How do I find activities that will occupy my mother-in-law who just moved in after her husband died?

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She's bored and new in our home. She reads some and watches TV, sleeps a lot. My husband I both work full-time. We have a wonderful lady who comes at lunch and stays a couple of hours. She is chatty but says Mom sleeps most of the afternoon. We are home most of the weekend and take her to church when she feels like going, which almost every week. She's been living with us about 3 1/2 months, ever since my father-in-law died. We live about 45 minutes from where they were, so she's out of her home, away from her neighbors and more than a little unsettled. Usually she handles herself well, but has some dementia and deafness. These lead to communication problems and hurt feelings. She can't always communicate what she wants to do. We want her to be happy but neither one of us is "entertaining". We are quiet people with quiet hobbies and she wants lots of conversation and... not sure what else. I'm floundering! The grandmother I grew up living with was bright and active and busy right up to the end of her life. She entertained us! I would love some ideas and suggestions.

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Is she able to go to a senior center? Can someone from her church drop by once and awhile? Have you considered moving her into an ALF? She needs conversation with people her own age who are more interested in conversing with her. I am sure that she senses your frustration and feels like she in "intruding." At an ALF there will be activities and more mental stimulation. They are experts and can provide more of what she needs.
Can you imagine being moved away from familiar surroundings, having no substantial interactions during the day, and feeling that you are not being understood - on a daily basis? I think that I would sleep all day too.
She really needs more communication.
good luck
First of all you say that she's only been widowed 3 1/2 months? Then she's still grieving isn't she? Maybe she doesn't want to be entertained yet, maybe she just wants to sit and think about what she's lost. Maybe she'd rather have someone sit and talk about her husband and their life together instead of trying to distract her. Tell your hubby to step up and talk to his mother about her husband/his dad every once in awhile, and see if that helps.
Thanks for your responses. As far as my husband goes, he has "stepped up" more than most men ever would. He does spend a great deal of time with her. He is tender and patient and cares for her tremendously. He shows her photo albums and talks with her a lot. We go for short walks. Her daughter comes on a regular basis to visit and takes her to visit her friends. As I said there is some dementia and really what I wanted was ideas about simple activities, not an answer about how we aren't trying. And we certainly aren't putting her in a home where she really wouldn't know anyone and be alone. How cruel would that be. Never mind.
One idea I found to be helpful with an elder with dementia is to have one of those digital photo frames. You can scan all your family pictures and load them into it, especially ones of the life of your Mother-in-Law. The photo frame will then display the pictures one after the other and we found that this brought back lovely memories for her. She spent hours watching the pictures. Hope this helps.
Thanks GemG! That is a lovely idea and we have one that isn't in use right now. I'll set it up.
csaw: if MIL can get around, how about a trip to the nursery or the zoo? Seeing the Spring plants and animals is uplifting to everyone! If you are paying the lady who comes during the day, ask her to take Mom out of the house for those hours so she doesn't sleep! The Library, community center, mall for walking, exercise. Go to a park and feed the ducks or squirrels! Is that safe? heehee
3 1/2 months is a short time for grieving. Sounds like she and your husband have a good, loving bond:) How about family Bingo at night? Invite a couple more people over from your neighborhood, or plan an outing one weekend to go visit her old community and friends. One good friend should be willing to host a get together, don't you think? You could provide the refreshments. It must be heart-wrenching to lose a spouse of umpteen years and then think about ones own future. Thank goodness she has a loving home:) Hope this helped. Hugs, christina
thanks! these are great ideas. We've set up bird feeders outside the dining room window and filled pots with flowers on the patio, so at least when she can't get out she has those to enjoy. Her daughter does take her to see friends and we take her "back home" to her hair stylist to get her hair done. she enjoys that. Maybe we are on the right track after all. I'm glad to get a couple of encouraging answers.
yes, csaw, you will find more good answers here than not. We are kindred souls here, this is not the world "out there". It is much more complicated, at times surreal, and perspective grows in leaps and bounds when one is a caregiver.
BTW: I give my Mother a manicure every other week along with hand and arm massages, which anyone can do:) Bless you and your Husband, and your MIL. Have FUN!!!!
Something I did for my Mother when she was mourning the death of a close family member was to get her a kitten. It certainly did not replace the loved one but the kitten (now a lovely but "slightly" spoiled cat of 3 years) really helped her as he was great fun and brought a smile to her face. She told her Grief Councellor about the kitten and how much joy he brought her and the Coucellor thought it was a great idea to help in bereavement. Not sure if this is feasible in your situation or if you MIL is fond of animals, but if she is it might be good companionship for her if you got her a pet or "borrowed" one some time.
thanks to the 2 new answers. it really is a different world these days! One of the things that attracted me to this website was learing that so many others are in the same boat! As far as getting a pet goes, we have a little dog that she thinks the world of. he is good company for her and plays gently with her. She talks with him and gives him way too many treats when we aren't around :-)

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