How to Deal With Aging Parents’ Difficult Behaviors
“They are driving me crazy!” This phrase is uttered (or screamed) by family members everywhere who are caring for elderly loved ones. Caregivers often deal with unusual, unruly and embarrassing behavior from their care recipients. The AgingCare Caregiver Forum is filled with stories of irrational elderly parents, personality changes, hallucinations and temper tantrums.
In some cases, this is the way some seniors have always acted. However, new behaviors and personality changes can also indicate serious developments in an elder’s health, such as progressing dementia, depression or a urinary tract infection (UTI).
10 Elderly Behavior Problems and How to Handle Them
We’ve compiled ten “bad” behaviors that older adults commonly exhibit, some of the potential mental and physical causes, and tips for coping with them.
Elderly Anger, Hostility and Outbursts
Age and illness can intensify longstanding personality traits in some unpleasant ways. For example, an irritable person may frequently become enraged, happn discount code or an impatient person may become demanding and impossible to please. Unfortunately, an angry elder’s main target is often their primary caregiver.
How to Deal With Anger in the Elderly
Try to identify the root cause of their anger. The aging process is not easy. It can spark resentment in seniors who are living with chronic pain, losing friends, experiencing memory issues, and all the other undignified things that come with getting older.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can also cause these behaviors. With dementia, it is important to remember that the patient doesn’t have full control over their words or actions. As a caregiver, the best thing you can do is not take it personally. Focus on the positive, ignore the negative and take a break from caregiving as often as you can by finding respite care. Get some fresh air, do something you love or call a friend to vent.
Elders often reserve their worst behavior for those they are closest to, like family members. In this case, it may be beneficial to hire in-home care or consider adult day care. Mean, angry behaviors might not surface in front of strangers, and you’ll get a much-needed break while others are meeting your loved one’s care needs.
Occasionally, seniors will lash out at the person who is making the biggest effort to ensure their happiness and well-being. Left unchecked, the anger and frustration described above can become so severe that it results in abuse of the caregiver.
Stories of mental, emotional and even physical abuse of family members providing care are all too common. In some cases, abusive behavior may stem from a mental illness, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or borderline personality disorder (BPD). In other situations, parents turn on the adult child who is showing the most love because they feel safe enough to do so. They don’t consciously abuse this son or daughter but rather vent their frustrations in an unhealthy way by lashing out.
How to Deal With an Elder’s Abusive Behavior
Try explaining how their behavior makes you feel. However, many caregivers don’t get very far by talking. If the abuse is verbal or emotional, help them realize how much you do for them by stepping back for a while. If your loved one requires supervision and assistance to ensure their safety, then bring in outside help to take over your duties. Removing yourself from the situation may drive home the point that abusive behavior will not be tolerated. Your loved one might come away from the experience with renewed appreciation for what you do. In the meantime, you’ll get some valuable respite.