Sleep disorders are fairly common in the elderly. 

As we grow older, the amount and quality of sleep we get are heavily affected. 

There are many tips for better sleep out there. And today, I’m sharing how you can ensure better quality sleep for your aging parents. 

How does aging affect sleep? 

The number of seniors in the US is growing significantly over time. 

About 15% of the US population is over 65 years old. And it is estimated to reach up to 41% of the population by 2040

Sleep difficulties make up one of the top health concerns for seniors. And a huge part of this is because of aging. 

So how does aging affect the quality of sleep we get? 

As we grow older, our sleep patterns change. 

tips for better sleep babies

Infants need an average of 12 to 16 hours a night, including naps. Toddlers aged three to five years old need at least 11 to 13 hours. 

Six to twelve-year-olds must get at least 9 to 12 hours a day. And teenagers need at least 8 to 10 hours at night. 

The golden rule for adults is to have at least 7 hours of quality sleep. But in reality, we adults get an average of five to six hours at most. 

Sleep studies show that certain factors affect the quality of sleep we get, which is as follows: 

Older people wake up an average of three to four times each night. Other causes of sleep disturbance come from anxiety, pain from chronic illnesses, and nocturia

One of the major causes of sleep problems is poor sleep habits. A shift in schedule can affect your body’s internal clock. 

Medications and other drugs can also make it harder to fall asleep. Some can even stimulate you to stay awake. 

Most elderly also suffer from stress, worry, and grief. 

Growing old has its positive and negative impacts. And one of them is losing a loved one. 

Friends, family, and even pets can cause deep grief that can disrupt our aging parents’ sleeping patterns. 

Read more about the effects of aging on sleep here

Common sleep disorders in seniors 

tips for better sleep: common sleeping disorders

Our quality of sleep declines as we age. 

Older people tend to experience a shorter time in deep, restorative sleep. 

Aging also impairs one’s circadian clock and its ability to reset itself when exposed to light. 

This means our natural cues triggering our internal biological rhythms fails to synchronize with the Earth’s seasonal cycles. 

Here are some of the most common sleep disruptors and disorders in the elderly. 

  1. Insomnia and other sleep disorders 

Sleep disorders include trouble falling or staying asleep. It can also mean falling asleep at the wrong time, and even abnormal behaviors during sleep. 

Cases like insomnia, sleep apnea, and REM behavior disorders are also linked to conditions like depression and anxiety. 

Sleep apnea has also been connected with nighttime falls. It can also lower an elderly’s quality of life and increase the chances of accidents. 

  1. Neurodegenerative disorders 

Sleep disorders are also often related to cerebral degenerative disorders. These may be caused by symptoms of the neurological disease. It may also result from damage to the brain centers controlling sleep. 

Poor sleep can also lead to the progression of these neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Dementia. 

  1. Medication and other substances 

Substances like alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco have a huge impact on our sleep quality.

Some may say that a glass of wine or a cup of coffee can help them sleep better. But truth is, these substances can cause lighter, fragmented sleep. 

Certain medications like alpha-blockers, corticosteroids, and statins can also cause sleep problems. And most of these are found in our aging parents’ medicine cabinets. 

So when do you know if your aging parents need help? How are sleep disorders diagnosed?

The key is to ask your doctor for help. 

Doctors will ask about their symptoms and do a physical exam to look for any underlying conditions. 

They may also ask you and your parents to have a sleep diary to learn more about sleeping patterns. 

Seniors will also go through a sleep study. Here technicians place sensors to measure body movement, breathing, heart rate, brain activity, and other sleeping noises. 

Nonpharmaceutical treatments like behavioral therapy can also be available as an option. It’s a great alternative for those who are already taking too many medications. 

Check out this research on behavioral therapy and how it helps sleep disorders. 

5 Tips for Better Sleep in the Elderly 

tips for better sleep: exercise

We should be paying more attention to our aging parents’ sleep quality.

To ensure that your elders are getting the right amount of sleep, here are the best sleeping tips you can do. 

  1. Exercise 

Physical activities and staying active can be a challenge. But it can help create a healthier, more restful sleep in seniors. 

Studies show that those who did exercise at least 150 minutes a week felt more alert during the day. They also had significantly better at night. 

But take care not to exercise too close to bedtime. Late-day workouts can leave you stimulated, keeping you awake longer. 

  1. Eat a balanced diet 

A well-balanced diet can lead to weight loss and cut down risks of snoring, sleep apnea, and insomnia. 

The timing of your meals also matter. Eat heavier food earlier in the morning and lighter ones at night. 

eat better to sleep better

Some of the best food to take for better sleep are oats, cherries, poultry, and dairy products.

Check out more of these sleep-inducing food items here. 

  1. Avoid blue light before bed 

Our eyes aren’t so good at blocking the blue light. So most of it passes straight to your brain keeping it alert and awake. 

This causes you to take longer to fall asleep. 

Blue light sources include smartphones, tablets, televisions, and even fluorescent light bulbs. 

So how do you manage blue light sources? 

You can get blue-light-blocking glasses online for your parents. You can also make sure to limit device usage at least two to three hours before bedtime.   

  1. Make sure that they have conducive sleep environments 

Make the bedroom an enticing place for sleep. 

Fluff the bed and make sure it’s comfortable. Make it quiet, dark, and cool. 
Get rid of trip hazards and items that can cause slips and falls. 

Ensure paths are adequately lit. You can also consider motion sensors or remote-controlled night lights in hallways to help seniors find their way to the bathroom. 

Check out my best tips for a safer home for the elderly. 

  1. Create sleep routines 

One of the most effective tips for better sleep is to create a bedtime routine. 

Studies show that elders who had sleep routines took less time to fall asleep. They also have higher sleep efficiency and sleep quality. 

These can include warm baths, soothing music, and even nighttime skincare routines. 

Doing these tasks can act as a trigger in our brain telling it to relax and get ready to sleep. 

Some even use ambient music and black screens to encourage sleep. 

Here are some examples of Youtube channels with soothing sounds and black screens. 


Growing older can affect our sleep quality. But there are helpful tips on how to sleep better and faster than you can integrate into your loved one’s schedule. 

Try out these tips for better sleep and let us know how they helped you and your aging parents. 

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Our aging parents need therapeutic activities to help them stay well-rounded and healthy. 

But because of the unpredictability of the world, keeping our elders entertained has been a challenge. 

This week, I’m sharing the importance of therapeutic activities for the elderly and why it’s necessary to have therapeutic interventions. 

Aging Parents and Social Isolation 

therapeutic activities: isolation

Humans are social beings. We thrive on social interactions. 

The relationships we build over time help us live better lives. And for seniors, social interactions bring important health benefits.

Family and friendships are essential in our aging parent’s emotional and mental well-being. 

It provides a sense of belongingness and acceptance. And it also improves a senior’s overall life quality. 

However, more seniors are prone to suffering social isolation. 

Nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 years and older are considered socially isolated. 

Factors such as living alone, the loss of family and friends, hearing loss, and chronic illness contribute to this. 

Social isolation also increases health risks, including a 50% chance of increased dementia. 

Poor social relationships are also associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease. It also ups stroke risks to 32%. 

Seniors who face loneliness also experience at least a 68% increased risk of hospitalization. 

That’s why it’s our role to ensure that our aging parents still get quality relationships. It’s also our responsibility that they avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness.  

What are therapeutic interventions?

Therapeutic interventions help improve the well-being of a person who needs help. 

We call it an intervention because the person may deny the need for it. They may even be unaware of the situation and refuse the help. 

Therapeutic intervention can be applied to people with cognitive function disorders and memory problems. It can also be used for people with eating disorders, and depression. 

Interventions can be helpful in modifying behaviors that can hinder the well-being of family and friends. 

They can be staged by an individual or a group. It can also give friends and family the chance to approach their loved ones in a safe manner. 

Holistic health is important for all ages, especially for our aging parents. And therapeutic activities and interventions can contribute greatly to their holistic health. 

We need to provide them with the support they need to make sure their mind, body, and spirit are well and good. 

Doing mentally challenging activities and tasks can improve memory and make the brain more adaptable. 

Recreational therapy and other physical activities can strengthen them and avoid falls and activities. 

While meditation and regular communication with family and friends can help them find purpose and a better emotional life. 

And during these times of restrictions and lockdowns, it’s vital to keep them involved and in touch. 

Learn more about therapeutic intervention and strategies here

Therapeutic activities for dementia patients

Dementia is an umbrella term for a wide range of specific medical conditions. 

These disorders are caused by abnormal brain changes and result in a decline in cognitive activities. 

Alzheimer’s make up at least 60-80% of dementia cases in the US. 

Vascular dementia refers to microscopic bleeding and blockages that reduce blood flow in the brain. 

On the other hand, people with mixed dementia experience changes in the brain simultaneously. 

One of the best ways to avoid this is to provide therapeutic activities for seniors that encourage creativity and problem-solving.

Choose activities that relate to their work, life, and interests.  Get them involved in a number of routine and leisure activities in and around the home. 

Help them find activities that build on their skills and talents. And focus on engagement rather than results. 

Here are some of the best therapeutic activities for seniors you can do at home. 

  1. Chess 
therapeutic activities: chess

Chess provides users with a rigorous mental workout. 

Studies show that chess players use both left and right hemispheres. Thanks to its rules and techniques, it effectively challenges the brain to recognize patterns and outcomes. 

Over the years, chess players have developed an intuitive approach to playing. It improves cognitive abilities and strategic thinking and keeps mental decline at bay. 

Learn more about the benefits of chess here

  1. Adult jigsaw puzzles 

Jigsaw puzzles, like chess, are ideal for patients with dementia. 

It helps relax the brain and increase focus. It can also stimulate both sides of the brain, especially with creativity and movement. 

Solving the jigsaw puzzle gives the person a feeling of accomplishment. It can also evoke good memories of themselves and their loved ones. 

The key is to find the right kind of puzzle that will pique their interest. You can even use custom or personalized photo puzzles. 

Provide your aging parents with space for assembly. It can be a wide corner table with proper lighting and a light-colored tablecloth. This way pieces are easier to find. 

  1. Adult coloring books 

Art has always been therapeutic for many. And in the past years, artists have started creating coloring books catering to adults. 

What makes them different? 

therapeutic activities: adult coloring books

Most adult coloring books are designed to relieve stress. Their intricate designs challenge the fine motor skills and attention spans of even the most detail-oriented adults. 

Research shows that mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer was beneficial. Doing art decreased physical and emotional distress during their treatment. 

Studies also show that complex geometric designs reduce anxiety levels in adults.  

Check out some adult coloring books here. 

Therapeutic activities for mental health 

Growing old has its unique challenges. 

Some have a hard time adjusting to a new season in life. Add the isolation brought on by the pandemic, and it can result in issues with mental health. 

Even if they’re perfectly healthy, lockdowns and movement restrictions can cause anxiety and boredom in adults. 

Boredom can lead to multiple emotional issues like feelings of intense restlessness, worthlessness, and even feeling unloved. 

And while it can be a challenge, there are still great ways to help fight boredom at home. 

Here are some ways you can help. 

  1. Animal-assisted therapy 

Also known as pet therapy, animal-assisted therapy is a technique that uses animals to interact and improve a senior’s quality of life. 

therapeutic activities: animal therapy

Studies show that seniors with heart conditions who own pets tend to outlive those who don’t. 

Pets also provide emotional stability during stressful situations. It also raises seniors’ self-esteem. 

Some even see animals as substitutes for distant children. And because animals listen without judgment, they make great companions to lonely seniors. 

  1. Developing new interests 

Most of the elderly today would say that they didn’t have the time to live back in the day. 

Some would have been busy raising families or climbing the corporate ladder. Some would say they never got the chance to do what they want to do. 

The good thing is, you can use this time to encourage them to pick up a new hobby. 

Encourage them to write their memoir. Have them learn baking. 

Help them build a garden. 

You can even help them set up their own Youtube channel! 

The possibilities are endless. Plus, you also get the chance to bond with them and support what they love. 

They may show resistance at first. But the moment they rediscover the joy and excitement of learning something new, I’m sure they’ll have fun. 

Just like these fun grandparents on Tiktok: 


Granny’s Insane Trick Shots 😱 #trickshot

♬ original sound - Ross Smith

Therapeutic activities for introverts and loners 

There are two types of loners. 

Intentional loners are those who prefer their own company to the company of others. And they’re happy just the way they are. 

Then there are unintentional loners who isolate themselves because of mental illnesses or social alienation. 

Some elders respond according to their past experiences and traumas. Some are inherently shy. 

There are those who prefer to be alone due to religious reasons or social rules. 

So what do you do in these situations? Truth is, it’s perfectly fine to let them be. 

What’s important is to let them find happiness in solitude. And once in a while, check on them and what they need. 

Just watch out for symptoms like sudden weight loss, restlessness, and disrupted sleep schedules. 

When this happens, then it’s time to intervene. 

Learn more about introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts here. 

Therapeutic activities for the elderly with mobility issues 

Being active is good for everyone. 

Physical activities, stretching, yoga, and exercise are great for boosting self-esteem. It also relieves anxiety and helps manage depression better. 

Unfortunately, seniors with mobility issues have limited options. But it doesn’t mean they can’t do it. 

The key is to check with your doctor and take enough breaks in between. 

Ergonomic tools are also available now. Using these tools can ease the tension and keep your aging parents entertained. 

You might think crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching might be painful. But it can actually help increase attention to detail and reduce arthritic stiffness. 

Aquatic exercises are also great to keep them moving.

therapeutic activities: low impact exercises

The water creates buoyancy that can help decompress joints. It also provides sensory feedback and reduces the perception of pain. 

Low impact exercises like yoga can also help reduce stress and chronic pain. It can also improve blood pressure and blood flow. 

Check out more activity ideas you can try with your aging parents today. 


You don’t need to find expensive therapeutic activities for your aging parents. 

What’s important is that they’re keeping themselves busy and they’re also having fun. 

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No one teaches you how to care for an aging parent. 

Most of us are used to our parents taking care of us, not the other way around. 

And it can be a challenge especially when our parents fall ill so suddenly. 

So today, I’m sharing tips on how to care for an aging parent and how to make it easier for you. 

Aging in Place in the time of COVID-19 

How to Care for an Aging Parent during a pandemic

The pandemic has changed the landscape of aging parent care. And more families are now considering aging in place.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, nursing homes suffered a great deal. Care facilities throughout the world are reporting massive outbreaks. 

The elderly population is at high risk. In 2020, at least 7,000 nursing home residents in the US died during the outbreak. The frequent interaction between caregivers and residents increased their exposure. 

Aging in place benefits seniors and their families.

Making them stay at home can keep them safe from the virus. But, it poses a new set of challenges.

One major challenge is battling the psychological effects of limited human interaction.

The elderly deeply value the sense of belonging that a community provides. The laws on physical distancing made it difficult for them to connect with other people. 

It has also decreased their level of physical activity because of limited social interaction. This makes them prone to physical and psychological issues. 

The lockdowns also made it difficult for family members to check in on each other.

More than ever, our families need our support. The needs of the elderly don't change. 

Our aging parents need safe access to food, basic supplies, and medications even in times of quarantine.

If there’s nobody who can run errands for them, they won’t have access to their basic needs. 

That’s why many families chose to modify their living arrangements. 

Those who are far from their parents used technology to check in with them.

VoIP software like Zoom and Skype has been widely used to connect with relatives.

If there’s no one to run errands for them, there are companies that deliver necessities.

Now, more families are choosing to let their parents age in place.

Adult children are also stepping up. They want to provide support and assistance. Some even choose to live back with their parents to ensure they're safe and well taken care of.

According to a survey from AARP, 23% of those caring for aging parents are millennials.

Let's talk about how millennials can become effective caregivers to their aging parents.

Millennials and Aging Parents

More millennials are now choosing to support their aging parents. One survey states that 40% of millennials took over the role of caregivers during the health crisis.

One's culture and religion can have a huge impact on this.

Around the world, multi-generational households and caring for elderly parents at home is the norm.

In the US, single generational living is much more common, but that is beginning to change.

As a society, most people believe that children should always care for their elderly parents. 

In past generations, family caregivers fall in their 40s or 50s. But according to recent studies, adults aged 18 and 34 are taking on this duty.

More millennials are now choosing to care for their elderly at home instead of sending them to an elderly facility. 

The good thing is, technology is making it easier to manage elderly care and work opportunities. 

Around 37% of millennials have spent more than $10,000 of their own money to pay for healthcare costs. 

Millennials are also now preparing for their parents’ retirement. Saving up for parental caregiving is fast becoming a trend. 

Unfortunately, 50% of millennials feel that they need to delay their retirement to support their parents.

Finding a traditional job that can accommodate caregiver duties is scarce. 

And current employment laws are not as accommodating to emergencies related to parental care. 

Luckily, remote work and work-from-home job setups are now available. These help more millennials manage both their lifestyle and their aging parents as well. 

Aging in Place Benefits and Challenges for Millenials 

Aging in place provides certain benefits for millennials as well as challenges. 

For one, it’s comforting to know that you’re providing personalized care for your aging parents. 

Finding quality caregivers can be difficult and expensive. A nursing home or a retirement community can also cause anxiety in your parents as well. 

You as the main caregiver provides them with a level of comfort and security. 

Familiar surroundings also make it easier for seniors as well. 

Seniors with dementia adapt better to predictable and common surroundings. It also gives them a sense of control and keeps them calm. 

Children growing with their grandparents around also has tons of benefits. 

Studies show that children with good relationships with grandparents show less anxiety. They also have fewer emotional and behavioral problems. 

How to Care for an Aging Parent: Children have better adaptation skills when growing up with grandparents

They also cope better with trauma and other traumatic life events. 

But there are also challenges with living and taking care of aging parents. 

Caring for aging parents can become a source of argument between spouses. It can also contribute to stress and friction.

Some might feel that they’re sacrificing more instead of rewarding. 

Ideally, we want a loving and caring relationship with your parents. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case. 

A huge part of the conflicts starts with generational differences. 

Older generations find it difficult to understand millennials’ lifestyle choices. And it can cause misunderstandings, especially if they’re living together. 

Despite that, some millennials still get a fulfilling experience taking care of their aging parents. 

All you need is to be equipped with the right information.

How to Care for an Aging Parent 

As your parents grow old and frail, you may need to make complex decisions for them.

To avoid misunderstandings, make these decisions as a family.

Of course, you must choose the best option for them. But remember to always ask them what they think. Make sure you’re always on the same page to avoid conflicts.

Consider their feelings on the subject. Make the conversation as productive and positive as possible.

Here are a few tips to consider. 

Check What Your Aging Parents Need

The goal of aging in place is to maintain freedom for the elderly. 

We want our parents to still be able to do things they want to do as long as they can do it. 

As a caregiver, you would want to assess your parent’s current situation. The challenge is finding a way for them to be honest with what they need. 

Some seniors may have a hard time admitting they need help. Some are in denial of their age and their abilities. 

Whether you choose to live with the elderly temporarily or in long term, it’s important to check their routines. 

Try to find out the activities they can still do safely. Check if their homes fit the safety requirements for the elderly. 

See if they need help with finances and make sure their bills are paid on time. 

Doing this assessment can help you decide the kind of care they need and if you can provide it for them. 

It will also help you decide if you need to hire part-time or full-time caregivers. 

Check out this in-depth guide for caregivers to help you.

Assess your capabilities as a caregiver

Becoming a caregiver can be draining physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. 

So while you’re assessing your parents’ needs, it’s also important to check on your capabilities as well. 

Consider your personal and long-term goals. 

It also helps to identify the potential challenges you might encounter while fulfilling this duty. 

Read more about other people’s experiences. It will prepare you and give you a head’s up about what to expect. 

It’s also important to assess your financial situation. 

Finances are the biggest source of stress for most. Being transparent with your current financial situation can help you find ways to alleviate the financial burdens. 

Here are some organizations you can reach out to for financial assistance. 

Third, you need to know the options available to you to help ease the stress. 

What assistance is available to lighten your caregiver duties? 

This way, you won’t feel stuck. You know that there’s always help available to you when you need breaks.

As a caregiver, you must remember to prioritize your well-being too. You’ll do a better job at aging parent care if you keep yourself in the right physical and mental state.

Know the signs of caregiver burnout and how to prevent them here.

Share the workload and ask for help 

Caring for aging parents might seem like a never-ending task. At some point, you’re really going to need help. 

And the best way to deal is to outsource or automate some tasks. 

Once you find the right person or organization, it’s going to change how you provide care for your aging parents.

It will also reduce anxiety and will enable you to take regular breaks.

There are different types of home health care services that you can take advantage of. 

The key is to set good standards to find the right help. 

You can also opt to share the load with family members as well. 

Ask siblings or close relatives to take turns caring for aging parents. They can also do some errands, cook meals or do light housekeeping.

Consider hiring in-home caregivers to get regular breaks. You can also sign up for a respite care service if that’s available in your area.

Finding help that meets your expectations can take time and effort. But it will all be worth it in the end. 

Here are some guidelines to help you find the perfect help.


Knowing how to care for an aging parent involves understanding and preparation.

It can be challenging at first. 

The key to making it easier is knowing what to prepare for.

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"I don't know how to deal with irrational elderly parents. No matter how much I try to understand it, they always test my patience."

How often do you hear this from senior caregivers? 

Behavior changes are among the reasons that make caring for the elderly difficult. 

So today, we're talking about why it happens and how to deal with irrational elderly parents better. 

5 Common Elderly Behavioral Problems 

According to the US National Library of Medicine (PMC) - 90% of Dementia patients have shown behavioral problems early on.  

Some may show signs of hygiene neglect. Others show unexplainable anger outbursts.

Most of the time, these behavioral challenges can be difficult to deal with. Ask any caregiver and they’ll tell you this is true. 

It gets more challenging when you're dealing with your aging parents.

Let's take a look at the more common behavior challenges in seniors that caregivers have to face.

Hostility, Mood Swings, and Anger Outbursts

Joan takes care of her 67-year-old dad at home. 

Growing up, Joan and her dad were close. He was funny and smart. And he was patient with her when she made mistakes. 

But things started to change when Joan’s dad reached 60. 

He kept to himself and was hostile to everyone, including Joan and her kids. 

He snarled at people and often burst out in anger. 

Sometimes he would be in a good mood. But the next, he would stay in a corner crying. 

Joan felt like she was walking on eggshells every day. And it’s putting a strain on her relationships especially with her husband. 

She tries her best to understand her dad. But it gets to her even if she tries to be patient. 

Hygiene Concerns 

Carol has been living with her 80-year-old grandmother for six years. 

She wanted to make ends meet. And her grandmother offered her a place to stay to help her save. 

It’s been easy living with her grandmother. But recently, she’s been noticing some changes with her grandmother’s hygiene. 

Sometimes she forgets to flush the toilet. And she’s also been soiling her bed at night. 

She also refuses to take a bath for days and doesn’t change her clothes. 

When Carol asks about it, her grandmother just shrugs and says “I hate baths.”

She also complains about the water being too cold despite the water heater being on. She also says she feels the chills in her bones. 

Carol has no choice but to clean up after her grandmother. 

She couldn’t understand why her grandmother is acting this way. And it’s causing a rift between her and other members of the family. 

Some even blame Carol for neglecting their grandmother. But truth is, Carol has been doing her best to help her grandmother maintain her hygiene. 

Offensive language and Inappropriate Comments 

Michelle has been a caregiver to her 95-year-old father at home. 

He was a firecracker when he was younger. And he was a lady magnet too. 

Once in a while, she hires a part-time caregiver to take care of her father during her alone time. 

Sometimes she has other family members come over especially during the pandemic. 

One day one of the part-time caregivers came to Michelle to tell her about her dad’s misdemeanor. 

The caregiver told Michelle that her father was touching her inappropriately. She also said he was flirting with her and asking her distasteful questions. 

Michelle decided to confront her dad about this. But he just laughed it off and then said, “What can I say, she’s a beautiful lady.” 

Paranoia, Obsessive and Compulsive Behaviors 

Catherine’s mother, Hue, didn’t have an easy life. 

At 9 years old, Hue fled Vietnam on a boat with her family to avoid the war. 

Their family was well-off in Saigon. Hue’s father was a farm owner and had farmers till the land for him. 

But all was lost when the war broke. The worse part was, their cousins stole from them and grabbed the land. 

Catherine heard this story multiple times growing up. And now that her mother is getting older, she’s growing more paranoid than ever. 

She would keep money in unlikely places. She would call out the names of family members saying they’re stealing from her. 

She would even have unlikely rituals like lighting fires to keep bad spirits away. 

Catherine tries her best to keep her mother at peace. But it always backfires on her. 

One time, Hue almost burned the house down while doing one of her rituals. She explains to Catherine that it was her way to keep her family safe from the dark spirits. 

It’s been frustrating for Catherine. And no matter what she says, she couldn’t convince her mom that she is safe from harm.  

Abusive Behaviors 

How to deal with irrational elderly parents

Susan had a complicated relationship with her father. 

He was an alcoholic and physically abusive to her mother. He was also emotionally abusive to her and her brother. 

Because of this, Susan ran away from home as a teenager. She tried her best to support herself and worked through college. 

Good thing her hard work paid off. She now has a family of her own and is living a good life. 

One day a social worker called her and told her about her father’s predicament. 

He suffered from diabetes and had to have both feet amputated. He was now in a wheelchair and need of help. 

Susan’s mother already passed and her brother is in prison. They also didn’t have any other living family members.  

So she took her father in while she was looking for other living arrangement options for him. 

Unfortunately, Susan’s father didn’t change one bit. He might be weaker because of his illness. But his tongue was still as sharp as ever. 

He would talk about how ungrateful she was. He would also go on guilt trips and talk about how evil she was for abandoning him. 

This behavior is causing fights between Susan and her husband. And as much as she’d like to kick him out, her conscience is still getting the best of her. 

These scenarios would be familiar to you if you’ve been a caregiver for some time. 

It’s painful and uncomfortable, especially if you’re taking care of a loved one. 

If it’s any comfort, there is a good explanation for why these behavior shifts happen. And we’ll be discussing that next. 

What Causes Personality Changes in the Elderly?

Behavioral changes are pretty common, especially in seniors. 

Age and illnesses bring a host of difficult emotions to the surface. Unfortunately, it’s the caregivers that bear the brunt of their anger and frustrations. 

They may sound like irrational parents with their unpredictability. But being aware of the causes can help you separate the person from the behavior. 

Here are some of the common reasons why these behavioral shifts happen. 

Unresolved Fears and Issues 

Not everyone is comfortable with sharing feelings or discussing the past. 

Back in the day, people weren’t expected to be open with their trauma. They tend to keep things bottled up and hidden. 

This is especially true for survivors of childhood sexual or physical abuse. 

Research shows that unresolved childhood trauma appears to be linked to exacerbated vulnerabilities. And these tendencies show during their senior years. 

Several long-term effects include depression, fear, guilt, anger, and poor interpersonal functioning. 

They are also prone to developing anxiety disorders and specific phobias. 

Here are some potential phobias they develop overtime: 

Chronic grief, extreme stress, and other neurodegenerative disorders can trigger these responses. 

So it’s important to let your elders feel safe and secure as best as you can. 

Read more about how unresolved trauma affects behavior here


Medical interactions can also cause mood swings and irritability. And it’s more common than you think. 

A senior patient takes an average of 5 or more medications a day. This poses a huge risk of side effects and potentially dangerous drug interactions. 

This explains why they change so suddenly. It is also a reason why it can get too difficult to deal with irrational elderly parents. 

Since they’re growing older, their bodies function differently too. 

By age 65, our kidneys decrease function by 30%. Our hearts also get weaker and our water levels also lessen. 

This might translate to the bodies differently. 

Medications increase agitations, disinhibitions, and even confusion. And for some, it can also worsen dementia symptoms. 

Learn more about common medication problems in seniors here

Depression and Mental Health Issues 

Depression is a serious mood disorder that can affect the way a person feels, acts, and thinks. 

And it’s a common problem among older adults. 

Several types of depression include major depressive disorder and dysthymia. There’s also substance-related depression, like alcohol or pain medication. 

Common symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and anxiety. They also have difficulty sleeping. 

Eating disorders are also prevalent. 

When there is an imbalance, there will also be shifts in behaviors. And this is where you will need the help of experts. 

Seniors who are suffering from depression might need counseling or another medication. So if you see signs, it’s best to consult with doctors. 

Read more about senior depression here

Early-onset Dementia and other Neurological Problems 

Behavior shifts can be a sign of neurological problems in the elderly. 

Dementia is a term describing varied symptoms that affect a person’s cognitive functioning. This includes their ability to think, remember, and reason. 

Most patients suffer from memory loss and confusion. Some even find it difficult to engage and sustain conversations. 

Some also withdraw from society, even their loved ones. 

These emotions can be so overwhelming that it causes a major shift in one’s personality. 

This is also why they tend to be irritable and angry all the time. 

Here are some symptoms to watch out for in your aging parents

How to deal with irrational parents 

Here are some helpful ways to deal with irrational parents without overthinking or taking it personally. 

Set personal boundaries 

Sometimes our parents can be demanding and unreasonable. Add that to cultural beliefs and societal pressure and you’ve got a mix for disaster. 

That’s why it helps to set boundaries for yourself. If you feel like it’s too much, feel free to breathe and walk away. 

Share the responsibilities with other family members when you’re feeling out of it. 

Remember, it’s OK to prioritize yourself and your sanity.

Here’s how you can maintain self-care as a caregiver.

Don’t take it personally 

It’s more of them, not you. 

I know it’s easier said than done. But try to be as patient as you can with your aging parents. 

It’s not easy to grow old. All the pain and confusion can take their toll on anyone. 

So it’s best to try and understand what they’re going through. 

Don’t fall into the guilt trap 

Be direct and assertive when dealing with your parents. 

Some can be emotionally abusive and can be too much. But don’t let them take over. 

Your goal is to be as honest and direct as possible. Make it clear that while you understand their situation, you won’t tolerate abuse or manipulation. 

Look for support 

Sometimes the support you need can’t be found in the family. That’s why it’s important to find groups that go through the same situation. 

Find comfort with friends and people who go through the same thing. 

Healthcare practitioners like physical therapists, doctors, and psychiatrists can also lessen your load.  

It’s important to find people you trust and can provide a safe space for you to breathe. 

Here are some online groups that you can join for caregiver tips and support: 


Dealing with irrational parents can be heartbreaking and tiring. 

But you need to know that you’re not alone. 

You need to set personal boundaries and find the right support so you could lighten the load. 

Do you have questions about how to deal with irrational parents? Share them below.

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That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!


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