(Part I)

Sometimes an elderly person just doesn’t want to do anything for anyone else or themselves anymore. They may even become demanding and want to be “waited on” by the staff members of a nursing home. Maybe the elder has always been “given into” but it was never enough for them, so they keep trying to get more and more.

Or maybe the elder has suffered so many losses that they now only focus on themselves and are unaware of their effect on others. They may feel powerless due to their losses and because of that, being demanding or manipulative makes them feel more “in control.”

Types of elderly demanding and manipulative behaviors:

  • Playing one staff member against another. “She (your co-worker) said she always does all the work and you are lazy” or “I heard the nurse say they are going to fire you.”
  • Monopolizing the time of a caregiver so they can’t get to their other residents.
  • “Reporting” on staff or other resident’s behaviors.
  • Telling others that they have special privileges.
  • Threatening the facility or staff with calling the state or police if they don’t get what they want.
  • Threatening to sue the facility.
  • Being the “help” rejecting complainer. No matter how many helpful suggestions have been made to the resident’s complaints, all are rejected.
  • Starting all demands with “I know my rights.”

The answer for demanding and manipulative behavior is to set limits. For the person who has lived a life with few limits this can be especially difficult. For the elder who is acting out because of their recent losses, limits will help them feel more in control again.

Virginia Garberding, R.N.

Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance


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