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Why do the older generation get so uptight about trivial stuff, and will we end up like that?

(177 Posts)
sandyballs Fri 01-Nov-13 13:06:48

This is about the in laws who are in their early 70's so not really old by any means. They used to run their own company, very successfully, still have their wits about them, certainly not heading for dementia or anything.

MIL rang just now to tell me that DD had left her oyster card at their house yesterday, she sounded really anxious, stressing that DD would need it for school on Monday. I said not to worry it's only Friday, I'll pop in tomorrow or DH would at some point during the weekend.

She starts screeching in the background to FIL saying he must take it over to our house immediately. FIL starts getting stressed saying he has an appointment with the doctor at 5pm and wouldn't be able to do that today, it's a 20 minute drive to ours!

I interrupt saying again, not to worry, there's plenty of time to get it and even if DD didn't have it by Monday she could walk as it's her fault she left it there. School is less than 2 miles away, it's not going to kill her.

More screeching and stress down the phone with a 3 way conversation going on.

Why do so many older people get like this, when does it start, how do we prevent the same happening to us. Is it that they don't have enough going on now that kids have left home and they're retired so every issue becomes magnified.

It really is such a trivial thing and there have been many instances like this and some friends say similar about their parents/in laws.

sandyballs Fri 01-Nov-13 13:07:42

Title should have said 'some', I realise not all are like that.

Trills Fri 01-Nov-13 13:10:31

Some people are already uptight about trivial things.

Maybe as you get older everything that you do becomes just a bit harder and takes just a bit longer, and some people adjust to this by refusing to do anything that is not planned, and so panic when something unplanned (like "drive somewhere 20 minutes away") comes up.

kickingtheautumnleaves Fri 01-Nov-13 13:13:33

I know exactly what you mean, OP - my dad is the same, no idea why. Someone knocked my car yesterday (car is an old banger) - cue lots of huffing and sighing! It's MY car! confused

CoffeeTea103 Fri 01-Nov-13 13:14:12

I feel it's the other way around actually blush

Grennie Fri 01-Nov-13 13:17:03

Yes this does seem to happen as people get older. I see this in my parents who used to be mega laid back and relaxed about everything. My parents used to take us on holiday as kids, and not find somewhere to stay until we arrived.

But now they get stressed out about tiny things. I don't think it is just about not having many other things happening in their life. My FIL has also become like this. And he does voluntary work, goes to University of the Third Age, and sees lots of friends. He is hardly ever in the house. But he gets very stressed and upset about things that he wouldn't have thought twice about before.

It is not automatic, but it seems to happen to a lot of people as they get older. I know it can be frustrating, but I think you just have to accept this is what happens for many people.

phantomhairpuller Fri 01-Nov-13 13:17:14

My ILs are like this, they're in their 60s.

I thought it was just them wink

QueenMedb Fri 01-Nov-13 13:24:57

You can't generalise, but my parents are also like this. Father is 70, mother two years younger. I think age and retirement has exacerbated a slight tendency that was always there (both have always had a very restricted comfort zone of activities, both are shy and have a small social circle of neighbours and family, and I suspect my father has undiagnosed Asperger's). I learned very young never to confide in them about my problems, as the slightest thing got magnified into a major issue.

We live in different countries, and I recently asked my father, while he was visiting, to deposit a cheque in my account in my home country. No rush, small amount etc. Having had major plane delays on the way home, meaning they only arrived home at midnight, my father was outside the bank before it opened the next morning. When he was told the cheque was out of date, he phoned me internationally in a panic! I told him it didn't matter, but when we next spoke, he had obviously gone online and looked up the organisation whose cheque it was, and had only just restrained himself from phoning them - he couldn't grasp that it wasn't worth any trouble!

arethereanyleftatall Fri 01-Nov-13 13:33:13

Mine are the same, yanbu. Any conversation is interrupted with gems such as 'bread is 50p in morrissons' etc etc

SHRIIIEEEKFuckingBearBlood Fri 01-Nov-13 13:37:26

Yes my mum is like this to some extent, and she is very young. If I ask her to, say, pick up a small item for me at the supermarket, I'll get 3 phone calls before she goes and 2 while she is there to discuss it in detail. It's a pint of milk. If it's not precisely the one I'd have picked myself, I'm sure we will all survive.

ohmymimi Fri 01-Nov-13 13:38:28

Just you waitwink

ParkerTheThief Fri 01-Nov-13 13:41:19

My mum has become more and more like this. She did always fuss, but now the slightest little thing becomes a big issue.

Caitlin17 Fri 01-Nov-13 13:42:29

"Get so uptight?"
Have you thread the car parking threads ?

Pobblewhohasnotoes Fri 01-Nov-13 13:44:10

My grandparents are exactly the same. They get fixated on things that are different or little things, or any change. They just can't cope with it. It makes things very hard work.

My Mum had told us not to let her end up like that!

EndoplasmicReticulum Fri 01-Nov-13 13:46:46

There was a brilliant thread about this a while back but I think it was in chat so may have disappeared.

But yes, my grandparents were like this. My parents used to mock them but they are now headed that way too.

HexU Fri 01-Nov-13 13:47:59

My parents have always been slightly like this and just gotten worse with age.

My MIL is increasingly getting like it having previously been laid back to the point of ridiculous.

I do wonder if it's a confidence thing - or one of those socially contagious view points that travels social networks.

Changes in MIL co-inside with her spending more time with her older parents and due to redundancy and subsequent more isolated working conditions also is doing less socializing with fewer younger people than she used to. She hears more stories about how dangerous stuff/life is from the older people and it has over time seem to reset her view of the world and made her more anxious over little stuff.

OodaresingingoftheDoctorDonna Fri 01-Nov-13 13:48:44

I think its something to do with the less you have to think about as well. I'm much worse on maternity leave for stressing about smaller things.

Beastofburden Fri 01-Nov-13 13:49:38

Same here. But in our cases, only my mother and MIL. My Dad died too young to have got like this, and my FIL never used to get stressed.

EndoplasmicReticulum Fri 01-Nov-13 13:52:40

Here it is:

MysterySpots Fri 01-Nov-13 13:57:28

I think it is inevitable. When I think about how laid back my parents used to be, the fussing that goes on now is just unbelievable. My mother used to go on and on and on about DC being cold and did they have a cardigan and muttering 'of course they never have a cardigan' until eventually I snapped and told her that she was being an old woman over the cardigans. They have never been mentioned since! She hates the idea of being old. So I think they probably don't realise it but can control it if it is pointed out to them, possibly more kindly than me but I was virtually being accuse of child abuse. And don't get me started on NOT HAVING A GARDEN...

Lovecat Fri 01-Nov-13 14:06:08

My mum, who at 77 is an independant, capable woman, came down to stay for a fortnight just after I'd had DD (at my invitation, I hasten to add).

Bless her, her determination not to interfere or be the slightest bit overbearing coupled with her increasing anxiety over the details of life translated as an inability to do anything without referring to me 10+ times over how to do it. This culminated in her asking me "so how do you cook your pasta, then?" confused I was trying to BF at the time (she having offered to make dinner) and I'm afraid I yelled "In a pot! With water! Like NORMAL people cook it! Instructions are on the packet!!" blush

Her response was that she'd thought maybe we had different pasta down south (we live in the same country - 200 miles away, but we both shop at Asda...)

thebody Fri 01-Nov-13 14:06:17

yes I agree. things seem to get magnified and worried about to amazing lengths.

my dad is very stressed about a 9am hospital appointment so I offered to ring and change it for him.

cue terrified pleadings not to as 'if you make a fuss you to to the back if the queue'!!!

this was a man who built up a business from scratch.

also if we say be with you around 2 pm cue 2.10 and texts of 'where are you? your going to be late!!!!! late what for a soddin cup if tea???? drives me nuts!!!

elliejjtiny Fri 01-Nov-13 14:16:42

I think I'm going to be like that and DH has aspergers so he will probably be worse. Our poor DC's grin

StealthPolarBear Fri 01-Nov-13 14:18:16

It is sad to see previously capable people lose their confidence and independence and faith in their own abilities.

ThreeBeeOneGee Fri 01-Nov-13 14:23:14

Sadly, since my older two started secondary school, I can hear myself starting to fuss over details. I think it's because I'm finding it hard to adjust to the concept that I have less control over what they do and what happens to them.

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