Content starts here

Anger and control

My 97 year old Dad doesn’t accept he can no longer do things he has done in the past such as using power tools. He is all about himself. He has a huge ego. He becomes angry and bossy. He becomes mean to his daughter..the one who does many things for him. More so when he has his nightly cocktail. He seems to forget and stretch stories. He had been very sharp up to a year ago when he lost his companion.

AARP Expert

@LaurieV875514 You've had some very good advice here! I'm so sorry this is happening and I know it's confusing and hurtful. Try to think about it this way: Your dad is suffering from grief and loss. He lost his companion. And he's losing his ability to do things that he's always been able to do. He may feel like he's losing control of his body and his life. He's hurting. And men of his era were not socialized to express emotions or talk about feelings or grief or loss. They were taught to pick up and go on and buck up. Is he a veteran? All the more likely that dealing with all of this is beyond his skill set. Add personality on top of that and it's even more complicated. 


Try to practice empathy and understanding about what he is going through. He's likely lost most of his friends, siblings, partners, companions. It's a lot of loss. And losing control of one's life is tough. Imagine is someone said to you today that you had to stop driving, couldn't walk up stairs or go for a walk, couldn't do things you do every day, couldn't practice your would you feel right now? It's no different because a person is older. Age doesn't decrease desire for independence and living life. So he's hurting, and he's taking it out on those closest to him. 



I have someone in my life who is like this. When he is stressed he lashes out at me. Even though I know it's the stress that doesn't ease the hurt - it doesn't make it ok. Sometimes you can point it out and that helps. For others that just makes them more angry and self-centered. 


Would your dad ever consider grief counseling or a grief support group? 


Since he can't do things that were important to him and he enjoyed, and he's not needed for his companion...he has also lost a sense of purpose. Purpose is the most important thing for any human being. He may be depressed and anxious. He needs purpose. Maybe try to give him purpose in other ways - what CAN he do? Focus on those things. Talk things over with him - even if you don't need advice maybe it would make him feel needed and important. Is there a hobby or housework he can still do? Can he volunteer in any way? Meet with peers/friends for lunch? I used to work in adult day care and we often had small wood projects for the men - they could sand and paint. No dangerous tools but they were feeling productive. 


My heart goes out to you - I know it's hurtful and frustrating and confusing for you dad to behave like this. He's likely doing the only thing he knows how to do, and it may be hard to redirect. Let him know he's loved and needed. A friend advises me to envision myself coated in non-stick coating like teflon - don't let the negativity stick to you - let it slide right off! 


Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving



Best of luck to you! 

AARP Expert

Wow, he's 97! I bet he's been a capable, decisive, productive human for most of his life! He's used to being a leader and knowing what he AND OTHERS should be doing! Are you his only caregiver? Anyone else available to take turns with him ?  Dads can be dismissive with daughters; might help to have someone else to mix in. When my dad had a huge right brain stroke, i took his phone book and called the entire list, partly to tell them he was now in a nursing home and partly to see if anyone could visit. I got a couple old dudes from the Masons, and one from the Foreign Legion. He was delighted to see his old buddies and they'd watch Patton together. His favorite movie.


Maybe make him a shirley temple? Less and less of the alcohol?


Are there any other activities he could do? Spring is coming; some gentle gardening? Fix a fence post? He'd like to feel useful.


Some support for you is necessary I think. Mean words come from his frustration, but as jonibee said, you don't have to let them land. 


Consider joining this facebook group where there would be 30 ideas and messages by now:


Keep sharing!


Trusted Social Butterfly

I guess the best thing to do is ignore his biting remarks or just humour him..I would make sure the power tools are hidden or under lock and key assumming that he is still mobile...Perhaps at his next doctors appt. you should bring up this new attitude ...It's hard to accept defeat especially when it's something that you may have loved doing and relize that it's no longer doable.. Perhaps he has too much time to think about things and is depressed because he can't participate anymore..You can't change a leopards spots especially his personality  but you can change the way you receive his biting remarks...Ignore them he'll tire out when he gets no response...

Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Need to Know

"I downloaded AARP Perks to assist in staying connected and never missing out on a discount!" -LeeshaD341679

AARP Perks

More From AARP