Coping with the Explosive Eldercare Crisis

Screen Shot 2012-12-30 at 8.11.56 PMBy Carol-Ann Hamilton

Do you:

  • Meet unquantifiable resistance when hinting your headstrong parents leave their decades-old residence?
  • Battle belligerently over suggesting household caregivers, given your defiant folks’ progressive inability to perform basic daily tasks?
  • Want to yank out your hair strand by strand as a consequence?

You’re not alone!

Those in the “Sandwich Generation” daily contending with unremitting aging parental care need practical strategies beyond the merely clinical or regulative.

The keys to coping

For, apart from an infant’s bottom-less demands, no other period will leech such tremendous physical, emotional and mental energy from your precious stores.

Don’t I know it!  My unique term – “un-cope-able” – perfectly describes my own intractable duo.  Through sometimes-painful and often-frustrating personal experience, I’ve tested countless tactics to persuade ultra-stubborn folks to entertain wise choices.

Success and failure have ensued in equal measure.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

Prevailing with impossible elders starts by adopting a LOVING set of qualities (Be) – no matter how resistant you feel.  Only then should you take deliberate ACTION (Do) to create the quality care and compassionate relationship you seek (Have).

Not the ready-fire-aim approaches so typical within frenetic cultures.  Action for action’s sake doesn’t work.  Been there, done that!


Are you ready for six LOVING attitudes to stay centered even during crazy-making exchanges?

Laughter.  Humor truly is the best medicine to avoid going off-the-wall in bizarre circumstances.  Laugh rather than cry!

Openness.  Think warrior preparing to do battle, but stay open to new perspectives.  Are your aging parents simply annoying?  Or, could they be afraid of passing away?

Vibration.  Notice how beliefs translate into your experiences.  Impatience incites elder crankiness.  Kindness raises the likelihood of cooperation.

Intention.  Focus on what you do want to happen regarding all aspects of their life.  Unwanted brings more unwanted.  Positive intention leads to beneficial results.

Neutrality.  Detachment is akin to unconditional love.  Remove your strong opinions.  Ironically, caring too much what they decide isn’t helpful.

Grace.  Self-mastery requires temporarily setting aside your own concerns.  Grace under pressure lowers aged stress levels – and reframes the desperation you frequently feel.


What if there were six targeted ACTIONS that could make a considerable difference even with trying-to-the-hilt parents?  Here they are!

Advocate.  Create a safe environment where both parties can speak their truth with you as their mediator.  Don’t allow only the strongest voice to dominate.

Clarify.  Ask plenty of open-ended questions to by-pass ploys to withhold critical information.  Avoid the trap of taking their word on anything.

Trust.  Find the equanimity to know all is unfolding in your lives according to a Higher Plan.  Look from a 30,000 foot helicopter view.

Initiate.  Don’t wait for an express invitation to intervene in your folks’ declining situation.  Burying your head in the sand won’t forestall their inevitable transition.

Observe.  Listen, watch body language and notice non-verbal mannerisms for discrepancies and downright lies.  Their unsophisticated games have much in common with teenagers sneaking past curfew!

iNnovate.  Constantly seek out-of-the-box solutions to stay one step ahead of crafty elders.  Pat answers and truisms most certainly don’t cut it with Un-cope-able Parents!

Parting reflections

  • In 2009, Canada had 4.7 million seniors (about 13.9% of the populace).  Between 2031 and 2036, that percentage will climb to 25% – or 10.9 million.
  • In 1971, there were nearly 8 persons of working age for every Canadian over 65.  By 2033, that number will shrink to 2.5.
  • At the same time, a recent government report tragically states 10% of seniors experience abuse.

Old age security, pension plans and healthcare are about to be stretched to the breaking point if radical system alterations aren’t undertaken now.  And not just in North America.  Anywhere post-WWII births resulted in a bulging Baby Boomer demographic, daunting elder issues aren’t far behind.

We stand at the threshold of an explosive crisis – individually and collectively.  Yet, an opportunity for global transformation exists.

Which option will you sign up for?

Through Spirit Unlimited, Carol-Ann Hamilton is a transformational coach, speaker and author of the recently published, Coping with Un-cope-able Parents: LOVING ACTION for Eldercare.  Watch for her blog, workshops and interviews as this Activist shares hilarious plus poignant parental lessons to support those stressed and sandwiched between challenging aging parents and their own growing families.  You can reach her at 905-822-2503, or


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