How to encourage Mom to do more, be more involved in her life instead of just existing.

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While I'm waiting for more info, I'll share a bit from a manager's training seminar I attended many years ago. It stayed with me.

Instructor asked how many that it was their job to motivate employees. Most hands raised.

He went on to describe an experiment in a psych lab.

There were walled areas containing wooden mazes. Each mouse was placed in a walled area. Some sniffed the maze, some ventured into it a ways, some ignored it. None explored it thoroughly.

Then a chunk of cheese was placed at the end of the maze. Every mouse explored the maze to the very end, and ate the cheese.

The instructor asked how many of us considered the cheese to be the motivator? Most of us did.

He went on. The experiment is immediately repeated. Nearly identical results. It is repeated immediately again. This time many mice didn't bother to look up when the cheese was placed in the maze. By the fifth time, all the mice were sitting around thinking mousey thoughts and not paying any attention to the maze.

Why did the cheese stop motivating them? According to the instructor is was because the cheese wasn't the real motivator -- hunger was! Wouldn't matter where you put the cheese or what kind it was, a full mouse isn't motivated to go after it. (Mice are apparently smarter in that regard than some of us, eh?)

The point was that all motivation comes from within. As a manager or parent or leader etc. all we can do is figure out what motivates the people we work with and clear the obstacles between them and getting it.

In your case, MrsBrenda, when dealing with someone with dementia you may not be able to externally supply motivation. You may need to rely upon other factors than motivation.

For example, my mother was simply not motivated to take her pills. She wasn't sick and she wasn't wasting time on pills. We tried talking her into it, of course -- making her understand the necessity so she'd be motivated to take them. No results.

Finally we realized that it was in her best interest to take the pills whether she wanted to or not. Now at the nursing home the nurse comes up to her at certain times, hands her a pill or two, and water or pudding, and watches her take them. All matter-of-fact, this-is-what-happens-now, over and done with. No one tries to talk her into taking them or cares that her motivation is just to get the nurse to let her go back to her magazine.

If it is really important or necessary, you can't rely on the self-motivation of someone with dementia. You just have to get 'er done.

MrsBrenda, my mother stopped being active when she was in her 70s. She is diabetic and has had vascular dementia for many years. She is content to watch TV all day long. I suggest things to her, but haven't been able to motivate her to do much in 6 years now. She will go to church, to the doctor's, or out to eat. She's not a social person. I can't tempt her with other things. She used to enjoy walking, but it is too hard for her now.

It is good to present opportunities you think she might like. Sometimes they think they won't like something, but it turns out they do. Maybe you could get her to try something at the local senior center or church. If you can't get her motivated, don't take it personally. She may have reached that point of life where The Waltons and Little House are all she really wants.

You may want to talk to her doctor to see what he thinks about adding an antidepressant to her medications. It may be that something like Celexa or Remeron would make her feel more like doing things. I generally shy away from drugs, but know sometimes they can be helpful.

MrsBrendaAnn1, where is your dad? Is Mom a widow? For how long?

What was she busy doing all her life?

Is she overweight? Is she particularly large around her waist? That is, does she have Metabolic Syndrome?

How well managed is her diabetes? Is she on insulin? If so, is she taking it? You say she doesn't want to take her pills. Does she usually mange to do it anyway?

What is her home situation? Does she live alone, with you, in a care center, etc.

Sorry for all the questions, but your mom sounds a lot like me (except for the dementia so far) and I don't want to make assumptions in my answer.

She lived a full life from the sounds of it. Many times dementia will isolate a person as they know something isn't right and are embarrassed. That will eventually pass as she begins to not even realize she is sick. What is her living situation? With you? If so, check into day programs for her to attend that will give her the opportunity to socailize and participate in a variety of activities. Check into the PACE program. Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Call the Area Agency on Aging, a great resource on services and programs for the elderly.

Mom isn't that old,she is 77 and has been busy her whole life but now with diabetes, Osteoperosis, high cholesterol, heart disease, and dimentia, she doesn't want to be busy, she doesn't want to take her pills, she doesn't want to exercise but she doesn't like being so weak. She's not weak but her balance can get thrown off easily. She reads but doesn't comprehend, just sitting listening to music and watching tv is all she seems to like.

Please give us more information, such as your Mom's age and what medical issues does she have. Does she live in her own home, in your home? Are you her full-time caregiver, or she has no caregivers at all?

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