Caregiving: Tips for Handling Frustration

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

I am concerned with my dad’s constant complaints. I’m frustrated. What can I do? -Maura, Oyster Bay, NY

Dear Maura,

Loss of function, understandably, would make anyone angry. Think about how you might feel if you were gradually losing your abilities. Which would impact you the most: the loss of some sight, a little hearing, dexterity, taste or mobility? Any one of these would frustrate you, so think about what it does to your Dad when there are probably several of these threatening his sense of independence.

When our children demonstrate limited abilities, we understand. So, why do we get so frustrated when it happens to our parents? The fact is, we expect infants and children to require care, so we’re mentally and emotionally prepared for it; we know they will progress. With seniors, it’s a little different, and the “not knowing” scares us. Listen to your dad. What does he really want: someone to talk with or someone to vent with? Here’s some tried and true advice…

  1. Stop: When you start to lose patience, don’t respond immediately. Take time to think about what’s really going on and try to react appropriately.
  2. Think: What does Dad really need from me? Think of an appropriate answer.
  3. Respond: Take action based on your Dad’s needs, not your emotions.

Best of luck to you, Maura. I hope this helps.

Maryellen McKeon

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