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Coping With Demanding Elderly Parents

Demanding elderly parents

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


May 6, 2020

Why do elderly parents become mean sometimes? Physical and mental health problems that lead to cognitive change also often lead to behavioral changes. This is due to the loss of neurons in the brain, and the way it affects an elderly person’s behavior depends on where this neuron loss is occurring.

Whether they have dementia or are just expressing more frustration in their old age, dealing with demanding elderly parents can put a large strain on the relationship you have with them or lead to caregiver burnout. Sometimes, it is just hard to figure out how to deal with irrational elderly parents.

Fortunately, you’re not alone in coping with your demanding elderly parents. Read on to learn more about how to deal with angry parents and challenging behavior in the elderly.


5 Tips for Coping with Demanding Elderly Parents


1. Schedule Regular Doctor’s Visits

As we age, our bodies become far more sensitive to ailments like poor nutrition and dehydration. Some evidence links a poor diet to a faster or earlier onset of Alzheimer’s or, at the very least, a rise in Alzheimer’s symptoms. 

If the demanding behavior seems to come on suddenly or ebb and flow, you may not understand where it’s coming from. Both physical and cognitive problems can cause your elderly parent to lash out. You may need to treat the ailment with a balanced diet, therapy, or medication in order to lessen the bad behavior!

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2. Look For the Trigger of Bad Behavior

Do you find that you only have to ask yourself how to deal with challenging behavior in your elderly parents on occasion?

Does it feel like they’re fine one minute and angry or frustrated the next? 

Difficult elderly parents can make caregiving a challenge, but it can be helpful to search for patterns in their behavior.

What was being discussed just before their mood took a turn? Was there something they couldn’t accomplish on their own or something you asked them to take care of?

Finding out the trigger of bad behavior can open the door to directly addressing the problem. You can either start a discussion about it and come to a conclusion together or you can set ground rules, as we’ll discuss below.


3. Set Ground Rules

In some cases, dealing with demanding elderly parents can put us in stressful, embarrassing, or even dangerous situations. We might find that our parents are exhibiting bad behavior in front of our children, causing a scene in public, or resorting to abusive behaviors at home.

Coping with demanding elderly parents can challenge caregivers, but setting ground rules can help.

Make it clear that you are not going to tolerate this behavior and consider setting ground rules that come with a strike system. For example, you could say that if they cause a scene at the grocery store three more times, you will do their shopping without them. 

Keep in mind that setting ground rules works primarily when the parent is purposefully reverting to childish behaviors in order to get what they want.

If you’re dealing with aging parents with dementia or another cognitive disease that affects memory, these ultimatums and ground rules may not sink in. In this case, consult your parent’s doctor and get in touch with a behavioral specialist who can give you some advice. 


4. Encourage Exercise and Socialization

It’s possible that your parent’s demanding and difficult behavior is stemming from depression or frustration with their loss of independence. Many elderly individuals have a tendency to become more sedentary and asocial if they lose certain physical abilities and have their driver’s license revoked.

Some questions you can ask yourself to diagnose a lack of exercise or socialization in your elderly parents include:

  • Does my parent get outside and exercise?
  • Do they still talk to neighbors and friends?
  • Are they still attending church or club meetings like they used to?

If the answer is a resounding “no,” you may need to intervene.

Both exercise and socialization release important neurochemicals in the brain that are responsible for feelings of happiness, contentment, and more. Taking walks a few times a week and meeting friends or family members for lunch every Saturday may be exactly what the doctor ordered.


5. Enlist Professional Help

At Commonwise Home Care, we’ve encountered numerous familial caregivers who tell us that while their parents need help, they don’t want their help. This can be frustrating for both the child and the parent, especially if neither knows how to fully express their feelings. Sometimes it can feel impossible to figure out how to deal with challenging behavior in the elderly, especially your own parent.

The truth is that your parent may be exhibiting bad behaviors because they are embarrassed or ashamed. It is not easy for them to see the roles reverse in any way and they may worry about putting that strain on you. 

If this is the case, it may be time to hire professional at-home caregivers.

Having a third party around to take care of things, like housekeeping and grooming, can ease your parent’s minds.  

One of the hardest things for a familial caregiver dealing with demanding elderly parents is the loss of a personal relationship. You and your parent may come to realize that your visits have become necessary rather than social, which can cause both emotional pain and resentment. Bringing in a professional caregiver can give you back the relationship you need and deserve. 


Avoid Dealing with Angry Elderly Parents Alone

Dealing with demanding elderly parents is manageable as long as you have professional help. Make sure your support team includes other reliable members of the family who can ease your burden. More importantly, make sure your support team includes medical professionals and trained caregivers.

At Commonwsie Home Care, we specialize in providing hands-on care to elderly adults. With an in-home caregiver, your parents will receive the care they need and you’ll be relieved of the stress and burden that comes from caring for demanding elderly parents. We are flexible and meet your scheduling needs, offering everything from respite care to 24/7 care.

Take a look at the services we offer at Commonwise Home Care to see a comprehensive list of how we can improve your loved one’s quality of life.

In-home elder care solutions in Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg, VA and Charleston, SC.

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