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Posted on September 30, 2017 by Christine Crosby in adult children, eldercare, parents, uncopable

Coping With Un-Cope-able Parents

Loving and graceful action for your aging parents


 I’m the product of a father who fought alcoholism and a mother who battled mental illness. At my own mid-life, having fully established my career, I thought I’d escaped my sad upbringing. I was wrong. 

As my parents entered old age, their own toxicity only deepened. You might imagine how many bitter sighs of weariness I let out as both entered their final years. Instead of freedom, I found a new prison closing in around me.

At first, I felt like a victimized slave getting involved anew in their issues. What do you do when already insufferable parents become even more un-cope-able as they age? Over time, I called on a lot of inner strength to deal with one crisis after another. In so doing, a transformation occurred – toward competence, confidence and resourceful problem-solving.

 Through Trial and Error

No stone remains unturned regarding the strategies I’ve attempted to collaborate with my aging parents on difficult topics like releasing the car keys and setting up vital legal and financial paperwork.

Consistently, I’ve failed miserably at ploys smacking of my hidden agendas. After all, many of us “adult children” believe we know better.  Right?

All that experimenting finally led to a Formula for Success.

Be + Do = Have

Notice the sequence? While the crazy-busy North American culture over-emphasizes constant doing, we forget all effective action ought to be preceded by deliberate intent. What if bull-in-a-china-shop deeds actually worsen your eldercare situation?

Being comes first. What positive qualities and attitudes do you seek to embody toward your folks?  Doing refers to steps that support them in dignified ways.

Only then comes having end results like solid care and maybe even a productive or healed relationship during this latter chapter of life.


Our 12 Keys to Success consist of six LOVING attitudes: Laughter, Openness, Vibration, Intention, Neutrality, and Grace.

These are accompanied by ACTION: Advocate, Clarify, Trust; Initiate, Observe and Innovate.

Take Grace – under pressure. To handle some pretty delicate dialogues, you’ll need large doses of self-management.   Even if your boss is driving you up the wall or the kids are acting up, self-mastery demands staying present to emerging parental needs.

No, it’s not popular to set aside your woes.  Especially if you’ve done so all your life; resentment is a natural reaction.  If you don’t, though, you’ll miss vital opportunities to lower distress levels that can suddenly blow through the roof.

“If your folks are negative or irritable, they may be afraid underneath.”

May I offer a few parting encouragements? Caregiving is rough on everyone. If your folks are negative or irritable, they may be afraid underneath. They’re facing significant changes. Losses of freedom and independence occur regularly.

Try to quit taking it personally.  Like when my father called in a panic over “The Missing Glasses Episode”…



Carol-Ann Hamilton is the author of Coping With Un-cope-able Parents – Loving Action for Eldercare. A prolific business author, she inspires leaders to foster meaningful yet profitable workplaces.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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