Since Dad died, Mom's okay during the day, but very lonely at night. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Since Dad died, Mom's okay during the day, but very lonely at night. Any advice?

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I suggested getting a pet but she does not want it. I feel bad because I get there about 3-4 times a week, but I have a busy schedule and cannot get there everyday. Any other suggestions to help her get thru this hard time??

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Your mom's grief and loneliness at night is something that no one can cure. During the day she probably stays busy, but having lost the person she slept next to for decades - well, who can fix that? Don't feel guilty that you can't.

If she has a faith community she an take advantage of that, or as suggested, making new friends at a senior center, library or whatever suits her interests. Volunteering is often a big help.

A grief support group or even a grief therapist could help, as well, if she wants it, but some things no one can fix. She'll have to find her way. Just keep supporting her the way you are and listen if she wants to talk. You are doing all you can.

Take care,
Carol
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This is just a part of the grieving process. There isn't much you can do so stop feeling guilty. I suggest that you mother seek help from a support group so she can learn about the stages of grief and know that what she is experiencing is very normal. Nights are always hard and she will adjust. Just be there to listen to her concerns and understand that she lost her partner of many years. Be a supportive daughter as I know that you are.
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I got my mom a cockatiel. My brother thought it was the worst idea, but it ended up being the best thing that happened to her. Bird and mom are bonded. She doesn't have to walk a dog or change kitty litter. A small bird chirping and needing care makes my mom think of something else to take do instead of her loss. When she's watching TV quite often the bird's on her shoulder. And, when their bonding time is over the bird goes back in the cage.
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Hi and so sorry for your loss. The only way I know how to make suggestions for you is to explain my experience with my mom after my dad died. It's been 16 years since he passed.

The first 3 to 5 years were h*ll for mom. They'd been together 51 years. The first year was h*ll for mom because she was an elderly woman (in her early 70's) and never had to write a check, pay a bill, balance a checkbook, monitor insurance policies, etc.

My dad took care of everything financial. I lived next door to mom. I was there when she needed help with lots of things. My daughters were toddlers then so having them run from my porch to her porch almost daily was a welcome distraction because it kept her occupied. I suggest if there are grandkids ...have them go over and spend time with her without you or other parent/siblings around.

I had to teach mom how to balance the checkbook, write checks, and keep a filing system. My brother stepped in as well and helped even though he lived out of state and was working long hours he used his vacation times to come home instead of taking family vacations out at sea or at the beaches of the nation. Deligate house projects out to your siblings....don't just take the major home repairs on yourself. Try to DIY unless you really need a professional. It will save your elder mom financial whoas. Pensions only last for so long then they have to begin selling secondary owned houses and properties to stay afloat within 5 years after their spouse passes. This happened to my mom...i lived next door in dads childhood homestead which mom owned up to 5 years after dad passed. This economy eats away at elders incomes like crazy...medicare/medicaid/and hospital bills and insurances just don't cover what you expect or think they should because it's for the elder and they deserve to have more coverage.

The hardest thing for mom to do was finally done about 6 years ago....she finally parted with most of dads belongings, clothing, etc. it took mom a decade to finally 'let go' of things that were dads. But now that I am back in the house as her caretaker (she'll be 90 next week). I have stumbled on quite a few hidden gems of my fathers that she literally and sneakedly hid from us during that time. She obviously has a hard time of letting go, period. That was my initual thought till I discussed finding these items.

I didn't scold her about it...I politely asked her if she remembers that she still has certain items of his and she would say yes..she was holding on to them to pass on to her grandkids, etc...when she passed away. WOW, genius mom. No matter, her intentions are well and good regardless of how you, the child, may feel about holding onto items that belonged to a parent who has since passed. So don't be quick to say to her that he is gone and all his belongings must go too. They are simple reminders for her that she had a wonderful life with him and she misses him. She has a story for each item...let her tell the story, her reminiscence helps the greiving process. Make a list with her of items she feels should go to specific kids, grandkids, great grandkids, etc. After she passes on, then and only then should these items be disbursed to the grandkids, etc. Same goes for the house ...if she spent a lifetime at the house with your father chances are she will not want to leave, downsize to smaller apartment or go into assisted living senior care retirement communities. Don't push her to do so if she wants to stay put in the house you grew up in and which she holds sentimental value to because of your father and the life they built there.

Get your siblings together and treat your mom to a NYC Radio city music hall or Broadway musical production experience. Or perhaps she likes AMISH Quits??? Take her for a 3 day trip to Amish country and let her buy a quilt or two? Perhaps she prefers Indian or egyption era ....put her in a motor scooter and take her to the museums so she can see the histories. Any activity to keep getting her out of the house at least a few times each season helps her heal...activities with family and other same generation elders helps her continue her life happily, somewhat.

RED HAT LADIES...look up the local chapter and join it with your mom. They welcome any lady age 40 and older. 40-50 are Pink hat Ladies and 50 and older are Red Hats.

My mom and her cousin joined them shortly after my dad died. My moms cousin was a member and she drew in my mom. This way she, again, had an activity to do with other women, widows. They traveled on a cruiseliner to Kingston, Ontario, Canada and Nova Scotia!!!! They get together monthly/weekly for luncheons, off broadway shows, etc.

I also found local area on aging Senior Volunteer Agency called 'Faith in Action'. The center has volunteers that would be assigned to the elders of the community who need a little extra help because the time constraints with their own kids not being able to help them when they may well need it. Such as driving them to doctor appointments/hospital labs for blood work, getting the mail from the mail box across the street and bringing it to them inside the house, Grocery shopping, or just coming to the house once a month or weekly phone calls to give some fellowship and friendship. Ask around at your local area on aging hotline, a senior center/elder day care center for this information. They are out their to help you so that your time that you need for you and your family isn't being neglected because you are devoting too much time coddling your widow mom. It's good she has you to depend on but she should not depend on you to the point your own life and family become non-existant. Even though I am now living with mom because of her ailing health, I still call upon these senior center volunteers to do a few things for her with mom so that I am not getting burnt out as a caretaker. I still have a life, friends that I visit and go out to dinners with. I also have my children to spend time with away from the house so I get quality mommy daughter time. They are college aged now.

I do hope these few tips help you on your journey to help your mom heal. Healing over a spousal death takes years for some people. Don't go forcing her to change with the world or times. Don't go suggesting she begin dating again and finding another mate. Maybe she doesn't want to. My mom has guy friends that visit or call her once every few months. But she still to this day wears her wedding band. This is her choice. She doesn't desire to find a replacement for the man she loved for 60 years. Yes, they knew each other during their childhood because their folks were family friends...in fact, my grandmothers were childhood friends in the 'old country', they came over to America separately during different years, but never lost contact and ended up living just 3 miles apart from each other here in Pennsylvania. It's a fairtale, but another story for another time.

Time doesn't heal...we only adjust to what is no longer with us, around us and the grief will always be there, but over time in lesser degrees because of the activities we do with others that keep us occupied and living life instead of becoming a bitter hermit.

Good luck, Bright Blessings, Love and Light to your mom, you and your family during this long transition and journey you are all on at this time.
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You say she doesn't want a pet, and I would guess that's because that would be a long-term commitment. But there are always animal shelters and vets that are looking for temporary homes for animals before being placed in a permanent hone. This might be a way to try a pet out and see if it worthwhile experience.
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I called my mom every night and we would talk about what happened in the news that day and what I read on the internet and what was happening on my job or we would talk about her childhood or about relatives, etc, etc. I lived in another state and so my mom said that it made her feel better to talk to her at night and she always looked forward to my calls. You can also have other family members call your mom as well. I hope this helps !
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Many of us are saying "get her a pet" even though she says she doesn't want one. My mom has had the same issue since my dad died. Luckily she does have her cat. It is a comfort to have the cat jump up on the bed to sleep. It needs to be her decision though. Give her time and suggest a pet for companionship down the road. Animals are a long-term commitment. You need to be sure you are willing to take the animal in should your mom die. Perhaps she'd be more open to a senior cat verses a kitten. My mom is comforted knowing that if something happens to her, Misty comes to live with my family and my two cats. Even though I'm not thrilled with the idea of having three cats and my mom's cat isn't crazy about me, I owe it to the cat to give her a safe comfortable home for life too. Make sure you take that into consideration.
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I did forget 1 thing. If she does not want a pet...Don't get her a pet. It's not going to help her in any way if she really does not want a pet and never had pets all this time. She needs time with human interaction to help comfort her. My mom once said to me 'why would I want a pet that cannot communicate and carry on a conversation with me: "To force a pet on me is telling me that my own family doesn't want to be around me anymore or spent time with me. I may as well just be talking to the walls."
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Since my husband died, I'm okay during the day, but very lonely at night. Actually, I'm not always OK during each and every day. It has been a year and a half. More days are OK (almost all of them now) and nights are less difficult. What it took for me was time.

I go places. I do things. I am not isolated. All of that is good. But nights? They are what they are. Time heals.
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Your mother is dealing with a deep loss and grief takes time to work through. Her life is not going to be the same going forward. If she cared for her husband for a long time, she was very busy and suddenly she has lots of time and not that much to do. The bottom has fallen out of her world.

I think some grieve groups through churches or visiting a counselor who deals with grief ( hopefully a counselor or priest or rabbi or minister who has experienced grief themselves). Some widow/widower grief groups might be very helpful. Doctors have medicines if she is sliding into depression but if it is grief medicine will not help.

If she is able to secure even a part time job she can get out with people and have a reason to get up each day. Routine does help. Sitting home and holding your grief can bring her down emotionally.

It takes time to accept the loss of a spouse. Generally it is good advice to make no major changes in your life for the first year after the death because you are not thinking correctly during a immediate loss. You are barely able to function.

Good luck.
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