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Dealing With Negative Elderly Parents: How To Help Them (& Yourself)

Dealing with Negative Elderly Parents: How to Help Them (& Yourself)

The dynamic shift between parents and their adult children is difficult for a lot of families to handle. The mom and dad who raised you from infancy and taught you how to be a successful adult may eventually need your help in return. Providing elderly parents with this support isn’t always easy. 

The weight of health problems and loss of freedom leads a lot of elderly parents to be negative about their circumstances. While it can be hard to constantly try to help a parent who only responds to the effort with agitation, there are options to make the situation better.

Examples of Pessimistic Behavior from Parents

Many people that are assisting their elderly parents don’t even realize that pessimism and complaints are beginning to affect their relationship. 

Some common examples of negative behavior from elderly parents include: 

  • Constantly starting arguments
  • Getting angry over small issues
  • Insisting that nothing you do is good enough
  • Giving you the silent treatment
  • Refusal to do necessary activities

If you’ve experienced one or more of these habits from an elderly parent, it’s time to start looking into ways to improve the situation.  

5 Tips for Dealing With Negative Elderly Parents

Adult children who are taking care of their unruly parents often feel like there is nowhere to turn for help and that things will never get any better. However, that doesn’t have to be true. 

There are plenty of effective methods for dealing with negative elderly parents. 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes 

The initial reaction to reading this piece of advice might be rolling your eyes, but it can greatly improve your situation with a pessimistic elderly parent. The changes of age bring up a lot of difficult feelings for parents. 

Some of the reasons behind your parent’s negativity could include: 

  • Their independence being taken away
  • The effects of weakening mental and physical health
  • Boredom from being idle
  • Overall pain as a result of health conditions
  • Being depressed or lonely

These lifestyle changes bring up feelings of frustration that are, unfortunately, taken out on you. Once you understand why your parents are acting negatively, the problem becomes a lot more manageable to deal with. 

Do More Fun Activities With Them

A big reason that parents develop a more pessimistic attitude with age is boredom. Health conditions and weakness may leave older people sitting around for most of their day. This inactivity encourages them to act out more frequently because they are discontented with their daily lives. 

Taking your parents out to do some of their favorite activities can completely transform their outlook. 

Talk to Them Openly

This is another tip that sounds obvious at first, but it’s extremely helpful for dealing with negative elderly parents. When you’re busy managing the lives of your parents, the conversation often becomes a series of asking similar daily questions. 

Instead of talking about their doctor’s appointment or asking them if they took their medication in the morning, sit down and have a real conversation. Ask them about how they are, and what could make their days a little better. 

These discussions could lead to a better circumstance for the whole family. 

Enlist the Help of a Professional

When you’re only a few arguments away from ripping all your hair out, it might be time to seek professional help for your relationship with your dependent parent. While you want to do everything in your power to take care of them, it doesn’t have to be at the cost of your mental health. 

Having a neutral mediator is productive when you’ve gotten too close to a problem. The knowledge of a trained family counselor could provide the exact input and guidance that you need to improve the situation. 

Take Time for Self Care

While you’re responsible for your elderly parent’s wellbeing, you also need to take care of yourself. Struggling with an aging and pessimistic parent is a tough situation to be thrown into. In addition to facing the reality that your parents are getting older, you may be left trying to handle a bunch of negative energy. 

Take a break from all of that stress every once in a while. Don’t forget to spend some of your time doing activities that bring you peace.

If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

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