My Mom (84) only wants to talk about is herself. If I talk about something, all she says is "hmmm." It's very disheartening.

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I call her every night to check on her. Every night she just wants to talk about how she can't get around like she used to. I understand that's hard on her considering she used to be an active woman. But if I tell her about something in my life all she says is 'yeah' or 'hmmm,' and then changes the conversation back to her. My brother lives only 15 minutes away but doesn't do much to help. I constantly tell her if she needs anything done at the house or if she needs to go anywhere to please let me know. I am unemployed right now, so I have plenty of spare time. But most of the time she will call one of her neighbors to take her to the doctor, to the store, or to pick up a prescription. I gave her a speech one night about that and told her that's what I am here for, to please ask me. But she will turn around and ask one of her neighbors again. It's like she can't bring herself to ask her own children. Her neighbors probably think she has terrible children because they are always the ones to take her places. I've heard that some elderly people don't like to ask the children for help because they feel that they have always been the main figure in the family, and if they ask for help it makes them look weak. Just an hour ago I talked to her on the phone and she told me that she had an appointment tomorrow with the hearing aid doctor. She said that she had cancelled it because it wasn't that important. I know why she did that. She didn't want to ask. Yesterday I took her to Walmart, she actually asked me that time. She probably felt it would be a bother to me to take her out again. It would not have been a bother, but she just won't ask. And while I was on the phone she just kept saying 'yeah' if I tried talking about anything. When I got off the phone with her, I was so upset that I threw the phone across the room. I wish she could understand what she is doing, because I feel like she is driving me away.

28 Comments

I think some of what you're seeing is what I see with my mom. As some people age, their world gets smaller and smaller and their ability to be interested in or concerned about anything or anyone beyond themselves decreases. My mom has a pretty flat affect these days compared to how she was years ago. I tell her stories about friends or relatives she doesn't have much to say, or she responds with kind of a standard sentence. It's like she's just lost some of her brain power to analyze and respond to what I'm telling her. So I've learned not to expect any kind of reaction that will be emotionally satisfying to me. I still tell her stuff so she'll feel included, but I don't tell her half of the stuff going on in my life because her lack of reaction will be somewhat painful to me. She'd feel awful if she knew that's how I felt - she's not being that way intentionally.

As for the appointments, I'd start asking your mom every time you talk to her what appointments she has coming up. And schedule regular visits to the grocery store and beauty salon or wherever she normally goes. If she visits her podiatrist every six weeks, make a note of that on your calendar and start asking her a week ahead of that time when her appointment is scheduled.

My mom hates to ask me for anything, so I have to be a detective to figure out ahead of time what she needs and tell her we're doing it. I don't know if that would work with your mom, but if you take the lead in setting up a schedule to help her, it makes it easier for her to accept your help.

My frustration is with my mom's memory, she can't remember to tell me stuff ahead of time. I took her out yesterday to the mall and we had a great time. We stopped by a candy store and I bought her some candy. When I got her home, she told me she'd like me to get some candy for her neighbor's upcoming birthday. ARGGGGH!!!! I could have bought it when I had her out, but she just doesn't think that way any more. So now I know to put her neighbor's birthday on MY calendar so I can anticipate it next year (if my mom and her neighbor are both still here).
Do you know her neighbors? Perhaps you need to have private conversations with each of them about your availability to take your mother places. They might not know she has an option other than them so they accommodate her needs. If they know she has another option, they might be unavailable to provide transportation when she asks.
Thank-you so much for your comments. Sometimes I feel like I am so alone in handling all of this. It gets frustrating trying to talk to someone and they don't respond to you. And that's a good idea about the private conversations with her neighbors, I think I will do that. Thank-you again!
Try not to take her lack of interest in your life too much to heart. If she was interested in prior years and has not been a neglectful parent to you, celebrate that. Some elders really become self-centered in their old age. It is not deliberate, it just kind of happens to them. This is especially true when there is pain or any kind of cognitive problem. Try to be patient with her.

You need you concerns and interests acknowledged, too. Now is the time to start getting those needs met elsewhere.

I've read the theory that teens become so difficult to live with in order to prepare parents to be able to give them up and let them become independent. Along the same lines, maybe parents become self-centered in order to prepare us for the time they won't be around to take interest in us.
Welcome to the forum. I think many of us can relate to what you are saying. My Mother has very little interests anymore except her health issues and gossip about the neighbors. Very sad as she used to be such an intelligent, vibrant woman.
Peggy15 I know it seems like she's not interested it can be hurtful...

Now that I look back I realize that my Mom would do the same things and I would just push it off to "old age"..Then I looked up dementia/alz and saw some of behaviors listed there..She may not want you to know exactly how she feels. The neighbors will over look her forgetfulness while you will call her out on it..

You may want to go with her to her next Dr. appt and let him know what you are seeing in your Mom..
if the neighbors did not want to help her they would tell her so-maybe you could plan one day a week for her appointments so she could count on that and not worry about others helping her.
i think your mother is trying to cope with her own mortality and thats a big deal at any age. in my mothers last few months she wanted to talk about her life and the best thing i could do was listen to her. of course it was all about her, she was approaching the end of her life. had a story to tell.
I agree with captain. I noticed my mum cannot show emotions like she used to in fact I think its a blessing(maybe one positive about this?). Ive told her about her sick brother and she smiled and said well hes had a good time! Before I know she would have been very concerned but never asked about him again.
My mum was aggressive and nasty the first 2 years (not like her at all) NOW shes calm and normally in good form the more I learnt on here and about dementia the more I know how to control her moods and thats by not nagging or judging why she behaves a certain way or why she does things that could drive you nuts! My mum is more concerned now about herself and has become selfish and demanding but thats the illness, sad to think that only 2years ago she was nursing me after a burst appendix running around making me dinner etc.... as captain says my mum is talking alot about her childhood her past etc...and yes facing her own death makes sense. Let your mum natter away about her and cherish it as long as shes not been nasty or abusive be blessed as I know this is going to get worse!
The saddest thing for me now is that mum and I dont talk like we used to she either dosnt hear you or its not registering I try and talk to her about her life, her parents whom she adored and this makes her happy!
Im glad she dosnt know or notice that theres times I run to the kitchen to cry as shell have said or done something "crazy" that wakes me up as to the reality of this awful illness!
Yep days you cry then days you want to scream your head off at them then feel like crap for losing it! AH the joys of dementia caring!
Captain you working on that book yet? We could all do with a laugh! i bet you could just write your experience in your humourous way about caring for your mum she must have been a hoot my mum would have loved her!!
I asked my mum once years ago did she want to be buried or cremated? she said neither " i want to be buried standing up" EH OK No problem!!

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