Our expert says:
Ah, Carol, I know what you mean. As NEE says, it isn't unique to the elderly, though probably most of us get a bit more grumpy and disillusioned as we grow older. Good word that, disillusioned --- you lose your illusions, those fond and comforting though false beliefs that Everyone is nice, and that Everything works out for the best. We've seen enough counter-examples to switch from a too-Rosy view of the world, to an unrealistically dark one.
And it's compounded, perhaps, by a sense of impotence, not in the sexual sense ( though that could contribute, too)-- the sense that nothing you can do will every change things for the better, that maybe nothing Anyone can do will achieve that.
It might be worth trying to talk this through with him. That while you're pleased to be around and helpful to him, you find his persistently negative attitude and grumbling is geting you down terribly, and that it's beginning to damage you. Can you find small things, small areas, where he can help and do something that will work out, so he can feel able to achieve something ? Sometimes one can ask his advice about things ( even if you know perfectly well what to do ), so he can feel at least he's participating. If you're clever, and I know you are, you can frame the questions carefully in such a way that the advice he is bound to give, will be exactly what you wanted to do in the first place, so that he can feel some sense of accomplishment. Can you and your son give him planned modest amounts of time to talk about the positive aspects of the Good Old Days, to let him at least visit the times when he was more significant in the world ? If all else fails, maybe borrow copies of the video's Grumpy Old Men, and Grumpier Old men, as a hint ?
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