Dealing with Aging Parents Marital Problems

If your parents’ relationship wasn’t good when they were younger, it’s probably not going to get better as they age. This can be especially true if they become more isolated at home and dependent on each other. You may end up being the mediator–a tricky place to be when you don’t want to show favoritism or appear to be siding with one or the other.

Your best option is to listen, empathize and not offer advice or solutions. This puts the problem firmly back in their laps. Listening may not seem like much, but it can actually be very effective in helping parents solve their own problems. It allows them to voice their thoughts.

If your parents strained relationship is affecting their health, a round-the-clock caregiver might solve the problem. The caregiver can act as a buffer or a distraction that can help your parents focus on something besides each other.

You may have to insist your parents live separately, which means one or both of them may have to move. While this may seem monumental to your parents, if you explain how their strained relationship is affecting the rest of the family they often will listen and agree to make a change.

Your parents relationship issues become trickier if you think there’s verbal or physical abuse. If there’s abuse by one or both of your parents toward the other, it is likely illegal because in most states, the elderly, children and the disabled are considered “vulnerable” adults. This means they are protected by the state.

You can contact Adult Protective Services in your county and ask questions anonymously. Explain the situation and ask what they would do if they were called in. This can help in two ways. First, you make preparations for the changes they may require before making a formal complaint. Second, you may be able to use this as leverage to get your parents to change before you have to involve Adult Protective Services.

It’s not your responsibility to fix your parents marriage.

Would you like to talk about your specific situation?

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