How can I develop better coping skills in dealing with my relatively healthy, but frequently difficult 97-year-old aunt?

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My aunt is not in poor health, thank God. Occasionally has back pain for which she takes aspirin or tylenol. Uses a walker sometimes but mostly a cane for support. We have a problem talking with each other openly and honestly without it turning into an argument and her saying things that make me angry. She denies having said this or that, so I'm unsure whether to even try to discuss much of anything with her. Just listening seems to be the best way to keep the peace...but it doesn't make for an enjoyable visit. I'm spending less and less time with her and that makes me feel guilty sometimes. Help!!

Answers 1 to 7 of 7
I do not blame you for not wanting to visit her it is mostly trial and error what works think of her as a child at this point some things work well with raising kids and some don't. I would not feel guilty her behaivor causes you to not visit-maybe shorter visits would work-how is she on the phone-my Mom is great on the phone with me but in person is another thing so I realize it is easier to stay in touch on the phone-that may work for you also,
Cinci, why don't you just reminisce or look at old pictures together? Why worry about getting into deep conversations that she obviously doesn't want to get into?
There must be a myriad or things the two of you can do together besides talking about stuff that makes each of you mad. She's 97 years old for Heavens sake, forget it and enjoy the time you have left with her.
Try to distance yourself emotionally.
Their may be some dementia going there at 97. The regression is real, so don't expect her to be kind or compassionate. Half the time they may not even understand what they are saying, or especially how it affects another. The thoughts & words get confused & jumbled. Denial is part of that.
Tact & diplomacy is out the window in their aged brains.
If you are the caregiver you don't have a choice but to deal with it & can lay down a few ground rules. If you are not the caregiver, you can shorten visits & avoid some topics of conversation as has been said already.
Best wishes.
Top Answer
You are expecting way too much from your aunt. She is not a whole person anymore and you have to adjust your expectations. Please don't annoy her. Your visit is not to enjoy yourself but to express compassion for someone who has lived far too long. These old people do not entertain, they drain. You need to decide what your motives are. Are you there to have fun or to show compassion? If you want fun, go out with your friends and forget visiting your aunt.
The only thing I would add to what's already been suggested here is to not feel guilty. (which you said you sometimes feel). There is no need to feel guilt....just do the best you can and be sure to take care of yourself too.
I also agree with all the above suggestions. Before I realized my mom had dementia we would argue all the time. After I discovered the problem l would either agree with her or change the subject. Once you realize that they really can't reason and aren't being just arguementive makes things a lot easier....good luck
It's been a while since I was here so I'm just catching up. I appreciate your taking the time to offer suggestions which may be helpful to both of us. Thanks again and best wishes with your concerns.

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