As our elderly parents age, certain conditions can cause changes in personality and behaviour. This is often just a natural part of life. However, there may be some occasions where it is necessary to step in and address your parent’s behaviour. These conversations can be uncomfortable for all involved, particularly if your parent suffers from a condition like dementia. Nevertheless, it’s important to try and help your parent to control their difficult behaviour. Today, we’ll discuss a few common examples of behavioural issues in older adults and share our top tips for talking about them.
How to Deal With Your Elderly Parent’s Difficult Behaviour
Changes in your elderly parent’s behaviour could be the result of a wide range of factors. Sometimes, behavioural issues can be a sign of illness or health concerns. If you are concerned for your parent’s wellbeing, you should help them make an appointment with their GP. In the short term, however, here are some tips for talking to your elderly parent about their difficult behaviour.
This is one of the more common examples of difficult behaviour in elderly parents. Ageing and illness can exacerbate feelings of anger. Anger issues might make it difficult for your parent to communicate effectively. Try to identify the cause of their anger. By understanding the core issue, you may be able to relieve some of the problems your elderly parent is reacting so strongly to. Children often bear the brunt of their elderly parent’s outbursts, but it is important not to take it personally.
If the issue is something such as chronic pain, you should get in touch with their GP. A doctor will be able to advise of the best action to take. Ensure that you are looking after yourself. You should not have to deal with violence in any capacity.
Paranoia and Hallucinations
Paranoia can indicate a deterioration in your parent’s health. It is not just mental health; it can be from something as benign as a UTI. Paranoia can lead someone to accuse family members of stealing or lying. This can be very hurtful and confusing for the person on the receiving end. It is tempting to insist that what they are saying or feeling is not true, but this is often counterproductive. It is better to acknowledge your parent’s concerns and calmly offer an alternative, rational explanation.
Hallucinations are sometimes associated with dementia; therefore, if the problem is persistent, you should raise this with their GP. The most crucial thing is to get to the bottom of the reason for the paranoia and hallucinations so you can start working towards a solution.
Hoarding is another example of difficult behaviour, when someone acquires and holds onto a large number of items. These might not only be things with sentimental value. Hoarders often live in messy environments and there may not be any organisation to their collections. Hoarding is often rooted in the belief that an item will have significant value at some point in the future.
It is natural for you as an outsider to want to clear out the mess, but this can be extremely distressing for a hoarder. Instead, approach the conversation with sensitivity. It might be useful to start by creating a ‘memory box’ as a place for keeping special items. This can help the process of organising and will prompt your parent to sort through their items with their value in mind.
Extreme hoarders sometimes benefit from medication and counselling to help them confront their issues. Sometimes, it may be worth speaking to adult social services for stubborn hoarders, particularly if their living conditions have become unsanitary and dangerous.
Over-Spending or Extreme Frugality
A lot of caregivers can become very stressed trying to deal with loved ones’ spending habits. Unfortunately, elderly people are the most susceptible to scammers. You might feel like you are intruding when you question your parent’s ability to manage money, because it is directly tied to their decision-making skills. There may be occasions where this brings into question whether your parent is still able to live independently.
Again, the best place to start here is with a conversation. Try and help them to understand that you are speaking from a place of care. It is vital that you attempt to help your parents to come up with their own solutions before you take further steps to intervene.
If you believe that your parent is no longer capable of making financial decisions for themselves, you may want to look into Power of Attorney. This enables you to ensure they are spending their money in their own best interest.
Elderly people who are still capable of doing things for themselves can easily become dependent on their caregivers. This can cause strain on those around them. Often, caregivers feel guilty when they are not able to meet their parent’s expectations but this shouldn’t be the case. This is often exacerbated if the parent is reluctant to use additional outside help.
Ensure that you are still making yourself a priority. Allow yourself to set boundaries, otherwise risk having a burnout. Support your parent to maintain their independence where possible. If necessary, talk to them about needing to take time for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional help when you need it.
How Can Careline Protect My Parents?
A Careline alarm is a great way to protect your parents at home. We can ensure that your parents receive help quickly in an emergency. Our Customer Service Team is available to answer any question or concern on 0800 101 3333 or you can read our online guide.