Clashing with Grandmother’s Beliefs

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My grandmother was an anti-war / anti-nuclear power activist and protester when she was young, and these beliefs and religion have been a major part of her life. She is 86 now and has become even more religious in the past year because of many deaths in the family and also news of the nuclear disaster in Japan. She gets very emotional to the point that others cannot reason with her or get her to calm down easily. I live with her, and although I agree with her on some things, I can’t handle hearing her talk about religion and politics or watch the news on tv all the time. It has left me feeling very burned out and worried about her health (she has high blood pressure). I have had anxiety all my life and I don’t feel like I can leave her alone for very long, because she may get upset and get hurt. She has not been diagnosed with alzheimer’s or dementia, but she can get very agitated and had to be hospitalized twice in the last year. How can I handle this? I don’t have family close enough to help.

A: This isn’t an opportunity to change your grandmother, but rather a time to find forgiveness and compassion. She obviously cares deeply about the world’s issues and has given her time and energy toward bringing about positive changes.

It might be an opportunity to have her reflect to you stories of her life as an activist. Some studies have suggests reminiscing about the past is a very comforting and soothing activity for the elderly. This form of redirection might allow her to feel pride and empowerment rather than frustration over the current events in the world.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Clashing with Grandmother’s Beliefs. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/04/27/clashing-with-grandmothers-beliefs/