Understanding Your Elderly Parent’s Behavior

Understanding Your Elderly Parent's Crabby Behavior

In a previous blog post, we discussed what to do when confronting an elderly parent’s uncooperative behavior. While it’s helpful to understand emotions that can lead to a caregiver developing a deep-rooted aversion to their aging parent’s crabbiness, it’s just as important to understand why an elderly person can become upset in the first place.

There are some people who have had a negative outlook on things most of their lives. Even so, many seniors’ behavior changes in the face of an injury, illness, or a negative reaction to medication.

Below are some common factors that can lead to a negative change in an elderly parent’s behavior:

Parent is frustrated with cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s or Dementia)

When a senior begins to lose their perceptive faculties and precious memories, life can be hard–especially if they’ve been independent their entire adult lives. Feelings of helplessness and depression can surface, dominating a person’s thought process in the face of  chronic cognitive decline.

What you can do

Acknowledge the situation for what it is (a difficult and disheartening reality) and exhibit patience and understanding. Know that your parent’s anger is often an expression of inner fears, even if one of the results is destructive behavior and insults directed at you. Offering companionship and an open ear can go a long way in helping your loved one avoid social isolation.

Related: 5 Steps for Handling an Aging Parent with Dementia

Physical impairment

Like cognitive decline, physical impairment that limits mobility and independence can be overwhelmingly frustrating to someone once active and athletic. Whether your loved one is at risk of falls, has trouble walking, or has simply grown frail in old age, routine tasks like cooking and cleaning may require assistance, making your loved one feel inadequate.

What you can do

No matter their age, parents generally don’t want to feel as if they’re a burden to their children. Speak with your elderly parents about the reality of their situation and your ability to assist them. From here, talk to a senior care professional to determine if home care needs to be brought in to help your loved one live more comfortably within the scope of their limited mobility.

Medication leads to change in personality

Sometimes taking a new medication can have adverse effects on the body. The chance of a negative reaction grows if your parent is prescribed multiple medications at once. These reactions could lead to a number of negative results, including a change in behavior.

What you can do

Keep an up to date list of your parent’s medication and make note of recent changes in behavior which may coincide with a new prescription. If a problem arises, go over the medications with your parent’s doctor or pharmacist, as an alternative with less harmful side effects may be available.

The pessimistic type

Some people have had a negative outlook on life for many years. In this case, an injury or illness is not going to lighten their mood any.

What you can do

Realize that pessimistic personalities seldom change. As a caregiver, acknowledge this and simply expect your loved one to be more irritable if he or she doesn’t feel well. If your parent’s negativity begins to affect your well being, remember to make time to de-stress–it will benefit both your and your loved one.

Physicians Choice Private Duty currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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