My 90 year old father continually tells us - and his friends, that "he is bored." Any suggestions?

Asked by

My father lives alone and wants to remain living at home - he does not want to move into a retirement village or into care. He is very frail and has some mild confusion and memory issues at times. Lately he complains about being "bored" constantly despite having a daily program of going out into the community for meals and drives and regular dinner outings with carers we have employed and with us, (his children). I have tried to give him things to do when he says he is bored - but he declines almost everything I put in front of him or suggest and he cannot tell me what he wants to do. Now I am hearing from his friends "your father is bored.".Not sure how to respond to this - as we have filled every day with activities. He declines to socialise with other people of his age in day programs (which we thought would be a good idea), as he says "they are old."

Answers 1 to 7 of 7
Top Answer
My father is in AL with so many activities and he doesn't do any of them. He wants people to come to him and entice him to do things. He won't initiate anything on his own . He wants to be catered to and is upset that no one has that kind of time to devote to him. You have to realize that he is free to make his choices and if those choices leave him bored then so be it.
I don't know how well you can talk to your father. If you can talk heart to heart to him, tell him you have provided daily activities for him and he will have to find some activities at home for himself. Also consider depression. When people are depressed they do lose interest in everything and feel bored because nothing much interest them.
I also think that some elders' minds get into a groove or a loop and they repeat something whether it's true or not and whether they mean it or not. I think his being bored could also be a comment about his loss of ability to do what he used to do, but an inability to articulate it that way. I'd just ignore his comments about being bored as you've done everything you can to change that and he refuses.
Tell him that it's not up to you to entertain him and he has to find things to do. Then let him be bored or not, it's not up to you to find things for him to do.
Thank you all so much for your answers. I had a good laugh at the last one, thank you! Yes my father also has some narcissistic behaviours too (my poor mother....) and does seem to expect the fun to come to him - but declines any type of activity we put in front on him. He has been the "boss" all of his life in work and at home and his enjoyment is managing other people. He now is not the boss, and I don't think he knows how do do anything else. The only time he seems not to be bored is when we take him to a cafe or restaurant. He can barely walk and has a stroller. The doctor suspected depression and gave him some anti depressents to take, and he took 4, instead of 1, and ended up on the floor and didn't press his alarm - so now refuses to continue to take the meds. We know he is confused at times but he refuses any nursing to manage his medications and fights with any care that comes into the house who attempt to help him with personal care or nursing. When he had a cognitive test the psychologist told him "you got 90 percent" which made him think he was much better than he is, when he actually got 21/30. Father absolutely refuses to go into AL as he says he doesn't want to be with "old people". The only person he listens to is the doctor, so at times we have to get the doctor involved for the most straightforward decision making.  I agree that he is is getting into repetitive patterns.. and I think the "I am bored" is becoming a pattern.   Thank you all so much for the opportunity to vent! Sounds like it is a common problem!
Is there money for an assisted living? You could try a week or so of respite care for him while you go on vacation. The push to get him to do new things will be there and he might thrive in a more structured and social atmosphere. My mthr blossomed in a social situation after being a recluse for 30 years.
The retirement money is there to spend on his retirement, not for future generations.
I have this problem with my 89-year old father, who I live with. I retired from my job last summer and he has been driving me nuts ever since. He never has been good with other people, has lacked social etiquette his whole life and never really had any friends. Yet he will talk non-stop when he is in the store or restaurants, rudely interrupting other people with his often irritating jokes that are in poor taste. And he becomes verbally abusive to me if I try to stop him. Trying to distract him does not work. He is narcissistic and expects to be the center of attention on the rare occasions that we have company. If you are having a conversation with someone he will interrupt and become angry if you ignore him.

I have tried to get him interested in using some senior activities that are available so that we both could benefit, but he becomes hostile and argumentative when I suggest it. So then he is bored and does dumb things like buying a pellet gun so he can supposedly shoot cats and dogs that come into our yard. Or goes downtown to grocery and other stores and wastes money on things like duplicate food items that end up rotting in the refrigerator because he has no respect for expiration dates and argues about it if I want to throw things out. Or comes up with inappropriate ideas like painting our Ben Franklin firesplace, spending a fortune on bodywork for his car and then selling it and there is no way that I would let him drive my car. I also have started going out by myself. He always wants to ride along but I cannot tolerate his verbally abusive and argumentative behavior in the car and feel that it is a safety hazard. So now that we no longer go anywhere together, he has even more unstructured time to deal with.

I feel that he needs something to occupy his mind but he refuses any ideas that I can come up with.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support