Caring for Difficult Seniors

Difficult care recipients can be excessively demanding, angry, manipulative, or critical. Caregivers may respond with anger, guilt and/or exhaustion. Depression, anger, anxiety, or pain can drain caregivers who must regularly interact with abusive or combative seniors. Here are a few suggestions (Dykes, 2000):

  • Difficult seniors must initiate their own healing process.
  • Acknowledge to yourself your own disgust or hurt, put it aside and get on doing the work that must be done.
  • Center yourself and clear your feelings.
  • Accept difficult seniors for where they are. Recognize the behavior for what it is and tailor your response.
  • Questioning is less helpful than listening and observing.
  • Never lie and mean what you say.
  • Be gentle but strong. Set firm limits and stick to them.

Setting personal limits and boundaries means loving yourself, quelling your own fears or defenses, and enabling you to sustain objective perspective. Boundaries are critical functions in providing proper care.