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.

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I think you may have to give the aunt an "if" or "then" choice. If she doesn't agree to go out during the day to some activities then she can no longer live with you and you will find her a different place to live in. And be FIRM!!!!!
Once she goes to some of these she will begin to make friends and enjoy the company. I am sure it's just the fear she may have of a strange situation that may trouble her.
This will give you a break and stimulate her cognitive issues. Since she has no children she probably has no idea how intrusive she is being.
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I have worked with many cases such as all of yours. Many of you with the same stories....... Unfortunately these individuals are bored and lonely. Imagine yourself removed from your home, space and anything familiar. It's a difficult job and I'm sure you and your family feel as though there has been an invasion in your home. Simple things to do would be 1. Adult day care..... Paid for by Medical. They will come pick them up they will give them lunch AND they have medical staff for them too and simple issues to take care of. They are gone from morning to late afternoon and are brought back by the adult day care centers. This is a good opportunity for you to introduce them to people their own age and issues. 2. If that doesn't sound appealing get them involved in daily activities. Give them jobs to do. Have them fold clothes, fix beds or wash dishes. 3. Have them prepare a side dish. A salad or peel potatoes or grate cheese. They can do the same task everyday. Keeping them involved or busy will help them feel needed and part of the family. So that they don't look through your things. Give them a box of pictures and have them organize it. Give them albums or glue to paste them into a book. They may have dementia but they can still remember events. If all else fails, see if you can find a interim respid care or a caregiver (IHSS) this is called .... In Home Support Services.... State funding pays for this, to come over and help them in their home. Or to take them to the movies or walk down the mall. Sometimes just keeping them busy keeps them out of your hair long enough for you to enjoy your time with them when you do see them.
Hope this helps a little.
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Blending families is never easy in my experience. If she paid to construct her own living space, you really can't ask her to leave. I would put locks on the bedroom doors and put up a door or room divider at your end of the house (that is difficult for an aged aunt to move). Your aunt would object if your children went uninvited into her space, and you could offer to put a lock on her space to respect her privacy as well. It's harder to argue with someone offering to protect HER boundaries too. My experience has been that as folks have less to occupy their time, they will look for things to occupy them. Phrase it as keeping the clutter from your family out of her way the same way she is keeping her things in her space. My son has autism, and when my mother visits, we have to set definite space areas and boundaries to make sure they do not rub each others' nerves as well. Good luck, and take time for yourself. Helen
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aidden omg, they must be long lost twin sisters or somthing. I'm lucky in the way that she is on a walker so that does limit what she can to to a point. She comes sets in the kitchen and picks out every thing wrong in there. "oh someones shoes is under the table" "oh,who's boook is this,someone left a book here" you better come get it and pick it up". Its homwork, they went to the bathrooom,they will come get in in a min. ARRGGHH. My houise has sufferd though because of all the time i spend in there. which makes it even harder to keep it all out of her view. So i stopped trying to make everything perfect for her. I figure if the house gets a little behind,barring anything in her way that she might get hurt on, I'm not gonna stress over that aspect anymore. I keep her room tidy and clean, and try to keep things picked up in the rooms she is SUPPOSED to be in,other than that she shouldnt care if the kids has their little indian figures set up. Or left their pj's in the floor or whatever. oh my about the gift giving things!!! What is that all about. When she moved in she had a big hoard of empty butter bowls, jelly jars,cherry jars,ect. Gifted them to me cause she couldnt cook anymore, so i might as well have them. To be honest I threw them away,only took them cause it was a big deal to her. yeah, wants to know where those are at, those were nice little containers,she says. NOT. Then she gave me 3 little stuffed animals, someone has given her over the years, told me to give them to the kids so I did. Few days later my 4 year old was playing with one of them carring it around like a baby, goes out to the garage with it,lays it own on the steps so that he can ride his bike in the garage. She follws him out there and FLIPS OUT. How dare he have that,that goes on his bed it dosnt get played with(are you kidding me??) Takes it back to her room, puts it on top of her fridge and says i will just keep it, if they arnt going to take care of it. Then spends the rest of the day getting onto him about it. What the heck. He's 4 your lucky you didnt find it in a puddle of mud lady.......all over a dollar store stuffed animal. Yes i have stopped accepting these "gifts" now instead of taking it to passify her, i offer to take whatever it is to the local thrift store, or charity bank. That way i dont have to say it belongs in the trash,but i dont have to take it either. That must be very challenging for you to handle along with an autistic child. It's hard enough without kids, or with kids that are fairly self reliant. I cant imagine how people done it back in the olden days when it was so common for familys to live with elders. I doubt elders lived that long back them. Now instead of just taking care of kids, mom or dad, there are also a growing number of people taking care of grandparents,aunts ,uncles. Lots of times I think the children of the elder are still trying to work,have there own health problems, so us here young 'ens gets the job. Do you have any alternatives to getting out of this? Or are you stuck like me?
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The combination of an aunt like that plus a child with autism is quite a powder keg that might explode this summer or put you in a nursing home or rehab. It sounds like the level of care and supervision she needs is beyond what one person can do 24/7. Is it possible for her to live somewhere else?
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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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