How can I have a respectful loving and peaceful relationship with my parents again?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Both of my parents are in Nursing Home care, Dad is 95 suffered from a stroke last Mar. Mom has debiltation arthritis, Macular degeneration, and memory issues. First it was Dad being un-cooperative with the Nurses, refusing meds, foods and help. He's doing better now it's Mom complaining about everything, doing P.T., can't smoke when she wants to, housekeeping actually doing their jobs, she's resistent to everything and when I try to explain things to her, she becomes angry at me. I find it hard to talk to her because all she does is go on a tyrant about Dad, and everyone and everything. Mom and Dad play the I'm innocent game, and point fingers at each other or others. In no un-certain terms I have told them both how their behavior is affecting me and I cant take it anymore. They both say "I'm so sorry, you're all we have, it will be better" Not a day later it's something else! I love my parents dearly but this is causing a major rift in our relationship. My sister is and has always been absent, my husband is a great supporter but basically its just me. I've resorted to not calling as much as I use to, my visits are limited, hoping they will feel the distance because of their own behaviors. How can I have a respectful loving and peaceful relationship with my parents once again? I feel like leaving the country!

Expert Answers

Mary Koffend is the president of Accountable Aging Care Management (AACM), an eldercare consulting and care management firm that works with elder clients and their families to find the best care providers and services to meet their needs.

Conflict with parents under any circumstances, and especially when they are in a nursing home, can be very frustrating and upsetting. One thing you should consider is that your parents because of their health issues are at the mercy of their illnesses and may not able to respond in a loving and caring manner. They are likely both experiencing pain and memory issues and are reactive to the frustrations they are experiencing. They probably do not mean to take out their pain and frustrations on you.

The best action for you to take is to make minimal phone calls and visits. Manage their care at a distance. Check in with the staff of the facility and make sure that the parents are getting the best care possible. You cannot fix their situation so trying only increases your upset and frustrations. You appear to be experiencing caregiver burnout and there are some excellent articles on this website that may give you more insights.

Another option is to seek the assistance of a third party to give you some assistance and some perspective. There could be a social worker at the nursing home or you could seek the services of a professional geriatric care manger in your area. They are experts at solving problems and coaching families about the most effective decisions. This website has a listing of care managers in the area.

I know that you want a respectful loving and peaceful relationship with your parents. They appear not to be able to do their part for this type of relationship so you must take care of yourself.

Community Answers

Cruisingdiva! answered...

Mary, many thanks for your insight and understanding. One week after I wrote my post mom had a stroke. A vein literly burst in her brain leading to what the Dr.s call a brain bleed.

Fortunately she didn't suffer any visual side affects however, her already low vision has further decreased and so has her short term memory leading her to much more confusion than she was already beginning to experience. Today they will give her a follow up c-scan, and make adjustments with her meds under the care of a geriatric psychiatrist

I had started to apply many of the suggestions you gave above and it was working for me. Now that a new element ( the stroke) has entered the picture I am considerately more focused on ensuring mom gets all the help she needs and becoming more comfortable with knowing I've done my's time for me to rest.

I was also afraid that if mom became more than the NH could handle, what would be next? They've assured me that they have not exhausted their resources and abilities and with that I sleep better however, knowing that I have no control of these circumstances, I take one day at a time and will be. will be.

My visit with Mom and Dad yesterday was one of the best visits that I can remember in a long time, for me that means no complaining or negativity. Once again, I vow to take one day at a time, I can't change them but I can change how I deal with them and still maintain my concept of myself being.

Again, thank you for replying it really helps to hear from others in a helpful way.