5 Tips for Coping with a Difficult Senior Parent

In this blog, we will look at why some parents become difficult in their later years, and provide some helpful tips on how to best cope with the situation.
5 Tips for Coping with a Difficult Senior Parent

For adult children, coping with an older parent who is difficult or combative can be extremely challenging. As some seniors age, the traditional role of parent and child often changes dramatically, as the adult child becomes the primary caregiver for their mom or dad.

If you are experiencing this, you are certainly not alone. Many families face these challenges while trying to care for an aging parent.

In this blog, we will look at why some parents become difficult in their later years, and provide some helpful tips on how to best cope with the situation.

Woman looking out a window

Why Your Elderly Parent May Be Difficult or Angry

Some older parents may show signs of anger or irritability as they experience mental and physical changes. These behaviors are often caused by physical disease, or cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. These conditions can make seniors feel irritated, anxious, and helpless.


How To Cope with a Difficult Senior Parent

Here are 5 great ways you can support and care for an older parent who has become difficult or aggressive.

Understand the Issues At Hand

Work with your loved one’s doctors and other health care professionals to determine what is causing your parent to behave as they do. Understanding the situation from a medical standpoint is very helpful in removing or minimizing the emotional component of trying to cope with their unpleasant behavior.

Son sitting with their father
Woman with their doctor

Keep their Doctor Informed

Stay in regular communication with your loved one’s doctor, so they can help you monitor your parent’s physical and mental health.

Prescribing medication can often be beneficial in helping your loved one cope with the challenges they are facing. If possible, accompany your loved one on appointments when they see their doctor.

Be Patient

It can be extremely difficult to be patient with an older parent who is being disagreeable, hostile, and even verbally abusive.

Try your best to not take their behavior personally, and focus instead on the actual reasons that are causing them to be difficult. Avoid criticism or making emotionally charged comments that will likely upset them. Express your concerns in a calm, loving way.

Daughter and mother hugging
Father and son hugging each other

Seek the Support You Need

Trying to cope alone with an elderly parent who is difficult can be exhausting. Involve your siblings or other family members in your parent’s care. Taking turns helping your loved one, by spreading the care responsibilities among multiple people can make all the difference in successfully meeting your parent’s exact needs.

If family help is not available, seek out the services of a home health agency or other organizations that can help lessen the burden on you.

Pick Your Battles

When an older parent habitually becomes difficult, it is important to pick your battles with them to minimize conflict. Limit discussions with them to only important topics such as their health, medication, and other matters that directly affect their lives.

Minimize conversations about unimportant things, such as leaving dishes in the sink, the latest political news, or other matters that are not worth the energy of arguing about. Picking your battles will reduce stress by reducing unpleasant encounters.

Two people holding hands

Frontier Senior Living is Here to Help

When a once loving and supportive parent becomes difficult in their later years, interacting with them can be exhausting.

By understanding the reasons behind their behavioral changes, keeping in regular contact with their doctor and other medical professionals, trying to be patient, seeking the support you need, and picking your battles, you will be in the best position to provide the help your loved one needs.

The compassionate and experienced staff at Frontier Senior Living has helped many families find the perfect Senior Living community for their loved ones’ unique needs.

If you would like to learn more about our services, we cordially invite you to visit one of our beautiful communities, take a tour and speak with our wonderful staff.

Find a community near you
that perfectly fits your needs.

Nearby Communities

Livingston Place at Southern Avenue

4656 Livingston Road Southeast
Washington, District of Columbia 20032
(771) 333-8279
Levels of Care:

Assisted Living

Portside at Grande Dunes

Myrtle Lane
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29572
(843) 894-2355
Levels of Care:

Assisted Living, Independent Living, Memory Care

Keepsake Village of Columbus Memory Care

2564 Fox Pointe Drive
Columbus, Indiana 47203
(812) 900-4936
Levels of Care:

Assisted Living, Memory Care