How to deal with manipulative elderly parents (2023)

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How to deal with manipulative elderly parents (1)

Updated February 18, 2021

It is easy to assume that our parents will remain the same people as we grow older. Of course, they can also face additional physical challengesstubborn at timesbut that's the way it has to be, right? However, there are many manipulative elderly parents.

Actually,old people can really be manipulative. Some of them may have behaved this way all their lives, while others may have developed it later.

Even worse, being diligent can sometimes mean you have to take a hard line.Some elderly people may refuse to eatwhile others may beresistant to any form of help. Retreating is not always a viable option, especially if it's superiordanger to self or others.

In some cases, the older person may not be aware of the behavior or why they are doing it. In other cases, it may be completely intentional.

As a result, it is very important to understand why this happens and how to respond to it - rather than simply ignoring the pattern. Otherwise, it may turn out that the situation will simply worsen over time.

Recognizing manipulative elderly parents

Before we begin, let's talk about controlling and manipulative parents. what we think

There is a wide range of behavior here. You may have experienced some or all of the following examples:

  • Release of guilt. This may include the idea that you are not doing enough for them, that you do not love them, or that you are being selfish.
  • Gossip. A member of your family may be kind to you and then tell stories about you to friends or family members.
  • Control. Your loved one may want things done a certain way, regardless of what is practical or realistic.
  • Complaints. A manipulative or unreasonable parent often complains about his family members. It often seems that nothing will please them and that everything you do as a child is wrong.
  • He gets angry easily. Sometimes your family member can get angry about everything. This can also be used as a means of manipulation, as it is easy to go to great lengths to ensure that everything is perfect.

Because elderly parents manipulate

There are many possible reasons why some older people are manipulative.

Understanding the cause/causes of controlling behavior is key. The best approach will depend on the cause of the behavior.

For example, it may not be possible to reduce a parent's manipulative behavior, which is inherently so. In this context, safeguards and borders become important. But,if there is an underlying causecan be resolved, it may be possible to improve their behavior and relationship with them.

Basic root causes

In this section, we will look at cases where manipulative elderly parents behave in this way due to a specific situation. For now, we ignore cases where manipulation is part of the older person's personality.

In some cases, it can be an attempt to regain control over a situation in which they lost it. Likewise, some parents are controlling by nature (especially if they are).I narcissistically) and can worsen in old age.

Control and power

With age, control over one's own life and body often decreases. For example, they may have problems withimpossibility of maintenance,Mobility, ANDability to drive a vehicle.

This loss of personal power and control can be stressful, not to mention frightening. This is why some older people rebel. Those who help them often feel the brunt of such reactions.

These kinds of problems can cause situations where your parents feel resentful or powerless. They may even feel as though you are intentionally taking their power away from them.

Acting in a controlling or manipulative way can be a way for them to regain that control. This behavior may be more likely if you are an older personi can't talk to youand find the golden ratio.

Health problems

For older adults with certain health conditions, behaviors that appear manipulative may not be intentional at all.

A common condition is memory loss, which can occur with dementia or other health problems. This often means that older people cannot remember basic things. As a result, they often fail to keep the promises they make or often contradict themselves.

The timing or frequency of such problems can sometimes make them feel intentional. It is often hard to believe that a family member has truly forgotten. This is even more important in cases where the older person has not been formally diagnosed or where there are challenges that have not yet been recognized.

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What to do with manipulation

The first approach in dealing with the elderly is to identify the underlying cause and, if possible, treat it. This may mean seeking medical or even psychiatric help, depending on the situation.

If this approach is not appropriate for your situation, there are other considerations to consider.

Give them personal power

Even if the underlying reason for the manipulation is not obvious, increasing the elderly's sense of power in their lives can be powerful.

Access is itinvolve them more in decision-making. This is especially true if you are giving them the role of caregiver.

They don't always have to be big decisions. For example, you can ask a family member if they want to shower in the morning or in the afternoon, instead of just telling them they have to shower.

It's also important to think about how much control you have over their lives.

Carers often make many decisions about their care, to the extent that the carer may take over certain parts of their life. This is often done with the best of intentions. After all, cleaning up after an aging parent can be more efficient than waiting for them to do it.

However, exercising this level of control can be frustrating for a family member. Consider what it would be like to have someone do something similar for you.

Stepping back and allowing a family member more control over their life is a powerful approach. It can be a bit emotional at times, especially if you can do the job much easier than a family member. However, it is important for you and your family member.

Make internal adjustments

If you still want to support a family member and they are unlikely to change - make the changes yourself is an important approach.

One element of this is changing expectations.

PageYour care everywheretalks about the need for retraining and rehabilitation. This includes regretting that you didn't have the parenting relationship you hoped for and making honest decisions about how to move forward.

Set boundaries for aging parents

Setting boundaries is basically exercisewhat you will tolerate and what you will not– along with how you react to certain situations.

A good example is the field of finance

Many people wonder if they shouldsave the old parentsespecially when that parent has financial problems. There are many reasons for this, especially since the elderly often do not have enough income to cover all their needs.

However, when a parent is manipulative, this area can take on a whole new dimension.

  • First some older people willspend much more than you can afford, often assuming that family members will help.
  • Some older people may even feel that they can simply move in with their children if they can no longer afford to live alone.
  • Similarly, some manipulative older parents may want their children to help them with every little thing, even if the older person can easily do it themselves. If the child does not do this, emotional manipulation often occurs.

These patterns make it very important to step back and figure out how to respond. For example, running errands for an elderly parent is probably not practical, especially if they don't really need to. Likewise, even if your parent lives with you, taking care of your needs is still crucial.

There is no single or simple answer to the question of where to draw the line. But one of the key areas to pay attention to is what your parent is doingreally necessarys in relation to what they want.

Another area is looking at family history. For example, if your parent has always been manipulative, you may need to set stricter boundaries and be stricter in your responses.

In contrast,if the behavior is new, it may be related to a disease or condition. In that case, you may be able to solve some problems by giving them more control or working to understand the cause.

Take care

Self-care and compassion are bothimportant in care. These are also areas that are easy to miss. Many caregivers feel guilty about taking care of their own needs.

It's always important to take care of yourself when you're supporting someone else. If you don't, you can put your physical and mental health at risk. The care you provide may also be of lower quality.

This is a critical area for those whose elderly parents are manipulative, as they can suggest that self-care is selfish. it is not. Your needs are also valuable.

Take a step back

Sometimes you will need to reduce the amount of interaction with your parents. This may mean providing less help or less contact.

If you are a carer, you may need to seriously consider other ways your parent can find support, such as throughpaid careLubassisted living.

In fact, prolonged control is a form of abuse. This is true even when the behavior is unintentional.

This may mean that providing long-term, continuous care is simply not a viable option for the caregiver. This idea may seem harsh, but it is true. Trying to care for someone in a toxic situation, even someone you love, is emotionally draining and can easily contribute to mental health issues.

And honestly, that's not good for them either.

You cannot be an effective caregiver, especially in the long term, if you suffer from tension and burnout.

Final thoughts

Dealing with manipulative elderly parents is never easy. There are times when you can help your parent and even limit the manipulative behavior. Other times it might not be like that.

You may even find that you need to completely distance yourself from a family member.

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How to deal with manipulative elderly parents? ›

Even if the underlying reason for manipulation isn't obvious, increasing the senior's sense of power in their own life can be powerful. One approach is to involve them in decision-making more. This is especially true if you are acting as a caregiver for them.

How do you deal with toxic elderly parents? ›

When Elderly Parents Are Abusive
  1. Share what you are going through with others.
  2. Accept that your parent(s) aren't going to change who they are.
  3. Find community resources that can help you.
  4. Engage using positive language with your parents.
  5. Check-in with yourself—know your limitations on what you can handle.
Apr 10, 2020

How do you deal with an aging parent who refuses help? ›

Aging Parents Refusing Help: How to Respond
  1. Evaluate Your Parent's Situation. Before anything, take a look at your parent's living conditions, activities, and mental health. ...
  2. Focus On The Positives. ...
  3. Make It About You. ...
  4. Enlist Experts (If You Have To) ...
  5. Give Options. ...
  6. Start Small.
Nov 8, 2019

Why are my elderly parents so controlling? ›

As people age, it's not uncommon for their personalities to change and for them to become more controlling. It's usually the result of medication, pain, the frustrations of having difficulty doing things that were once easy and changing family dynamics.

How do you set boundaries with elderly difficult parents? ›

Setting Boundaries with Difficult Elderly Parents: Six Helpful...
  1. Communicate your limits to your parents.
  2. Set boundaries gradually.
  3. Remain calm and hold your ground.
  4. Avoid being dismissive.
  5. Involve other family members.
  6. Seek professional help.
Nov 1, 2022

What are signs of a toxic mother? ›

Signs you might have a toxic parent include:
  • They're self-centered. They don't think about your needs or feelings.
  • They're emotional loose cannons. They overreact, or create drama.
  • They overshare. ...
  • They seek control. ...
  • They're harshly critical. ...
  • They lack boundaries.

What is cold mother syndrome? ›

Emotionally absent or cold mothers can be unresponsive to their children's needs. They may act distracted and uninterested during interactions, or they could actively reject any attempts of the child to get close. They may continue acting this way with adult children.

Is it wrong not to want to care for elderly parents? ›

There is no “right” or “wrong” about a choice you make. I do suggest that if you can't stand the thought of having to take care of your aging parent yourself, that you consider investigating how that could be arranged with others doing the job.

Am I obligated to take care of my parents? ›

Yes, you can refuse to care for elderly parents. However, filial responsibility laws obligate children to provide their parents with clothing, food, housing, and medical attention. In the United States, each state has its laws requiring children to take care of their elderly parents.

What to do when your parents are controlling your life? ›

If you want your mom to relax control, make sure you take charge of your own life. Be responsible for your own decisions and mistakes, Lebow says. “Assert yourself by telling them who you are and what you need,” he says. Express that you have your own values and goals for your life and family.

How do you deal with self centered elderly parents? ›

How to Deal with Irrational Elderly Parents (11 Steps)
  1. Step #1. Get a Better Understanding.
  2. Step #2. Get to the Bottom of Their Health.
  3. Step #3. Work within Their Comfort Zone.
  4. Step #4. Avoid Reasoning with Them, But Reason with “the Why”
  5. Step #5. Don't Pick Fights.
  6. Step #6. Connect, Validate, and Reassure.
  7. Step #7. ...
  8. Step #8.
Jul 25, 2022

How do you distance yourself from a toxic parent? ›

How to Successfully Stop a Toxic Relationship With Your Parents
  1. Set boundaries with your parents (and enforcing them!)
  2. Accept the guilt (and live with the discomfort)
  3. Don't try to change them—change what you can control.
  4. Take care of yourself first.
  5. Surround yourself with supportive relationships.
May 24, 2019

How do you respond to a toxic parent? ›

10 tips for dealing with toxic parents
  1. Stop trying to please them. ...
  2. Set and enforce boundaries. ...
  3. Don't try to change them. ...
  4. Be mindful of what you share with them. ...
  5. Know your parents' limitations and work around them — but only if you want to. ...
  6. Have an exit strategy. ...
  7. Don't try to reason with them.
May 4, 2022

What is a lighthouse parent? ›

Lighthouse parenting means letting your kid be a kid, with all of the mistakes, failures and successes that come with childhood. Raise your child to be a successful 35-year-old by looking beyond immediate goals and focusing on the kind of person you hope your child will become.

What is the psychology behind toxic mothers? ›

Toxic mothers often lack empathy with their children and are inconsistent in expressing love, understanding, and warmth. This may be because they came from toxic families themselves where empathy was not expressed. Unfortunately, a lack of empathy can lead to a poor bond between mother and child.

What is a dragon mom? ›

Dragon mothers are mothers who grieve for children who have died or are terminally ill. Judy Bolton-Fasman, Contributor.

What is the unloved daughter syndrome? ›

With an emotionally unreliable mother or one who is combative or hypercritical, the daughter learns that relationships are unstable and dangerous, and that trust is ephemeral and can't be relied on. Unloved daughters have trouble trusting in all relationships but especially friendship. Difficulties with boundaries.

What is an enmeshed mother? ›

When the roles of a mother and daughter become entangled, this is described as an enmeshed relationship. In an enmeshed relationship, a mother provides her daughter love and attention but tends to exploit the relationship, fortifying her own needs by living through her daughter.

What is a dismissive parent? ›

The Dismissing Parent

Treats child's feelings as unimportant, trivial. Disengages from or ignores the child's feelings. Wants the child's negative emotions to disappear quickly. Sees the child's emotions as a demand to fix things. Minimizes the child's feelings, downplaying the events that led to the emotion.

What age is considered elderly? ›

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines an “older adult” as someone who is at least 60 years old. Many states may also have different definitions of “elderly” when determining what resources are available in cases of elder abuse, although most states commonly use 65 years of age as the cut-off.

What is the most common mental illness in the elderly? ›

Depression is the most common mental health problem in older people. People aged 85 and older have the highest suicide rate of any age group. Two-thirds of seniors with mental health problems do not get the treatment they need (the "treatment gap").

How do you live with an emotionally unstable parent? ›

  1. Read books that provide strategies. ...
  2. Respond, don't react, and set appropriate boundaries. ...
  3. Recognize that she may not have the capacity to change. ...
  4. Have compassion for yourself and look for other supportive, nurturing relationships. ...
  5. Look at what you learned from her, both the positive and the negative.
Sep 18, 2021

When should you let your elderly parent go? ›

Signs a senior needs help with their health
  1. Changes in weight. ...
  2. Changes in sleep patterns. ...
  3. Emotional changes. ...
  4. New bruises. ...
  5. Trouble managing medications. ...
  6. Inability to follow medical directions. ...
  7. Increased confusion. ...
  8. A home that isn't being maintained properly.
Oct 13, 2022

What age do you start to not care? ›

According to an article done by METRO, the average person stops caring about what others think of them at the age of 46. They asked folks about relationships, careers, life events, and other things. The answers showed as we get older, we get more confident in different areas of life.

What should you not say to an elderly parent? ›

7 Things You Should Never Say to Your Aging Parents
  • “You always tell me the same story!” ...
  • “You need to use a cane/walker!” ...
  • “You never feel good.” ...
  • “You shouldn't live alone anymore.” ...
  • “You're too old to drive.” ...
  • “I can't believe you missed that appointment.” ...
  • “You don't need a jacket today; it's warm outside.”

When siblings don t help with elderly parents? ›

And if siblings refuse to help, seek help from community resources, friends, or hire professional help. Some siblings in the family may refuse to help care for your parents or may stop helping at some point. If they aren't willing to work on resolving the issues, the best approach may be for you to just let it go.

Is it wrong to move away from elderly parents? ›

Moving away from elderly parents can cause guilt due to the natural obligation to care for them during their cognitive decline and the loss of day-to-day observation that can be difficult to replace. Unresolved disputes or regrets might also exacerbate feelings of guilt.

Are children responsible for their aging parents? ›

While some states mandate that children, who are financially able, must support parents who are impoverished, other states do not put any requirement or obligation on children to care for older parents. Currently, 27 states have what are called filial responsibility laws.

How do you deal with a miserable elderly person? ›

7 Surprising Ways To Deal With Negative Elderly Parents At Home
  1. Find ways to become more positive. ...
  2. Show your appreciation. ...
  3. Tell them directly. ...
  4. Understand that their negative behavior is not your fault. ...
  5. Show them compassion and empathy. ...
  6. Engage them in more fun activities. ...
  7. Take Time to Care Yourself.
Aug 30, 2021

What is the silent treatment from the elderly mother? ›

Silent Treatment As A Form Of Emotional Abuse

You might think the silent treatment is just something your parent does. Perhaps you are used to it and you may even expect it from time to time so you try not to let it bother you anymore. But you might be surprised to know that it's actually a form of emotional abuse.

Why do I get annoyed with my mom so easily? ›

Some of the reasons you get annoyed with your mom could include: she is too controlling, a hypocrite, and too demanding. Dealing with a mother you can't get along with is a frustrating endeavor, but when you understand why, you can start working on learning to be around your mother without feeling annoyed.

Why does my mom try to control everything in my life? ›

A mom is controlling when she sees something she thinks could help her child or perhaps, she's trying to maintain control because of her issues. Some controlling parents have psychological problems. A controlling mother or overbearing parent might struggle with narcissism or NPD.

How do you set boundaries with controlling parents? ›

6 tips to help set boundaries with parents
  1. Be clear and concise.
  2. Be assertive and compassionate.
  3. Demonstrate appreciation.
  4. Practice the "broken record" technique.
  5. Know your limits.
  6. Release any guilt about having boundaries.

How do you set boundaries with an elderly parent living with you? ›

Setting Boundaries With Difficult Elderly Parents
  1. Have a plan before you attempt to visit. ...
  2. Set ground rules and stick to them.
  3. Use a non-threatening approach when trying to have a sincere and meaningful conversation. ...
  4. Try to understand the reason your parent is hostile or abusive. ...
  5. Remember, you are an adult.
Dec 10, 2020

What causes aggression in old age? ›

Reasons for the person's behaviour could include: difficulties to do with dementia – for example, memory loss, language or orientation problems. their mental and physical health – for example, they may have pain or discomfort that they are unable to communicate.

Is it OK to walk away from a toxic parent? ›

It's okay to let go of a toxic parent.

This is such a difficult decision, but it could be one of the most important. We humans are wired to connect, even with people who don't deserve to be connected to us. Sometimes though, the only way to stop the disease spreading is to amputate.

Is it OK to run away from toxic parents? ›

If you feel trapped by an abusive spouse, parent, or family member, running away and finding a safe space may be the only option. If all other attempts to resolve the situation calmly and peacefully have failed, you can carefully plan your escape and find a safe place to stay. Take action and protect yourself.

Do toxic parents know they are toxic? ›

There are different types of parents and parenting styles, and most want the best for their kids. But some go over the boundaries and become toxic parents. Worse, they don't even know they're being toxic, maybe because their parents brought them up the same way.

What is the silent treatment from a parent? ›

The silent treatment is a refusal to verbally communicate with another person, a way of withholding connection. It can be a spouse who stops talking after a fight or a displeased parent who refuses to speak or make eye contact with a child.

What is a toxic mother daughter relationship? ›

A toxic mother constantly makes negative comments or jokes about you in front of family or friends. She lacks empathy for your feelings. A toxic mother minimizes your problems and ignores or belittles your feelings, accusing you of being too sensitive. Your opinions hold no weight with her.

What to do when you can't take care of your parents? ›

Some elder care options include:
  1. Having siblings or other family members help provide care.
  2. Moving a loved one into an elder care facility.
  3. Hiring in-home caregivers to look after your loved one.
Mar 21, 2022

What is considered emotional abuse of the elderly? ›

What Is Emotional Elder Abuse? Emotional elder abuse takes place when an older person suffers harm through insults, yelling, or verbal harassment. It is also referred to as elder psychological abuse. Emotional abuse may be one of the most common forms of elder mistreatment.

What is the most difficult thing for elderly people to deal with? ›

Some of the most prominent concerns facing seniors today include healthcare costs, physical aging, financial security, and more. These issues become more difficult to deal with as patients age, but there are ways we can help seniors through these concerns.

How do I free myself from toxic parents? ›

How to Successfully Stop a Toxic Relationship With Your Parents
  1. Set boundaries with your parents (and enforcing them!)
  2. Accept the guilt (and live with the discomfort)
  3. Don't try to change them—change what you can control.
  4. Take care of yourself first.
  5. Surround yourself with supportive relationships.
May 24, 2019

Am I responsible for my elderly parents? ›

The legal requirement for children to take care of our parents is different from state to state. While some states mandate that children, who are financially able, must support parents who are impoverished, other states do not put any requirement or obligation on children to care for older parents.

Why is my elderly mother so negative? ›

And much of what they feel could be negative if they are bored or no longer have a strong sense of purpose. These emotions are often compounded when they are accompanied by limited mobility, reduced energy and other age-related changes that affect their independence, daily routines and functioning.

How do you deal with a parent who doesn't respect boundaries? ›

How to Set Boundaries with Your Parents (And Stick to Them)
  1. Have a convo.
  2. Express gratitude.
  3. Don't wait.
  4. Be specific.
  5. Compromise.
  6. Keep your stance.
  7. Take space.
  8. Bring in a professional.
Jun 17, 2021

How do you set boundaries with an elderly narcissistic mother? ›

How to Set Adult Boundaries with Narcissistic Parents
  1. Think before speaking. Before visiting or speaking to a narcissistic parent, the adult should remember the parent is a narcissist. ...
  2. Remember, it is all about them. ...
  3. Refuse to be interrogated. ...
  4. Reject verbal assaults. ...
  5. Be free of victimization.
Jul 26, 2016

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
May 23, 2017

What are 4 examples of emotional abuse? ›

Emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors that are meant to control, isolate, or frighten you. This may present in romantic relationships as threats, insults, constant monitoring, excessive jealousy, manipulation, humiliation, intimidation, dismissiveness, among others.

What is 1 example of emotional abuse? ›

Emotional abuse can involve any of the following: Verbal abuse: yelling at you, insulting you or swearing at you. Rejection: constantly rejecting your thoughts, ideas and opinions. Gaslighting: making you doubt your own feelings and thoughts, and even your sanity, by manipulating the truth.


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