To what extent have the researchers asked middle-aged adults if their parents ignore suggestions or advice that would make their lives easier or safer?
Ignore instructions from their doctors?
Do you insist on doing things your way, even if it makes your own or someone else's life difficult, uncomfortable, or unsafe?
For example, several studies conducted by Allison Heid, a gerontologist at Penn State and Rowan University, have measured the perception of stubbornness among their aging parents by adult children.
In a first study of 189 adult children and their parents, Drs. Heid and her colleagues found that 77 percent of children (mean age 55) reported persistent behavior by their parents. at least sometimes.
But also two-thirds of the parents (average age: 80 years) described themselves as stubborn.
In a later study, researchers asked 192 middle-aged children to run a seven-day diary on parental interactions. Of those who had contact with their parents this week, 31 percent said "persistent" behavior and 17 percent "risky" behavior. 11 percent said they had met both.
"The stories are endless," Dr. Heid, whose interest in the subject was aroused despite the protests of her children by a grandmother who was determined to shovel snow until the 80s. 19659002] Lori Kayne, a geriatric social worker in Bridgewater, New Jersey, can tell such stories. Her deceased father, whose poor balance had caused several crashes but no serious injuries, resisted her request to use his walker. "We had a lot of screaming matches," she reminded herself – but she never prevailed.
Then her dad fell down last year and broke several vertebrae. "He had terrible agony for months," said Mrs. Kayne – but at least he finally relied on the goer. She guessed he had become more sensible at eighty-seven.
No. "As soon as he felt better, he refused the walker, though he knew what might happen," said Ms. Kayne with a sigh.
Laura Perry has seen similar struggles. Her 87-year-old father-in-law was worried about skin cancer. When he needed a ride to the dermatologist, Ms. Perry, who lives near Glastonbury, Connecticut, had to live.
During the appointment, her father-in-law stated which skin injury he wanted to have biopsied. The doctor replied that after examining all the lesions of his patient, he would decide if an examination was needed.
The angry patient would not delay, so Mrs. Perry drove him home without biopsy. The stalemate reappeared three months later. Her father-in-law still wants a biopsy. "I will not take you back," says Ms. Perry.
The more polite social science term for such skirmishes: mismatched goals. "If the goal is not shared – the older adult wants to go to the grocery store himself and the kid says," I do not think it's a good idea "- then conflicts can arise," Dr. Heid.
] Such clashes and related reports of stubbornness increase as parents and child live together, she noted. Perceived stubbornness also increases as the disability of a parent increases.
"When a child intervenes, the most common problem is a safety issue," said Drs. Heid. "Parents can not share these feelings about their abilities."
These familiar, probably universal debates on safety and autonomy have led some critics to complain that adult children overemphasize the former when it matters more to them. Parents retain their independence and pursue what they do make sense.
When parents feel thwarted, is resistance really stubborn? Perhaps their children, who were not practical supervisors in these studies, were dominant or obtrusive.
Stubbornness could actually be a positive trait, Dr. Heid. It shows persistence, perseverance and a sense of control.
But stubbornness, as it turns out, can also have damaging consequences. In Dr. Heidi's largest study, involving nearly 400 middle-aged children, was the most common response to avoiding children retreating to release the controversial topic.
"But when they do, they report depressive symptoms and less positive relationships," Dr. Heid. "They may internalize their misery."
Quarrels with the parents have similarly unfortunate consequences. What helps, the study shows, is the reasoning. "It allows for a more open exchange of views and more discussions," said Drs. Heid.
It sounds good, challenging, to argue with someone who seems to be impenetrable to it. "It's a really difficult thing, this discrepancy between what we need and what we want and what's good for us," said Marci Gleason, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin who offers support for well-being and a better one Health increased. Getting help, on the other hand, is associated with a negative mood.
After decades of helping their children, older people are understandably reluctant to become dependent on them. "Even if they accept it intellectually, it's difficult to actually get help," Dr. Gleason. "It can signal that you are not needed and people want to feel needed."
It proposes to balance the power in the relationship so that parents can also provide support, even if they are just compassionate to a child's account listening to their tough week. "It could be beneficial for the relationship if everything is not one-sided," Dr. Gleason.
She is also a fan of incremental progress, a negotiation that leads to a more reciprocal exchange.
As proof, get to know the Abrams family.
Carl Abrams, a 90-year-old retired air force colonel, lives with his wife Joan, 88, in Williamstown, New Jersey. "He's getting very angry and oppositional," said his older daughter Tamar Abrams, 63, who visits twice a month from Falls Church, Virginia.
In 2016, the family was worried about his driving. Mr. Abrams had thrown several side mirrors from his Buick, had sometimes wandered off his track, once fallen asleep at the wheel and wiped a truck sideways. It was time to hand in the keys, the family said.
After much back and forth, Mr Abrams agreed to re-test the state motor vehicle authority, a move that failed. "We were convinced that he would fail, but he did it," said his daughter.
Months passed; His wife refused to ride with him. The family negotiated a series of escalating restrictions: First, Mr. Abrams agreed not to drive at night. Then just drive to familiar places. Finally, to stay within five miles of home.
"Sometimes he would blow up," Tamar Abrams said. "But if you give him some time and then return to the discussion, he is OK."
Now Mr. Abrams relies on a bright red, battery-powered scooter. "An excellent compromise," he said. "If the scooter were not, I would go crazy in the house."
Twice a week, he drives three kilometers to lunch at Applebee, where the waiters all know his name, and picks up some food on the way home.
"If he did not have to cross a large intersection, it would be a nice ritual," said Tamar Abrams. Nobody (except Mr. Abrams) feels comfortable when he drives his scooter over six lanes, not even at a traffic light.
But she understands. "You think you have a sweet life in what you think you are," she said. So, "we hold our breath and let him do it."