In Part 1, we covered a few reasons why your elderly loved one may be more prone to emotional outbursts. Often, increased irritability and mood swings point to an underlying cause rather than a permanent change to their disposition. Today we share practical tips on dealing with your elderly loved one’s temper tantrums.
1. Stay calm. Next time you’re on the receiving end of an angry outburst, remember this is not abuse nor aggression toward you. Remain calm and refrain from becoming angry or emotional, which is likely to make matters worse. If need be, step out of the room till you can manage yourself. Listen to your loved one’s concerns without judgment and try to identify the trigger, so you can address it together and avoid future outbursts.
2. Look for underlying causes. If your aging parent is experiencing sudden onset mood swings, there could be an underlying medical condition, from UTIs or chronic pain to dementia or panic attacks brought on by new life challenges. Schedule an appointment with their doctor to confirm their changing behavior is not caused by any new or worsening physical or mental health conditions.
3. Implement an exercise regime. Physical activity can be beneficial for your loved one and you. Consider a daily walk or another doctor-approved exercise routine to relieve stress, combat boredom and promote joint health and good conversations during a shared, healthy activity.
4. Stimulate socialization and keep busy. Emotional imbalance and irritability can result from loneliness and diminishing social skills, as your loved one’s social circle shrinks or their mobility prevents them from maintaining friendships and opportunities for enrichment. Try to identify easy ways to make it possible for mom or dad to visit with old friends or participate in community events. Include them as much as possible in daily family life. Beyond, outings and celebrations, simple chores and mundane routines can help a senior feel useful and needed. Make time for meaningful conversations so they don’t feel they have to resort to outbursts to be heard and seen.
5. Enlist help. Don’t hesitate to share what you’re going through with your friends and family and ask for their help. Join a caregiver support group to get emotional support and share your experiences and best practices in a safe environment. Finally, take time for self-care so you are able to be the best caregiver to your elder loved one you can during this precious period. At-home or respite care can provide much-needed relief for you, and relieve your aging parent’s feelings of being a burden. Plus, you can gain peace of mind knowing you have experts to help provide age-appropriate socialization, diet, medication management, safety precautions and more, as you attend to your life and your needs.
While caregiver demands can feel never-ending at times, this phase of life, like all, is fleeting. Allow yourself to learn, act on what is in your control, and get help for the things you cannot do alone.