Tips for Dealing with Elderly Parents

As we all age, we change. From being a infant to being a teen and eventually an adult. It is said that when an adult becomes older, they start reversing back into their childhood, in the end becoming as helpless as the infant they once were. As care takers of our parents, grand parents, or even an adopted old person, it can get hard to control our emotions when their emotions are as wild as ours are. They may be wise but they can be stubborn at points. This is a guide to help you stay calm and understand what is going on, so you can make the right choices.

 Stay calm.

Yes, you both may be adults and both are willing to fight it out but it just makes things worse. The older person is way more confused then you are or are just seeking attention. When people get older they feel more isolated because normally there are more younger people around them than older. Staying calm when you can sense that the atmosphere is getting ready for a fight (signs of tension). A few times you may feel this is when they think that you are not listening to them (which, trust me, is one big trigger), you are back talking to them in a rude sense, or they just want attention. In some worse cases, they cause drama to entertain their loneliness. When this does happen, stay calm

Smile at them when you talk to them. Smiling at them and keeping eye contact shows them that you are listening. Even if it is a forced smile, it will satisfy their attention need for them for a bit.

Talk to them! Talk to them about their past. But do not let them trail off into stories that are negative. It will just lead to tension again. Ask them about how they went to school, how was their old neighborhood like, what hobbies they had when they were younger and etc…

Help them do work. It will only help them appreciate you more, so they’ll cut back on pestering you a lot. Plus, sometimes helping them out to do work can give you new skills or even a reward for your hard work. For example, helping your parent out in the garden to plant some vegetables, flowers or just taking out the weeds for them, it will make you both happy. You will get an awesome work out and they’ll have a garden to preoccupy their mind.

Take them to different places out of the house. It is really hard for an old person to be in the house for more then 5 hours. They may not seem very active but depression is very active in any age. So, take them out of the house to the park or just a walk around the block. It will help clear up both of your minds.

Hug them! Hugs are one of the best medicines. Humans are made for touch. Old people who are very negatively emotional are the ones who are rarely touched. So, if they are angry or sad, sit them down or just surprise them with a tight hug. You will see an expression you’ve never seen before. If they resist, just hold on, but not too tight because it might hurt them. They will give in.

Make them laugh! Laughter is the key thing to make them see life as something enjoyable. Make them laugh, or put on a comedy show on TV for them. Laughter is another great medicine for the mind and the heart. when someone is laughing, the room’s atmosphere changes into a light mood and anything seems like it is possible.

Give them alone time. If all else fails, distance yourself from them. They might just have pent up anger, at your or some other reason. Also, if they continuously blame you for everything, it is best to distance yourself from them. They will take advantage of you if you stick around. This can be damaging to your mental health.

*Being patient with the adult is often necessary. Younger brains may think more quickly.
*If you guys disagree, you can be the bigger person and say “I’m sorry we disagreed, can we stop fighting now?” It takes courage but it is worth it. It is not always about being right.
*Older adults often like to pass down wisdom that worked for them, but it may not always be wise to act on such advice. Instead, just listen to them and continue on your way. Let me know your feedback!

*When the adult does not feel like talking, let them be for a while, they’ll usually come around in a few days.

One comment

  1. Ruth Vitek · September 17, 2014

    Hi Jim,

    The link doesn’t seem to work, or rather the article isn’t there.




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