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More So Disease

This term is my own creation to describe what happens often to older adults.

However the person was when they were younger, they’re only more so when they’re older.

I would repeat this phrase to many family members of my elderly patients when the families were struggling to deal with their loved ones’ disruptive behaviors.

Of course, there’s no scientific data or studies to confirm this statement. It’s just from my own observation after years of working as an Occupational Therapist with older adults.

According to collinsdictionary.com, the phrase “more so” means “to a greater extent or degree.”

Examples Of The More So Disease In Elderly Adults

Here are some stories of my past patients (names were changed) whom I remember and how they suffered from the “more so” disease.

Robert’s Story

Robert was an emotionally detached husband and father. His own father was very much like that as well and Robert never sought treatment or tried to work on himself to overcome this issue.

Now in his 90’s, his adult children were struggling to provide him with the care he needed as he grew older and more frail.

Robert’s “more so” behavior was that he was withdrawing even more and becoming increasingly more difficult to be around.

He refused to communicate with others and would often just sit in his room, staring out the window or watching his television.


Mildred’s Story

Mildred always was in charge of her family. She took care of everything in the home, made sure her children and husband were dressed well and taken care of.

Mildred did all the cooking and cleaning, planned all the family events and vacations and would often simply “take over” whenever a project or task had to be completed.

Now Mildred is older and widowed. She began experiencing problems associated with her age-related illness. She began to have difficulty performing all the tasks around her home like cleaning and cooking and this naturally upset her.

Her adult children tried to help but Mildred would push them away and berate them for “doing it wrong.” But when she attempted to take over the task herself, it was obvious that it was often too difficult for her.

Mildred’s “more so” behavior was her control issues. Since she was controlling as a younger person, that behavior only amplified as she got older.


Blanche’s Story

I remember Blanche very well. She was a 92 year old woman who presented herself as a very sweet and nice lady. But in our team meeting at the hospital, we all got a very different story about her.

Each one of the team members, the doctor, the social worker, the therapists, the nurse, etc. all got a different story about her life from her. They were just minor difference, but different enough to tell us that something was amiss.

When we invited her adult children to a meeting, they explained to us that their mother would often “embellish facts” in order to favor herself. In other words, she was a narcissist.

They also advised us that for the past several years, this behavior seemed to have gotten worse.

Not only was she now pitching herself and her achievements as superior to others, she was also expressing envy and jealousy and putting others down, including her own children.

This of course, made it very difficult for her family to believe her, to care for her.

Blanche’s “more so” behavior was a classic example of the narcissistic personality disorder. This otherwise subtle disease can be difficult to spot, but in its more extreme form, it can wreak havoc on relationships and cause significant psychological damage.

Do All Seniors Experience The More So Disease?

Of course not. That’s like saying everyone past the age of 40 will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

And it’s also like saying people simply don’t change. This can certainly be a true statement, but of course, not for everyone.

Some individuals actually work through their behaviors to become better and they may certainly keep those skills intact as they get older.

But, as we all know, this is not always the case.

As in the case of a narcissist…

Age does not bring wisdom or humility to a narcissist – it simply reinforces their sense of entitlement. Narcissists believe that they are entitled to the best of everything and will go to great lengths to get it. They will use their family and friends to get what they want, regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

carlacorelli.com

In fact, when it comes to personality disorders, there are several that may get worse as the person gets older.

Personality disorders that are susceptible to worsening with age include paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, obsessive compulsive, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, and dependent, said Dr. Rosowsky, a geropsychologist in Needham, Mass.

mdedge.com

The bottom line is that family members and loved ones need to be aware that personality changes can occur in older adults but sometimes, the change means living with the More So Disease.

How To Accept Your Aging Loved One’s Behavior

Accepting your aging loved one’s behavior can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for how to accept your aging loved one despite their changing behavior:

1. Listen. Make sure you are really hearing what they are saying and understanding their feelings even if you don’t always agree with them.

2. Be Patient. Aging can be difficult and uncomfortable, and your loved one is likely going through a lot of emotional upheaval that they may not fully understand. Make sure to give them space to process everything at their own pace.

3. Establish Boundaries When Necessary. It’s important to establish boundaries when necessary, but it’s important to do so in a loving and respectful way.

4. Stay Positive. Remind yourself that your loved one is still the same person they always were, despite any changes in behavior. They may just need some extra support and understanding right now.

5. Seek Professional Help When Necessary. If you feel like your loved one’s behavior is becoming too difficult to manage, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. A trained mental health specialist can provide advice and support that can make the situation easier on everyone involved.

6. Make Time For Yourself. Don’t forget that you need time and space to take care of yourself. Take a break when necessary and make sure to do things that bring you joy, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day. This will help you stay strong so that you can continue to provide the best possible support for your loved one.

7. Accept That You Can’t Change Your Loved One. Remember that your loved one is the only one who can make any changes to their behavior. You may be able to encourage them and provide support, but ultimately it’s up to them to take responsibility for their actions. Accepting this fact can help you set more realistic expectations and make the situation easier on everyone involved.

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