I feel so sad.

Started by

My parents are both losing a bit of their emotional well being at the same time. They do not need constant care so I am not at that point yet but they are starting to behave like little kids. They constantly fight and bicker. My Dad hides in his workshop or out in his yard and my Mom shuts herself in her room. I try and go twice a week to their home and tonight was my visit. They asked me to look up something on my phone internet for them and then my Dad started getting angry at me for always having "that thing" out he was talking about my phone. I then calmly told him that they asked me to look up this information for them and it just went from there. The reason I am writing this is because I know I am at the very tip of the iceberg on this, compared with most of you are dealing with but I am trying to wrap my head around understanding how they are seeing this so I can understand this so that I will not start layering bad feelings on top of bad feelings and piling on resentment. I think that when they start being confused on things they act out with anger and since they don't understand the internet it ended up frustrating them instead of feeling like I was helping them. Could this be what happened? When older people get confused do they lash out with anger? We have a wonderful relationship and I do not want what happened tonight to happen again for a long long time....


My mother also gets irritated at technology. Her technology knowledge arrested even before 8-track tapes came out. She never learned to use even the earliest video machines. They were just too complicated for her. She usually doesn't get angry, though, just frustrated at things like remote controls with all their push buttons.

Chances are that your dad was already irritable and that push-button gadget just pushed him over the edge. Do you find that one of your parents tends to be more irritable and instigate battles? Does that parent have any other symptoms that are noticeable? Have they bickered all their lives and it has just gotten worse, or is this a new thing? Do you think they still love each other?

Old people often get irritable. Many are quite famous for it. And a lot of times they get mad at younger people for nothing more than being younger, it seems. It can be hard, but the best thing to do when irritability hits is to let it roll off your back. One thing you may want to watch out for, though, is escalated bickering between the two. It may be that they need to separate if it gets too bad. Perhaps a little time apart could help heal the bad feelings.

About the phone thing, the only advice I have is don't worry about it. There will be a lot of bruised feelings when dealing with elders.
I think I felt bad Jessie because I actually got up and left. I have never done that but inside that house was just insane. To answer your questions they do love each other. They do have moments when things are fine but they constantly bicker and they both think the other one is "crabby" or in other words the instigator. My mother has a great deal of anxiety and problems making decisions even simple ones like what kind of a vegetable should we have for dinner is drawn out into a HUge deal and it takes a few hours to decide. I think she has the beginings of dementia. Tonight she was sitting on a a straight back hard wood kitchen chair that she moved into her living area and next to that was her normal soft comfy rocker....she said that no matter what she does she can't be comfortable in that rocker. Now to me that makes no sense but she was happy as a clam on that hard old chair. Little things like this. It is difficult to tell with her because she has never been a kind loving person. She is a spoiled only child who married my Father in the 50's and then he continued to spoil her....she is very selfish. My Father on the other hand is getting angry a lot more. He yells at her she says and I experienced that for the first time this evening with him. I know that he yells at her when I not around but he usually has always kept his cool around me and then tonight it was directed at me. I don't know what to think for sure but he is a very smart man and I think his mind is also slipping and he is trying to hide it and this is what is causing some of his frustration along with the stress of worrying about my Mom.
There is no way they would live apart right now and I do know at this time they are not in any way a danger to each other but i do need to keep a close eye on them.
The hardest part is my sister who is a lot like my selfish Mother lives only one block from them but she hardly ever goes over to visit them and when I try to speak with her about them she looks at me like i am crazy. my sister really has them freeze framed into the parents there were when we were younger. She does not have a grip on this aging process.....
btw thanks for writing on my post I appreciate it....
I have the same problem with my sibs. Even after going on doctors' appointments they both seem to feel the doctor does not know what he is talking about. Of course, this carries over to Mom so trying to convey info to the doctor is a big joke with the three of them sitting there laughing at me...the 24/7 caregiver. If I could only handle her alone, there would be no third party at the doctor.

Mother has always had a hard time making any kind of decision. After my Dad died she got to the point if it wasn't something they had ever discussed there was no decision to be made. She just can't do it.

With Mom I find we wake up in a different world some days of the week. Some days are easy as can be and others are agitated or depressed. I kind of observe closely before I start any real conversation in the mornings.

Good luck!
Azmiranda, I think your insight that when they are confused or don't understand something they react in anger might be on target, especially with the phone incident. But if you think this irritability is a constant state of affairs, even when you are not there with your new-fangled technology, maybe there are additional contributing factors.

Could this be marital problems? Could they really be very mad at each other, over spending issues, or perceived excessive attention to an outsider, or gambling, or ... heck I don't know, I'm just making this stuff up! But could the trouble be in their marriage and it just spills over onto anything else that is handy?

Do you notice other changes in their behavior? Do they seem forgetful, confused, do they repeat themselves, have either of them started to hoard, anything else out of the ordinary?

I don't think you have enough to go on yet. You know something isn't right, but I think you need to observe a little more to see if you can figure out what.

Do you ever have time alone with each parent? Could you treat Mom to a manicure and dessert out? Would Dad enjoy a meal at a sports bar? I don't mean you'd ask them nosy questions, but seeing them separately may give you new clues.

If you find yourself again as the target of a tirade, I think it would be OK to excuse yourself. "I see that you are very upset. This doesn't seem to be a good time for a visit. I'm sure when I come Tuesday we'll all be in a better mood."

Good luck!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support