If you’re the caregiver for an aging adult, you probably have a lot on your plate. You may work one or two jobs, either full- or part-time. You may have your own family to look after, or your own health or personal issues to cope with. Add to that the overwhelming responsibilities associated with home care for your loved one, and it’s a recipe for stress and strife.
And yet, whenever you visit the person you’re caring for, they’re the one who always seems to be complaining. Some of these concerns are understandable; perhaps they have a chronic condition that leaves them fatigued, uncomfortable, or in pain. But other times, they focus on tiny issues until you’re completely exasperated. Read on to find out how to decode and deal with common senior complaints.
Senior complaints — decoded!
When it comes to your loved one listing their grievances, you may feel powerless every time you hear them. Many complaints from older adults are repetitive, related to aging, and completely beyond your control. However, these complaints aren’t always what they appear to be; they may actually signify that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
Physical and emotional complaints
Sometimes, complaints really do warrant a second look, especially if they indicate a serious concern like depression or anxiety. Oftentimes, undiagnosed mental conditions can lead to increased physical complaints. In these cases, it’s best to have your loved one assessed by a mental health professional.
Some older adult complaints about food are valid – we tend to lose taste buds as we age, so things that once tasted delicious may seem bland. Combined with restrictions for health problems like heart disease and diabetes, this type of diet can leave much to be desired. It helps to get creative with your use of ingredients, herbs, and spices in order to make the situation more, well, palatable!
Other times, when older adults complain about food, it’s the result of boredom. Older adults may have few ways to pass the time, and meals are the one thing they can count on to punctuate their day.
Sometimes, complaining about minor issues is a way older adults seek out human interaction. Cut off from ordinary topics of discussion (work situations, daily family life, hobbies, et cetera), they complain because they can’t think of anything else to talk about. Increased socialization is crucial in these cases to safeguard your loved one’s mental and emotional well-being.
Get help for your loved one
Don’t feel that you have to handle your loved one’s complaints alone. For instance, feel free to get a nutritionist to help create and plan healthy meals that your loved one will enjoy. A home health aide can even make the preparation and cleanup much easier, giving you one less thing to do – and your aging adult one less thing to complain about!
Home care can also provide your loved one with someone to talk to during the day, decreasing their loneliness and isolation. A skilled aide can offer comfort and reassurance to the anxious or depressed older adult, and help manage his or her symptoms. Finally, a few hours of company regularly provides mental stimulation and activities that maintain brain function for as long as possible.
Complaints can be challenging
Dealing with complaints can certainly be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with many of your own issues on top of everything. You may find yourself bending over backward for your loved one while trying to be patient with them at the same time. However, by using some of the creative techniques above, as well as asking for help when you need it, you can learn the secret language of complaints – and the best way to respond to them.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.