I'm Losing my Temper too Frequently and it Makes Me feel Bad

by Sad and Frustrated

My father is now 88 years old. I'm the youngest of his two sons, 41 years old. He's always been stubborn plus compulsive. As he's gotten older, he is more stubborn and compulsive.

He doesn't have dementia or Alzheimer's but he makes the worst decisions. Decisions that actually hurt his environment or himself and he does this on a routine basis. I am so fed up with trying to be patient and trying to explain why what he does is destructive or dangerous, but he often cusses me out and tells me to leave him alone.

Or he scoffs at me and tells me he's going to do as he pleases whether I like it or not. This has been going on for at least 15 years. I start to get angry, and angrier..etc. I've actually gotten physical with him (not hit him) and also return his foul mouthed cussing.

After I fly into a rage, I always feel like (you know what). My patience is gone and he is not going to understand my point of view. I can't see myself putting him in a home. If I did, I could see him dying soon after being moved in.

I know I have to control myself, but with me so saturated with trying to work, live my life and take care of his needs plus put up with his antics...I just lose it. He has shown me that he does not have the ability/desire to listen to me or to stay out of trouble. For instance, he falls easily and even so, he wants to walk out in the neighborhood by himself when I'm at work, sometimes walking far away.

I tried to tell him that he should not go far but he still does. I've gone so far as to put pad locks on all of the gates around the house just to keep him in for his own good. Otherwise, he would take off without telling anyone. And he has fallen a few times before while taking walks. He was lucky that my mother was with him on those occasions.

I just don't know what to do.

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Reply To: "Things to Try"
by: Anonymous

What great advice. I've been trying to do just what you suggest and it really does work.

I've been with mom for two years now, and in the beginning I was so triggered by every single thing she said. I know it was all from that "inner child" you talk about, because, as an adult, I had let all that stuff go, but being back in my childhood home, under her roof, just made all the unfinished business resurface.

I could repeat your entire entry, line-by-line, in total agreement.

But you said it so well, I'm just going to print out a copy and keep it handy.

As you said, you learned this in your marriage, and once again, the things we seem to learn in this caregiving position and on this forum, apply to all life's lessons.

Let Him Go...
by: Anonymous

I understand your anger and frustration. We have to let go of all expectations of our elders and just let them go.

Here's a typical day taking care of my 92 year old mom. She will say to me, The lemon tree needs trimming. I say, OK, as soon as I can get to it, I'll do it. The next thing I know, I look out the window and she is enmeshed in the tree (which is full of thorns, by the way) and tottering on one of those rickety green plastic patio chairs stretched out over the top of the tree with heavy pruning shears.

I use to drop everything I was doing and run out there, alarmed, and would immediately grab the loppers and trim the tree. We would argue about it. She would say Well, you don't have the time and I hate to bother you. And I would argue about what a bother it would be if she had a broken hip...and on and on it would go.

Now...I just look out the window and watch her. And hope for the best. She is so stubborn and she loves to mix it up with a little martyrdom. I figure if she dies impaled on the lemon tree, she'll die doing what she loves, gardening.

You just can't tell them what to do. Some people say, Oh, the elderly are just like children. I say, they are children on steroids. Worse yet, they don't make sense anymore so the conversations are totally wacky.

I suggest you start choosing your battles wisely. If he is leaving the house and wandering into the street, unless you are home 24/7, it may truly be time to put him somewhere, because it's dangerous to lock him up by himself in the house all day alone.

On the other hand, if he has to have his way about every other little thing, just let him have it and walk away.

We do have to become the bigger person. Nobody knows what goes on behind these walls we live in with these people. Find someone you trust, who knows you well, so you can vent freely, and they won't judge you, and you don't have to apologize for your feelings.

If this forum is all you have, use it. I've written things on here that I'm not proud of, but it's reality and I've never had anyone tell me I'm a bad person for it.

You are not crazy. But this situation can drive you crazy, but only if you let it. Take charge of your life. His craziness is his life, not yours.

Regaining Control
by: things to try

First of all, controlling your own temper will make you feel like a queen of self esteem. Losing it will...well we all know what that feels like!

Just agree with your Dad or you can say, "You may be right." Let him talk and you just nod yes, but work around him when it is necessary. Don't share everything with him. You don't have to. Avoid triggers but keep your peace. Keep your own opinions to yourself.

You can stay intact, you can hold on to your own inner peace and inner joy. No one can take it from you: only if you let them!

Show your love, even when you don't feel like it by remembering something he likes, or just prompting him to tell a memory. It's all about him. That hurts our inner child, but we can rise above that. So okay, it's all about him. You don't need his approval anymore.

You know the great person you are inside.

Don't fall victim to enmeshing behaviors that your elder baits you with: guilt trips, emotional blackmail, and belittling you. It's better just to think: okay, there you go again but I am not giving you an inch!

Refuse to be defensive, argumentative. Be assertive and affirmative and try to do it with a kindness in your tone of voice. Tone of voice is very important. I know, I made all the mistakes in my marriage and for the first 3 years with my mother here.

I tried this approach and things are much better. Mom feels listened to and loved and tolerates ME more! I am happier with myself.

Allow yourself time to fail. You won't always be successful in not letting your elder "get your goat". Many times I went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and laughed, "OK, girl, you totally blew that one! Next time I will not be baited or defensive."

Love yourself. You are not perfect but the very fact that you ARE caregiving and have a conscience and desire to control your temper and feelings indicates a very aware soul. Give yourself credit for that.

If you believe in God, ask him for help. You WILL feel his love and guidance in ways that will surprise you. I felt many times that God was turning my bad attitude inside out. We are learning to be better humans. This test came to you for a reason.

Your goal is love and you are halfway there!!

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