Mom doesn't want to be home alone but refuses to get involved in any activities. Any advice? -

Mom doesn't want to be home alone but refuses to get involved in any activities. Any advice?


She wants my sister and I to be her entertainment. Mom is 89 and lives alone. My sister and I live nearby but we both work. I manage get mom out of the house 2 or 3 times a week for lunch and shopping. My sister picks her up after work at least 4 times a week, takes her to her house, feeds her dinner and then takes her home. Mom calls me frequently so depressed because she is sitting on the couch watching tv. She says nobody cares. She says she just wants to die. She also says she will shoot herself. At this statement I inform her that she doesn't own a gun. The thing is, we try to get her interested in senior center activities etc. but she doesn't want to go. We really don't know how else to amuse her. Comments welcome.

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One time my mother, who has no dementia and has not been diagnosed with depression, said to me, "You know what would make me happy"? This was A response to something I did that she complained about, again. I replied, "not my job to make you happy".

Mom is either depressed and won't address the issue or has a personality disorder or both. But nothing is being done about it because she refuses help. After all it is everyone else, not her.

Anyway, until she just has a complete meltdown or something there is nothing I can do to make her happy. As my brother says, she loves a pity party anyway.
Happiness is a state of mind and there is not much someone else can do to make you a happy person if you don't or can't be.

I truly think some people, like mom, like being negative and unhappy. It is how they get attention.

I know due to her personality she will be cared for by a hired caregiver. She would kill me to be around.
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Some people love to help out... thus do volunteer work. Aferrino, since your Mom is able to get out for lunch/shopping, you think she might enjoy helping out? At the local regional hospital in my area, there is a retirement village just down the street, thus a lot of seniors are at the hospital volunteering. The volunteer office matches the person with the right project.

My parents were assigned to the hospital front information desk for decades... they finally had to stop as Mom could barely hear anymore and Dad was having mobility problems so he couldn't walk visitors to where they needed to be. I took over their shift when they retired :)
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sandwich, thank you for writing that. It can be overwhelming to read suggestions about things to do that will make an elder feel better. For many of us, getting them to do these things would be like pushing a 2-Ton boulder uphill. We really can't do anymore than what we're doing. What you wrote about safety and physical well-being was so true.

To be a bit facetious here -- no matter how many drugs the doctors give, if our parent was never interested in sports, they probably won't join the volleyball team. What we can do is make sure they are safe and cared for. The rest HAS to be up to them, because we can not totally live their lives.
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I'm with the others when I say this is not a problem with senior boredom. It sounds like you & your sister are already doing A LOT for her wellbeing & entertainment. She can also engage to entertain herself as well - if she wants to. However, there may be more going on here than just "entertain me".

I would bring this to the attention of her doctor, and seriously consider moving her to a geriatric specialist. They really do know more about aging than a vanilla GP or family practice doc. My moms GPs missed ALL the signs of her existing mental illness and oncoming dementia. They wrote it off to just getting older, go home, visit with some friends, go to the senior center lunch and it'll all be fine. Snap out of it.

WRONG. Things went on this way for about 15 years until I moved her across the country to go into care. Her state of mind had deteriorated to the point where she needed skilled nursing to do her meds, she needed food to be put in front of her, and she had started to refuse to do hygiene tasks. "Would not" had turned into "could not".

I will also tell you "from the other side of experience" that mom's happiness is not your burden. Nobody owns the happiness of another person. With brain changes, happiness may not be what it used to anyway. I had to learn that the hard way. I had to let that goal go. My goals for mom turned into 1-her safety, 2-her physical wellbeing and that is it.

She takes anti-psychotics now to control anger and paranoia. She takes anti-anxiety & anti-depressants too. This does not all equal happy. Mom could be in the good Lord's penthouse and still not be happy, so seeking that is a fool's errand for us.

Good luck out there & don't forget to check back in to tell us how it's going. Even if it's going great!
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I can identify, as they used to say. This has been a lifelong issue with my mom, that she doesn't seem to know how to entertain herself in simple ways, just always moping and looking to the other guy to entertain her. Pitiful. No hobbies, no real interests in much of anything, just no curiosity anymore if ever, really. After she retired 15 years ago and then with dad's death, things did not improve. Antidepressants over the years have made no true difference that any of us can tell, they all may or may not work for a bit, then nothing. I have knocked myself out on and off over the years trying to see that she's happy with few results. She lives with me now and is very hard to get mobilized without my insistence. She's fortunately physically healthy, feeds herself, walks around and actually does well 99% of the time. I've learned I have to at least a few times a week get her up and dressed, chiding her, saying let's go for a ride and get out of the house and find somebody else to talk to before we kill each other, ha-ha. I take her to her few remaining relatives as often as we can manage, who always hug her and make her feel welcome, but with the almost total memory loss, she truly just lives in the moment. I have no solutions for you. I know how depressing being around a killjoy can be. I personally will be taking her to some day-away/daycare places and/or hiring some help when I truly get to where I can't take it anymore and need a half day for myself. At least I'm fortunate enough to have a job at home that works for both of us. Now I just work around all this morbid doom and gloom as best I can, but I hate it. In the end, I figure I'll have the satisfaction of knowing I did what I could and will sleep well.
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"Mom calls me frequently so depressed because she is sitting on the couch watching tv.
She says nobody cares.
She says she just wants to die.
She also says she will shoot herself."

Wow. Those statements sound like they came right off the screening test for depression.

This woman needs to be seen by a geriatric psychiatrist or at the very least a geriatrician. Has she ever been diagnosed with depression? Is she on any meds for depression? If she is, they clearly have stopped working and need to be updated.

Maybe this is manipulation. Maybe it is an attempt to guilt you into catering even more to her. Or maybe it is a genuine cry of pain because of chemical imbalance in her brain. I would not take a chance. I'd be sure she got evaluated.

I suffer from major depressive disorder myself. I can empathize with your mom. The good news -- very good news -- is that this can be treated. But the first step is getting it diagnosed.

I'm sure not a doctor and I'm not trying to diagnose your mother from a few sentences you wrote. For all I know, your mother may be narcissistic or manipulative or just bored. But I'd feel guilty if I didn't suggest the possibility of clinical depression and urge an examination.
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Well, your Mom has made it her *choice* to stay in her home instead of moving to a retirement community where she can met new people, make some new best friends, eat meals in the dining room with other people, and eventually with the help of the other women living there to join in the activities.

I think your Mom is just grumbling that she's now alone, and those threats are just to guilt you and your sister to do more. I'd probably be saying the same things if I was staring at all four walls.

Moving isn't easy... but if you can get her to think it is a new adventure, a new apartment to decorate, and how she would have MORE freedom to do things, maybe she might take a peek inside on of the doors. Your Mom is of the generation where they still think assistant living are dark dank places with unsmiling faces. Some offer free lunches to people who are viewing... make a game out of it, hey it's a free lunch :)
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First good you are aware she doesn't own a gun. She sounds really depressed. Does she manage her on meds? Don't want to scare you but has she been screened for depression or dementia? I took my mother's meds away from her when she made a suicidal statement, she had access at one time to some very powerful meds, now I barely let her have gum.I also have her on an antidepressant which is something you might consider.I would really get her assessed for depression/dementia.Sounds like she has a good support system, better than a lot of elders. Who manages moms MD appointments? I don't think trying to amuse mom is going to work ,something else is going on.I definitely think a visit to her MD especially an MD that specializes in geriatric/dementia patients ,they are more attuned to their behaviors, not unusual for elders to get depression, I imagine she has a few health issues at 89.I would be very careful about her access to her meds until you can get her assessed for depression/dementia. Some people make whats' called suicidal gestures, they will take all their pills and then immediately call family and 911 , I really don't want you to go thru this. I would take seriously your statements of wanting to die, this needs to be addressed.What seems in your favor is that you and your sisters seem to work well together in team caring for your mom. Really get her seen at least for depression before that gets out of hand, trying to entertain someone really doesn't deal with depression.
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It could be depression. Maybe an anti depressant would help. Are there any senior centers or church leisure clubs your Mom could attend?
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