How do I cope living with an aging parent?

8 answers | Last updated: Nov 12, 2015
Kay in glendale, ca asked...

How do I cope living with an aging parent? My mother is 85 years old, relatively healthy, and living with me. We used to have a very good relationship so I thought this would work out. Unfortunately, she gets mad at the drop of a hat, is judgmental of everything I do, just waits for me to shut up so she can talk, and never hears a thing I say. When I've tried to talk to her about this, she just blows up at me. She told me that she tried being nice once and it didn't work: "I have a temper and that's all there is to it!" she said. She also says she's glad to be at a point in life when she can do whatever she wants, without worrying about anyone else. I'm at a point where everything I do is clouded by concern about how she's going to react, and I can't even enjoy my own home anymore. I know there are other people who have similar problems with aging parents. Any suggestions, blogs or books to help me cope, before I get an ulcer?

Expert Answers

You're in a difficult situation, but don't wait until you develop an ulcer to do something about it. Your mother has no right to make you unhappy in your own home, and you need to let her know that her behavior is unacceptable.

In a quiet moment, sit down with your mother and in a nonconfrontational way, tell her how you feel. Explain to her that she's entitled to "have a temper" and to "do whatever she wants" in the privacy of her own home, but she is living with you now, and you insist on being treated with respect and civility. Use "I" statements, and try to remain calm, but don't let her bully you. It isn't pleasant to have someone blow-up at you, but if you can withstand the storm and continue to press your point, you may be able to get through to her.

If talking frankly with your mother doesn't work, then you should consider seeing a therapist or mediator together. You may also want to consult your mother's physician. If your mother's behavior is atypical for her, she could be depressed, or suffering from dementia or other health problems. If counseling doesn't work and her behavior isn't related to any problems that can be remedied, you should probably explore alternative living arrangement for your mother, because this one clearly isn't working out.

Community Answers

Njones3 answered...

What you're dealing with must be extremely difficult and I understand this by watching my family members deal with similar issues, it really can be a day to day strain. I am familiar with a company called They deal with people such as yourself who need support in dealing with their aging parents. They have a book that you may find insight in titled, The Boomers Guide To Aging Parents. There is a chapter in this book titled, How to Handle Family Conflicts and I think you may find this chapter especially insightful. Here is a link to the book:

I have a great amount of respect for this company and their experience and if you need further help, feel free to contact them. 

Best Wishes, Nicole

Honeydoodlemis answered...

Kay, God bless you...i am in the same exact situation...instead of my mother getting angry, she retreats, purses her lips and remains silent with "i'm fine" as her only response. I have come to the conclusion that I am her caregiver at this point and not really her daughter any more. She has been living with me for 4 years. When I switch my hat, my expectations of her also switches and that makes it a bit easier to let things just slide and not to spend so much time worrying about my every little word or action. I am married and have 2 children still at home. I have very clear boundaries...I check on her at least once per day to make sure she is okay and if I get a chance to visit more or I need to talk with her I do it. If not, I do not pursue her. This is not the relationship I thought I would have or desire to have but it does take two to have a relationship that is healthy and she either doesn't know how to do it or doesn't want to do it. I am at the stage of recognizing that I must balance what she needs from me, with what I want to accomplish in my own life as well as the time and energy my husband and children need from me. I try to leave the guilt aside...I just don't have enough energy for everything. So, in a nutshell...consider making a list of what are the minimum requirements you feel you can time, attention, activity...and then stick to it...anything above and beyond that will need to come from her. So..I have decided for me...checking on her once a day is a minimum...preferrably in the morning...just to make sure she is up and okay. Another minimum is that I tell her when I leave the house, just so she knows I am not there and I generally ask if she needs anything. On short shopping trips, I may ask her to join me. Sometimes she says yes, sometimes no. I do not ask her to go with me when I want to meander around or make unscheduled stops...that has not been profitable for us in the past. Find your line and then stay on your can still love her, reach out to her, encourage her...but do it in a way that doesn't strangle you by getting caught up in the line!! I hope this is helpful...It has helped me to write it! May God bless our efforts to take care of the widowed!!!

Naomi in cairns answered...

Hi Kay,

I am exactly in the same situation as you. I have my 84 year old mother living with me, and I can not seem to do nothing which pleases her - you know the old saying 'dammed if you do, dammed if you don't' well that is how I'm feeling. On top of the nasty behaviour, I also have the time constraints comments ie. if I take longer than she anticipates (away from the house), she explodes at me and wants to know what happened, why I'm late, why I didn't call etc. I am at the stage where I love my mother, but unfortuntely I am at the stage where I don't like her (which from where I am sitting is very sad). People tell me that I have to take time for myself - and I'm sure you have been told the same, but it is a lot easier than it sounds. On top of looking after my mother, I also have a very stressful full time job, a 3 hour / week part time job and studying - I must admit, I am at the stage where I don't know what to do. I have set the house up with her stuff around her (with no assistance - but with a lot if negative comments and attitude which I found very difficult). I no longer listen to my music (she doesn't like it), and I have found that I no longer have any of my friends calling around (she has been nasty to them too). My mother will also not leave the house unless I take her, so again I feel there is added pressure. I don't know what the answers are, however it has given me strength to know that I am not the only person going through this stuff.

Good luck - from one carer to another xoxo

Gg08 answered...

I know that you're not traveling an easy road and that it takes tremendous time and energy to care for an elderly parent. I can totally relate to your situation. Be assured that I'll be praying for you, asking God to give you the wisdom you need for these circumstances. In my time I've worked with Focus, I'm aware of some terrific resources that might help. Check them out when you get a chance: and If these articles don't address the specific issues you are facing, you can call one of their counselors for advice and direction. There is no cost to you.

Mymomslove answered...

I had to sell my home and move in with your mother who now has alzheimers and will be 90 in 2 months. I feel your pain & frustration. I also have 4 siblings who do not help. It has taken me 2 years and a therapist to understand mom has lived her life. If I don't take care of myself I won't be able to take care of her. I love my mother dearly and will do anything for her but will no longer give up my life. There comes a time when you need to hire a caregiver to help you out. My siblings & I all share in the cost. When the caregiver walks in I walk out and do what I want. I also take 3 nights and 4 days a month away from home. At first mom got angry, then cried, then tried to make me feel guilty but we got through it and she now is use to it and all is well. Having an aging parent is one thing. Having an aging parent with alzheimers is a whole different world. God bless and stay strong. Remember they will only be with us just a short time now. Love them, that's all they really want even when they are mean and nasty. Just love them and give them everything they want they worked hard for us it's their time to rest and be happy. Don't fight them go with the flow.

Lawyers daughterms answered...

I feel like I am in the opposite dad has always been alil beligerent and now that an unfortunate situation has caused him to require 24 hour care, I could not think of a better person than me to care for him since I have worked in his office since hight school and am now studyiing for my Associates in Medical Specialties... the thing is that he has been a practicing attorney for over 35 years and is capable of acknowledging that something is not quite right with him,,, sometimes he thinks he should be handling his cases on h is own and when I tell him that they have been passed on to another attorney -an associate that he knows- he trips out like I have gone an done something behind his back, even though we discussed ahead of time.... this is really stressing me out because I have trusted clients to deal with not to mention the state bar.... any one with a similar case please email me at ..... I would sincerely appreciate

Sarabound answered...

I live with my 84 year old mother and I have to deal with all my family concerning her. My life is not my own. I can't be away from the house more than four hours. I have a really good life. I don't ever have to worry about money. However, my life is shere boredom. My mom is relatively healthy but she is like a spoiled child. All our waking hours is all about her. She needs this and she needs me to go here. I'm honored to take care of her but I don't want to do EVERYTHING for her. My family thinks that I'm complaining too much but I feel that everything I do for myself is taking away from her. I never am asked how I'm doing but instead how she is doing. It's all about her.. I need to count my blessings and I bring a lot of things on myself were a few pieces of advice. A sister told me that I'm walking around depressed all the time. I am just keeping my head above water. On top of taking care of my mom, I'm making sure that major repairs on the house are getting done; painting, new roof, electricity, plumbing, carpet being stretched, door repairs etc.I am the person who talks to doctors, dentists, and contractors. I want to make sure that this house is a safe place for her and I didn't realized that there is so much involved. Everything is getting done and I am getting help from my sisters but in the meantime I can have a panic attack at a drop of a hat. What my mom doesn't realize that every time time she eats too much sugar she ends up in the hospital. We had to call the ambulance in the middle of the night because she couldn't get enough of her ice cream. Most everything bad that happens to her can be avoidable by her. She doesn't care about the consequences. She use to tell me all the time that she likes living dangerously. My life is very small and I get this stock phrase that I'm grown and I can do anything I want. Easier said than done. Life's a bitch and then you die.