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I have a family member, who is in her mid 70's, who is obsessed with the weather. She doesn't have dementia, but does have anxiety, socializes quite a bit, attends church, visits with friends, has fairly good health, though she has many psychologically induced ailments, HOWEVER, when it comes to the weather, it's like she is totally obsessed.

During the spring and summer she is constantly watching the weather reports and Weather channel, worrying about storms, wind, rain, lightning, etc. She is so over the top about it. She sits up all night if storms are predicted. Our entire family is aware of this and she knows that a lot of the younger ones roll their eyes and patronize her about it, as she is very verbal in warming others about storms. It really is concerning.

I suppose there isn't much that can be done. She refuses medication, which the doctor has prescribed for her anxiety and she is adamant that she doesn't want to end this obsession! lol I've never known of anyone else like this before.

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Elder obsessions is an interesting topic! What they were interested in at a younger age just becomes more focused and persistent, I guess. In my mother's case, she is obsessed with Vitamin B6 currently. She's always been interested in health issues (and believes anything and everything can be cured with a pill or vitamin). She was diagnosed with Vitamin B6 toxicity (neuropathy), and now she is on a mission to make anyone and everyone knows about how bad the drug companies are for putting B6 in their formulations (she must have been an extreme outlier to get toxicity with the amount in her Centrum Senior vitamin due to some strange quirk in her metabolism). She talks about it to anyone and everyone.

I am just bemused...so much better than the bowel movement obsessions some elders have!
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Thanks. What's so bothersome is that in the south, we get quite a few thunderstorms in the winter too. So, it's not just a summertime issue. I've watched lightning while it was SNOWING here. Bizarre.
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I'll amend the above comment. I hope she does well when the days get shorter.
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Wait until DST ends and the days get shorter. That should be fun.
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Thanks all for the amusing stories.

I have even better news. Today, we had a pretty severe storm. Lots of lightning, however, my mom did very well. She didn't obsess and she never cried out, like she normally does each time the thunder sounds. It HAS to be the medication that's helping her.
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I have had my share of weather obsessions. Mother and I lived with an older couple and the lady of the house was terrified of thunderstorms. She lit a candle and went into the cupboard under the stairs where by coincidence the booze was kept!
More recently when we had the horse farm there were many weather worries. Is it going to rain on the hay they just cut? Will it stop raining so they can cut the hay? is the blizzard too bad to turn the horses out? Can I even get to the barn the snow is three feet deep? Later on when I was working for hospice my weather worries were all in the winter. Praying there would not be any calls that night because it was ten below and snowing. Now I just sit in the house and throw another log in the stove. Bliss to be retired.
Anyone who enjoys the old British comedies will remember Mrs Bale from "As time goes by" who always announced the latest shipping forecast before telling the family that the meal would be served in 4 and a half minutes.
As an aside Dame Judy Dench has early dementia and has difficulty remembering her lines this days.
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As obsessions go, weather doesn't seem so bad, but I suppose even doing a random act of kindness each day could be disturbing if one obsesses over it enough.

My husband Coy asked every morning what the temperature was. Sometimes I teased him. "It is 72 in here, and we are going to stay in all day." But I think knowing the outside temperature oriented him a bit. If it was 22 out, he knew not to wear shorts, and if it was 88 he wouldn't wear sweat pants, even inside. The temperature meant more to him than seasons during his dementia.

He loved "interesting" weather. He'd open the big garage door and sit on a folding chair during storms. He would only reluctantly join me in the basement if there was a tornado warning for the area.

I have read entries in the diaries of two of my farmer aunts. Each and every day starts with the temperature and a weather note. "84, dry wind" "28, snowing" I wouldn't say either was obsessed with the weather, but it was simply a factor in their lives.

If you live in Tahiti, weather is probably not something you think much about. It is pretty much the same every day. You don't need a five-day forecast! But in variable climates, most of us have some interest in the weather.

Sunnygirl1, I am very happy for you and for Mother that some medications are helping her!
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Oh, I may should have included on this thread that her stroke like symptoms came as she was freaking out over a storm. A tornado had touched down in a neighboring town and it freaked her out. It was so intense between her and my dad who had joined in, that I had to leave the room. Soon they called 911 due to her stroke like symptoms. MRI showed no stroke. Thankfully, it was a false alarm, but the weather obsession is not healthy, based on what I have seen. At least not to the degree that she had it.
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I had no idea this issue was so prevalent!

BigHole, I get what you've gone through. It's very surreal. I do have SOME GOOD NEWS! For some of you, you may know that my mom went on meds for depression/anxiety a couple of weeks ago. This was after a trip to the ER with stroke like symptoms. It's still early, but she seems to be doing better! Her physical ailment complaints are way down and she doesn't mention the weather as much. We have had a few storms, but she didn't act out the way she normally does. We are due for some bad ones soon, so, time will tell, but, I think the meds are really helping. Knock on wood and hallelujah!
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I have seven weather related bookmarks on my browser, there were a couple more but I decided I could always google that stuff ;)
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BlackHole, I am so much like your mom that it is scary. I do the same things -- maybe to not such an extent as plotting windows, etc., but I plan around the weather and keep an eye on it more than most. I like what you wrote, because it made me stand back and chuckle at myself.
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Yes. Even in her normal decades, mom was a bit "over aware" of weather. It was feed for her control issues: Excessively monitored which doors/windows were open/closed for optimum cross-ventilation or A/C. Decided that summer heat killed her mother in the 1980's (doubtful), so proselytized that heat was bad for everyone. Also over-reacted to any outside temp below 40 degrees and catastrophized every snow flurry.

After dementia set in, it was all this and more. Mom's all-day loop of talk radio escalated her weather obsession. During every (oft-repeated) weather segment, mom would stop everything and forbid anyone to speak. If there was a wildfire or earthquake 3,000 miles away or flooding in swamp lands or a hurricane at the beach or a blizzard in the Rockies, she took it as seriously as if it were happening next door. Which became a litany of "the west coast is very dangerous.....make sure you don't have a plane layover in tornado country.....people die at the beach.....don't leave the house in the winter....." On and on.

Now for the irony of it all. For a spell, I had the "choice" of giving mom my Saturday or my Sunday. If one weekend day was predicted rainy and one weekend day was predicted clear, I'd choose the rainy day as Mom Day. And she would invariably protest, because she didn't want me driving to/from her house in the Very Dangerous Rain. Aye yi yi.

Too bad! When I could pull it off, Rain Day was Mom Day. And bless her heart, mom simply Could Not Comprehend that I wanted (needed) to reserve the nice day for myself. So I could maybe spend my limited free time at the pool or doing outdoor activities. With mom's brain damage, stuff like that did not compute. Her mind was a loop of chores and paranoia. Sad.
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I have never experienced an obsession with weather but they always seem obsessed with the price of fuel.
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this made me smile... I gave my mom the 'indian' name "weather woman". Lordy if it was raining somewhere in the US she would call to make sure i was home and my car windows were up :P
it was the way it was since i was a kid- the weather was a big subject especially snow=eeek! grocery shop enough for a month!
glad i have a weather-nut for a boy friend because I miss her talking about it.
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It could be. The only thing about the health issues is that they started in the 1980's. They have been pretty constant over the years. The weather thing about 12 years ago, though, she always been terrified of storms.

I do lean towards mental health being the culprit. I think she received a lot of attention when she was a child and got sick. I wonder if that is what she is seeking. Most of us now ignore the complaints. I praise her and give positive feedback when she is not complaining and obsessing.

She likes her doctor okay, but isn't happy that he always suggests the meds for anxiety/depression.

I've shown her many articles on anxiety, illnesses produced by psychological reasons, etc. She's taken them with her to her doctor and admitted she thinks it might be something to it, but she won't really accept it.
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My Dad [94] has been obsessed with the weather since he was child as he grew up on a farm and weather was pretty much #1 on everyone's radar, especially out in the midwest because of tornadoes.

Dad will call me at home if he knows of a tornado heading in my direction, that I will take notice as I am scared silly of tornadoes and hail [hail mainly because my house has skylights]. And if there is a lot of wind, I won't sleep upstairs.

The "Dad Weather Alerts" I will ignore are the ones like he will call and say "schools are closed in Chicago".... ok, but he and I both live in the Washington DC area so it doesn't affect us.

The weather obsession I now find is good, especially if Dad is sundowning he is alert about the weather and that helps me change the subject to weather.
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Sunnygirl, the family is always the first to know when something is off. Some of the things you wrote about your mother fixating on imaginary health things made me think of my own mother. I believe there were three things involved -- vascular dementia, mental health, and liking her doctor too much. He doctor was kind and made her feel good about herself. My mother was cured of her need to go to the doctor when hers retired and she started seeing one she didn't like so much. Her dementia and arthritis were also advancing, making it less pleasant to go.

My mother didn't fixate on the weather, but she did fixate on imaginary problems with the house. This began after my father died 4 years ago and still continue.
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Oh, I forgot to add that she is very social. She has many friends and talks to them on the phone every day. They visit each other, she cooks wonderful meals, cleans, and babysits her grandchild.
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I appreciate all of your comments. And thank you JessieBelle for your perspective of your own behavior. I will take that into consideration. I suppose it depends on the degree of the focus on certain things. My mother's just brings her so much misery. She is especially miserable through the stormy season and in the south, we get a lot of that in certain months.

I will address some of the questions to better highlight her situation.
She does get out in the yard and garden. She has lovely flowers, plants, and vegetables that she tends to with her husband, but they don't seem to be the reason she is obsessed with the weather. She does worry that hail will damage the cars.

I have played professional and tried to diagnose her and came up with her brain trying to focus on other things so that she won't have to deal with worries in her life. I know many of her worries and they aren't all that bad, although, I'm not 75 years old. I have to understand that you have certain fears at that age, that you don't when younger. All families have issues, but currently, there is nothing huge that is pressing her. One of the grandchildren has a serious medical condition, but that is stable. Mom's issues predate that problem though. Her misery is all in her own mind, imo.

She wasn't this way when I was growing up. It started later on. I recall her thinking she was dying and getting a complete physical exam at Duke Medical Center. They checked out everything and gave her a clean bill of health. She was livid. How dare they say there was nothing wrong with her. She KNEW something was very wrong. It started then. Endless doctor visits. She's had a few actual issues with GYNO problems, hernia surgery for that, and gout, but according to her it's constant and endless, though she has no awareness of how deep it is. Everyday, it's complaints of one or more of the following: constipation, diarrhea, headache, back pain, hot scalp, earache, sore eye, shoulder pain, nausea, funny looking vein on arm, odd feeling, just plain sick. The list is endless. She even says, "There is no need to see the doctor, because he'll just say there's nothing wrong with me." But, she does regularly see her primary and takes her pills for hypertension and Vitamin supplements that doctor has ordered.

Her medical files would fill an entire room. I know that previous doctors have suspected psychologically induced ailments, because she has shared how insulted she is that they have inquired if she was abused as a child! lol She's insulted by that. I know why they ask it. She denies it.

I've been working with her current primary and he is aware. He's prescribed various meds for anxiety and depression, but she always says she can't tolerate them. They make her feel funny. So, she keeps being obsessed with her ailments and the weather. She takes an occasional Vistaril, which does help her a lot. But, she is only suppose to take this for itching. It helps her anxiety a lot too.

She refuses to see a psychiatrist. That's the only doctor she won't see. lol
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Okay, I'll confess. I'm 64 years old and fairly obsessed with weather. I find it fascinating. The big difference is that I won't stay up all night waiting for it and it doesn't cause me great anxiety... that is unless a tornado or hail storm is heading our direction. Tornadoes and hail scare me more than any other type storms.
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My FIL is. I believe it helps take his mind off the myriad other things that worry him.
Like that he's going deaf. It worries him when he can't hear a conversation. But watching the weather lets him not worry about hearing because television weather reports are highly produced. The animated maps appeal to him with their swirling winds and temperature readings in big numbers. All that visual "stuff" popping up keeps him interested.
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Sorry she's refusing meds - it would probably help. OTOH, the weather takes her mind off all her other worries that undoubtedly are too hard to even think about. Try going at it more indirectly to find out if there is something else she might need to think or talk about and see if there is any way to make it safe for her. I'm proposing a little sneaky end-around amateur cognitive-behavioral therapy here, I know, and probably totally unrealistic, but there may not be anything else you can really do. Unless something like this would work: soulshepherding
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Does she stay inside or go outdoors? Does she drive?

If she's out and about, I can easily understand this. Weather became more of a concern as my father aged. During the winter I added plenty of blankets and emergency supplies in the event of car problems and being stranded, even for a short time.

When he went on oxygen 24/7, I became even more concerned. I've made it a policy not to make any appointments, or I'll change appointments on sweltering 90+ days, because of the danger of co-morbidity factors being compounded by excessive heat. I also carry extra water in the car, and now plan to try to find some powdered Gatorade to carry as well.

I also follow weather closely for gardening purposes, but that's a bit of a different story, although gardeners I know do b/c (a) they start seeds indoors and during the change from winter to spring are constantly monitoring weather to determine if they can set their seeds out to harden off, and (b) for general purposes such as watering, mulching, harvesting, etc.

There's another remotely possible issue and that's that the storms often bring devastation, which I think frightens older people, and the news channels dwell on the disasters in all their dismal detail. People who are vulnerable I think can't help wondering what would happen to them if something like that occurred in their area.

Last year when (I believe it was) an island off Mass., was flooded, power was out, heat was out, and the situation was really a disaster, I couldn't help thinking what I would do if that happened here....with an older parent, no heat, no electricity, nothing to power the oxygen...even if there was a generator, it probably would be sitting underwater.

Those kinds of situations and the anxiety they create are real, for caregivers and for those who might be compromised if disaster struck.

Sunny, you write that she has many psychologically induced ailments. W/o prying, what are some of the others, and are they related to personal fears, situations that could create harm (including ones such as being in unsafe areas)?
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I do keep dementia in mind when looking at things in seniors, especially after my cousin developed VaD, but, I don't see much with this person that she hasn't had for quite a few years. The psychologically induced ailments started when she was in her 40's. Although she's deathly afraid of lightning, the obsession with the weather didn't start until about 12 years ago.

I have discussed it with her primary, but she won't go to a psychiatrist. I did get my dad to one and he did quite well after diagnosis of Conversion Disorder and is on meds and doing very well now.

She refuses to take meds for anxiety, so......
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Why do you think this is not dementia, or its precursors? Has she had a workup by a geriatric psychiatrist or neuropsychologist?
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