Question from a reader:
My aging grandmother is becoming more grouchy and pushy. She doesn’t hesitate to voice whatever she thinks, whether or not it’s rude. How does a Christian deal with that? The Bible says to honor our father and mother, so how do we honor our aging loved ones when they act like this?
Personality changes in an aging loved one can come about for a number of reasons. Loss of a verbal filter can be a sign of dementia.
Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause gradual decreases in a person’s ability to think and remember things. It can also cause personality changes. It may take a doctor’s examination to determine if this is your grandmother’s case.
Increased grouchiness can also be caused by a person’s realization that her life is changing, and not in a good way. Things your grandma used to be able to do quickly and easily, may now take an entire day to accomplish. Her vision and hearing may have worsened, so she feels more and more isolated from the world around her.
Your question about honoring your elders is a good one. Sometimes the grace we need to show feels beyond our grasp.
The other day, I came home from errands, and the minute I stepped through the doorway, my mom demanded, “Where did you move my recipes? I can’t find them. Stop moving my things. Why can’t you leave them hanging where they were?”
My first instinct was to lash back at her. Instead, I took a breath. “Mom,” I said calmly, “Let me have a moment to put down my purse and take off my coat, and we’ll find them.”
As I walked down the hall to my bedroom, I took a few extra minutes to remove my coat, praying for the grace needed. My mom wanted to make muffins, and she couldn’t remember the second half of the recipe. She is also legally blind. Her rudeness was because her frustration had heated to the boiling point, and I was the target.
Sometimes we take for granted the ability to see, hear, and move around with ease. While I don’t know your grandmother, I do know that God has freely given us the grace to honor our elders. We just need to ask.
For more information on dementia, visit www.laurawayman.com, also known as The Dementia Whisperer.
Jane S. Daly is the author of two books, Because of Grace (2015) and The Caregiving Season (2016). She is also the treasurer of Inspire Christian Writers and West Coast Christian Writers.