My elderly aunt moved in with us and will not stay out of our end of the house. How do I get her to stop invading our space and respect our need for privacy?

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My 86 year old aunt moved in with us since she could not be alone anymore--arthritus and such. She did not have enough money to go somewhere else and her brother and sister did nothing to provide for her either. She lives in an apartment we have in the lower level (bathroom, bedroom, very nice living room, laundry room). She comes upstairs to use our kitchen.

She will not stay out of our end of the house! There is nothing here that is hers. I have a special needs child who needs privacy (she makes my child anxious) and we need privacy too! I've asked her to please respect our end of the house (just 3 bedrooms). She goes along and then makes up some excuse like she was looking for something and goes there when I'm not home and then confesses when I get back. I am so sick of this!!! Trust me, there is nothing in our rooms that is hers. She just wants to be a busy body and look in our rooms etc. I'm ready to put up a door! She gets so offended if I close the bedroom doors.

How do I get her to stop invading our space and to respect our need for privacy. She has half my house and use of our kitchen and living room and dining room. Why isn't this enough? I don't go down to her apartment and snoop around...I respect her space. She won't respect ours. She is stressing out my child and me and my hubby. I'm starting to get stress chest pains. I need this to stop now.

Answers 1 to 10 of 15
Top Answer
Sounds like she is bored and this has become a little game with her. It is obvious that talking to her doesn't work. Is she forgetful?
I think that installing a door in the hallway leading to your bedrooms might not be a bad idea - especially if this one thing is causing your family stress. If she becomes offended by closed bedroom doors or a new door, she will just have to get used to it. You have provided her a lovely home - not to mention her own space - so you deserve to claim a little corner of your home as your own private space.
Tell her that she has not respected your reasonable boundaries and thus the consequences are shut doors some of which like bedroom doors need locks probably. Let her be offended. That too is a consequence of her choice. She's a guest in your house not the owner and she is there by your gracious kindness.
I think the idea of installing a door to your bedroom hallway is a wonderful step toward privacy. Could one be installed at the beginning of your aunt's apartment, too? You are great to give her a home within your home. Best wishes.
My 87 year old grandmother lives with us. We bought a duplex and renovated when she either had to go to a nursing home or live with family. No one else (even her son) wanted to help. She has her own LR, BR, and bath. I cook for her as she is not mentally capable (Alzheimers).

I agree with the previous postings. You must make her respect your space even if that means putting up a door that locks. You might even consider putting a kitchenette (small apartment sized appliances) in the apartment area and keep her out of your living area all together... except when invited to come in, of course. Do not let this go a day farther without taking control of the situation. Believe me, I speak from 5+ years of experience!
Lol must be an 80+ thing, my hubbys aunt lives with us and is 85, she does the same thing, sha also has her own wing, I nice size living room, bedroom, bathroom, nice space. Nice hevy door so she can have her own space and privacy. She goes into my kids bedrooms on her walker. Even complains they have stuff in their floor. I have 5 kids ages 4 to 12 there are always things in their floors, but they are allowed to. Matter of fact I make them keep toys in their bedroom so that she dosnt trip on one. So those are the only rooms in the house I told them they could play freely. Its supposed to be rooms that they can go to when they ned their own private time. But its not. She dosnt cook but she has her own mini fridge in her room for snacks, she keeps cereal and milk in her room, she has eaten cereal for years for breakfast, she gets up somtimes at 3 a.m. ready to eat, she wanted it in there so she didn't have to wait on me at 5:30. My father in law has watch her many times going through our whole house while we are gone. I started locking my bedroom and bathroom door to keep her from going in there. I watched her through the garage door one morning looking through all my kitchen cabinets and in the stove refridgerator. Just opening them all up. Looking through my mail pile. Its aggrevating. And you feel more than angry cause they go through your things, you feel like you have no privacy. Its like they have invaded more than just your time. You do all these extra things so they are comfortable in your home and they have their own space,own privacy. But you lose all yours.hubbys aunt even had a meltdown one day cause I had 3 towels in MY bathroom floor. A bathroom she dosnt even have to use. Its a horrible way to live. And if asked to to it again id say no way. I don't think it helps to tell them. Not sure they remember, or care. I will be trying to nap or take care of the kids and she comes out to ask me a question I've already awnserd,or to just sit in the kichen. And its always when I'm busy. I guess they get bored or somthing. I don't have an easy awnser for you wish I did. I think you should definatly put a door up although in my experience it dosnt do any good. But my house is set up different I think. I have bedrooms off from both sides of the living room. So I can't really block them off. She has no need to go to any of them. She dosnt pass by them on her way to anywhere.
allshesgot,
That is quite a mess. I remember my never married childless great aunt who lived in my grandparents house when my mother and I went to live with them. She didn't seem to know what to do with children and my grandmother, an orphan, was never able to get close to her grandchildren nor did she meet my mother's emotional needs just like my mother did to me.
However, all that said, since it is your husband's aunt. What is his input on all of this mess? I can only see this getting worse as your house will soon have five teenagers. How is your health holding up under this? How are the children doing with an intrusive, fussy great aunt? The four year old is really too young to be expected to understand what is going on. Lastly, how is your marriage doing?

If there was a way to make her door lock at certain hours of the day, that might help, but then she would complain until someone opened the door. Is there an adult day care type place that she could go to during the day?

Does his aunt have any means by which she could live in an assisted living or whatever? From what you wrote above, it sounds like everything concerning her falls on you which is not fair. I wish you well with this mess.
You know, on one hand I can understand why these seniors who are coming to an end to their life, would certainly be interested in what the 'young people' are up to. But also there is the privacy issue, which I totally get. No one wants to sentence an old person to a life of solitary confinement in the basement or whatever, so there has got to be an alternative. My first thought was that they're bored and have too much time on their hands. Is there a way to keep them a little busier, or at least have something/someone new to interact with? How about a senior center for a few hours a day or something like that? If they have absolutely NO outside stimulation coming in except thru the TV, then it's no wonder they're looking for something different and new to experience by snooping. Doesn't mean it's not frustrating, just understandable I guess.
Cmagnum, she has only been here for 7 months,if I had it all to do over again I wouldn't. We felt so sorry for her as her husband had recently passed and she had had a stroke. She never had any children,and the more I listen to her she was kinda raised by her older sister,he rmom had tb while she was little, and I have been told that older sister was a complete neat freak. And sounds kinda mean. Made her keep her dresser droor perfect when she was 5 and such. It is sooo hard. I don't think I have a way out though. She built her space onto our house. Meaning she paid for it to be done. I have been having a harder time of it latly. She was so ill when she moved here,we didn't anticipate her to come into our part much. And this is gonna sound bad, but we didn't think she was getting dementia(is still undiagnosed but the signs are there) and didn't relly think she would be with us much longer. We didn't think in terms of how this could go on for months if not years,or decades. I would never had brought a person into the home with my children had I known they were becoming demented. My marriage is fine for right now, he is supportive, and somtimes when he is home he will go in there to brighten her mood,give her some extra attention. He was the closet thing she had to a kid. She isn't physically challenging, she takes herself to the bathroom, gets dressed in the morning,I help her go to bed cause at bedtime she can barly walk or function somtimes. I love her dearly,feel sorry for her. But to deal with her mentally is sooo hard. She dosnt understand our household,she is controlling. Neahton, I picked up a kitten before christmas,seemed like an awnser to prayer,she started keeping her door closed, eased up on the kids a bunch,but says she can't let the cat out without me in there. So it stays in a lerge kennel, goes crazy running when its let out,and she is always trying to trick me into going in there so she can let ot out extra. My kids for the first time yesterday complained that I am always in there with the cat,or hiding! They know I'm not hiding from them, but even they have picked up on it. My health I hope is fine,although I can tell I'm getting depredded, and am anxious most days. It worries me. She dosnt need 24 hr care but gets upset now if I am going to be gone. I have given up my morning walks. She says the lord put her here, and I definatly want to do what I'm lead to do, I just don't underdtand why the lord would put her here for thelong term. I'm sure she wouldn't make it in a nursing home. She would be that little old lady that ticks em off so they avoid her.
Neahton also, she won't go out and do anything, she is gone 1x a week for a hour to get her hair done. And about every 6 months she has dr.appts. she says she dosnt want to be out in public,dosnt enjoy being around other people, dosnt do her yarn craft hardly ever. She's running out of plastic canvas and dosnt want to buy anymore cause she dosnt think shell live long. She just watches tv falls asleep, eats, has me let the cat out as much as she can get me to. She takes her walks through the house, a few times a day. I've tried to get her to come out and watch tv with us but she won't. Dosnt play cards anymore. Will come set at the kitchen table and visit for a bit, then wants to know if I have a few minutes for the kitty. I'm so worried about the summer. They will be out of school all summer. And want to go to the park,swimm, be ouside. But its gonna be hard. Sorry for going on and on, its been a rough couple of days. As I'm sure aiddenrain knows all about. Thank you guys so much.
Thank you all for your input and sounds like people are having the same types of problems. Your words help me to think about things in a different way and get over the anger and guilt.

Yep, Allshesgot, so much of what you are going through sounds like my aunt also. She goes to have her hair done 1x a week. She doesn't want to do anything else, just watch tv.

She likes to go out to a restaurant, which is fine, but she makes a scene quite often over coffee not coming fast enough etc. so my child doesn't want to go with her anymore. She won't follow protocols when dealing with my child and the autism, so she does things that irritate my child terribly, so now I have to split my time between them and spend lots of time keeping the peace.

My aunt does the same thing...doesn't want to get this or that because she doesn't think she'll live long. The only things she wants to do is to take over my kitchen (she does things that are not clean so I had to stop that) and to clean my house which goes into the privacy issues so none of that either. So it's like she's taken this stand..well..if I can't do what I want all over your house, I'm just going to sit and watch tv. Ugh. We have a senior center with all sorts of activities. A park district with all sorts of activities. Her church has all sorts of actiivites. She won't do any.

She does the tricking thing like "I was only trying to help you look for something" to explain why she went through a closet she knows is not hers and she has no business in. Then she tried to give me things of hers...as in like a gift...and then goes to the place in my end of the house where they are...so I moved all those "gifts" out of our end of the house. It's very irritating dealing with all these tricks and excuses she uses to invade our space.

Yep summer is going to be another issue because then I have the problem of splitting my time again but worse since my son won't be at school for part day.

The other thought I had while reading all these posts, is maybe I could change the rooms...make sure everything is in locked drawers/cabinets/file cabinets/lock the closets and everything cleared off so there would be nothing to look at and all access to our stuff would be cut off. Oh boy, I have my work cut out for me taking any action if I want my privacy back.

I feel the same way. I would have made a different choice had I known what was going to happen. I would have definitely put in the kitchenette and figured out a different entrance which would have been difficult given our house design So I probably would have gone with not bringing her here but looking for a service to help her where she lived. I don't know. I'm definitely not cut out for this, and the mental stress is awful for sure.

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