5 Simple TIPS to Deal w/ an Elderly Parent who is DEMANDING!

Is your elderly parent not giving you space to do things as you wish? Are they too demanding, which makes you angry and ruins your entire day? You are not alone. As one’s age advances, the human body undergoes irreversible changes that may contribute to one’s nagging behavior. This behavior could also be caused by chronic diseases and the frustration of lacking the capacity to do things as they would in their prime. Usually, this nagging and annoying behavior can be solved by evaluating and resolving its root cause. In this article, we shall explain the exact steps to take to deal with a nagging elderly parent so that you continue living a calmer and more fulfilling life.

Schedule Regular Doctor’s Visits for Your Parent

One of the primary causes of demands is medical issues. The elderly are prone to chronic diseases that cause pain, memory loss, discomfort, and other bothersome signs and symptoms. These symptoms are annoying and may increase their anger outbursts towards you. By [1]scheduling regular doctor’s visits, you ensure that their medical problems are addressed and resolved as soon as possible. Consequently, they become more comfortable, and issues such as pain will not trigger anger outbursts on you. If the crankiness is excessive, you should consider enrolling them for therapy.

During the trips to medical facilities, you should organize transport to avoid causing your elderly parent unnecessary strain. Issues like poor vision reduced attention, and memory loss can make it extremely challenging to use regular public transport or drive. If you notice your elderly parents cannot drive themselves or use public transport, ensure you pick and drop them home. Although this can be time-consuming, it is the best thing to do to prevent stressing them up and keep them safe. This will save you from endless bickering, especially if they feel you abandoned them during the scheduled trip to the medical center.

Find the Trigger of Your Parent’s Behavior

What is making your elderly parents irritable and cranky? Finding out the root cause of their anger outbursts, nagging behavior, or mean words will help you know how best to deal with them. Several issues can cause demanding behavior, and one of them is dementia. When one suffers from this condition, their personality changes. [2] Persons with dementia behave differently than they would before, and most families struggle with this behavioral change.

This disease makes some of the cells in the brain dysfunctional, thus causing behavior change. The change depends on what part of the brain is affected. If the affected cells are in the frontal lobes, concentration or the ability to focus becomes impaired. This makes the person more passive and causes them to act or speak insensitively or rudely.

On the other hand, Alzheimer’s disease leads to forgetfulness and makes it extremely difficult to keep up with regular conversations. The inability to communicate well causes frustrations that may manifest in anger outbursts, shouting, and rudeness. Crowds and noisy areas usually trigger people with Alzheimer’s. Other medical issues, including pain and medication, could be the root cause of your parents’ annoying behavior. Some prescription medications alter moods and make one more irritable.

If the root cause of the demanding behavior is a disease, signs, and symptoms of a disease, or the side effects of medications, you should think of the demanding behavior as a form of communication. Usually, irrational behavior indicates the person is in pain, feels overwhelmed, or is frightened. It is also crucial to understand different triggers to assist you in avoiding them. You must also observe behavior change because if the needs of demanding seniors are not met, they may resort to harmful coping mechanisms whenever they feel stressed or in pain. Creating and maintaining a daily routine is important as it creates a sense of purpose and eliminates anger outbursts or frustration. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to foster a caring, loving, and accepting attitude towards your demanding parents, as this will help you cope better with the situation.

Set Ground Rules and Boundaries

The absence of boundaries [3] with elderly parents gives them the freedom to bother and nag you as they please. While you must take care of them, it is not your responsibility to cater to unnecessary whimpering or tolerate horrible behavior towards you. By setting healthy boundaries with your elderly parents, you prevent the buildup of resentment towards them. Instead, it promotes loving and healthy relationships. The first step towards setting healthy boundaries is understanding yourself and knowing your limits. This will help you determine which limits to set with your parents.

After knowing your limits, you should communicate with your parents clearly and concisely and let them know what is acceptable and what is not. It is not uncommon for parents to ignore what you are saying at the beginning. However, remaining firm with them will help them realize that you are serious and push them to respect your wishes. As you assert your rules and boundaries, you should be compassionate and understand that they sometimes cross the lines unintentionally. Unfortunately, some parents may think that setting boundaries is rude and a sign of not appreciating all that they have done for you in life. Remember to show appreciation to your parents for raising and taking care of you in your younger years. When parents feel appreciated, they are unlikely to nag or demand too much.

Encourage Exercise and Interaction

Many older adults have signs of depression. They also have limited movement due to physical changes. These factors make some of them sedentary, which in turn increases their problems. Lack of exercise causes stiff muscles, sleep problems, mental fogginess, and other symptoms, all of which make them irritable and demanding. This can be prevented by ensuring your elderly parents engage in regular physical exercise.

They should regularly move to flex their muscles which relieves pain. Breathing fresh air also assists with mental clarity and improves sleeping patterns. Some of the exercises suitable for seniors are walking and swimming in heated pools. If exercising without support is challenging, you can use exercise aids such as exercise peddlers for seniors. This equipment is safe and easy to use for older adults. Seniors who cannot take regular walks independently should also consider using one of the best walkers for seniors.

In addition to exercising, the elderly also need to socialize with other people their age. They need to have friends who will contribute to their happiness. Loneliness is one of the root causes of irrational and demanding behavior, and this can be easily solved by facilitating interaction between your aging parents and other people. You should make it a habit to take your aging parents for social outings. If you are not available to do this, you should consider hiring a home care aide. You can also enroll them in an “adopt a senior” program. In these programs, community members volunteer to visit seniors and talk or play games with them. The companionship of other people lifts their moods, so you are less likely to deal with a cranky and overbearing parent.

Get Professional Help

There are times when socialization, setting boundaries, and exercising fail to reduce your parents’ irrational and demanding behavior. If this is your current situation, do not fret. Instead, seek professional help. If you feel that your parents’ anger outbursts and nagging behavior is draining you physically, mentally, and emotionally, seek external intervention. Professional help includes enrolling your parents or yourself for therapy. Spending some time with a qualified professional will help them.

When you seek professional help, you will realize that self-care is crucial and start doing the little things that make you happy. In turn, you will feel less drained and become a better caregiver to your aging parents. You have heard the phrase “you cannot serve from an empty cup,” right? It applies here. You need to take care of yourself first to afford the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical capacity to take care of others. You can take a break from taking care of them to nourish your soul and spirit. Ensure you have someone else standing in for you during your break to avoid neglecting your parents.

Professional help will assist you in coping with your parents’ nagging and obsessive behaviors. You will understand that these behaviors are not caused by character flaws but are symptoms of dementia, depression, anxiety, or neurological problems. If you notice that obsessive behaviors affect your parents’ quality of life, enroll them for therapy and ensure the underlying conditions are treated.


Nagging and demanding behaviors among elderly parents are widespread. Unfortunately, these behaviors can leave you drained emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically, making it more challenging for you to offer them proper care. If you have demanding parents, you should understand them and seek medical and professional help. It is also wise to allow them to socialize with other people and engage in physical activities as this boosts moods and reduces obsessive behaviors. It is also important to get professional help if you feel that the nagging and demanding behavior is unbearable.


  1. https://www.georgetownhomecare.com/10-tips-dealing-with-demanding-elderly-parents/
  2. https://memory.ucsf.edu/caregiving-support/behavior-personality-changes
  3. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/setting-healthy-boundaries-with-parents
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