Date: May 21, 2024

Author: Kateri Swavely-Verenna

Our parents have taken care of us since we were born, spending almost all of their time on us – especially when we are very young – and caring for our every need. As our parents age, a role reversal begins to occur, where our elderly parents start expecting us to spend time, energy and money on them. So what do you do when aging parents expect too much from you?

How to Deal with Parents Getting Older

No one automatically knows how to deal with an aging parent. It’s strange to watch your parents age, especially as they grow weaker, are unable to do the things they used to be able to do, or their personalities begin to change. They may feel that you owe them after all the years they spent caring for you. It can be difficult to determine what you can give and where you need to set limits on how much you do for your aging parent. It is especially difficult when they become demanding. 

How to Deal with an Elderly Parent Who is Demanding

No one wants to constantly fight with their elderly parents or feel like their relationship is becoming strained as they both age. But elderly parents, especially those who are alone or have health issues, can begin to make too many demands on their children to the point where the children feel resentful and no longer wish to spend time with them. There are some things to keep in mind when wondering what to do with difficult elderly parents. 

  • Be empathetic. Many elderly parents worry if their children will not take care of them, no one will. By showing empathy and listening to their concerns you can alleviate their feelings and help them feel heard and understood. 
  • Listen. There may be a reason your parents are struggling that you don’t know about. Try to discover what is going on that could be causing stress that is being passed on to you. 
  • Compromise. Once you know your parents’ needs and expectations, you can begin to discuss where you are able to make compromises. Be open about where you feel they are expecting too much and share other ways you can help. Remind them you are of course available for emergencies and other major issues. 
  • Talk about your own needs. Let your parents know what you need – and not necessarily what you need from them, just in general. Do you always need two hours on a weekend to yourself for self-care? Do you have responsibilities with your own children at certain times that you cannot work around? Things like that are appropriate to share as long as you can do it in a way that does not make your parents feel guilty. 
  • Check in regularly. Even if you can not physically be with your parents as often as they would like, you can still check in with phone calls. Make sure whatever process you set up to meet everyone’s needs is still working and adjust accordingly.
  • Get support. Other family members may be able to support you and share some responsibilities. If not, there are many support and caregiving services that can step in as needed to take some of the load off caregiving family members. 

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It is not always easy to know what to do with aging parents. There are so many expectations – both from yourself, your parents, and even society – and yet so many responsibilities for work, your own family and yourself that balancing everything can become a huge challenge. Don’t try to do it all until your burn out or resentment builds. There are many different support systems out there for both you and your parents so everyone can stay happy, healthy and safe. 

Date: May 21, 2024

Author: Kateri Swavely-Verenna

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