Tag Archive | anger

Avoiding “The Eldercare” Talk

By Cindy Sproles

In a perfect world all aging parents would understand at some point in their lives, there will be need for assistance. When the time arrives, parents would willingly comply with the suggestions of their well-meaning children. But it’s not a perfect world. And…we avoid having the conversation. Here are a couple of reasons why.

*Anger

No one likes to admit their abilities are slowly becoming inabilities, especially when, through the years, they’ve been independent, self-reliant and able. Still avoiding the conversation is not wise.

There’s always an excuse to prevent families from discussing the care of their aging parents. One of the greatest fears in sharing this information is anger. It’s difficult for parents to hear the words, “You need help.” Remember, our parents were raised during an era in America when they were forced to be self-sufficient. Many survived World War II and even some lived through the Great Depression. Times were hard and survival depended on their determination to care for themselves. Be sensitive to this ingrained independence and self-preservation. Many parents know they need assistance but simply refuse to accept the truth. Sometimes handling the conversation of acceptance in little doses is better. For example, a parent’s laundry may be stacking up because their washing machine is located in a basement. Getting up and down the stairs with a load is hard. They realize this and let the laundry slide. Approach the subject from the laundry stand point as opposed to saying, “You can’t do this anymore.” A dialogue might be like this:

“I see you’re towels are low in the hall closet. Can I help you get that laundry done?” This can lead to conversation that helps the parent see a need for assistance. Perhaps suggest having the appliances moved upstairs for convenience or “Maybe we can find someone to come by weekly and do the laundry for you.” Will there be resistance? Probably. But the subject is approached from a task needing to be completed rather than saying they are just not able anymore. It may take time, but small doses of conversation showing need is better received.

*Depression

Families fear an onset of depression when aging parents are approached with a need for assistance. Depression is a possibility, especially in those who have lost spouses. When a parent has depended on a spouse for 50+ years, that spouse dies…two things can happen. The surviving parent over compensates by taking a strong initiative in their life or they sink into a deep depression feeling as though they can do nothing for themselves. Depression is best handled by a physician but it is not a reason to gently approach aging parents about assistance in their homes, especially if they are in situations that could endanger them.

*The truth hurts
Unfortunately, the reality of aging hurts. Our immortality becomes imminent especially as they see their peers enter nursing care facilities or pass away. Aging can be frightening and it’s something only few face head on.

The fact remains, if an aging parent needs assistance, take time to have the discussion about their care. Nothing supercedes their health and safety. The conversation is never easy but there are ways to approach the subject that eases tension.

The Joys of Parenthood

Senior woman contemplatingThere is no greater gift than parenthood.  Just to hold our newborn infants close brings a whole new meaning to life.  In our youth we long to have a family and once that gift arrives the future years are spent nurturing, growing and developing these children.  Children depend on their parents for moral support, guidance and even financial aid at times.  There is a certain comfort and peace in knowing our parents are always a phone call away.  For parents – the gift of a strong bond with their children is everlasting.

Then the tide turns. The waters that once rushed forward into the lives of children now recede, and the ability of the parent lessens; not from desire but from physical ailments. Aging. Dementia. Frailness. The realization of aging attacks and children suddenly understand parents are unable to do the things they used to do. It’s a hard realization, but if it’s hard for the children, imagine how difficult it is for the aging parent.

Children will see definite changes in the attitude and disposition of their parents and it is important they understand the steps of acceptance for their parents.

Anger – Anger is one of the first stages of acceptance seniors experience. A tough skin is important. Learning to understand when aging parents lash out, it’s not personal, even when harsh words are hurtful. Nothing can describe the frustration of being unable to do the simplest tasks. Walking, buttoning a shirt, brushing teeth. The simple tasks of daily living begin to slip through their fingers. It’s enough to grasp being over 70 but when fingers won’t bend, legs won’t lift, climbing stairs becomes slow and painful, frustration and anger set in.  Aging parents lash out as they fight for the one thing held most precious to us all – independence.

Depression – Depression is not uncommon for seniors. It’s an adjustment – slowing down, learning to let others help. Watch for signs of depression and attend to them immediately.  A severe decrease in appetite, less conversation, excessive sleeping… are all signs of depression. Depression is not always an easy fix but seeking the help of the primary care physician as well as additional check-up calls and visits from friends and family help. Most importantly, encourage your parent to do what they are able.  It may take longer to walk around the block, but walking is good.  Always check with their physician as to what can be done or not.

Helplessness – There is a sense of helplessness attached to releasing physical care to a child. The ability to be johnny-on-the-spot when a child is in need fades due to illness or frailty. Work with aging parents to maintain their usefulness. Make them a viable and important part of the family. Seek outside caregivers through reputable companies such as Comfort Keepers, to help seniors maintain a good quality of activity and a sense of being needed.

The steps into aging acceptance can be rocky at best, but with patience and love aging parents will come into compliance with reality. Above all else, continue to be an active part of your parent’s lives – develop wonderful lasting memories for the future.

 

 

Anger and Dementia: Both Sides of the Coin

Time can be the enemy

By Cindy Sproles

The clock of dementia holds a pendulum that swings both directions. Not only does the backlash affect the patient but it affects the family as well. An otherwise docile adult may become violent at the simplest change. Words become their arrows of hurt and anger burns in each one that pierces the heart.

 For families, the difficulty comes in understanding why a loved one would be so brutal especially when family members are making every effort to please the patient. The first step in grasping hold of incoming flares of anger is accepting the lash outs are not personal. It’s the disease speaking and acting, not the person we love.

 While patients may experience a vast array of behavioral changes from wandering, hallucinations, insomnia, and even aggression—their behaviors can be worsened by their environment and their own inability to deal with stress and frustration. Imagine yourself in the patient’s position, unable to articulate needs, handle normally simple tasks or even remember their next sentence.  Finding the trigger for sudden outbursts takes time but once family members hone in on the cause, they are able to take steps to avoid or alleviate “hot” spots.

Though family members cannot always control their loved one they can, many times, control the situation and environment that trigger outbursts. By locating the agitations or points of disorientation in their loved one, family members can help manage a comforting and caring place for their parent. Lessening loud noises, dim lighting and even certain  television programs, family members can ease some of the outside environmental triggers and reduce sudden stresses.

Remaining claim as a family member or caregiver is important. This is where the pendulum swings in the other direction. Not only do patients experience anger but family members or extended caregivers suffer this same frustration.  Continued repetitive questions from patients, frustration in trying to understand a need or repeated scares from wandering parents raise the stress levels to a new high for family members.

According to medical professionals and in-home caregiver companies, families, on average, have one adult child who maintains the bulk of parental care. The burden, even when done with great love, is taxing. Family caregivers normally have their own personal family to care for as well and by adding the additional weight of parental care, it isn’t long before anger and resentment rises.

So, how do families manage this dilemma? First and foremost, they remind themselves daily, this is a disease not a personal attack. Lash outs are not a sign parents do not love or care for their families. Secondly, provide a weekly break for the family caregiver away from the patient. Everyone needs time to rest and the job of caregiver is a demanding job.  Hire professional caregivers to assist in the care of your loved one. Companies such as Comfort Keepers can provide that needed respite for family caregivers.

Communication is imperative—continued dialogue with siblings, physicians and therapists helps manage the onset of anger.

As the holidays approach, remember the mixed emotions that trail in the wake. The holidays, though overall a joyful time, also drudge up past losses of spouses or children as well the hustle of shopping, change and unexpected visitors. Prepare your loved one, maintain as normal an environment as possible and remember, roll with the flow.

The disease takes its toll. Cling to the joyful memories of parents when care was easy and take time away from the situation to let emotions ease.

Anger is part of the disease but dealing with it in an effective and loving way is possible. Seek further information on anger and dementia for both parents and families from the Alzheimer’s Association at http://www.alzfdn.org .