How to deal with a stubborn aging parent has been a great worry to many adult children who found themselves caring for their fathers and mothers.
“They are driving me crazy!” is a common phrase among adult children taking care of their elderly parents. An elderly parent may be defined as stubborn when they don’t want your help, particularly when the service is a requirement for his health or a parent set in his/her ways.
I have spent a considerable amount of time researching this topic. My main finding was the answers to the questions I had during the last years and months of my father’s life about his uncompromising attitude. He died at the age of 93 years, healthy and with all his teeth in place.
This post will detail my experiences, including how my father’s behavior manifests itself. I know you may want to understand without further delay how to deal with the elderly stubbornness problem. But how can you jump into the solution without first knowing what is causing the misbehavior?
So, before proceeding further, the post will answer what induces or causes elder stubbornness. The answer will help to address the issue in a more deliberate and meaningful way. Then, the post will shed light on the solution.
Finally, you may also learn one or two things that will help you find peace of mind and remain sane if you consider taking care of your stubborn parent(s).
As you embark on this journey, particularly during the due diligence stage, it is essential to realize that elder peoples are the same in many things but different in many other things.
According to A Place for Mom (www.aplaceformom.com ›), 77% of adult children believe their parents are stubborn about taking their advice or getting help with daily needs or tasks.
This is a high number. Adult children taking care of elderly parent(s) should take note.
Causes Of Elder Stubbornness.
Stubbornness in many elderly parents is caused by what experts describe as, Diminished Mental Capacity.
When you start observing your elderly parent’s inability to remember familiar things or difficulty understanding simple concepts or start having unclear or childish opinions in simple discussions, you are sure diminished mental capacity has begun.
Experts believe that these disabilities are generally the consequences of the normal aging process.
Other Types Of Causes
Other areas to look at for the causes of elderly persons’ stubbornness are the effects of drugs and other disabilities that burden older adults.
Experts advise care when trying to distinguish between diminished mental capacity and the effects of drugs and disability.
The elderly may be ashamed of some changes like the effects of diabetes, incontinence; vision and hearing; problems, etc., taking place in the parent and like to hide them by exhibiting some unreasonable, stubborn behaviors. Even dementia, by itself, can trigger any of those conditions.
It is upsetting to lack the ability to remember your grandson’s name due to diminished cognition, and due to arthritis, an older person may not be able to stand still or hold something with the hands.
These conditions are intolerable, particularly at their onsets. They will lead to depression.
The following are the manifestations of depression: alcohol and drug abuse; unexplainable anger and mood swings; loss of interest in other people will lead to antisocial behaviors, including refusal to see the doctor or even accept nourishment.
How will you feel or handle these situations if the elderly is your father or mother? It is only the love or the natural child-parent bond that will keep you going and see you through.
One example of one of these conditions will explain how any of these conditions can cause depression. Would not uncontrollable incontinence and or vision or hearing impairment cause shame, anger; all leading to mood swings, self-isolation, refusal to listen to caretakers? The answer is yes.
At the onset of my father’s hearing and vision problems, nobody knew what was going on. Many people said awful things about him, accusing him of pretending not to hear or see when he did not want to comply with a directive.
It was later that we realized he was having those issues. You can imagine how he felt, causing resentment towards those taking care of him.
These behaviors can often be detrimental to the well-being of the elderly: refusing to eat, take a shower, or even see the doctor because of anger, a reaction to uncontrollable incontinence will spell disaster.
Best Approach For Dealing With This Problem
My No. 1 method in finding How To Deal With Stubborn Aging Parent is to understand what is going on with my aging parents. Making false assumptions or conclusions will not do.
Remember, then, there was no literature to refer to in the case of my aged father. In retrospect, the family members should have summoned a meeting of all concerned, inviting those who had the experience to ask and get the answer to the critical question, “What was causing the misbehavior?”
Was he given degrading treatment or treated like a child, or was something else happening, to get to the bottom of the problem? If this soul-searching or due diligence was comprehensive, then the family members will find the way forward.
b) Follow the lead of the due diligence
Suppose there was the need for medical attention, go ahead and provide it. Suppose incontinence or such disability is the problem, find as much as possible help, including providing the aging father or mother some counseling about it.
With this understanding, the caretakers can now calm down and try their best to let him be. For further reading, see this post.
c) Device other methods
Entice him to do whatever you need him to do through negotiation. Example: Tomorrow is your doctor’s visit, what do you suggest to be the best way to do that? As much as possible, let him lead the negotiation.
Of course, you mean good for your aging parent; you must take it easy. You don’t have to tear yourself to pieces trying to do what you think is right.
It is possible to miss a doctor’s appointment due to prolonged negotiation with him. So what? If possible, reschedule the appointment.
Because of their love for and attachment to their grandchildren, you can use this to get your parent to do things they normally will refuse to do. Some people ask their children to negotiate. “Grandma, you will take your favorite granddaughter to your doctor’s appointment today?”
Time To Seek Help
As stated earlier, you reach a point when you need to employ some help. Their grandchildren can be used to entice them to do things they would not do.
When the problem is medical, it will be necessary to consult or employ healthcare professionals’ services.
In some cases, you may have to consult legal professionals to find your way out.
What is important here is to seek help when you are in a bind.
Now we can answer how you deal with stubborn aging parents, using knowledge gained from the above discussions.
One thing is certain here: every family has or will have an older adult. And because of the filial laws or instincts, these people must be cared for when they cannot do so for themselves despite uncompromising attitudes from some of them.
There will be fewer, “They are driving me crazy!” if the consequences of debilitating conditions of old age are well understood ahead of time and the eventual occurrence prepared for.
Out of ignorance, many people throw up their hands at the beginning of the problem. But like in any endeavor, the first line of defense is doing due diligence. At the end of this exercise, they will understand what is going on with the aging parent.
You pick your battle and know when to stop and look for help.
One note of caution here is to try and control your new-found position to be on the driver’s seat to parent your parent. Your parent(s) is not a child and cannot be treated as one. He needs his independence and cannot be treated with disrespect.
And above all, you must do all possible to maintain a cordial relationship with your aging father or mother to find peace and sanity.
Surely, you are looking for what is best for your parent. Then there should be no mismatched priorities. This is where negotiations, working from his perspective and employing the grandkids’ help come in.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and learned a lot from it. Would you let me know in the comments below?
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