Needy mother who pops in and refuses any activities. How can my mother speak up about this to her mother without having too many hurt feelings? - AgingCare.com

Needy mother who pops in and refuses any activities. How can my mother speak up about this to her mother without having too many hurt feelings?

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My mother is the main support system for her elderly parents. Her mother (83), my grandmother, is very needy and very resistant to doing anything social or entertaining and relies on my mother for recreation although she is mobile and relatively healthy.


My mother lives in walking distance to my grandparents and lately my grandmother has taken to showing up at my mother's house to see if she is there before or after work. For example, she will open the door to leave for work and see her mother outside her front door or she will have left her car at home and taken public transit to work and will get a call from my grandmother asking if everything is ok because she saw that her car was still at home. Sometimes she will show up in the morning before work and knock on the door to tell my mother something she could have called about. My grandmother never used to do this and my mother said it makes her feel like she's being "stalked." My mother spends a lot of time with my grandmother, multiple nights a week, calls everyday and on the weekend, so it's not like they don't see each other. My grandmother is also very sensitive and cries easily. Has anyone experienced something like this or have any thoughts on how my mother can speak up about this to her mother without having too many hurt feelings?


Also, has anyone had success encouraging their elderly parent or grandparent to participate in activities? There is a local senior center that has tons of activities every day for free, among other low or no cost non senior center activities in the area (we live in a major city). She also has some friends and a husband, but she only seems to want to do things with my mother which as you can imagine has been exhausting for my mother. My mother is also not the only child and has other siblings who aren't as involved. We also think that there is some depression and memory issues going on, but my grandmother is very resistant to any suggestion of mentioning those issues to a doctor.


Thank you!

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Thank you, JoAnn29 for sharing your story!

And an update to everyone, my mother made and went to an appointment with my grandma's primary care doctor and did some initial memory tests and she did very poorly. They have an appointment with a geriatric doctor soon. She and I feel like our suspicions have been validated and she is now onto the next steps of this journey we are all on. Thank you again for all of your helpful suggestions everyone.
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In years past when I went on vacation I didn't call Mom while I was away. I would calk before I left and when I got back, same with the rest of my family. Then Mom hit her head and got a concussion in 2011. About a year later we had to go to Fla to help with my MIL. We were gone 2 weeks. When I got back a friend of my Moms told me Mom had said how she couldn't wait till I got home. I called Mom the night I got home but she calked me 9am the next morning to say she was coming over. I told her we weren't up yet. Which we weren't. I felt bad but we had driven two days. Mom had never been like this and I can't deal with needy. But it was the beginning of Dementia. You need to bring this up to her doctor.
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Thank you so much for your answers everyone! I shared with my mother and she thanks you all too!

geewiz - thanks for the doctor advice, my mother is going to see if she has a doctor's appt planned soon and get in touch with her doctor in advance.

BarbBrooklyn - my grandmother and others around her have declared those same things! One of her siblings even told her she was focusing on the negative! We will look into a geriatric psychiatrist.

BlackHole - thanks for the candor, I will continue to research and look through the forum!

Katiekate - thanks for the senior daycare center story, I have a feeling it would end the same way with my grandmother!
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New behavior should be carefully scrutinized. Something has changed.

The only time I was able to get Mom to be involved in an outside activity was the local senior daycare. It worked because Mom could not leave. when she complained about it, I finally stopped taking her. But for a short while it did offer her the opportunity to meet people and have something else going on outside of the house and family.
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Not a one of us have had any success encouraging an elderly parent or grandparent to participate in activities.

OK, I'm exaggerating. But only slightly.

On a less flippant note, grandma's ramped-up neediness (and asking questions that have obvious answers) could be the first signs of dementia. The earliest stages are often marked by anxiety and coping issues, not memory issues.

And grandma doesn't want to share these newer developments with a doctor. Another red flag. Becoming oppositional is another early manifestation of brain changes.

Sorry to be such a downer. Keep seeking and keep searching. Use this forum to help yourself think outside of the box. Unfortunately, grandma probably needs more than a hobby. 🙁
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I so agree with GeeWhiz; "something" is going on.

My mother became needy, anxious and prone to panic. To make a very long story short, after months of mom's doctor telling us this was just "normal aging", mom taking Xanax, which helped a bit, but didn't address the underlying problem: it turned out that mom had had a stroke and had lost a good bit of cognitive functioning. We didn't discover this until we'd had to move mom out of her home, into Independent Living, gotten her a new geriatrics doctor, who had a geriatric psychiatrist visit her. 

GeriPsych INSISTED on a cognitive evaluation, although mom's response was "I'm not crazy" and other family members declared mom to be "sharp as a tack".

In many ways yes, mom was still quite capable. But she could no longer reason or see the consequences of actions, which made her panicky and needy. Kind of the way a 5 year old would be if they were asked to manage their own lives.

Please get your family to take this change in grandma's behavior seriously. It's called a "change in mental status" and should be reported to the doctor who sees her.

Getting her to a geriatric psychiatrist (cutting out all the other steps) might be a good way of dealing with this.
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Lotus, how kind of you to seek out ideas for your Mom. She must be frightened that her Mom's actions are changing and fearful for what the future may bring. And, how lucky that she is in a major city offering other options.
Can you take a day off and bring her to the senior center under the guise of researching it for a friend or school project? Can you and other grandchildren take grandma for an outing - something you think she might like to do on her own, once she enjoys it herself? A visit to some public gardens? Even an hour at a local playground watching the children on the swings, etc - all while having a pleasant visit. I think it would be difficult for a grandmother to resist an outing with one of the grandkids.
Can someone accompany Grandma to the next doctor's visit? If so, you can bring a prepared letter to the doctor and ask the front desk to be sure the M.D. reads it before Grandma is taken inside. Aging presents itself in different forms. There truly may be something going on. If you think it is memory issues, begin to read up on it - you sound like a good researcher, you found this site! What does her husband have to say about all of this?
Keep us posted.
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