Why do aging parents become so hostile and angry?

Asked by

My Mom is 83 years old and acting up.

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
There are several recent discussions on just this issue, with lots of responses. My one reason explanation is "dependency resentment," a term I learned from the Love and Logic parenting organization. Your parents are becoming imprisoned by their failing bodies, by children suddenly showing up and handling their affairs, by old patterns of behavior they've never resolved. They face imprisonment in a nursing home possibly, risk having their driver's license revoked. Their world is closing in on them. I'd be pissed too. It takes a big personality to realize one needs a lot of help, and then say "thank God you came to help me" when help is offered. There's going to be a lot of fear, anger and resentment thrown around before things are accepted as being necessary. Strange how we all know we might get old, and nobody prepares oneself to handle the cascade of losses. "Toy Story 3" deals with pertinent issues. Bring kleenex.
I know the frustration that my mother felt every time I have to ask my darling to "open this bottle for me please" or any other help I now require because my arthritis is getting worse, or I am not as strong as I used to be.

For most of our aging parents, THEY were the ones doing it all, and now they must rely on someone else to 'do it for them'.

At 57, there is MUCH more that I wished I had done with my life, and MUCH MUCH more I want to do with my live, yet I am thankful for all that I have done. Imagine being 83 and not remembering WHAT you did with you life, let alone how long you have 'left.' It's scary thinking about it.

I would listen to my mother complain and complain, and at first it just made me so mad, then I realized that SHE wanted to do more, but couldn't remember how to, or SHE wanted to do something she could no longer do (drive) and it made her MAD as hell!! So I asked for the same wisdom that she once gave me, and here is what I CALMLY said to her, '

"Mom... you have every reason to be anger. There is so much you can no longer do, but there is so much more you can STILL do! Lets be creative and think of those things together, so we can accomplish them together!"

OH.. that didn't work all the time, and when it didn't I would just tell her to get all her cussing and swearing out here on earth, because there is NO room for that talk in Heaven!"

Or when she would say: "WHY is God doing this to me??" My answer was: "It's just one small test Mom, one that GOD is sure you will pass"

And when I asked myself "WHY do I have to put up with this from my mother? My answer to myself: It is one small test to see if "I" am worthy of my rewards.

Try to see good in the bad. Use your experiences to help them through the trying times of growing old. After all, God willing, we will be old one day too (soon).

I'd like to pipe in on another point. Some of us have found that when our parents get mad at us, that regardless of dementia, we can insist on being treated with respect. Some caregivers have suffered from parental abuse and anger their entire lives, and now when the parent is totally dependent, the anger escalates, sometimes to physical violence.

If you read these posts long enough, you will find caregivers who thought they had to put up with this abuse because of the dementia and the perpetrator being a parent. When I helped try to corral two bipolar elderly friends...and that was some project!.. I learned from the sheriff the term "51/50." It's the code for the person being a danger to oneself or others. If they are still acting up when the police come to check, then can be taken in for observation for 2-3 days, perhaps stabilized with mood altering drugs. Perhaps the process of placing them in an appropriate facility will be started, or the county may sue for conservatorship of both person/estate. So if you find you are in a position where shoes are flying by your head and dinner plates frisbeed at your ribcage, you don't have to stand for it.

Oh, if the anger and odd behavior is a more recent behavior, the patient may have frontal temporal dementia, which affects the normal "moral" compass of the person. They'll become rage-aholics, start shoplifting, go dumpster diving. There are some videos on YouTube about it.

There is a good book titled "Elder Rage." And the author has a helpful website.
The brain changes in a declining manner as we all age. Your mom is trapped in a brain that does not do what she needs or wants it to do. Trust me she is mourning many losses in her life such as independence, physical abilities, failing memory, the loss of her things or home,and maybe the loss of a husband. Losses that turn into anger need counseling or maybe even a low dose antidepressant. The research supports these meds in patients with various forms of dementia. I personally have seen a marked improvement with my mom who has Alzheimer's disease.
ivoryr,
Was she evil before? Mine was but I was too blinded by my love to see it. Now I'm getting to know the real mom and though it's vain, it's not pretty.
IvoryR::to me this sounds like you are caught in the 'sandwich generation', and stuck between a rock and a hard place...This question has been asked several times--and here are some tips from me to you_
Put Yourself First—Because you’re both a conscientious parent and a dutiful child, you may be tempted to put your own needs after those of your aging parents and adult children if you find yourself in a sandwich generation scenario. Don’t.
The only person who can save for your retirement is you. To avoid many sandwich generation problems--and help your parents and your children--you first have to keep your own financial house in order.
I sure hope that this is of value to you-and good luck!
Hap
What do I do? My parents are 83 and 86. My dad has always been difficult, obcessive compulsive and verbally abusive. My two sisters have moved away, admittidly because of my dad and my brothers does nothing to help. My mother is afraid to do or say anything afraid that it may upset my dad. I do everything for them when they allow me too but am ready to give up. When my other siblings are around my parents tread on pins and needles trying not to affend them often at my expense. I could give many examples but here are a couple from just recently. I had waited until the Friday before Fathers day to invite my parents out for dinner. I always wait to invite them so that if my brother decides to have them in, then I can just have them during the opposite time of the day so that they can see us both. We do no holidays together as an entire family except Christmas and then needless to say that is always at my house. Sunday afternoon on Father's Day my Mother called and told me that my brother just called and invited them to dinner and that they wanted to go..."could we get together some other time." I was upset. We were out of town and would not be back till late in the PM. just in time to do dinner. We came back early and did an ice cream outing instead of dinner. Needless to say I felt second rate. A little while back my Dad told me he could not see, eat or walk and could not get a doctors appointment. I got him into my doctor immediately. I was concerned. I went with him to the appointment. I spent 4 days taking him to tests and doctors. He got upset with the doctor for all the "needless" tests he did and for the doctor wanting him to go on different medication for his depression and mood swings. He refused to take other medication. And he was furious with me for taking him to that doctor. He again refused to come to my house for a holiday but was going to go to my brother's. My Mom then forced him to come out to apologize. He has the same complaints now and is going to another doctor. I simply cannot go along and be treated like he did the other time. I have talked to this new doctor and he says there is nothing wrong with my Dad. The list goes on and on. Someone needs to help them because they simply cannot do many things for themselves any more. But too many times when I help, they end up angry at me. My mother was very sick for a while and my husband and I offered to til up part of a huge garden and seed it to grass so she would not have so much work to do. At that time she said she would see how she felt and let us know. She now feels better and tells people we want to tear up her garden, the one hobby she has! Every time I go in I tell her how beautiful her flowers are. Her comment is: "And you are not tearing it up!" No matter how many times I tell her that we just offered to help so it would not be so much work for her she still says the same thing. Any suggestions? I cannot let them continue to treat me like they do and I have tried talking to them but it makes no difference. I try very hard not to be upset and continue to go in and visit and help and it is getting worse. I love my parents very much and if this situation would just be something that has developed as they have aged I may be better at handling it. But is has been this way with my dad as long as I can remember. My mother has just started doing some of these things but has always favored my siblings at many times. I think she is doing this for fear of alienating them further and she knows I am going no where. I know I should be able to let this go but it is starting to bother me so much that I am afraid it will soon affect my life and my family. My children have often told me they do not know how I do it and now I am not sure I want to keep doing it.
Dear "Trying"-There is a term in psychological circles called "chasing rejection". It would appear that this is what you are doing.Your parents are taking you for granted.Perhaps they rely on you hanging in there no matter how much they dish out. And they are dishing out plenty.I would encourage you to make yourself scarce.Really scarce. Make them question what is going on.And they won't stop until YOU stop allowing them to treat you so poorly.Get yourself to a codependents anonymous meeting.It's based on the 12 steps like Alcoholics Anonymous or Alanon. It's a great place to get support for having healthy boundaries and getting focused on appropriate self care. You need to take care of yourself and put energy into people who appreciate you as well as give back to you. You deserve it...but only if you believe you do...
My mother has asked me to give her checkbook back to her. She was not paying her bills and taxes. I am Co-owner on her checking account and I make sure the bills are getting paid. Should I just give her the checkbook register so she can see where her money is going. She has taking her checkbook out of my car once while I was in the bank, I asked her how she got it and she said that I gave it her. She has already blown threw a large inheritance. I don't trust her to not get more credit cards so she can buy more "stuff". She hides her bills from me.
I am familiar with " Dependency Resentment", but this being said and exposed, I may suggest that an elder person sees the stupidity and laxicity around them and therefore may become somewhat snide in their comments. Can you imagine being in your eighties and having to tell a caregiver to wash his/her hands after handling bathroom equipment? Or perhaps having to remind a caregiver that dehydration may be causing forgetfullness? With age may come wisdom.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

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