LTC Bullet: Are Your Parents Driving You Crazy?

Wednesday October 10, 2001


More and more aging baby-boomers find themselves answering that question in the affirmative. Those of us in the field of long-term care know where to look for help once ADL deficiencies arise. But what do you do in the meantime, when Mom and Dad need some help, but they cling stubbornly to their independence? That puzzle is why a new book caught our eye:

"Are Your Parents Driving You Crazy?: How to Resolve the Most Common Dilemmas with Aging Parents," by Joseph A. Ilardo and Carole R. Rothman, VanderWyk and Burnham, Acton, Massachusetts, 2001 (

Here's a snip from the Introduction:

"Many books are available to help adult children deal with elderly parents suffering from dementia or emotional disorders. This book, however, helps adult children work with parents who are rational and competent but who are not being reasonable about some problem that should be easily resolved. These could be parents who won't go to the doctor when it is clearly called for, or parents who skimp unnecessarily on expenses and put their health and well-being in jeopardy.

"Such problems plague adult children of aging parents. And while most problems like these DO have solutions, finding them isn't easy when it's YOUR parents, YOUR siblings, and YOUR spouse who are involved. You want to do the right thing, but often you don't know what it is, and when you do know, you have no clear idea how to proceed. That is why we wrote this book--to give you the insights and tools to resolve the dilemmas you face and to move forward confidently." (p. xi, emphasis in the original)

These are some examples of the "dilemmas" that receive chapter-length treatments in the book:

"1. My father can no longer drive safely, but he refuses to stop."

"3. My brother and sister won't offer to help take care of Mom and Dad."

"8. My mother is doing fine, but she won't listen to her doctor's advice."

"9. My husband resents my father's demands on me."

"11. My mother can't manage her checking account any longer, but she refuses my help."

"16. My father insists on taking care of my mother, but he is not able to, and they both are suffering."

"21. My mother is no longer stable on her feet, but she insists on climbing on chairs to reach her cabinets."

"23. My sister is stealing from our mother."

Get the drift? Sound familiar? These are real-world quandaries that plague more and more of us every day. This book offers a sensible conceptual framework for understanding the problems and discerning solutions. It provides practical advice that sounds relatively easy to follow. One can readily imagine that difficulties like these, thoughtfully and tactfully addressed, could prevent or delay the need for institutional care.