Helping someone who is in a terrible mood is not easy to do at all. In fact, you might start to wonder just why you signed up for this care-giving thing to begin with.
-Establish Eye Contact
Make sure that you’ve got good eye contact with your senior, no matter how cranky she is. She may actually try to avoid eye contact with you. For some people, it’s easier to be mean to you or to say meaner things if they’re not looking right at you. Establishing eye contact connects you with your senior.
-Get Rid of Distractions, if You Can
If there’s a lot of noise or there’s just a lot going on, reduce those distractions while you’re talking to your senior if you can. This helps her to understand that you’re focused on what she’s sharing with you and what you’re communicating to her. If your aging family member is the one creating the distractions, ask her politely if she can stop so that you can hear what she’s trying to share with you.
-Listen and Show that You’re Listening
While you’re listening, make sure that you’re openly using body language that shows you’re listening. Eye contact is a big part of this, but so is what you’re doing with your hands and the rest of your body. Lower yourself physically to your senior’s level and uncross your arms or hands unless you’re holding something you can’t put down. All of this is unspoken acknowledgement that you’re listening intently.
-Acknowledge How She’s Feeling
Your senior’s feelings are perfectly valid, even if you feel they’re unwarranted. People can’t do anything about their feelings. Your senior may be so cranky simply because she’s irritated at needing the care that you’re offering to her. That can be true even if she’s grateful that you’re there to help her.
-Don’t Let Yourself Catch the Cranky
Cranky is one of those conditions that is extremely contagious. After a little while, if you allow it to, your senior’s crankiness can rub off on you and before you know it, you’re treating other people the way that she’s treating you. Be aware of this and make an effort not to fall into that trap.
Above all, give yourself some time away from this situation. If you’re doing everything that you can and your elderly family member is still really cranky, it’s not just you. Hire senior care providers to take over and give yourself a break so that you’re not overwhelmed with constant negativity.