Grumpy. Cantankerous. Mean. Nasty.
No, those aren’t long lost Smurfs.
Unfortunately, these are some of the words that have been used time and again to describe elderly people we have known. Perhaps a neighbor on the street you grew up on was thought to be mighty disagreeable. Or maybe there’s a great aunt in your life who always seems to be giving you the evil eye. But is there really any truth to the perpetuated rumor that many people become meaner as they enter their senior years?
You may currently be experiencing issues with your own favorite senior that could persuade you to answer, “Yes.” He or she may seemingly be transforming into a short-tempered pessimist right before your eyes. This is definitely not the person who raised you. So what happened?
Diseases like dementia can often come into play in these circumstances. But what if there are no signs of illness? Is your elderly loved one just… mean?
Therapists agree that old age can magnify personality traits. If your parent has always loved a enjoyed debate while you were growing up, they could actually nowadays seem to prefer arguing with everyone and throwing fits as their favorite pastimes. And there’s something else to consider here: sensitivity to other people generally decreases over time. This is intensified when an elderly person lives alone with little outside world integration.
Another possible catalyst of the behavioral shift is pain. This can make anyone a beast. Living constantly with it has been known to push seniors into a mental descent that brings out some the worst characteristics. Closely related to this is the realization that they can no longer take care of themselves. For a fiercely independent person, this can be a reason to lash out at others – even those who are attempting to help them. That can lead to manipulation, which is a manifestation of the desire to retain some sort of control in the midst of losing it.
Next is fear. It can cripple anyone, and for an elderly person who has lost a spouse and/or friends and siblings, it can be mind-altering. The inability to express this natural human emotion with someone else can lead to an “acting out” of sorts, which in turn can be interpreted as antisocial behavior.
Regardless of the origin of perceived foul behavior, it is important to not take it personally. If your favorite senior is slowly becoming your not-so-favorite, talk to someone about it. A professional who specializes in seniors could be a fantastic asset for the both of you. Also, allowing your parent the floor to talk about their feelings with no fear of judgment could help to improve matters. If there are health issues in the picture such as Alzheimer’s, read up on them to find out what your options may be. And finally, make sure that your own family members – daughters, sons, etc. – are aware of what’s going on, so that conflict can be kept at a minimum when everyone is together. And you can do what you do best: enjoy each other’s company.
There is so much to think about when entering the later stages of life. If you are considering elder care options, we at 805Aging can help. Our professional staff specializes in assisting you to choose the right kind of care for your loved one.
We conduct regular check-ins when you are unable to do so. 805Aging also provides oversight and detailed feedback to the family to keep your loved one safe and well-cared for day or night, weekday or weekend, holiday and every day.
We have the resources. We can hold your hand. We can guide you. Your peace of mind is our main goal, and is well assured. To find out more, call us at 805-750-4755 or visit our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter: www.805Aging.com.
There is no manual on how to take care of your parents as they age. They had a baby book when you were young. You have us. -Amy