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Father died in Jan. Parents married 60 years. Mother living independently but is exhibiting extreme attention seeking behavior. She does not drive, no volunteer opportunity, but is somewhat active around the home with projects & hobbies. Regardless of the constant communication from family and friends, she never seems to be satisfied with the amount of attention she receives and continues to reach out to immediate family members and infers subtle guilt to each for not doing more. What can be done to remedy this situation giving satisfaction to the mother and reprieve to the immediate family??

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If it wasn't for Assisted Living, my mother would have fallen completely apart from sheer boredom alone after her DH of 68 years passed away in June of 2015. But she had people knocking on her door right away, asking her to come to dinner, to play cards, to talk, etc., and she wound up being just fine in very short order after the funeral. She chose to stop driving (due to 'nervousness') many years prior, so she had the AL bus to take her to the stores and that was good too.

Oh, she still complains that whatever is done for her 'isn't enough', no matter HOW much is done for her, so her relatives wind up backing off as a result. Like AlvaDeer said, you can't 'fix' this unless she'd like to go into Assisted Living, and that would change her life in many ways. But with the plague being a factor right now, some of the activities are on the back burner for the moment. It's something to look into/consider for down the road, though, so maybe collect some brochures for her to look at.

I don't think the immediate family should spend all their time trying to entertain your mother, otherwise, she will come to expect it continually and you will have NO reprieve EVER. Set up a schedule of when you will visit, how long you will stay, etc., taking turns, and leave it at that. If she's a chronic complainer like my mother is, it won't be good enough ANYWAY, so what's the difference? Do what you can and let the rest of it go.

Best of luck!
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Perhaps you are "picking up the luggage" mom sets down. Family tends to take more seriously complaints of loneliness and want than do friends. A friend will respond "I am so sorry to hear that" and go on with her own stories. A family feels responsible and picks up the fix it tools that of course cannot work. 60 years is a long time to have the contentment of a companion there to listen. Now she is at loose ends. I am encouraged that you say she has hobbies and projects. That is a positive thing. She may never in this lifetime get over the loss and loneliness and the response honestly is "I am so sorry, Mom. I know it is hard, especially with covid, but let's make some plans for the future when we can visit one another". This is sad and hard for you to hear, but mourning and depression for such a long life together isn't unusual; she is just giving voice to grief. I would suggest just to stop thinking there is an "answer" and you are "responsible to fix it". There isn't, and you can't.
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InFamilyService Dec 7, 2020
Good advice because my mom is in the same situation only no interests or hobbies. She and my dad were married 65 yrs! He passed last June. She has an evening sitter which is the worst part of her day. She sleeps a lot because "there is nothing to do". Sister and I have suggested many things but she wants to be entertained everyday. We even scheduled a cycle of PT just to get her moving more. Mom lives in her own apartment in a senior community. She has a few friends but mobility is an issue for mom. Sister and I visit every week at least once.
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There will never be a replacement for the one she lost. Is this the first time she has lived alone? My MIL had never lived alone when the sister who lived with her passed and left her alone for the first time in her life. MIL was very fragile and needed a LOT of attention for about a year and a half. She would call my husband with "emergencies" that required him to drive to her home 2 hours away and spend the weekend at least 2 times every month. He always went, there was never anything that he actually needed to deal with. It was a difficult time for us all. She did get over it. In her case she had always been an active person, involved in a lot, but this loss and the resulting lonesomeness really upset her life in a way that nothing else had. She had neighbors who cared, friends, lots of support, but she just needed that extra attention of being able to manipulate her son. She got over it, but it took time.

In my mother's case, what helped her the most was going through old scrapbooks and photo albums. It required nothing more than a warm body to listen to her relive her cherished moments and make appropriate "how nice" comments occasionally. I was living out of state at the time, but 2 of my sisters spent a lot of time being there and listening for a year or so. Again, Mom had never lived alone before. It was a major change for her: nobody to share morning coffee with, nobody to watch TV with, nobody to cook for, nobody to talk to. After a year or so, she joined a water aerobics class at a nearby parks and recreation facility and started making friends there. Then she needed less attention from my sisters.

Give it a little more time. Do what you feel you can do for her, find out what kind of senior activities are available and whether there is a "rideshare" or senior bus that could pick her up and take her to activities when she is ready to try something.

Do take care of yourself and set limits on how much time you can spend with her, but try to be patient. I would try to ignore any "guilt" moves and focus on positive things. This lonely neediness is part of the process of grieving. One must learn how to be alone before it is possible to move on, it seems.
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She just lost the most important relationship in her life and she is grieving and very lonely. Be patient with her. Would she consider assisted living? There is always someone to talk with. Wait another six months before you take any action.
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