Swallowing the bitter pill of growing old I


by Joy Loverde

We’ve all heard the saying growing old is not for sissies. This email from a reader says it all...

Hello Joy,

My Mom is very bitter about being older and she is going down kicking and screaming. No matter what I or my brother try to do, it is wrong. Whatever the doctor tells her she must do, it is wrong. She takes the suggestion of a stranger on the street but not from anyone who cares about her. What do I do about this? How do I approach things when she screams at me and incessantly tells us we don't understand?

Recently, after a bout with leg ulcers, her doctor gave her orders to wear compression stockings. Since I am the only one around to help put them on, and I work 10 hours a day and have a family, I was forced to hire an agency which has a 2-hour minimum rate. When they got there, she had taken off the stockings and had washed her own legs and feet and proclaimed they were much better off without the compression stockings. She refuses to wear them, but she wants the agency to come out anyway just to check on her. I suggested she may want to wrap her legs lightly with a light casting cotton and put the stretchy wrap over them to keep the compression. She is having nothing to do with it and insists it is the compression which is making her legs swelled and irritated. . . Help! This is driving me nuts.

Mom is giving you signals that it may be time to step back and consider approaching conversations with her from another angle.

Underneath her anger and tantrums and criticisms is a woman who is frightened of the ongoing and normal losses of aging, including fear of abandonment she faces on a daily basis and lashing out at those closest to her sometimes is her only outlet. To make matter worse, when our elders express anger for the way things are (right or wrong), or how others behave (right or wrong), it’s easy for us to strike back in frustration and anger with knee-jerk responses like, "Why are you so angry?" or "Why do you talk to me that way?" or "Why do you listen to strangers and not to me?" making our elders angrier still that they have been deprived of righteous anger.

Look for Swallowing the bitter pill of growing old II to hear more valuable ideas from Joy Loverde.