My mother lives independently, with an aide coming in 1-2 hours each day. Mom's mind is sharp but it's her emotional intelligence that seems to have worsened. It's not a dramatic change but an intensifying of a personality trait that she's had all along. I live five hours from her but my brother lives close by. Still, Mom contacts me first if there's a problem.
Last year my mother made the decision to stay in her free-standing condo home. At 93, she has lost many friends, but she did not want to go to an independent living facility. Now, her arthritis has made mobility difficult so she walks with a cane or walker. Her days are often long and lonely. When she decided to remain at home we discussed the down sides of diminishing social contact. We speak on the phone twice a day and I visit every couple of months...sooner if there's a problem.
I think part of her problem is that the time at home with little to do has allowed her worrying personality to worsen. She says she is not depressed. She doesn't socialize with her new neighbors, lovely people whom I've met and who offered Mom help if needed. My mother says she has nothing in common with her new neighbors because they are from a different, i.e. younger, generation and a different religion from hers.
Mom finally gave up her car last year. Her aide drives and takes her to doctors' appointments, shopping, etc. Mom's doctors tell her to move more but she refuses, saying it hurts and she's never exercised before and won't start now.
I know some of my mother's behaviors indicate depression but I don't think that's the main issue. She suffers far more from anxiety. She's philosophical about her situation but when we discuss my concerns about her anxiety, she tells me she can't help it. When I suggested that she speak to a counselor, I might as well have told her to fly to the moon.
Mom's financial situation is fine but she counts every penny, saying the Depression will always be with her. I have caught her eating spoiled food rather than throw anything away. Mom admits that having all this time on her hands leads her thoughts into dire directions. When her phone service was interrupted for a short time over the weekend she panicked because she felt totally isolated. She called on her cell phone, crying and hyperventilating, because her lifeline alert is tied to her landline, which wasn't working and her cell phone was running out of purchased time. Within the hour the landline service returned but my mother was an emotional wreck. We discussed what she could have done had the phone service not resumed. I added that it was not the phone problem but her panicked reaction to it that concerned me. I suggested she think about hiring a full time aide...she even knows a wonderful woman whom she could hire tomorrow...but Mom wants her privacy and doesn't want to spend the money.
My brother has many work and family problems of his own sh despite living close to our mother, he has little patience. Mom does not want to move in with me or anywhere nearby, where she feels she'd be even more isolated. I see her point but I don't know what more I can do. I've spoken to her doctors but there's just so much they can do. As I told my mother yesterday, I don't want her reaction to a minor problem to turn into a stroke or heart attack because her anxiety got the better of her. Is there anything else I can do?