It’s hard enough watching our parents get older. As age and ailments start to take away their health, their independence, and sometimes even the memories and cognitive functions that make them who they are, it can break our hearts.
However, many adults find themselves with an even greater hardship dealing with negative elderly parents. Whether it’s a wave of depression, the side effects of a disease, or “simply who they are,” that negative energy can drain us entirely, even when we do everything right.
Below, we cover tips on how to handle these difficult parents, as well as what you can do to help yourself and your loved one.
Tip for Dealing with Negative Elderly Parents
Your mom is upset because you’re forcing her to go to an appointment she doesn’t want or feel the need to attend. Your father is angry because you couldn’t visit yesterday, despite the fact you had to take your own child to the doctor. You try, and you try, but no matter how much effort you put into caring for your elderly parents, you always seem to get it wrong.
Caring for a depressed or negative elderly parent can make you question everything you’re doing. You find yourself asking questions plagued with self-doubt, like:
- “Am I a bad son or daughter?”
- “Did I make a mistake?”
- “Am I hurting more than I’m helping?”
- “Am I horrible for not wanting to do this anymore?”
Take a deep breath and realize you’re not alone. In the US alone, more than 2 million citizens that are 65 and older suffer from depression to some degree. Coming from a generation of which 68% know very little or nothing about this mental health issue, and nearly 58% actually think its normal.
This negativity you face day in and day out may be new or it may have been there all along. However, that doesn’t make it your fault. In order to tackle the problem, you have to understand it.
Here are a few tips to help you reduce the negativity, or at least find some reprieve when dealing with elderly parents who are difficult.
Identify the Source of the Negativity When Possible
Most negative emotions have a root source. You may seek out family counseling or try to explore what it is on your own. However, be patient and try to identify what it is that is making your elderly mother or father mean.
Are they depressed? Afraid? Lonely?
Can they help it or is it the impact of a disease like Alzheimer’s or Dementia?
Suicide is a serious issue that is prevalent among the elderly population. Try to understand your parents’ mental health and how it may be contributing to their attitude.
However, some elderly are simply chronic complainers. If this is the case, your best bet is to try to mediate how their negative attitude influences you as a caregiver. Find ways and resources that help balance your mental health while providing your elderly parents with what they need.
Find Ways to Reduce Loneliness
Many members of the elderly population are vulnerable to becoming lonely. Sometimes it’s a result of poor health issues that limit their interactions. Other times it could be a change in environment or isolation that leads to less human contact.
Either way, it plays a huge role in their health, both physically and mentally. If your parent doesn’t get out much, try to help him or her find social activities. It can be a group that meets once or more a week or a class or activity he or she enjoys.
Also, if your parents are close to you and your family, make it a point to visit. You and your family can pick certain days of the week to stop by and break up the monotony of a life at home alone.
Provide Resources for Better Independence
As our parents get older, they often lose the independence they once had throughout their adult life. This is hard to let go of, but thankfully there are resources to help give them back some of their freedoms.
This includes senior transportation services. There are many who can come on a schedule to take your parents shopping for groceries, to doctors appointments, or various other activities.
These services are better than taxis because they are trained to handle the challenges that come with being elderly. Plus, it can give you a reprieve from the demanding responsibility of being a primary caregiver.
Take Time to Take Care of Yourself
Speaking of reprieves, it’s important to take care of yourself. Being a caregiver can feel like a full-time job, which often in addition to an actual job and living with your own family.
Many elderly parents can pick up on when their children are helping or visiting out of obligation and not because they want to. This, in turn, can lead to them feeling guilty or angry.
Make it a point to care for your own mental health. If you need to, consider hiring a trained professional to come throughout the week and help your parents with cleaning, cooking, medications, and other needs.
It’s important to have balance so you can be there for your parents without draining yourself or putting them in a position of feeling like a burden.
Avoid Talking Down to Your Parents
You want to help your parents, and sometimes that means explaining to them what is best when they don’t quite understand. However, in these moments it’s important to remember that your approach matters.
Your parents aren’t children, even if they act like it sometimes. Talking down to them or making them feel like they have no say or choice in the decisions made in their life can lead to anger and even resentment.
Show empathy when communicating with your loved ones. Listen to their concerns and be patient as you try to walk them through any life decisions. They want to feel like the people you’ve known them to be all their lives.
Giving them that respect can do wonders for their mental health, and yours!
When It’s Time to Seek Help
Sometimes dealing with negative elderly parents isn’t something we can do on our own. If your loved one is struggling with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or simply needs more attentive care around the clock, it may be time to consider your options.
We offer a people-centered approach here at Seasons Communities. Whether you’re looking for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care or Assisted Living facilities, we provide a healthy and safe environment with empathetic staff in Belleair and Largo, Florida.
Let’s talk about how we can help your parents live a happier, safer life. Contact us today.