How to Handle an Elder’s (or one sick/dying) Controlling Behavior !

Many caregivers have times they want to cut and run. They feel they’ve given their all to their elders, and then their elders want more. The parent wants the adult children to be there all the time. They won’t accept hired help. If the caregiver wants to go out with a spouse or friends, the parent whines about being left alone or wants to go along. The parent complains about the carefully prepared food, the specially chosen clothes, anything at all.

Family Dynamics Plays a Key Role

Sometimes the dynamics between caregiver and care-receiving parents are just a continuation of the family dynamics from the past — dynamics that were always there – a child trying to please a parent who can’t be pleased. The controlling behavior is abusive and likely handed down from generation to generation. This behavior is so entrenched in the family that it seems only therapy could change anything and family therapy is not likely to happen at this late date.

Sometimes, however, if the caregiver gets brave enough to decide what is just bad temper they can live with and what is abuse and then can set boundaries and stick to them, the situation can be made more bearable. There is something else to consider. If the controlling, abusive behavior is not deeply entrenched in the family, the caregiver may be helped to understand the situation by understanding that much controlling behavior by their elders is fear driven.

A Loss of Independence

As people age, or face death, they feel a loss of control over so many things, their bodies not the least of it. They often suffer chronic pain. They sometimes lose the ability to walk. The humiliation on incontinence is thrust upon them. So, they lash out at the one person they know (or hope) won’t leave them – you, the caregiver.

Remember that in the end it’s all about the love. Hang in there and do the right thing. No matter what!

Good luck…or should I say “Good Work.” (DJS)


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