How To Prepare For Difficult Behavior In Elderly Parents 

Elderly parents who are experiencing cognitive challenges may display aggressive or seemingly reckless behavior. If your aging loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it is best to be prepared for the potentially rocky road ahead. Don’t worry, there are ways to get yourself ready mentally and emotionally to handle the issues that may arise. Knowing ahead of time what to expect and how to mitigate the circumstances always helps.

Take Time to Understand the Cause

Neurological disorders and dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form, are often accompanied by anxiety and depression. Delving into the root cause of uncharacteristic behavior will help you to remain level-headed in situations that may throw you for a loop if you don’t fully understand the reason mood changes, etc. are happening.

Assess whether your parents seem confused or are anxious about things that never seemed to worry them before. Remember that aging is complicated and it brings up a host of emotions that are linked to the changes that are out of seniors’ control. Some of their attitudes and actions may be attempts to assert their independence or retain their usual habits or routines.

When you understand the reason for their behavior, you use the approach that best suits the root cause and you’ll be equipped to communicate calmly with them.  

Focus on Your Parents’ Safety and Well-being

The last thing you want is for your elderly parents to intentionally harm themselves. They may not be aware of the implications of trying to do the activities they used to be able to accomplish with ease. Be prepared to be firm with them or take over certain aspects of their lives, if needed.

With memory loss, difficulty making decisions and physical deficiencies to consider, they may see nothing wrong with handling certain daily tasks themselves. However, they may not be fully aware of their age-related limitations or they may be in denial. When their actions might endanger themselves or others, it is in their best interest to be upfront with them and set up new routines instead. In some cases, they may be neglecting to take proper care of themselves or take their medication on schedule, which may lead to greater health problems. Although they may initially resist the changes, these adjustments are necessary for their own safety and well-being. 

Release Things You Can’t Change

If your aging parents are being difficult in situations in which they aren’t posing a threat to themselves, it is best to let go of any attempts to change their attitude or behavior. This preserves your sanity and theirs. The reality is that, as long as they are of sound mind, they are entitled to make their own choices. They aren’t children, after all.

We all know that no one can change an adult and at your parents’ age, they are likely to be stuck in their ways. Of course, they will say that they have had the benefit of more life experience than you! Even if you might wish they were children so you could control them, there isn’t much you can do about your parents’ adherence to their way of doing things. It is not as simple as punishing a child if they throw a tantrum. Your parents will see you as someone who is infringing on their independence.

Voice your concerns without too much attachment to the outcome. It recognizing that you can’t make your parents do anything you want to do. The best you can do is offer a helping hand and leave them to decide. If they want to take it. Learn to let go of the things you can’t change.

Find a Confidante

It isn’t healthy to bottle your feelings up and keep them suppressed. Expect to feel frustrated, bitter or angry. If a parent lashes out at you verbally or resents your attempts to help them. If you ignore your emotional response or keep your feelings to yourself. You are likely to react in ways that make the situation worse. What’s more, you may end up needing care yourself. Unexpressed feelings can create health problems. Like poor digestion and ulcers, headaches, mental fatigue, weight gain and a higher risk of cancer.

 Acknowledge your emotions and share them. This is the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed and possibly. Experiencing a downward spiral and getting stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts. If you don’t open up about your feelings with a friend, family member or therapist you trust.

Final Thoughts

You may have heard the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”. This is a very helpful mantra for caregivers. Focus on what matters most rather than any irrational things your aging parents might say. Dig into the root cause of their behavior with a view to understanding. How best to partner with them to keep them safe and healthy. Gently guide them through the changes they need to make in light of the challenges that come with aging. Most importantly, lighten your load by sharing your feelings with someone you trust. So that both you and your parents can be healthy and happy.