Kindergarten registration and turning around to call the pharmacy half a dozen times per day. 

    No one else decided to step up, so we did. And in turn, I ended up with it. Who wants to step up will, so trying to decide ahead of time may not work.

    Post # 28
    7367 posts
    Busy Beekeeper

    Ideally, it should be shared equally, however, its directly impacted by time, resources, location and emotional maturity.

    Sometimes the best qualified on paper (because they have available time or live in close proximty) doesn’t not mean they are willing. 

    It always falls on one or two to the bulk of the responsiblity, while the others get to not particpate by choice. 

    Post # 29
    1761 posts
    Buzzing bee

    Funny how everyone voted “equal responsibility” when in reality I never see that happen!

    Post # 30
    1597 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2013

    ugh, this is such an awful subject with so many factors …. but overall, I think that all of the children need to share this responsibility in any way they can. (IE: if one child doesn’t have room in his/her house, can they visit more often or be the primary mode of transportation to/from doctors appointments)?

    When I was 11, my dad’s dad got really sick and he had to be taken care of 24/7. My dad’s 2 sisters lived out of state over 500 miles away, so they weren’t an option for care. However, my dad’s older brother said he wouldn’t take him in because he “didn’t want his kids seeing that.” Meanwhile, my uncle’s kids were several years older than me and my sister, who were 9 and 11 at the time. So even though my uncle had a bigger house (and my sister and I were so young), my parents lived in the basement for several months while their room was used as a hospital room for my grandfather and the string of hospice nurses that helped them care for him. 

    My mom has been “sick” for most of my life. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when I was 5 and it damaged her kidneys, which brought on a whole other score of health issues. When I was 20, she had to go on dialysis, and during the 9 years that she was doing dialysis, she had SEVERAL complicatons, surgeries, procedures, etc where she required lots of extra help around the house. My younger sister was away at college for a lot of these instances, and it was really difficult for me, especially because my dad always worked 2 jobs. So I felt alone in this a lot. I tried not to get angry with my sister for being away at school, but at times I couldn’t help it. There she was, pursuing her education, hanging out with friends, enjoying life, and I was handling the stress and anxiety of caring for our mom on my own basically.

    I really believe that there’s never a good/fair situation when it comes to these things….. :/

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