My ill mother refuses to live with us, what can be done?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is 88 and lives alone in her house. She can't hear and can hardly walk, yet she refuses to spend money on a hearing aid or find out why her legs are so bad. We begged her to come live with us but she won't consider it. What can be done?

Expert Answers

Nan Hayes is founder of, the national resource network of Certified Relocation and Transition Specialists for seniors, and President of RightSized Living, a senior home transition service in Illinois.

You obviously care about your mom. It also sounds like you have probably tried a variety of approaches to address these problems, yet your tactics are just not working. It's time to try something new. If the issues are not life threatening, don't raise them for a while. and once you do, approach them from a new angle.

One novel approach may be to agree with her. "Yes mom, hearing aids are very expensive, but we enjoy visiting with you and just want you to be part of the conversation. I found some great devices at the drug store. They are light, comfortable, and will really help you enjoy your shows! I brought over a couple different kinds. Which one would you like to try first?"

The leg problems sound potentially much more serious and, depending on the cause, could create additional challenges for all of you. I'd strongly recommend a medical assessment. Quite possibly your mom is afraid if there is a real problem, she will have to rely on others or leave her home. It very well could be that your offers to have her come and live with you are actually making her dig in deeper.

If you suspect this is the case, help her understand that YOU want her to live independently as long as possible, so if there is a problem, such as she is experiencing symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease, it is best to act now, before the situation worsens or forces her to become more dependent.

Community Answers

Purdue777 answered...
Nan, thanks for your answer. I wanted to clarify two things, though. My mother has purchased several of the drug store variety hearing aids, and doesn't wear them because they didn't work. She won't consider a really good hearing aid because she knows they cost thousands of dollars and she thinks it would be a waste of money. She has been extremely hard of hearing for about 20 years, and it is getting worse now. About her legs, we go to the same doctor, and he told her she needs to have joint replacement surgery, but she says she's too old for that. But she is old school and doesn't want to spend the money for anything so drastic. She's had leg problems for decades but won't go to a specialist to be assessed. We have tried to tell her how much we miss being able to converse with her, but she won't budge. Meanwhile, she is becoming lonelier than ever because people can't communicate with her since she can't hear what they are saying. She hardly goes anywhere because her legs hurt when she walks and she hates the motorized wheelchairs in the stores. She's a tough cookie because she rejects most offers of help from her family, yet is lonely and isolated. She appears to be just waiting to die, because she won't do anything to improve her situation. Thanks for your suggestions, anyway.