Caregiver Tips: When the terrible-twos resurface at 80

I got this message yesterday:

“I looked at the CaringWise website.

It looks good.

I hope it's working for you.

Do you offer a service where stevedores go over to an old geezer's house and slap them silly, yelling, "Be NICE!  Your family is only trying to HELP you!!"

I'd pay extra for that.”

I know a lot of folks who are feeling that way these days, as they try to help aging parents sort out their finances, eat more healthily, consider alternative (read: safer, more convenient for the kids) living arrangements. Or, worst of all, as they try to pry away the car keys.

We Boomers are so certain that the changes we suggest (or insist on) are the  intelligent thing to do, based either on a clear-eyed view of the present or a proactive preparation for the future. Yet our loved ones resist. Or worse, they say yes, we do all the leg work, and then, poof, at the very last minute they change their minds. Layer in the fact that we have extremely busy lives of our own, thank you very much, and that we are just doing this out of the goodness of our hearts, and you have a recipe for exasperated frustration, as beautifully articulated above.

I’ve been there; haven’t you?

While we absolutely designed CaringWise to alleviate stress for the caregiver, we do not have any stevedores on call. So what’s the solution?

Maybe we need to look at the situation from the point of view of the person we are trying to help.

Remember how patient you had to be when your two-year-old screamed in frustration for the independence they wanted so desperately, but couldn't really handle? Well, now you are dealing with the reverse situation: Someone has spent a good 60 years in complete control of their lives—and possibly the lives of their families and employees. And now some whipper-snapper—their own child no less—is telling them what to do. Worse, that directive almost inevitably is diminishing (give up your house, your car, your ice cream, your financial freedom). It’s insulting. And scary. No wonder they’re not nice about it.

Next week we will post a list of suggestions on how you can handle this situation. But for now, try patience. And remember to breathe.