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How AHS Manages So-Called “Difficult Parents”

“Well, it’s common for people to say, “My parent is really hard to get along with . They won’t do anything I tell them. They argue with everything I suggest. They’re just really cantankerous and hard to deal with. They’ve always been that way.” Well, there’s a different relationship between a parent than a child than there is between a nurse and a patient, and so you may recognize these symptoms are things that tell me something isn’t going right. They’re not doing something that they should be doing. I may have ideas of things that they could do differently that would never occur to you. They might do it for me when they won’t do it for you.

I have a patient in Cape Coral right now that he has a variety of medical issues, comorbidities we call it in the healthcare industry, heart problems, kidney problems, Parkinson’s disease, some early dementia, and it’s a real balancing act to keep all of those diseases under some semblance of control, especially since part of them are progressive, and are never going to go away. We can’t make them go away, but we can maximize what his abilities are, but he won’t do anything that any of his kids tell him. They just yell and swear at each other, and, “You aren’t going to tell me what to do,” kind of thing, but I go in and I say, “Have you weighed yourself this week?” “No.” The daughter says, “I’ve tried and tried and tried to get him on the scales, and he won’t do it for me,” and I just stand there and say, “Here’s your walker. We’re going to the scale.”

I don’t have a magic touch, but it’s a different relationship, and it isn’t based on I’ve always been the authority figure and you’ve always been the child. Oftentimes, we can find ways to accomplish what needs to happen, whether it’s eating a different kind of diet or following a particular kind of medical treatment plan by just adjusting, adjusting, approaching it differently than you would as the adult child or the spouse.”

Anita Roberrson RN
Director of Nursing | Aging Life Care Manager