< Back to article

How to Handle an Elderly Parent's Bad Behavior

137 Comments

I am reading all these stories on here and am completely horrified. Why would you allow another person to destroy your marriage, or your own life? I work in healthcare and we nurses cannot believe what some families will do to keep their mother or father at home, even at the expense of their OWN families! Most of the time these elderly nightmares do not even know where they are, let alone know they are in a nursing facility! The Bible says HONOR your mother and father, not give up your own life because of them.

My 79 year old mother has always been angry and cantankerous. I recently visited her and my dad at their home in Spain which resulted in the most shocking night in our relationship. She has always been critical of me and disparaging as well as of my dad but not my brother. After a few days with her I was exasperated by her childish, aggressive and nasty behaviour to and about the whole world. It brought back a lifetime of her undermining barbed attacks on me and I snapped and challenged her on her appalling treatment of all and sundry. The first thing she always does is lash out to deflect attention from having to admit any wrong doing. This time was the worst ever abuse I have got from her. She said she wished she had smothered me at birth , my brother is a wonderful person and I am useless, my partner is a nobody, I am a lazy greedy person and she then made innapropriate remarks about sex in reference to myself and how unattractive I am. I was stunned to say the least. I fought back and was told to get out of her house. She got my suitcase and threw me out in the street in a small town in a foreign country and I ended up staying in a hotel before flying home the next day.
It's been the worst event in our family history and I doubt if I will ever see them again. I had no support from my father who chooses to remain browbeaten and stay with her. It has occurred to me that she may be in the early stages of dementia but it's hard to tell since this is her normal self only worse than ever. Has anyone else had experience of this ?

Does a child act rude an say bad things to a relative cause he hears his parents talk bad about that person.

I'M the problem you are all talking about!!!!! I KNOW I must be a real pain to be around!!! every time I melt down - often . I just withdraw from everybody and thing!! I just don't have a solution. living beyond my time sure isn't good for anybody. but I can put on the mr wonderful act at anytime. so I don't know how to deal with me either. but thanks for trying. it wont last forever.

Thank you for this wonderful article. I am caring for my 86 year old father who has started taking out his frustrations on me in the form of verbal abuse. I suspect that I needed to set some boundaries as to what behavior is acceptable and was glad to read I am not alone in this experience.

This advice is for the people who have had a parent who was abusive to them their entire lives… Do NOT… I repeat… Do NOT become their primary caregiver… whether it is in their own home or, God forbid, in your home!

Parents who would abuse (physically, verbally and/or emotionally – like my mother) their defenseless children are NOT going to mellow-out with age. They only get WORSE!

I tried to care for my life-long abusive mother in her home and she would try to hit me with her cane, yell and scream at me for no reason, call my house 10+ times to day insisting that I (or my husband) drop everything and go over to her house to help her with something or other. The last straw came when (after only a few weeks), she threatened to call Elder Services and accuse me of verbally abusing her. Fortunately, I had been secretly recording all of our conversations and her voicemail messages and whenever I was at her house, I made certain that my husband was present as a witness. But, her threat had me seek out the advice of an Elder Law attorney, who advised me to cut all contact with her immediately and allow Elder Services to become her primary caregivers.

If your abusive elderly parent threatens to report you to Elder Services for any type of abuse, you must take it very seriously. It is very sad that your abusive parent was “allowed” to abuse you as a child (behind closed doors) and no one protected / rescued you from that horrible situation. And now these same life-long abusive parents can try to use the Elder Laws in place to control and abuse you, once again! According to the Elder Law attorney (who listened to the recorded conversations that I made and knew that I was not being abusive and that my mother was the abuser), the enforcement of the Elder Laws are such, that if you are accused, you are assumed to be guilty, until proven innocent, which is why give my mother’s threat, she advised that I immediately cut all contact.

All the advice given in the article will NOT work with life-long abusive parents! They CANNOT be reasoned with. Trying to explain to them that their behavior is hurtful to you will gain you nothing. Come on, someone who would abuse their defenseless child is NOT going to care, at all, if they are hurting their adult child with their abusive behavior!

@toomuch4me I feel your pain. My father was a dirt bag my whole life. He made my mother's life a living h*ll before she passed from cancer. I am only taking care of this creep so he doesn't sell my inheritance, which is also from my mother, out from under me. He is an ungrateful, angry old man. He treats me like a slave, while calling me every name in the book and taking out . When I don't bend to his ridiculous demands , he resorts to petty revenge tactics like making a mess, throwing away my belongings, and abusing my dog. The world would be a better place if he died. He refuses to go to a home. Like an idiot, I have kept him alive way past his expectancy. No good deed goes unpunished.

I havent been on this site in a while and I wish I had a positive update. Ive returned because the emotional abuse has gotten worse. No matter how often my father is spoken to he treats me like an employee. Constantly calling me upstairs to cook something for him. He has no regards for the fact that I have 3 teenage daughters one that is getting ready to move to college next month.My siblings keep telling me to ignore him. But I cant. He is very rude to my children whether he is staring at them or saying that they are not part of the family. Im serious about moving out but there is no assistance unless you are being physically assaulted, and I want to leave because I fear it will come to that. I despise my father at this point.

I have an 85 year old Mother who is now returning items she has had for years-she returned a orchid she got years ago that died and the store told her she had already returned it once already for a replacement but they gave her another and today she was proud that she had returned to Publix an easy off oven cleaner that she purchased years ago as the head was not working now since she heard from a relative that Publix will not question any return. She has also said she is going to claim she was shorted by $5 on her money returned as she will get them to pay her no questions asked. She seems quite proud of this deceit, lying and theft. I am frustrated and I let her know I was disappointed in her inappropriate behavior. Any ideas?

comment

My mother has been a negative, verbally abusive, cold person my entire life. She's 83 now and broke her arm two months ago, after falling while trying to get out of bed. She also has much trouble walking. She & my father, who has dementia, live alone in their home. Just this week she screamed & cursed at the director of the home health agency that was providing 24/7 aides, who were adamantly recommended by the hospital, the rehab facility she went to briefly, and the attending VNA professionals--my mother kicked them all out after about a month and a half. She has always treated my sister and me with less than respect--we've never been good enough, we didn't marry good enough men, we don't know how to do anything, on & on. To my face she said she has "two worthless daughters, one worse than the other". She bad-mouths me to my husband, and my sister to her two daughters behind our backs. She is impossible, unreasonable, mean, argumentative, and manipulative. She is angry because we have made it clear that we are neither willing nor able to give up our lives to take care of them. After being informed of her inexcusable behavior towards the agency's director--not to mention her abhorrent treatment of two aides who were there to help them, which we witnessed first-hand--we don't want to have anything to do with her. We would like to have our father removed from such a toxic environment. We have talked to every professional we can think of & are meeting with an attorney next week, but we aren't holding out much hope that he'll be of any help, either. It's extremely frustrating to realize there is no help for people in our situation, and we don't know what we're going to do. This website has been a sanity-saver since we came across it about a week ago, and I want to thank everybody involved, just for being there. Good luck to all of us.