How to Manage Angry, Hostile Elderly Parents


By Michelle Blessing

Changes in physical and mental functioning can lead to feelings of frustration, hostility and anger. Your parents may not have an appropriate outlet for their feelings and begin taking those emotions out on you.

Approximately 41 percent of Americans care for an elderly parent, according to a USA Today Gallup Poll. Eight percent of those have parents living in the home with them, and the AARP estimates still another 34 million people care for an elderly parent on a part-time basis.

1. Provide your parents with patience and understanding. Elderly parents, particularly those approaching the end of their life, can be lonely and fearful. They might be sick or have watched friends and loved ones die. Demonstrating care and concern towards your parents can go a long way to quelling hostility and anger.

2. Spend time talking to your parents every day to assess their physical and mental well-being. Assure your parents you want to help and be receptive to their needs. Many elderly parents do not want to burden their child, so they may not tell you about illnesses, financial stresses or mental and physical pain they are feeling.

3. Help your parents get involved in activities outside the home, if they are physically able to do so. Senior action centers, bridge or book clubs and senior volunteering are all wonderful ways to get your parents involved. Boredom and loneliness can lead to frustration, which is usually taken out on loved ones and close friends. These activities are an attempt to avert those feelings and bring about positive change.

4. Consider an adopt-a-grandparent program to help provide your parents with an outlet for feelings and energy. This can be especially helpful if you do not have children yourself or you and your children live away and do not see your parents very often. Teenagers and young adults spend time each week with an elderly person by talking, playing cards or going for walks.

5. Look into out-of-home care, if your elderly parents become unmanageable or do not seem to make any progress towards positive thinking using Steps 1 through 4. An elderly community could be helpful for your parents to rediscover relationships and a sense of purpose.

6. Take time for yourself to relax and recoup. Dealing with a difficult parent can be challenging, so taking care of yourself is important. The better you feel, the better you will be able to deal with your elderly parents.

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"I just felt like I was getting angry at the slightest thing that anybody did, so much so that it was causing problems in my marriage."


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