They are 85 and 89.

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KFinn59, I see from your profile that your parents still live at home, I assume by themselves, and they have mobility problems. That is so similar to my own parents.

It was my Mom was the stubborn, judgement person. Dad was very easy going. And it was quite stressful for me since I lived literally around the corner. They were always saying "they can manage" but being in their 90's my Mom was very much in denial. She still had Dad climbing ladders and doing electrical work even though it was difficult for him due to age and eye sight.

Are your parents refusing to downsize? My Mom refused to even think about senior living, oh maybe in a couple of years.... yeah right, when she is 100. Dad was ready to pack, but not without Mom.

I kept my visits very short, mainly because their house felt like a rain forest it was soooo hot, and the smell. Come on folks, open a window and get some fresh air in.

KFinn, what type of care are you doing for your parents? Being their chauffeur? Getting their groceries? All those doctor appointments? Or does someone else manage that, and you try to visit when you can.

Sometimes we need to put ourselves into our parent's shoes. Getting older isn't easy. It can be downright tough. I know I am feeling those age related issues which showed out of the blue. Like squatting down on the floor to clean and realizing I can't get back up :P
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How often do you visit? Can you reduce that?

I'm not sure that acting happy is a good thing. Be happy and show it while things are going well. When things go off the rails, and you are unhappy, show that, too. When mother says something judgemental, frown and say, "I really did not come here to be criticized. Can we change the subject, please?" And if that doesn't get results, "I can see this is not a good time for my visit. I'll leave now, and see you next month." Then LEAVE!

If you are acting happy, why would you expect your parents to change how they treat you?
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I can relate as I went through this. First make sure you are rested, have taken good care of yourself, listen to some uplifting music on your way over. Steel yourself basically.

Then try to keep all things light, try to have some pleasant plans for your visit--going out for lunch, a drive, a treat like go out for an ice cream or something -- or bring in carry out. When mom or dad got caught in unpleasant conversation or said stuff annoying to me, I'd suggest we go for a walk. I focused only on the nice things, a pretty yard, nice car in neighbors driveway, something happy in the news or sports. My parents were negative, I focuss d on positive.

If it got too bad, I learned to just cut the visit short and leave. After awhile I told my parents, "this is getting heated and we don't agree, or I don't feel like listening to your criticism, so I'm leaving and will visit again when you feel better."

It's hard. It would take me days to work up to a visit for a couple days and then take me 2-3weeks to recover from the visit.

I know your pain and frustration. I had to change me. I couldn't change them.
Helpful Answer (5)

Do you have to visit often, or can you limit your time with them to brief, weekly visits to check on them? Or visit even less and just call now and then?

If you have a difficult relationship with your parents and it causes you both grief, there's no hard and fast rule that says you *have* to visit them frequently. If you know they are ok and are taking care of themselves, then visit less often. If they ask why you're not visiting more often, explain why, very politely. Say, "Mom & Dad, your behavior towards me often causes me emotional pain, and I don't know if you realize that. When you say, (insert whatever they say here that causes you pain and anxiety), it really hurts me, and makes me not want to visit." They will either accept that, or not - but you will have at least said your piece.
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