Who is more responsible to provide care? A parent or child?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My daughter is mentally ill and I'm unable to care for her due to numerous health problems. She has three grown married children who claim they are not responsible for her care. I want to know who is legally responsible.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

There are filial responsibility laws in just over half the states that specify that adult children are legally responsible for providing necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention if their parents are indigent. And most state laws also require parents to provide care and support to their children"”at least until they reach the age of majority.

So there may not be a law that squarely addresses your situation. If your daughter is totally unable to care for herself and there is no family member able to take on the duty, then you may ultimately want to look into getting an adult guardianship or conservatorship that would make another person responsible for caregiving decisions. You can find more information about this at www.caring.com/adult-guardianship.

In the meantime, and whether or not this legal option seems fitting, what you describe may be more of a practical than a legal problem. Your daughter needs care. You are not able to provide it. Her children are not willing to provide it.

Finding a solution may require some persistence and research, however"”and perhaps you can enlist the help of a friend or colleague to assure that your daughter gets the help she needs.

If your daughter has a good and sympathetic medical doctor, that may be a good place to begin. While the doctor may not be willing or able to discuss specifics of your daughter's condition, he or she may be able to help pinpoint the specific kinds of assistance required. The doctor may also have leads on geriatric care managers, local groups and adult daycare and homecare providers that may be able to provide the care required.

You may also be able to find a number of good leads through the directory of senior care providers offered on this site at https://www.caring.com/local.