We love our parents and grandparents. Let’s at least get that out of the way. But when they are older and grumpier and a bit angrier, it is hard to deal with all those emotions on top of needing to take care of them. It’s exhausting, challenging, and stressful. Somehow, you find yourself always getting snapped at and have even become a recipient of emotional and verbal abuse. How do you take care of seniors like these?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression. That’s even bound to increase as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic escalates. But in your homes, watching an aging family member deal with depression, anger, and sadness is often the toughest thing to see.
What other reason could seniors have for snapping at strangers or even you? If they weren’t like this before, you should try to understand that bad behavior in seniors is caused usually by medical conditions and their declining mental health. Not being able to fend for yourself is something they have to deal with every day of their lives. It’s not a great feeling.
Give Them Space and Time
You don’t have to constantly entertain them. Ask them if they want to do some reading outdoors. Take them out in the backyard where some local awning companies or suppliers could put a retractable awning over the deck. They get the feel of nature while under the shade of the awning. Hopefully, that will stop them from snapping at you because the sun is burning their skin or some other complaints.
Sometimes, too much micromanaging them can make them feel that they are incapable of doing anything for themselves. Even seniors with very limited mobility can still read and do crossword puzzles or check their emails on their own. Offer your help or wait for them to ask for your help. Smothering them with care might be the trigger to their angry reactions.
Seek Help for Yourself
Many will put this at the end of the list. It deserves more than that. The second thing you need to do (that is, after giving the seniors their own space and bubble) is to take care of yourself. It is impossible for anyone to take care of someone else when they are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Don’t run yourself to the ground.
Instead, seek professional help if you need it. Talk to someone else who might be going through the same thing. Most of the time, all you need is a break from all the anger and resentment at home. Ask someone else to care for the seniors while you take a day off weekly. Yes, it should be once a week, or you will go insane. You deserve nothing less.
Talk to the Seniors
Have you tried telling them when they are all calm and collected how they are making you feel? Try not to talk back while they’re in the middle of a rant because that might agitate them more. When they’re in a better mood, talk to them about how their behavior is making you feel. If that doesn’t work, step back for a while and make them realize how your absence will make them feel.
But if there’s physical abuse, you may want to talk to a counselor and your family, of course. They need to know what you’re dealing with and how it might be best to hand over the senior’s care to professionals. You may have to put them in a long-term care facility if this kind of behavior escalates.
People grew up being taught to respect their elders. When the time comes that they have to take care of their parents or grandparents, they are afraid to talk back even though it may be warranted. Be firm in your stand that you will not tolerate verbal and emotional abuse. Call the seniors out for their bad behavior. Their ages are not an excuse to act badly toward someone who’s taking care of them.
Use your voice lovingly but be firm. Let them know that you are not going to take their abuse sitting down. If they want you to continue taking care of them, they should fix their behavior around you. Make sure they know that there are consequences of their bad actions.
Taking care of seniors is not the easiest thing to do for your family. It may actually rank high on the most stressful things you need to do in your life. As much as possible, for your mental health and that of the well-being of your aging senior family members, seek professional care facilities for them.