BAN BOSSY – How To Stop Bullying Your Aging Parents

Seniors give up the car and keys Of course you worry when your 80 year old Dad is out driving at night and “badger” him about hanging up the car keys until he gets his cataracts taken care of – but how far are you willing to go at times? Do you waver between caring and controlling?

Sometimes it is not easy to navigate the fine line between stepping-in and over-stepping your bounds when it comes to your elderly parents, but don’t blame yourself, or them. More often than not, you will find that you and your senior Mom or Dad often disagree on what you want vs what they feel they need. The family dynamic has changed because the roles have shifted. This article will explore why it is so important to provide help and support while respecting your parents’ independence and intellect.

A recent article in The Atlantic said that older folks fear that when their grown-up kids seem to care about them, what they really want is instead to care for them and take away their independence. Although well-meaning, Mom and Dad often feel that a visit from their adult child is not about socializing with them but more about spying on them!

So what is the secret? Not domination but communication!communicate with aging seniors Don’t let old unresolved arguments, family jealousies, or frustrations with their elder frailties get in the way and turn your behavior into bullying. Instead be clear and set respectful boundaries for all family members. Promise to discuss the options and solutions to each problem and every issue with everyone involved, and especially with your parents, so that they feel as though they still have a bit of control over their situation. Remember to be sensitive because they are scared that things are changing, and they still have feelings. Even though they really need assistance, they resent your advice.

Things will be less stressful if you pick your battles. Don’t argue about the little stuff or try to control everything, start with the big issues like safety, health, and finances. If your parents will do themselves harm, get involved. Help them understand their limitations and invite their trust. The situation becomes more serious and dangerous when Seniors or the elderly have dementia or conditions like Alzheimer’s disease which changes thinking and behavior. You should then call on the expertise of physicians and certified clinicians to help you decide whether it’s safe for your loved ones to participate in certain activities, or be alone, but always be sure to include your parents on some level in the decision.

Sometimes the conversation will not come as a total surprise to them, other times it seems that the more you insist, the more they resist! Don’t be afraid to enlist friends and caring relatives to join in the discussion, if and when they are able, as it might be helpful. Sometimes it is easier to talk to a neutral party that is familiar. Remember your family attorney or CPA and trusted financial advisor can be a resource just like the family physician. Advice is also available from certified geriatric clinicians and dementia practitioners who can perform an assessment when cognitive and physical impairment means that health and hygiene needs demand attention, or medication must be administered to an uncooperative parent, or wandering could ensue which could be dangerous.

iStock_000015938029_Care ManagerContact Us: It’s not always easy to know what aging parents expect or need from their adult children. To avoid confrontation, communication is key. Stop being a “bully” to your senior loved ones, remember to treat them with respect when they are trying to protect their independence. It is especially frustrating for families when cognitive and physical impairment begins to set in. That is when a Certified Care Manger from a Home Health Agency such as Regal becomes invaluable. After an assessment, as a neutral third party, a Care Manager can advise Mom or Dad whether driving is dangerous or grab bars in the bath will be a benefit. A Care Manager is an integral piece of the puzzle necessary for  your parents to continue aging well and comfortably in their home. Regal provides a broad spectrum of home health services to families tailored to meet their specific needs, as well as those of the parent, their personality and their pocketbook. Contact Ferial Andre, RN, CCM, CDP, for more information at 561-499-8382 or

This article is not intended as medical, legal, or financial advice.