As our loved ones age, we often find ourselves stepping into the role of caregiver. It's natural to want to help, but it can also be emotionally taxing, especially if you notice that your elderly parent seems more focused on their own needs. It's important to understand the reasons behind this apparent self-centeredness and find compassionate ways to manage these situations. In this post, we'll explore why some elderly individuals might appear more self-absorbed and offer guidance on navigating these challenges with understanding and patience.
Why Do the Elderly Become Self Centered?
Dealing with an older loved one who has become self absorbed can be quite challenging and frustrating. However, if you really sit down and talk to them, you can discover some varying reasons behind this behavior. This can ultimately help improve your relationship, help you identify their needs, and address those needs. Let's take a look at what causes self centeredness in older adults:
Physical health issues. Chronic pain can result in seniors being more focused on their own needs.
Mental health issues. Dementia, depression, and other mental health problems can cause older adults to live inside their own heads.
Loneliness and fear. When older adults lose control of their independence, they start to worry about their future. Furthermore, they may start to have feelings of isolation and become scared of how things will turn out. This could cause them to lash out and, therefore, appear to be selfish ultimately.
Unresolved past trauma. Whether it’s an issue from childhood or a more recent traumatic experience, unresolved issues can make older adults have a hard time trusting others, and this can make them appear to be more self absorbed and difficult to deal with.
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What Are Strategies for Dealing with a Self Centered Older Adult?
Now that we have some insight into why older adults can appear more selfish, let’s take a look at some methods for dealing with this behavior. Below are some strategies for dealing with a self-centered elderly parent.
Communicate clearly. Closed mouths don’t get fed. If your parent is truly bothering you, make sure you communicate clear boundaries. Be assertive and make sure they know how their behavior is affecting you.
See things from their perspective. Empathy goes a long way. No matter how frustrating they can be toward you, try to listen and understand where they are coming from. Validate their fears or insecurities.
Redirect their energy. Whether it’s going for a walk outside or guiding them to an activity they enjoy, giving your parent a distraction can take their mind off of things.
Have a support system in place. Dealing with a self-centered elderly parent can be quite isolating sometimes. Make sure you have family members to help you ease the burden or even friends to just vent to when you need them. You can also consider getting help from a therapist if you need more tools to cope with this difficult situation.
Get professional help. This can be from a mediator, social worker, or geriatric care manager. Sometimes, you may need a professional’s guidance to find solutions that work for your parent and you.