Who remembers the song by Jim Croce titled “Photographs and Memories?” That song came out in the early 1970’s, so if you remember it, chances are your parents are now elderly. Think about the family photographs and memories you have from your childhood and beyond when your parents were happy and laughing. They were the ones pushing you on the swing or running beside you in the sand on family vacations. They loved music and sang the old songs with careless abandon on the way to drop you off at school in the morning. They cooked the dinners, planned the parties, made the Easter baskets, and decorated the family Christmas tree. They were vibrant, healthy, and full of hope and optimism about the future. So, what happened?
What Causes Negativity in a Senior Parent
Understanding the nuances of aging can be challenging, especially when you're left asking, 'Why is my elderly mother so negative?'. It's even harder if you're observing changes in your father's behaviors as well.
We can begin by examining some causes of negativity in a senior parent. What happened to the parents who used to be the ray of sunshine in our lives? Think of the changes that have happened in your parents’ lives, and you may come up with your own answers to the question, “Why are my senior parents so negative?” Have your parents lost their spouse to death or divorce? If now and forever ended too soon, maybe they didn’t plan for that loss or how they would cope with it. Are they lonely?
All their children have lives of their own and may not have the time to pop in for an afternoon or evening visit. The grandchildren who used to play around them are grown up, too, and there's an empty space where all these people used to be. Loneliness can be debilitating. Maybe they're longing for the days when their home was filled with laughter and activity, and they don’t know how to deal with the emptiness they're feeling.
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Health Concerns and Navigating Challenges
Aging also brings other reasons for negativity and anxiety. As we get older, our friends, relatives, and acquaintances begin to get sick or even die. The band members who used to sing the songs we loved are beginning to disappear as well. What about health problems? Are they worried about medical conditions such as cancer, upcoming knee replacement surgery, or uncontrolled diabetes? Do they have impaired vision or hearing loss? Their negative attitude and even episodes of heightened agitation may be occurring because of underlying conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
All these triggers could be the reason your parents are so pessimistic and hard to deal with most of the time. They might be feeling afraid, abandoned, and unsure about their future. Negative emotions usually have a root cause. Try to be empathetic, and don’t take it personally.
Offering Support and Seeking Help
By putting yourself in your elderly parents' shoes, you may be able to soften your own attitude enough to have a positive impact on your relationship in the future. Supporting your parents as they age is not easy, but with empathy and understanding, you can create an environment that minimizes negativity. If you need assistance or support, contact your local Griswold office for a consultation appointment. We are always happy to assist with your caregiving needs.