Stubborn Aging Parents Who Want To Age In Place: What You Need To Consider

Please Share

By Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, consultant

When asked, about 90% of elders will say that they don’t want to go to any kind of “home” as they get older. They want to stay in their own homes. Aging in place can be more of a fantasy than a realistic look at what is really needed.

“I’m not going anywhere”, said my mother in law, Alice, age 91 at the time. Widowed a few years earlier she had managed to stay in their large house by herself. She ignored the gentle urgings from family that it was not the safest choice. She stubbornly clung to the notion that she was fine and was going to be independent forever.

The frustration of having arthritis in her hands and not being able to grip things finally got to her. She decided to move into a smaller rental house in the same community as the big house was, where she could keep her usual routine with the friends she had left there. Alice had to get rid of many things and donated truckloads to charity.

Then one day, a year and a half later, out of the blue, she decided it was time to move closer to family. At that point, she was at least two hours away from relatives. We found a seniors’ community near her daughter. We had to get rid of most of her remaining possessions. The new apartment had very limited space.

The move to the new community proved to be helpful to everyone. There was someone at the front desk to call if help was needed. However, as time passed Alice’s physical and mental abilities declined slowly, she was not able to manage by herself any longer. A caregiver was needed to supplement what family could do. It started with several hours a day, four days a week, but as her vision declined, the hours needed to be increased. Her decline continued with an increased need for more caregiving and more expenses.

Currently, Alice’s “aging in place” in her apartment is accomplished with full-time caregivers. She does not have to be in a nursing home, something she dreads. Our goal is to help keep her at home. She is fortunate that she can afford the current setup and more caregiving as needed.

The takeaways from Alice’s story about aging in place are these:

  1. The concept of aging in place may be a fantasy based on the belief that nothing will change to make moving out of the elder’s home a necessity.
  2. A gradual transition from complete independence in one’s home can be less traumatic and easier than an abrupt change brought on by a hospitalization and unplanned loss of independence.
  3. Stubborn aging parents can make any transition very hard on family members. It may take major physical declines to convince an elder that living alone is no longer safe. Count on them resisting as long as they can.
  4. As long as your aging parent is legally competent to make decisions, they have a right to make unsafe decisions, even though you may vehemently disagree. You can’t force them to move if they retain the capacity for decision-making.

Alice was indeed stubborn but she gave into the need for help that she historically refused. Ultimately, she wanted the caregivers she had fought against hiring for so long. Now, she depends on them for everything.

For anyone with a stubborn aging loved one, don’t give up hope that they can eventually accept help. Physical impairments can become very persuasive. If you’re having problems with your aging parent, we offer some great resources. Our book The Family Guide to Aging Parents answers your legal, financial, and health questions about caring for an aging loved one. Get your copy here:

Tiny URL for this post:

Please Share
JUST RELEASED “The Family Guide To Aging Parents”
Stack Of CashCheck out our latest website: click HERE to learn more
FREE Report: “One Critical Step You Must Take To Avoid Your Aging Parents Debts”
CLICK on the image Below
Testimonials by our readers
"Thank you for the article on the "grey area". It validated what I am currently going through with my Mother. It is so painful for me to go back and forth with her behavior. I just don't know what to do about the estranged sister who has exploited well over $50K of my mother's savings and my Mothers admitted " lack of "will power" to say no to her." Robert ________________________________ "I do want to thank you for the Webinar you offered. It helped me a great deal as I was facing the need to lead our family in finding a safe living situation for our mother. That information and the other information you offered as downloads gave me much needed guidance when I was feeling tremendous anxiety and uncertainty." Betty
FREE Report: 10 Warning Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help With Money
Get Quick Tips – Newsletter FREE…. Just CLICK Below
  • Start The New Year Right With Your Aging Loved Ones January 6, 2020
    Here’s a New Year’s resolution you can adopt—keep closer tabs on your aging parents. If they’re generally doing ok, you may not think they need close monitoring. But aging is sneaky and can rob a person of the alertness needed…Read more ›
    Carolyn Rosenblatt
  • The Case of the Dangerous Driving Mom and Her Daughter December 9, 2019
    Here at we offer expert advice for those who have aging loved ones. Usually it’s the adult child who contacts us to set up an appointment. A woman called with this concern:  “I’m worried about my mom’s driving” she…Read more ›
    Carolyn Rosenblatt
  • For Aging Parents: Will End Of Money Come Before End Of Life? November 27, 2019
    Everyone wants our money to last as long as we live. That’s a plan financial advisors offer when they can. But it may not work out that way when long-term illness creates a demand for long-term caregiving. In one case…Read more ›
    Mikol Davis
  • What Rights Does An Aging Parent With Dementia Have To Make Decisions? November 21, 2019
    When an aging parent is diagnosed with dementia of any kind, it can be devastating and confusing to the family. For some, there is denial: ”it’s not that bad, I don’t see anything wrong with her, and let’s just let…Read more ›
    Mikol Davis
FREE Report: Mental Wellness Technique For Stress Relief