Thanks for being patient
I'm more than a bit embarrassed by how long it's been since I published a newsletter. All my writing energy was directed elsewhere. Well, we're back. I hope you are still out there.
Coping with Verbal Abuse from Your Parent
If you are like me you were raised to respect your elders. It can be tough when respect doesn't flow both ways between you and your parent.
I have clients say things like:
"My mother says things that hurt my feelings. She comments on my weight. She gets angry at the slightest thing. I can't believe the words that are coming out of her mouth, I didn't know my mother even knew those words."
"I dread calling or visiting because I never know which Dad to expect. The loving father of my childhood or the angry, bitter, completely negative father that I see quite frequently these days."
"My friends say to ignore what she says to me, it's just her dementia talking. I can't ignore it...her dementia says the same mean things that my mom has always said. I feel like an unhappy teenager again."
What can you do when your parent is verbally abusing you?
While some of strategies are the same, if your parent has dementia or Alzheimer's disease, it will change how you respond to verbal abuse.
If your parent is suffering from dementia, her social skills will erode along with her memories and ability to complete daily tasks. This means that what she says is even more likely to hurt or embarrass you.
If your parent is in the early stages of AD or dementia, communicate your feelings clearly and ask your parent to stop what she is saying. In the early stages, she may still be able to be sensitive to your feelings.
As your parent's social awareness continues to erode, your tactics need to change. At this stage, you may need to limit your visits or the amount of time you visit. It's ok to leave and come back another day if your visit becomes too intense because of what your parent is saying.
One of my clients who had a long term negative relationship with her mother found that limiting the length of her visits and treating herself after each visit did a lot to make seeing her mother more bearable.
What if your parent is negative and hurtful but does not have dementia?
Limiting the amount of time and the number of your visits can still be an effective strategy.
Setting limits about you will tolerate can help. Gently and repeatedly asserting yourself with consequences can work even if you have a lifetime of reacting differently in the past. Rehearse what you will say. For example, "Dad when you say I'm stupid, it hurts my feelings. If you continue to talk to me this way, I'll cut my visit short." If the verbal abuse continues, follow through on your consequences and leave.
If you or your parent can afford it, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to act as a buffer. The GCM who is usually a nurse or social worker, can be the person who has direct contact with your parent and keeps you informed about your parent's well being. This allows you to limit contact with your parent.
If you are your parent's primary caregiver then you will have to focus on self care to cope with your parent's ongoing negativity. Look for community resources that can offer a break from caring for your parent. One option is an adult day program that gets your parent out of the house. Ask other family members to give you a break.
Your parent's negativity or verbal abuse may be the signs of a long standing, untreated mental illness. Discuss your parent's actions with her doctor to see if there are medications that may help.
Dealing with negativity and verbal abuse from a parent is challenging. Setting limits and making self care a priority are actions you can take to protect yourself while still helping your parent.
Is it Time to Discuss Your Eldercare Challenges with an Expert?
Have your caregiving responsibilities left you stressed, angry or feeling guilty?
Do you suspect that your family member needs help and don't know where to start?
Whether you are an experienced caregiver verging on burnout or a new caregiver who is not sure how to help a family member, you can benefit from Eldercare Coaching.
To experience what's it's like to have an expert in your corner providing advice and resources
tailored to your unique situation,
click here to schedule a no cost 30 minute consultation.
I'd like to know what you think?
Caring for an aging relative is time consuming and emotionally challenging. When you are already balancing caring for a family member, your other family responsibilities to your spouse and children and your career, time is at a premium. Taking more time away from work or family to learn about elder care options is almost impossible.
Your feedback is urgently needed about a new program for families caring for an elder. The program provides elder care information and support. It is delivered in small, easy to digest segments at your convenience. Whether you are providing hands-on care or coordinating all the support and services that your parent needs, you need convenient time saving solutions available when you need them.
The survey is short. It will take about five minutes to complete.
Your answers are confidential.
Your information will not be shared and you will not be contacted after completing the survey without your permission.
All participants receive a F*REE gift, the "Communicating for Results" ebook.
I'd like to hear from as many family caregivers as I can. If you know someone who is caring for aging relative, I'd appreciate if you would forward it on to them.
Follow this link to begin the survey.
Won't You Join Us?
September 9, 7pm PST
Janice is hosting the "It Takes a Village to Care for Aging Parents" Telephone Support Group
Call in number: (616) 347-8400
Pin number: 196932#
To register for this event, please reply to this email.