Should an 18 year old be expected to become a full time caregiver?

13 answers | Last updated: Nov 07, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am 18 years old and getting ready to go to college. I will also have a part time job to help pay my own expenses ( with no help from my mom and dad). My mom who does not help me at all with any of my expenses, expects me to be a full time caregiver for my grandmother. I love my grandmother but I feel it is not fair for my mother to expect this of me. Where can I go for help?

Expert Answers

Dan Tobin, M.D. is the CEO of Care Support of America, a national service providing telephonic and local nurse counsel to adult children caring for aging parents. Dr. Tobin is the author of books and articles focused on the practical and positive aspects of family caregiving.


Being a young family caregiver is stressful and it sounds like you are being asked to do a lot. It may be possible for you to talk to your Mom and explain that you can not do all she expects as you need your own time to work and relax.Maybe the two of you can find someone else to share the load.

I do not know how well you are getting along with your Mom so it is hard to know what the next best steps are. Communication is key so try and get some help with how best to talk to your Mom about the siuation.

Take care

Dan Tobin

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

NO, an 18 year old should not have to be a caregiver at all.   That is a responsibility that should not even be asked of a young person just starting out in the world.  IF this a young person chooses to be a caregiver that is one thing, but not forced upon them or anyone for that matter.

Communication is the key. I was manipulated into being a caregiver. It causes resentment and hard feelings. I am now in my 5th year, however I am not 18.

The mother of this young person should not ask this at all. Make other arrangements. Why doesn't she do it?



A fellow caregiver answered...

Your mother should not be asking this of you.  You are at an age when college, friends, possibly work, is all that  you should be dealing with. It is the responsibility of your Grandmother's children or other adults to tend to her, not yours.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I am one of those older gram\ndmothers 75 yrs old my answer to your question NO you should not have to be the sole caregiver it would be nice if you volunteered occasionaly to help for a few hours to give others a break but right now you should be concentrating on your education and job skills. I have a grandaughter and occasionally she helps me a bit but she works and goes to school I would never want her to give any of that up to care for me. You need to calmly talk about this and your future with Mom but don't be forced into this .

Manito7o7 answered...

I totally understand your situation. My mother is 56 and she has dementia. My dad doesn't tell me directly, but he implies a lot that "no one" is around to help him. I'm 20 and my mom first started showing symptoms my freshman year of high school. I just transferred to a university, and it is so much different then high school or community college because of the weight of tests on grades. I basically live at school during testing, so it's really hard to be around. We have no close relatives to help us, so it is a lot of pressure and stress. My parents aren't helping me to pay for school either. I work part time as well. At the moment I am seeking therapy at my school. I would advise anyone going to school to take advantage of free sessions with a therapist. I agree that communication is key. It's the main ingredient to any relationship. Your mom needs to understand that she needs to take care of her own mother, and of course you'll be there to assist her. If your mom is anything like my dad (difficult to talk to, never been to college), slowly and persistently make her understand your aspirations and what you need to do in order to reach your goals. Explain that dealing with your own life and going into adulthood is hard enough. Do look into state or county aid to see if there is some kind of service in assisting your grandmother. If you have health coverage, there should be a 24/7 hot line where you can talk to a nurse for assistance, and maybe they can give you references. I am in the process of looking into outside aid because it's affecting me in my studies and my mother is getting worse. My father has become a bit more understanding through my communication with him. One tip for when you go to college is to call home when you're at school. Just call to ask how your grandma and parents are doing. This shows that you do care and maybe your parents won't make you feel guilty about focusing on your education.

Bianca answered...

No, you shouldn't be pressured into this. Your mother can be the caregiver to her mother. If they don't have a good relationship that is their problem to deal with. You need to get an education and create the foundation for your life. You have many years ahead of you. Good luck.

Macbenni answered...

No!Do not let your mother make you feel guilty about it, either. I was the sole caregiver for my mother and it cost me everything; my health, my job, my marriage. I also have a son just starting out in college and I absolutely would nvever ask him to do the same.

Galowa answered...

Dear Young Person Beginning a New Life,

Your MOTHER needs to "GROW UP."

She also needs to LET you GROW yourself UP...

To "sum up" what EVERYONE else here has said,





(YOU can DO IT. You CAN say "NO.")

Wishing you YOUR FUTURE, (a BETTER future...)



; )


A fellow caregiver answered...

NO, You should not have to accept primary responsibility for your grandmother's care. That responsibility falls onto your mother's generation, not the grandchildren's generation. When your parents need help, you should accept the responsibility for them. You SHOULD offer to HELP from time to time, though. Though you may not WANT to, I would think that you would be willing to give your mom or whoever is taking care of grandma RELIEF from time to time. Thought it doesn't happen, EVERY member of a family ought to show support to a primary caregiver and give them some relief. It is only fair for the one accepting the responsibility to be financially compensated, also, when they are doing much more than other family members. I have rarely seen a case where the caregiving is fairly divided among everyone. Though you don't feel like it would be fair for you to be responsible. It is not fair for your mom, or any one, for that matter, to bear the total responsibility, alone. Everyone involved should be considered fairly.

Adjunct prof.rosellfernandez answered...

No! put her on Medicaid and get a home health aide.

A fellow caregiver answered...

When I was 18, I was asked to be POA for my great aunt and uncle because they were more like grandparents to me and their two sons lived too far away to take care of them (Washington State and Scotland, I'm in Ohio)Before the POA could be done, my beloved Great Uncle passed away. My cousins set it up that I was my great aunt's guardian because her dementia made her incompetent in the eyes of the court. The judge was not happy granting it but when I showed him my support system (my dad and uncle from the other side of the family) and my cousins insistance I had my Auntie's best interest at heart, he signed the papers. He knew it would protect Auntie from her sister who was not too honest to put it mildly. I took care of everything for my cousins and they both checked in with me all along the way. It was a little easier for me because Auntie went to live in a nursing home and I just had to make sure she was okay there. She joined my Great Uncle after 18 months and all was in order when she passed. Being a guardian is a HUGE responsibility for anyone of any age. It takes more than time, it takes strength, courage, willingness to give up freedom. I could go on. Would I do it again? Yes! It was hard but I loved my Auntie and this was my way of showing my love to her.

Amynj answered...

There is no way your family should expect or demand that you be the primary or sole caregiver for your grandmother, regardless of what other circumstances your family may be dealing with. I agree that visiting and helping out on occasion may be beneficial to both you and your grandmother, but do not let you mother trivialize or try to minimize the importance of your educational goals, or try to take away from you the chance to live your own life, as this will leave you filled with resentment, and cloud your mind with what-if scenarios of could have/should have/would have, if you let this responsibility be dumped upon you.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Maybe this will help when you have a conversation with your mother. I was expected at 18 to help care for my grandmother. At the time she had 4 children including my mother who lived within an hour of her house, by the way, only my mother had any children of her own. I never would have thought of challenging any of them and did as I was told. Now many years later I have to deal with taking care of my mother. I loved my grandmother and I love my mom, there are so many times when this old resentment surfaces in the course of my caring for her. You are lucky to realize that it is too much for you to handle, and your mother should too.