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By Bob on: Sunday, February 7, 2016

Family Caregiving for Seniors - SageCorner Blog

Why do Some Elderly Get So Mean?

by Deah on Sunday, April 26, 2015 9:27 AM

“You girls always did think more of your Dad than you did me.” That was the statement we heard from my mother last night. Those words hurt as much as name-calling does. We were trying to teach my parents a new card game when she said something to dad in that angry tone that has become a part of every day life for her. After a brief discussion on the matter, out come those words.

When reflecting on this later, I recalled several incidents recently where she seems to be getting increasingly angry, mean or in a bad mood. Relatives have commented on this as well and have withdrawn. I have heard others talk about how mean and self centered an elderly loved one is getting, so this prompted some research this morning regarding how to handle these situations better and find reasons behind this behavior.

My sisters and I have talked about this too. What we think we are seeing is depression and resentment that she now has caregiving duties to help dad cope with his many illnesses. In my research I found that depression is a big contributor to mean behavior in older people. Age and/or illness can intensify buried emotions that surface in unpleasant behavior. And unfortunately, the people that are the closest are often the target of this behavior. It is like they are putting on some sort of armor to protect themselves through pushing people away. In many of these cases the person is clueless as to how their feelings are being displaced onto others because they are too focused on themselves. It is not a matter of saying what is on their mind or losing their filter, they simple do not think about anyone but themselves before speaking.

Changing the behavior of an elderly person is not likely going to happen so we have to think about what we can do to control how we react to bad behavior. Count to 10, walk into another room, anything that is calming will work. Fighting fire with fire only creates more fire. Fight fire with water instead. I am going to work on understanding the underlying emotions and learn to respond to that with compassion instead. Realizing that this anger is coming from some other place will help me to not take it personally.

I also sometimes wonder what part dementia is playing in all of this. Some more research and another blog!
 

Blogs Parent Separator Deah Bowes
Author
Deah

Tips and ideas to help care for a senior loved one at home.

1 comment(s) so far...

Anonymous 2/7/2016

I am 67 & live in a seniors residence, they let me move in early due to my health so I have been here for 11 years. I have never seen so much rumors, gossip & complete hate for another in all of my life. I actually heard 1 lady say "I hope she dies soon". I moved in expecting quiet, peace & love for each other. I am too ill to move or I would. This is low income so where would I go? For sure if I did move, it would not be a only seniors place. I am so tired tired now. I stay in my apartment & keep to myself. <br /><br />With some sadness, Bob

  

Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education.

Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education. 
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