How to reason with an elderly aunt who is being unreasonable?


Wants to be driven to shop at 5 or 6 stores where she only spends $10 at each place instead of shopping for everything at one grocery. Saves 3 cents, not kidding, by stopping at additional places. Very feeble. Scared she's going to trip and fall and break a hip going in and out so many places. And takes 4 hours vs 1 hour of shopping.



How old is Auntie? What is your relationship with her? That is, do you see her once a week for this activity, or take care of her several days a week, or shop every other week? Are you doing this for companionship for her, or strictly to see to it she has supplies?

Definitely set boundaries. And enforce them. Just be sure you are accomplishing what you intend. If you hire a companion/aide for an afternoon she probably won't care what they do together -- she is getting paid the same whether she is shopping or playing cards or looking at magazines with Auntie. If Auntie says, after a few weeks, I like Companion but I wish we could play more cards, you can explain, "Well it is up to you. Aide can only spend 4 hours with you once a week. If you could get your shopping done in two hours you'd have 2 hours to play cards." That situation has built-in boundaries. Four hours. That's it.

You can establish boundaries, too. "I have to leave by x o'clock today. If we rush through shopping a bit, we'd also have time to repot the houseplants you were telling me about."

Spending 4 hours to do something that could be done in 1 hour isn't reasonable. Going to multiple stores is the least efficient way of doing this task. But maybe, at her age, your dear aunt isn't particularly interested in reasonableness or efficiency. Maybe she enjoys spending time like this, and with you. She sees this as way more fun than watching television, and she has the bonus of "saving" a few pennies here and there. She can tell herself she is still a responsible homemaker.

Someday, perhaps, she won't even be able to go to one store, and you'll do her shopping for her, or help her shop online. That will be more efficient, but it will be kind of sad, too, don't you think? But until then decide how much time you are willing/able to spend with her and set your boundaries accordingly.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to jeannegibbs

I agree, boundaries. The elderly don't seem to realize that relatives have lives. Personally, I don't like to shop and grouse. Get in, get what I need and out the door.
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Reply to JoAnn29

I agree, shopping is her entertainment and outing. My former mil loved to walk up and down every single aisle in Walmart, including automotive, tools, camping and sporting goods, plus baby when she was only buying canned goods. It took 1/2 a day.

It wasn't like she met up with people she knew and visited in the aisles, she has lived here 17 years and made no effort to meet people. My mother on the other hand, chats with someone in every aisle, but still only shops the aisles where she needs something and is out of the store in less than 1 hour.

You can set boundaries. If it is usually 4 stores, tell her to check the flyers for only two, because you can only take her to two stores that time. Next time make it the other two stores.

Yes, she may trip and fall, but generally a hip breaks, then the person falls, not the other way around. It seems counter intuitive, but that is far more common. So I am saying if her hip is at risk of breaking, it will happen no matter where she is, home, shopping or at church.
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Reply to Tothill

It sounds like shopping is her entertainment. It was for my Dad too. 4 hour Walmart trips twice a week. You define your limits and/or come up with alternative transportation.
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Reply to jjariz

Who is driving her to these places? If you are, say that this is the only grocery store that she will be shopping at for the day. Make every effort to resist her arguments about the 3 cent savings at another store for an item. Say that that 3 cent savings isn't saving you any money on gas or wear and tear on your car. If she still argues, tell her that she can find another way to get to the store.
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Reply to Evermore99