Learn how to deal with negative thoughts


Upsetting situations naturally lead to negative thoughts. If someone’s older parent falls, they will worry about their parent’s safety.


Focusing only on the negative is different. It’s not a warning sign that leads to discussion and action. It’s getting stuck emotionally and feeling like everything is a losing battle.


Someone who’s only focusing on the negative while helping an older adult might:

  • See every situation as sad or difficult

  • Regret or resent the time and help they give

  • Criticize their own feelings and actions

  • Feel responsible for meeting all the older adult’s needs

  • Try to change things they have no control over, like others’ behavior

  • Put pressure on themselves to “fix” everything

  • Blame themselves when the older adult has problems or is upset

  • See all change as bad

  • Think that self-care is selfish

Ways to break out of negative thought patterns include:

  • Spending time simply enjoying the older adult’s company

  • Thinking about the benefits of helping, like developing closer relationships, understanding important issues and learning new skills

  • Supporting the older adult to be as independent as possible

  • Setting healthy limits and realistic goals

  • Looking for the humor in difficult situations

  • Being thankful for what’s going well

  • Understanding when things are beyond their control

  • Letting go of expectations

  • Allowing everyone to be upset sometimes

  • Celebrating small successes

  • Thanking others for their help

  • Practicing self-care