Helping a Demanding Elderly Parent

An adult child helping a demanding elderly parent can be challenging and take patience.

Most adult children understand that helping a demanding elderly parent can be challenging. We all want to support our older parents, but sometimes it seems like we can never do enough. This is especially true for an adult only child or someone who does not have support from other siblings.

There are a variety of reasons an elderly parent demands the attention of a child or other loved one. Understanding what underlying factors are contributing to the behavior is critical to developing targeted interventions.

5 Tips for Helping a Demanding Elderly Parent, While Maintaining Your Own Sanity

There are steps you can take to reduce the impact of a demanding parent on your well-being.

Identify the Cause(s) of the Demanding Behavior

There are many issues that cause an elderly parent to become demanding of an adult child. These include poor health, loss of independence, loneliness and depression, financial concerns, and the onset of dementia. Encourage regular examinations from a physician to determine potential medical issues, including dementia. Also, question your elderly parent to identify potential causes for her demanding behavior.

Consider Unresolved Family Issues

A rocky relationship with an elderly parent as you were growing up can often “spill-over” to what is occurring now. Are there unresolved issues that are affecting your parent’s behavior toward you or your behavior toward her? Behavior change can be very difficult if there are underlying issues not addressed. Discussing these issues with your elderly parent can help. Family therapy is an option for particularly sensitive issues.

Capitalize on Alternative Support Options

Find alternatives to you having to provide all the support to your elderly parent. There are home care agencies and private individuals who can deliver companionship and support. Even if your parent or you can only afford four hours a few times per week, this can really help. Your elderly parent might enjoy socializing or exercising with other people at an external location. If so, identify transportation alternatives, such as Dial-A-Ride, Uber or Lyft, and other similar services so you do not have to provide it.

Maintain a Stable Home Environment

If your parent’s demands on your time relate to her home environment, hire a housekeeper to clean the home. If the issues relate to maintenance, hire a handyperson to make minor repairs when needed. Just showing your parent that you care about her environment can make a big difference.

Develop a Plan and Then Stick to It

Establish the parameters for what you can do to help your elderly parent and negotiate a plan. The plan should include what types of things you can do to help and decide on a schedule for when you can do them. Most elderly people like consistency and to know when to expect your visits. However, only agree to arrangements you can fulfill. You can get help with developing the plan by consulting with a geriatric social worker specially trained in the needs of elderly people.


Do not underestimate the importance of your support for an elderly parent. The aging process can be difficult for people as they lose their independence, and you can make an important difference. However, never underestimate the stress helping a demanding elderly parent can have on your emotional well-being. Develop a support system for you that includes other family members, friends, and even professionals you can trust and talk with.

Check out an earlier post here that addresses issues related to finding caregiving services for your elderly parent. Also, if you want to arm yourself with the information needed to motivate an elderly parent or friend to remain active and exercise, take a look at this new e-book by clicking here.

Learn more about blog creator Steven Watson’s background related to helping elderly people remain active and safe by clicking here to access his Amazon Author’s Page.

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