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Why have my elderly parents become stubborn and uncooperative?

Sometimes, behaviors WE may consider "stubborn and uncooperative" would be described by our elders as an assertion of their independence. The looming question: is the elder making decisions that place them at risk of harm? Even if the answer is "yes", as long as the elder retains the capacity to make their own decisions - they retain the right to do so. This is true whether we like those decisions or not.

It can be hard, as loving family & friends, to resist the impulse to rush in with advice and assistance. Certainly, we do need to be on "stand by" - we will be needed soon enough. If there is a question about an elder's mental capacity, an evaluation by a good health care provider with geriatric experience is in order. But just as our young adults have a right to test their wings - move away from home, run up a charge card (and learn to pay it off), fall madly in love and get their hearts broken... c'est la vie. Living our lives is why we're here. Our "stubborn and uncooperative" elders know that, and are hanging on to every bit. Feisty works!

Shelley Webb
Nursing
Sometimes our elders appear to become stubborn and uncooperative as they age. Frustration due to loss of independence and loss of ability to do the things they used to be able to do are just two of the reasons. Other reasons may include depression (over the same or different losses), dementia, certain medications, isolation, anger, fear of dying, and (if they are still living at home) fear of being placed in a nursing home.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.