Accepting Parents are Getting to That Age

Went home to spend time with parents today. I've forgotten how hard that is as my parents seem to have aged 20 years during the years I was in college/started working. Both in their early 60s but their mental state could easily pass for 75. For example, in the middle of a rather quiet lunch, my father just said "Boy that Taylor Swift lawsuit really pisses me off" and "SBF is really stupid for as smart as he is". The type of comments that have 0 relevance to us right now and make you want to lay down in front of a school bus and let it flatten you out. Even worse, my mother has taken the conspiracy path, highlighting that she "read studies" on the covid vaccine. Trust me. I know. It's that bad. 

Both well off people with college educations. They weren't like this 10 years ago and to see them in this manner is upsetting. I am now beginning to understand why people push their parents away especially when parents get to the age of yelling at squirrels while looking out a window - which seems to be the age my parents are at. My question to those who have gone through this: is this something you just accept? do you just let them go off the deep end? How do you accept your parents are in the early innings of the end? Happy Thanksgiving all. 

Comments (35)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
9d

Sign them up for a reddit account and let them vent. 

6d
eloquence, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is how they get down the QAnon path though...

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  • 1
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8d
BigKahunaBanker🏄🍹🍔, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Try to love your parents selflessly before you put your ego into play. I disagree with my mother on almost every single political topic, and we often fight, but I'd never hold it against her, never.

...and the Truth shall set you free
  • 11
8d
WolfofWSO, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Enlighten them.

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  • 1
8d
rabbit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My friend, when you and they get a bit older, there will come a moment where you realize that the roles have reversed. That you'll have become the parent and they need guidance, advice, instructions and taking care of. They'll actually start to get more childlike and I'm dead serious.

Generalizing a bit because not everyone has positive relationships with their parents, 

8d
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:
rabbit

My friend, when you and they get a bit older, there will come a moment where you realize that the roles have reversed. That you'll have become the parent and they need guidance, advice, instructions and taking care of. They'll actually start to get more childlike and I'm dead serious.

Generalizing a bit because not everyone has positive relationships with their parents, 

Yeah my parents are in their mid-80s - I'm just glad they are alive. Our roles have definitely reversed. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
8d
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

haha we have the exact same parents

will edit this later with how I've felt this over the years

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

  • 1
8d
financeabc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Some older people are very fixed in their ways and it gets more pronounced with age.  My own parents are kind of modern despite being very old.  They view themselves as being open minded and progressive but old ways of thinking do not change that easily.  What was okay to say 40 years ago, it not okay to say today.  Sometimes, they bluntly say things they think are reasonable but would be viewed as biased by today's standards.  I take these comments with a grain of salt and just attribute it to age because overall, they have good intentions. 

  • 3
8d
watersign, what's your opinion? Comment below:
[Comment removed by mod team]
7d
trying_my_best, what's your opinion? Comment below:

maybe take it as a chance to practice some empathy skills and reflect on the impermanence of life - important skills for finance that will equip you well in the long run

Me myself, I find it inevitably icky when some guy in their 50s keeps bitching about being old, cranky and forgetful. Bitch, don't they know Buffett, Munger, Schwarzman, Marks and the rest are still running companies and making a killing in their 70s to 90s? There are powerlifters and other athletes competing in their 70s as well. I know, I'm 21 so I should STFU about these things (and therefore I never EVER mention these thoughts of mine to anyone), but just gave me some food for thought and reflect on how to never ever fall into that mindset

7d
TechBanking, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My dad passed away a couple years ago and since then my mom has gotten massively into UFOs. 

  • 2
7d
InfidelCashFlow, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Help them out, man.  Would you want your kids to push you away when you might need them most?  Think about all they have done for you.  Spend time with them, educate them, show them some love.  Get them to read, travel, exercise, spend time with family and friends, etc.  Keep them mentally and physically active.  What you're witnessing is unfortunately part of the aging process for many.  

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7d
InvestmentSpanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly, the big difference is keeping the brain active. Old people need friends, hobbies, work. Those things keep your mind working / fresh.

Old people who act "old" don't have enough going on in their life. My parents are def guilt of this too, not shitting on your parents. Trying to get my parents to join some sort of club, find volunteer work, etc 

7d
klaus von stroke, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Curious how others have dealt with this. This was definitely the first year I've noticed my mom specifically getting tongue twisted often, I think she had a silent stroke and doesn't know it or is in denial. Trying to address that she needs to get checked out, but it's tough conversation as she's always been very with it and active etc. Its hard to watch them age regardless though, trying to improve everyday how I handle it and interact with them

7d
Pinstulol, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Love yourself less or in other worlds less ego, love others more or in other worlds more empathy.

I think that if most people followed this on most of their life they would be happier.

You are not that special, other people are not as bad/stupid/whatever as you think that they are.

6d
Miracle1111, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm assuming you've had a good relationship with your parents so don't push your parents away. They won't be here much longer. Whether it's 10, 20, or maybe 30 years (if that), they won't be here much longer. You're a busy person with a hectic schedule so the time you spend with them will probably be brief and sporadic. When they're gone you won't care about the vaccine comments or Taylor Swift or whatever, you'll want them back, and you won't be able to have them back. So just cherish whatever time you have left with them. One day when you're old and rambling about whatever, hopefully, your loved ones won't push you away.

Edit:

I wanted to leave you a little more practical advice from someone who has been through this...

Without knowing your parents personally, I'll tell you that people are creatures of habit. By the time we're in our 60s, we're pretty much stuck in our ways. The brain needs to stay stimulated, we need purpose, we need to consistently be learning new things, we need movement, and we need social interactions. Unfortunately, once people are stuck in their ways it's hard to get them to adopt new and healthy habits. Realistically, even if you're with your parents daily, and you devote your life completely to helping them change, you would still be fighting an uphill battle that you would probably lose. If you don't have that type of time with them then you're going to have to just accept it, and cherish whatever little time you have left with them. The quality of that time will decrease rapidly. You will be left in shock each time you visit them after long periods have gone by.

Just have patience with them, and love them for who they are. As I said, they won't be here much longer, and the impact of losing them may be devastating on your psyche. Losing a parent has a way of bringing out repressed feelings that we weren't aware of, and it can make us more cognizant of our own mortality. You can try asking them questions about their lives. Get them to talk about things you would wonder about if they were gone. These may very well be the last conversations you will have with them before they're unable to talk with you the way you would like. You can also watch TV shows or listen to music that they enjoyed when they were younger. Studies have shown that being exposed to things we enjoyed in our youth helps stimulate our brains. You can maybe get them a pet depending on how they are.

Whatever you do, don't treat them as they are a burden to you even though that is an easy thing to do. For your sake and theirs, don't do that. They will likely pick up on that, and you will probably regret it when they are gone. Aging is hard on everyone, you think they don't know they aren't the same as they were 10 years ago? People know when they're getting old even though they try to fight it and deny it. Just have empathy, be patient, kind, and love them because they're your parents. The little time they have with you is probably everything to them.

6d
eloquence, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds like your parents are just trying to relate to you with recent stuff they've heard in the news... sweet, if anything. I fully expected this to be your parents becoming confused or getting a terrible diagnosis. Are you so caught up in work you can't make 5 min of conversation about Taylor Swift or SBF? Don't lose the forest for the trees, banking should not be your entire life even if it is most of your hours.

The covid conspiracy stuff is unfortunate, but just try to steer it away or say you don't talk about that stuff - "Wow, thanks mom - how is SuzyQ Aunt doing?". In her own way she's just trying to be a good mom and watch out for you, even if she is terribly misled.

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6d
PaulTwodoorJones, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think your description of your annoyance with the irrelevance of their banter is really just you trying to put a less-serious spin on a harsh reality of life. 
 

I too was a little sad coming home to my parents' this thanksgiving. My mom says silly things and my parents in general forget some small details here and there. Tough pill to swallow for sure. As far as how to deal with it, I'm not sure. Not much you can do but show them love, show up for the holidays, and encourage them to get involved in things/ activities outside of housework and brooding over an empty nest.

6d
Al's, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Same experience at Thanksgiving. My parents had already been spending way too much time on the TV and social media crap for years, but I can tell it's gotten even worse since I left. I try to explain to them that they really need to stop and do something else that will keep them physically and mentally healthy, but they just get angry at me and don't listen.

My mother, who has been retired with a disabillity for 20 years now, is particularly bad. She's absolutely addicted to Twitter and the TV, and she goes absolutely ballistic if she can't record her shows or if you interrupt her while she's trying to have some Twitter argument. For example, even for shows she has recorded, she will start yelling at you to leave rather than pause a show she's watching if you start talking to her. Furthermore, her response to an argument she feels she is 'losing' is literally to put her fingers in her ears...this is the same women who was once a reporter and brags about talks about being a good debater in college.

They have too much pride and are too quick to treat me as the baby/kid they raised, and not the adult who is seeing a real issue now. It's an unfortunate irony that they've told me stories of trying to convince their parents, my grandparents, to give up their own bad habits before they passed away. But they couldn't get the grandparents off cigarettes the same way I can't get them off the TV. 

6d
HardestOfHardos, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just people of a different generation. Natural part of life too. Nothing you can do about them or anyone ageing. We're all going to die.

All you can do is love them for who they are, and cherish the time you have left with them.

6d
udikammis-4130, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am sorry, but the way you wrote the post underlines some problems. They are your parents, they are becoming fragile. These are the man and the woman who paid for your college/cleaned your ass/feed you; think about how much they love you. Not everything should be a raise to get the best conversations, the best time, the best woman, the best kids, the best of the best: this is work mentality, it works well within the office, but if you let this poison leak outside it will be really hard in the long run (American Psycho is a warning, not an example to follow). Men are blood and flesh, we need to love and to be loved. I think you should try to accept the fact that your parents are becoming fragile and in need of your protection. They are going to yell at squirrels if they hate everything, like kids. Dude, I know it is hard, but don't be the one who yells at his/her parents because they are sick, try to remember who they were and deep inside still are; feed them love and they won't yell at squirrels.

I am sure you lived that moment when you realise your parents are just someone like you, they had aspirations and hopes. Maybe they say something stupid, and then what? We say bullshit all the day, we write bs reports all the day: the world is not gonna change because of that.

This is my experience and my advise. I hope it is helpful, I am not blaming you or anything, I am just trying to think with you.

4d
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

padawan, allow me to introduce you to stoicism. there are certain things that are up to us, and things that are not up to us. what is up to you in this situation is how much interaction you have with your parents and your reaction to their behavior. what is not up to you is their behavior and their beliefs. viewing every conflict in your life through this lens, while it won't always solve an issue, will help dissolve your angst away if you meditate on it enough.

because of my work I have to deal with the "aging parents" question all of the time, and while I'm not a physician, I've learned a bit on this. first, nothing you've said makes me think they have dementia or alzheimers, some good indicators of this would be if they get scammed (recently had a client's mom give away 10% of their net worth over a period of months to people promising to fix her computer, accounts weren't with us thankfully), if they forget certain people they've known for years, if they get agitated more easily at very benign things (e.g. the store moved the cat food they usually buy). 

now the crux of the issue, how to deal with parents who are intellectually lazy, with whom you disagree, and seem to be wasting away mentally. first, humble yourself, you don't know everything, and while much of what they're saying is likely ridiculous, don't be an equal amount of douchey to them because you think you're smarter than them (even though you may be). humility, not hubris brah. I've had to deal with this with one of my parents for the better part of 15 years after they went on disability, stopped working and started spending all of their days in front of the TV. to avoid doxxing, I'll go light on specifics, but this is someone who studied a very hard degree in college (think physics or chemistry but not those), went to a top 15 grad school in their field, and scored in the genius level on all intelligence tests. now, they get preoccupied with the most mundane stuff like you mention, and they're letting their mind waste away. here are a couple of ideas/thoughts

  1. remember hippocrates - "if someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself it he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness; only then is it possible to help him." if you want them to get healthy but they still want to drink soda, live a sedentary lifestyle, and waste away on social media/TV, once you've pointed out some data to them or said your concerns bluntly (as I did, like "dad, I'm really concerned about your health, I want you to be around for a while and this isn't easy to say, but I worry you're becoming deconditioned, can we talk about it?" spoiler alert - it didn't work, one parent had a near fatal cardiac event which scared them straight, other one can't be bothered), you must surrender (again, remember the stoic venn diagram, is this up to you or not?).
  2. listen legitimately, offer counterpoints politely - if you want them to become intellectually curious, perhaps you allow them the space to talk about whatever's on their mind, and then offer polite counterpoints. for example, I've taken the tack of just asking them what they've been reading recently (articles on socials recently), and then I'll actually read the article. because I've had some study in statistics, I'll politely point out if the study is poorly designed or if the media are reaching with their conclusions, because often times it's not the study authors that say something, it's the media that says "RED MEAT WILL FUCKING KILL YOU EAT BUGS NOW." if they seem receptive (because you're listening first, remember), then continue this. the way I look at it, I'm going to be glad that when they're gone I will have tried to keep an ongoing dialogue instead of shutting off communication because we disagree on something that won't matter in 10 years
  3. put it back on them - if you tire of them complaining about random shit, ask them why it bothers them, what impact it will have on their lives, and what can they do about it? one of two things will happen, either they'll get the sense that you don't like to be bitched at for random shit (like the taylor swift thing) or a light bulb will go off and they may realize "hey this doesn't really matter"
  4. offer alternatives - because I was worried about my parent's cognitive decline I've tried a shotgun approach on this. I know exercise helps slow decline, so I tried to find things that would be low friction (easy for them to squeeze in between rachel maddow and NCIS), and offered to be a bit of a coach. spoiler alert - 99% of the shit you try won't work, so don't hesitate on abandoning an idea. another thing is this parent loved spending time on the computer, so I bought them a subscription to duolingo, as learning languge helps increase neuroplasticity, and while after 18 months all they can do is ask for a beer in spanish, it's the process, not progress that helps the brain, which I view as a win. 
  5. just talk to them and don't worry about the rest - if, like me, your parents are stubborn as mules none of this will work and they'll be equally as frustrating to be around for the rest of your life. that's OK, they're still your parents. call them at a cadence you can stand, I've taken to calling the troublesome one 30 mins before I have a conference call so if it starts going long I have an excuse, but it's the fact you're being proactive that is important, nothing else. most of my conversations are just asking them what's going on and then it delves into them complaining about medical problems that'd be solved by diet & exercise, politicians that aren't in their state, something they saw on facebook, or how much money my brother makes (hint, we're both doing well, he's just not humble about it). here's how I see it, as I said before, one day they'll both be dead. as I'm sitting next to them on their deathbed, am I going to care more about the fact I kept up a relationship with them, or that I was "right" on every issue? you only get one family, good bad or otherwise, so unless they're abusive, suck it up buttercup

finally, set a good example. ensure your diet & exercise routines are on point. ensure you're putting out good vibes and being a good person, share with your parents what you're reading, that you saw the social dilemma and therefore deleted social media, that you've started meditating/journaling and how it's helping, how stoic principles have helped you keep your cool, and so on. don't cast stones from a glass house and expect to be taken seriously

3d
greenlander., what's your opinion? Comment below:

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3d
poppinbottleS, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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