As your parents age, you start stepping in and taking on more responsibility. You might check in on them frequently to ensure they are eating properly. Or make a few phone calls on their behalf as they seem to get easily confused.
You’re helping them. A “thank you” or at least a smile might be nice. Instead, all you receive is rage.
Have you ever felt like your parents are driving you crazy? Have you ever thrown your hands into the air and asked what you’re doing and where you should go from here? Caregivers everywhere have felt like that a time or two.
People are people. And while some of it might be who your parents are as people, you also have to keep in mind that your parents are changing. In some cases, this isn’t who they are; it’s their health that’s causing them to act out.
Rage is one of the most common emotions a caregiver will face. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Your parent might not feel the best. That might have felt that way for a long time. And when they deal with someone daily who asks what they can do for you, eventually it takes its toll. So they yell and scream. They’re irritable. You have to look past the rage and identify the root cause. Chronic pain can be difficult to live with. If it’s Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, they may not be fully aware of their behavior. Once you identify what’s causing the rage, it’s easier to step aside and overlook the impact.
Mental and physical abuse is also common when adult children care for their parents. In some cases, the abuse stems from the disease your parent is living with. In other cases, they lash out in what they consider to be a safe environment. And you’re left in the middle. You can try to have a conversation about the behavior, though many find it has little impact and rarely changes. You can speak with doctors and other professionals currently seeing your loved one to determine if the problem can be solved without outside counseling or a change in medication. If it continues, it’s often best to step outside of the situation and walk away. Your loved one may have a change of heart. Or having professional care might be what’s best for everyone.
Hallucinations can appear in many ways. They might tell stories you know aren’t true. They may see or hear things that aren’t there. They may accuse you of things you’d never do. They are warning signs of possible mental and physical problems, and should be discussed with their health care provider. If it is associated with dementia, it’s important to relax and let the episode dissipate. Validation is good. Acknowledge their fears and assure them they are safe.
Refusing outside help is also common. You might suggest bringing someone in, knowing it will give you a little breathing room. They fight it for a variety of reasons. It could be out of fear of the unknown. It could be embarrassment that they’ve reached a point they can no longer care for themselves. They might even feel their family is abandoning them. The key is communication. Assure them that outside assistance will help them remain strong and independent for as long as possible. If they don’t want anyone in their home, have initial consultations in a coffee shop or a company’s office. Release things slowly to give them a chance to feel comfortable with the situation.