Convince Stubborn Seniors to Sign a Power of Attorney

power of attorney

Benefits of a Power of Attorney

One day, your older adult will need your help to manage their financial and medical matters. When that happens, you’ll need the legal authority to do it. That comes from a durable Power of Attorney (POA).

If their POA is in place, your senior will have peace of mind knowing that you’ll be able to care for them properly. You’ll feel better knowing that you’ll be able to step in when needed, without legal hassles.


Mom refuses to sign a Power of Attorney, now what?

Some seniors won’t accept the idea that they’ll need help or that there could be a time when they won’t be able to make their own medical and financial decisions. They won’t let you explain why a POA will help them, refuse to talk with an elder law attorney, and refuse to listen to impartial advisors (like spiritual leaders or elder mediators).

After trying all those things, you could try something different. We have an experienced support group leader to thank for this creative idea. It’s sneaky, but sometimes, using a trick is your only option. Of course, we assume that you’re only doing this to protect their best interests!

Tell your older adult that you’ve decided that you want to have a plan in case something happens to you. You want to create a POA for yourself and are choosing to appoint them as your chosen representative. As you both go through the process for your POA document, you could casually say, “While we’re at it, why don’t we just do yours too?”

If you don’t actually want them to be your chosen representative, you could pretend to go through the whole process, but not actually make your POA legally valid or shred it later. The important part is to convince them to do their own POA and appoint you or another trusted family member as their representative.


Include family in the process

No matter what, it’s important to keep the rest of the family informed about what’s happening with your older adult’s POA. This is especially critical if you’re forced to use a sneaky way to get it done.

In some cases, family members have challenged a POA, saying that the appointed representative took advantage of the senior and forced them to sign it. That leads to family troubles and expensive legal hassles.

If the whole family knows what’s happening and agrees on who your senior’s representative should be, there’s far less risk that someone will fight the POA later.


Bottom line

Having a Power of Attorney in place before emergencies strike or cognitive impairments take hold is essential for both seniors and caregivers. If your senior is really resisting the idea, you might have to get creative to get it done.


By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Hanlon Niemann


You might also like:
What is a Power of Attorney and Why Do Seniors Need One?
How to Talk with Parents About Aging: Conversation Starters
How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help You


  • Reply May 30, 2018

    Lorenna Maye Thompson

    How the HELL can I get through to my 82 year old STUBBORN mom who has a stroke and I’M THE ONLY LIVING RELATIVE IN HER LIFE (I’m her daughter)?

    I ordered a pizza last night with her card (a rare thing) and I guess Dominos smoked some pot or something, BUT-they said there was only $15 left and I paid an additional $1.50 in cash at the door. So, she should have a $0 balance. I told her to call her bank or financial advisor. Of course, she thinks EVERYONE AND ME are gonna steal her money! 😳

    I had a 3 way call with her bank, Dominos made the mistake, her balance was FINE, BUT, we tried to convince her that we need the papers sent out to make me her POA (I thought I was a decade ago cuz of ALL the HELL that happened when my dad died)! No record exists!

    Why are ALL old people stubborn, think I’m gonna steal everything, and THEY WILL LIVE FOREVER?

    HELP! 😭

  • Reply November 5, 2017

    Tialesha Oliney

    How do you get a parent that refuses to seek medical treatment help? I am not the POA of my elderly parent because she refuses to sign the papers. She hasn’t been seen by a physician in a while and I think that her mental state is beginning to fail her. I can’t get her to do anything. Please someone how can I help her?

    • Reply November 5, 2017


      I’m so sorry this is happening 🙁 It’s a really tough situation. If possible, have trusted members of the family (and friends or spiritual leaders too) speak with her and share their concerns about her well-being. It’s possible that she may listen if she hears it from many people. However, if she is having dementia symptoms, it may be extra difficult to reason with her.

      You might try to find ways to indirectly go about it, rather than telling her directly that she has a problem, needs help, and needs to go to the doctor. It could be that she knows there’s something wrong and doesn’t want to face it. Or she truly believes she’s 100% fine. Maybe if you just casually say, “Oh it’s time for your regular annual exam, let’s book it. I can drive you and we can go to lunch at your favorite spot after.” Or, maybe tell her that since a preventive care visit is included under her insurance, she’d be losing out by not getting her “free” visit. Think creatively and see if you can find an “innocent” reason for her to get a checkup. Then separately, contact her doctor and let them know your concerns and the real reason for her visit and let them know what symptoms to watch out for. This is especially important if your parent is going to the appointment alone and may say that they feel great and have no problems.

      Here’s some additional suggestions/info that might be helpful —

  • Reply August 7, 2017

    Jennifer L Shelton

    My grandmas son is taking her check and spending it on drugs and she is giving him all her money and he destroyed her apartment and talks to her bad if she doesn’t give him her money

    • Reply August 8, 2017


      That’s terrible! If someone responsible in the family has a power of attorney for her, maybe they can put a stop to this abusive behavior?

  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Ken Rupple

    Thank you. I believe that I found the name of the woman who was financially taking advantage of him. My dad gave me a list of his electric bills that he had not made. Two of the bills had a woman’s name on it. The bills were for woman’s property. I showed my dad he said that he didn’t know anything about it. I suggested that we call the police to fill out a report. He refused. I did go to the police station but they didn’t help me. I did cancel her electric account. I contacted my dad’s credit union. They are like Fort Knox. I told him that he needs POA, but he doesn’t want any help. If I had POA I could get more info from them. Also, my sister visited my dad the other day. She said that his car isn’t running. She went to try and it didn’t start. Because he isn’t going anywhere I usually buy him groceries and he pays me back. Today I asked him how he is getting to his credit union (about 4 miles away) but he couldn’t answer. He is walking all crooked, his upper teeth are getting blacken on the sides, his moth muscles are starting to atrophy from his Parkinson’s. He refuses to see a doctor. He isn’t getting any help and he doesn’t want any help. UGH!

    • Reply March 21, 2017


      I’m so sorry to hear about all this! It’s terrible that woman was taking advantage of your dad and stealing money from him. I’m glad you were able to track down the information and put a stop to it — not easy! I’m sorry you’ve had so much trouble convincing your dad to get help or give you the necessary authority (POA), it sounds like he’s in need of more care. It may take a while and many many conversations to convince him to let you help. These suggestions may help — As a last resort, if he becomes a danger to himself, you could try contacting Adult Protective Services. They’re not always able to convince an older adult to get help and people have reported mixed results, but it’s an option.

  • Reply November 24, 2016

    Ken Rupple

    My dad is having difficulty remembering things. Some days he’s okay and some days he doesn’t know what day or month it is. He still manages his bills but it is getting more difficult for him. I also beieve that two of his neighbors are taking advantage of his money. What can I do to resolve this situation? Thank you.

    • Reply November 24, 2016


      At this point, it sounds like you need to step in and manage his finances. Then, you’ll know if the neighbors are taking advantage of him or not. You could also report them to the police — elder fraud is a serious crime. Very few people want to face the fact that their brain is deteriorating, so your dad will probably refuse to admit that he’s having trouble. If you approach it without saying that he’s no longer capable, he might let you take over, bit by bit. You could try saying something like “Hey Dad, it seems like those bills take up so much of your time. Since I’m already here, let’s get it done together and then we can go get some lunch/dinner (or another activity).” Slowly work towards you managing all the finances and him not having to worry about it anymore.

      He also sounds like he’s at the point where he needs more help with everyday activities. Because he’s sometimes disoriented, he may not be taking medication properly (right dose, right time) or eating healthy meals regularly. That will seriously impact his health.

      If you don’t already have Power of Attorney for your dad, I would strongly suggest speaking with an elder law attorney. That way, you’ll have the legal right to step in and take over for him when he’s no longer able to manage his own finances or other business-related decisions. You may also want to get a medical Power of Attorney in place so you can make decisions about his medical care when he’s no longer able to make good decisions for himself.

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