Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide For Stressed-Out Children

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Overview

Do You Have An Aging Parent Who — Blames you for everything that goes wrong? Cannot tolerate being alone, wants you all the time? Is obsessed with health problems, real, or imagined? Make unreasonable and/or irrational demands of you? Is hostile, negative and critical? Coping with these traits in parents is an endless high-stress battle for their children. Though there's no medical defination for "difficult" parents, you know when you have one. While it's rare for adults to change their ways late in life, you can...

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Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide For Stressed Out Children

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Overview

Do You Have An Aging Parent Who — Blames you for everything that goes wrong? Cannot tolerate being alone, wants you all the time? Is obsessed with health problems, real, or imagined? Make unreasonable and/or irrational demands of you? Is hostile, negative and critical? Coping with these traits in parents is an endless high-stress battle for their children. Though there's no medical defination for "difficult" parents, you know when you have one. While it's rare for adults to change their ways late in life, you can stop the vicious merry-go-round of anger, blame, guilt and frustration. For the first time, here's a common-sense guide from professionals, with more than two decades in the field, on how to smooth communications with a challenging parent. Filled with practical tips for handling contentious behaviors and sample dialogues for some of the most troubling situations, this book addresses many hard issues, including: How to tell your parent he or she cannot live with you. How to avoid the cycle of nagging and recriminations How to prevent your parent's negativity from overwhelming you. How to deal with an impaired parent who refuses to stop driving. How to assess the risk factors in deciding whether a parent is still able to live alone.

"...addresses common traits and issues that arise when adult children must cope with the demands of a critical and difficult aging parent."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380797509
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 128,299
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane, the co-founders of Aging Network Services of Bethesda, Maryland, are clinical social workers and care managers, specializing in older people and their families. They created a nationwide network of similar professionals to work with geographically separated families. This is their first book.

Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane, the co-founders of Aging Network Services of Bethesda, Maryland, are clinical social workers and care managers, specializing in older people and their families. They created a nationwide network of similar professionals to work with geographically separated families. This is their first book.

Grace Lebow and Barbara Kane, the co-founders of Aging Network Services of Bethesda, Maryland, are clinical social workers and care managers, specializing in older people and their families. They created a nationwide network of similar professionals to work with geographically separated families. This is their first book.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When Your Parent Clings To You
Dependency Behaviors
When your parent:

  • cannot tolerate being alone; wants you all the time.
  • becomes physically ill or overtly hostile when confronted with separation.
  • makes unreasonable and irrational demands upon their grownchildren and others.
  • attaches himself or herself to another person (e.g., a daughter), leaning on that person for help with everything.
  • is unable to make decisions or take responsiblity for decision, looking to their grownchildren and others for event trivial decisions.
  • cannot allow himself or herself to depend on others even when you know he or she needs help

A DEPENDENT MOTHER

Al dialed the phone with trepidation. He was at a public phone in the theater lobby. The curtain was to go up in just a few minutes. He and his wife had just rushed into the theater after grabbing a quick dinner at a restaurant a few steps away. But before taking their seats for an evening of relaxation, Al knew if he did not call his mother, there would be hell to pay. He always called on the nights be did not visit her. The problem this evening was that his call was about one-half hour after the customary time.

He was not sure how she would react. Sometimes she would not notice if the call was a little later than expected. There were even those rare occasions on which she noticed but did not rub it in. But this was not to be one of those nights. As soon as he answered her hello with a cheery "Hello, Mother," he was greeted by a cold, angry voice saying,"Where were you? I have beentrying to get you all night."

"I'm at the theater, Mom. Miriam and I both had to work late this evening and we barely had enough time for supper. I have to be in my seat in just a couple of minutes and I wanted to call first to see bow you are today."

"I'm just fine," came the hard and steely reply. These words were followed by a sharp click. "Can you beat that? She hung up on me," he said to Miriam as he came out of the telephone booth. "I hope you're not surprised," she said as they were taking their seats. He was indeed not surprised. Things like this had happened often enough for him not to take it so personally. Yet, no matter bow often it happened and how much he tried to accept it nonchalantly, be still felt the pain. All during the evening his mind would wander from the stage before him to that telephone call. He kept wondering what he could have said or done differently to avoid this upsetting exchange. At bad learned by bitter experience to try to call each evening early enough to avoid these unpleasant interactions. Moreover, he also had learned to visit in person two to three times a week to appease his guilt and try to keep his mother happy.

Of course, the word "happy" is a relative one. The fact was that Bea, At's eighty-eight-year-old mother, was cbronically unhappy. She had been a complainer as long as Al could remember, and the complaints had only worsened as she grew older and began to suffer some of the physical impairments of older age. Despite this, she had gotten by reasonably well during most of her married life with a devoted husband, good children, and financial security. Now with her husband gone and her health not what it used to be, she had all the more reason to feel unhappy.

The basic problem, as Al saw it, was that his mother was such a dependent person. All her life, she had leaned upon her husband. She had no friends of her own. She didn't belong to a bridge club or play mah-jongg, as did other women in the neighborhood. One of Al's earliest recollections was the way in which she would wait anxiously for his father to come home at night. Night after night, year after year, he would come through the door at seven o'clock sharp, and night after night, year after year, Bea would greet him with, "Where were you? Why can't you come me earlier?"

And this dependence only increased as the years passed. And now that her husband was dead, she expected her son to be at her beck and call. It's not that Al minded taking care of things for her. But it was unreasonable, he thought, to be unable to go to the theater without feeling her watchful eye. What could he do to cope better?

A Professional Can Help Get You out of a Rut
with Your Difficult Parent

Al and Miriam had found that dealing with Bea had been difficult for some time and was becoming more so. They had been coping with the situation by doing as Bea wanted and avoiding doing those things that irritated her. They visited her regularly every Monday and Thursday. Every Sunday they brought her over to their home for dinner. They remembered every occasion. In short, they behaved pretty much as she wanted them to behave. While this pampering didn't satisfy her enough to assuage her ever-present anger, it held it reasonably in check.

Sometimes they would lose their tempers and argue with her when she took out her venom on her housekeeper or on someone else in the family. Then she would get even angrier with them for taking "their side." But she would get over it after a few days, and things would return to their usual state. Al was becoming increasingly angry at having to walk on eggshells all the time. Would she behave better if he gave her hell the next day, told her that he was insulted, and made her apologize? Maybe she needed to be held to account.

Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent. Copyright © by Grace Lebow. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent, Highly Recommended!

    There are few good books on managing difficult elders and this is one of the best. Includes real situations every adult child and professional caregiver can relate to and gives workable solutions. You will realize you are not alone and that brave souls have gone through this and survived--and you will find hope for managing obstinate elders effectively. I was delighted to interview Grace on my 'Coping with Caregiving' radio show.

    -Jacqueline Marcell, Author 'Elder Rage', International Speaker on Eldercare & Alzheimer's, Host 'Coping With Caregiving' Internet Radio Show at wsRadio

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2002

    A fellow author, reviews this book

    I want to complement the authors on their insight. I did deal with some of these problems in my own book, 'Dancing in the Dark: Things My Mother Never Told Me,' but my intention was to write it, I am not educated enough to help solve the problem or understand it. ' A Guide for Stressed Out Children etc' did that for me. I highly recommend it. There will come a time in everyone's life, I'm afraid, when it will be needed. I intend to buy this book and give it to my daughter in case she needs it for dealing with me. I am 73-year-old woman, racing rapidly toward being a feisty old lady. I will never knowingly cause my daughter, my only child, the grief I had with my mother and my in-laws, but sometimes it cannot be helped in the case of Dementia or worse. Some of the characters could have been members of my family. My mother-in-law used to say, when we traveled, 'Do you know what you are doing to me?' Everyone with older parents should own this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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