posted by Carer Min at 17/09/2012 14:04:34
When an older parent reacts angrily to a phone message enquiring about their health, or the suggestion they might get a non-slip bathmat, it’s not necessarily about the cost of voicemail or the ugliness of the mat. It’s about independence and control – or the loss of it.
Many older people, as they begin to lose their independence and control of many larger aspects of their life, will start to tenaciously argue for (and hang onto) the small things they can control. They might dig their heels in about having two teaspoons of sugar in their tea instead of one – something quite trivial. But, it’s really not about the sweetness of the tea.
Sometimes huge family arguments can erupt – causing irreparable damage to relationships. Children don’t necessarily appreciate the enormity of the mental challenges that older parents are going through. They’re having to come to terms with losing their independence – and all that will inevitably entail.
Parents don’t want to think about this. Nor, often, do their children. We’re all reluctant to think about our parents losing their independence, because it’s a reminder of increasing vulnerability. It’s also likely to mean the increasing demands of providing care – be that physical, emotional, financial or all three at the same time.
These are all understandable emotions. We should perhaps give each other permission to get angry about small things – if it helps.