Seniors have difficulty losing their mental faculties and often feel like they have lost their autonomy. Sometimes, their frustration turns into childish behavior, as often happens with loss of control out of frustration and limited options. Additionally, digression of behaviors may also indicate serious developments in your parent’s health, such as a progression in mental decline or depression. Find out below why your mother or father may suddenly seem like they have started their second childhood.
When your elderly parent acts infantile, the first step to take is to avoid assuming they are acting this way to annoy or frustrate others. Often, the cause bothers them more than it does their family or caregivers, and they need empathy. Take this time to examine their behavior for mental illnesses such as dementia. Call their doctor if you see any symptoms of mental deterioration.
Additionally, check for changes in medications and environmental factors. Aging can also affect hearing, eyesight, and movement problems which is another reason taking them in for regular check-ups can alleviate childish behavior. Check for boredom, too, as many seniors feel locked into a location and less involved with the world. Finally, ensure they stay active enough during the day to improve their mood and sleep.
As parents age, they can experience regression as they recede into a child-like state. When someone reverts to a younger state of mind, it is known as age regression. It is possible that this retreat is only a few years younger than the person’s actual age. It could potentially be considerably younger, infancy or early childhood, or as it’s often called second childhood.
People who engage in age regression may exhibit childish behaviors such as thumb-sucking or complaining. Others may refuse to have adult conversations or deal with their problems. Losing control of any aspect of a senior’s life can cause regression making it seem like they are acting like children. However, they are simply feeling the pains of dealing with a less capable body.
Many reasons can lead to child-like behavior in seniors, but all the reasons stem from confusion, loss of control, or depression. Confusion could be from deteriorating mental health or loss of memory. Loss of control can include loss of health, cognition, and movement loss. Many seniors also lose their memory as they age, leading to frustration and annoyance.
As with children and even adults, seniors may act out because they need to feel they can control something if only their behavior and reactions to circumstances. Normally, they do not act out to frustrate someone else but to demonstrate their own resentment.
Many dementia symptoms are child-like; thus, it is easy to dismiss dementia patients as child-like. Symptoms include mood swings, outbursts, irrationality, forgetfulness, and linguistic issues. Unfortunately, many dementia caregivers treat their loved ones like children because of superficial similarities, which can exacerbate behavior problems and degrade seniors.
Dementia requires rethinking how the brain functions. A person with dementia is constantly enduring cognitive setbacks and will continue to degrade over time. Seniors’ setbacks are like daily restarts that reduce their knowledge. Over time, more and more memory is lost, creating regression.
Because of this continual erasure of knowledge, a person with dementia may have no recollection of discussions that took place only seconds ago. They are living in a parallel universe. Yet, no matter how much a person with dementia declines, they are still adults who deserve respect and dignity, both in their own thinking and in general.
While the loss of control, memory, or movement can lead to personality changes, other factors cause or contribute to a senior’s personality change. One cause can be the side effects of medication. Side effects and combinations between these medicines might sometimes explain personality changes. So check with your loved one’s doctor to see if any drugs need to be altered or adjusted.
Next, hearing and vision issues are common in aging parents. In many respects, a person’s capacity to relate to others and their surroundings is linked to their ability to perceive. Changes in these capacities can lead to humiliation and retreat from favorite hobbies or social activities. Physical limitations that come with age can make it difficult to maintain relationships with family and friends, As can isolation, which contributes to sadness, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Instead of reasoning with an irrational senior, ask yourself why and look for causes. Sometimes the why might be your mom has worsening eyesight or hearing problems. Reassurance, affirmation, and emotional connection should take precedence over rationalizing why they need to behave like adults. People respond to being heard and loved, regardless of their age or mental state.
A logical explanation is even less likely to alleviate a person’s fear as they decline in mental and physical health. As a result, concentrate on acknowledging her concern and assisting her in feeling better. Consider seeking advice from people who are responsible for elderly family members. Other family caregivers are frequently a valuable resource for troubleshooting typical issues like anxiousness or even delusions.
Next, look for triggers that may indicate the start of childish behavior. Sometimes those factors are environmental, social, or emotional. Have a plan for these triggers, such as singing a song you know calms them or asking them a question about their past. As everyone is different, you will need to find what works for them. Finally, avoid treating them like a child as they are adults with an aging issue.
Arguing with an elderly parent, especially one with cognitive decline, will not be effective because rationally no longer rules their life. Instead, try validating their feelings or thoughts by simply telling them you understand and then redirect to a new activity. When necessary, take a break from your parent by leaving them with someone else for care for a few hours or days. Always seek help from their doctors to determine if your parent needs more care than you can provide.
Aging parents’ violent outbursts take a toll on family caregivers, and you may fear having to care for your senior loved one. Some elders’ furious outbursts reflect their stubbornness. Others may get angry at body or environmental changes. Figuring out why your loved one is acting angrier than usual is easier when you know these causes.
Chronic discomfort might test seniors’ patience, especially with an inability to convey the information with ease. Nonverbal seniors may lash out if they are in pain, cold, or uncomfortable. Seniors have many communication issues, which causes frustration that leads to anger. Your loved one may be unable to explain how they feel, so yelling works.
Elderly who can not speak may hurl objects to communicate. Encourage your loved ones to say what they need. Lowering the noise level in the home may also help; visual aides can help elderly communicate effectively. Furthermore, changes in your loved one’s ability can make even simple chores challenging. Helping seniors with additional tasks gives them more time for independence.
In addition, depression, anxiety, bereavement, and PTSD can cause fury. Your loved one may need treatment to manage emotions. Some elders need anger medication. Next, tired elders are often angrier than others, so help to ensure they sleep well and comfortably or take frequent naps.
Before a person becomes elderly, they are independent adults who take care of their own wants and needs. However, now they need more assistance and have to deal with someone else’s task methods. For example, if your mom always did the dishes right after dinner and now you do not do the dishes after dinner, she may become demanding and stubborn.
As the saying goes, old habits are hard to break, and many seniors resist changes to their habits. However, open discussion can help with stubbornness. Ask your parent why they are being rigid about a particle topic or task, and the answer may surprise you and help to fix the problem.
As with personality changes, irritability, anger, and stubbornness, mood swings stem from the same issues listed above. Also, as elderly become less able to articulate their emotions, wants, and needs, this can lead to depression and cause frustration. Mood swings crop up from an inability to formulate or present thoughts.
Less meaningful time spent can also lead to mood swings as elderly no longer feel needed or wanted. In addition, many seniors outlive many friends and family members, leaving them even more isolated and alone. Watch for subtle clues for the cause and remember to offer empathy and understanding, as love can help with negative emotions and outbursts.
When you realize your elderly parent is not keeping up with life, it's probably time to consider alternative care for their senior years. Perhaps they have become more forgetful than normal, skipping meals, or forgetting to take a shower, no matter the reason they may no longer be able to live alone.
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