How do you deal with aging parents that are making each other miserable?

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She is overly controlling of him and his response is smoke. Mom is basically in bed most of the day, getting up for a short time to cook or eat. She takes anxiety medication daily. Dad has COPD and uses a Nebulizer no oxygen yet because he still smokes and they wouldn't suggest bring the tanks that can explode into the house. Constantly bickering.

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Thank you NYDaughterinlaw and stacyb for responding. They do live near me and rely on me several times a day right now. I need to do a better job of boundaries and acceptance. They have always had these tendencies but now I am getting sucked in as they both want me to side with them. It is hard but I try to stay neutral. It is helpful to hear that it may just be a normal progression of an elderly couple that always had a temultious relationship.
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Promise8, I'm glad that you agree with the others, and I understand your frustrations, but nothing you do can ever change them. Bickering has become their way of communicating with each other, and you probably just need to ignore it, no matter how much it bothers you.

I think that when you visit, make an announcement One Time, right when you arrive, something like "I hope you 2 aren't going to bicker the whole time I'm here, or I'm going to have to leave, I'm here for a nice visit and cant handle the stress right now" and leave it at that and then Do Leave, if they start up! This way, it takes the focus off of them, and they MAY come to the realization that you too, have other things going on in YOUR life, and it isn't always about them!

I know that my husband and I bicker when there is tension in the house, but not in front of others! Its often what long term couples do, unfortunately! 31 years and counting, I Love him, but sometimes I want to kill him, Lol!
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Your profile doesn't mention what your living arrangements are. Do they live by themselves? Do they live with you? Do you live with them? If they live by themselves, don't interfere in their marriage. If they live with you, it's your house and your rules. If you live with them, it's their house and they can do whatever they want. Whatever the living arrangements, I would cut down on the amount of time you spend with them. What good is coming from you witnessing their bickering? You are not their marriage counselor.
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Thank you cwillie and eyerishlass...you are both right on.
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Wow. You could be talking about my parents. I had a fleeting thought that somehow one of my ancient posts had resurfaced.

Unfortunately, I don't have a solution for you any more than I had a solution for my own situation years ago. I would call my mom during the brief time frame I knew she'd be out of bed and I would go and visit my dad and he'd be sitting at the kitchen table with his book while my mom was in bed.

I begged my mom to get out of bed because I knew how detrimental to her health it was to lay in bed all day but short of dragging her out myself there was nothing I could do about it. My dad didn't want to go up against her either.

I never could understand how they had reached the point they were at. These were the same parents who took us on vacations and gave us a wonderful family in which to grow up.

There wasn't much I could do about their situation if they weren't willing to change and maybe they didn't know how to change, I don't know. Or maybe making a change seemed to difficult for them. The elderly couple they evolved into were not the same people they once were. I'm sure they weren't happy but I think they were powerless to change.

All I can suggest is that you try to convince your mom to stay out of bed but if she refuses don't make yourself crazy over it like I did. It did no good and just got me so stressed out that I thought I was having a heart attack one evening.

Your dad knows smoking is bad for him and will exacerbate his COPD, maybe he just doesn't care at this point. Don't nag him about it. Again, it will do no good and will only serve to frustrate you.

The patterns and routines your parents are exhibiting have been years, even decades, in the making. All you can do at this point is change how you approach it. You shouldn't be working harder than them on changing their behavior. We can't change the behavior of others. Your parents would have to want to change and if they don't want to change work on accepting that.
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I expect that this bickering has been the pattern of their relationship for a long time and wouldn't change even if they didn't have health concerns. It can be wearing to be around the constant negativity, but there is little you can do to change the dynamics between them. The only solution that comes to mind would be to change their living circumstances. If they were in an assisted living facility dad would have more freedom to get out on his own amongst other people, and mom would have staff to intervene and perhaps motivate her to get up and focus on something else.
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