Sunday, February 06, 2011
Dear Millie

I recently received an e-mail from a reader who is the devoted daughter of an 85 year old mother who's husband of 60 years is now in a nursing home.

The daughter and her sister live nearby and take care of their mother's needs. Their mother is a hoot, they enjoy being with her but would like to see her have some lady friends.

They have tried getting their lonely mum involved in various activities but to no avail.

She asked for suggestions from me.

This was my reply to her:
Dear Devoted Daughter,

Your mother is a lucky woman to have two daughters that care for her the way that they do. You say you have suggested things for her to do but she doesn't want to do them.

That's the rub - she has to help herself.

Maybe you could go with her to some Senior Center or an event at a library, get her to feel comfortable there and then gradually drop her off and see how she manages on her own.

Look for some other lady who is there by herself also, someone in the same boat as she is.

What interests does she have? Bingo, knitting, current events, books, movies, art, cooking - whatever- something to get her going! That way she might find another lady with the same interest.

It's worth a try!

Tell her, Hello from another 85 year old!! ;-)

Wishing you the best,
Now I'm asking Millie's readers for their thoughts. How can the daughters help their mum "get out there" and show the world that "she is a hoot?"

Also, if you have any questions, ask away!

I've often thought if I lived closer to town, I'd enjoy volunteering with a literacy program. Sometimes schools have a grandparent program where you go in and listen to/help children read? If she likes that sort of thing, she'll meet someone there who also likes that sort of thing. Girl scouts? 4-H? Most of those programs would love to have another adult around and she may be more comfortable meeting other adults through kids. After all, isn't that how we used to meet each other? (Plus it is good to have friends of all ages, she may not be comfy being categorized with the oldsters.)
What about a church or temple? Volunteering at a library (if she is able) or reading at nursing homes to those who can't do it for themselves. She might also be able to be a substitute "grandma" for children in daycare (although that might introduce her to a whole host of new germs). What about a theater group?
Right on, Millie! Sometimes it's just about being shy. But this mom, may feel as if she's abandoning her spouse. They have been together a long time, after all.
I can relate - In the past volunterred, worked and all you mentioned. Now just content with being back at my homeplace. Reading, writing, photography and soon gardening. Stay busy but not around people much.
So much busyness in past years I like my lifestyle at the moment.
But in my 70's may need more people involvement.
Children and grandchildren visit but wish it were more often.
What a great site, It is always hard when someone loses a life partner. Some very good advice here. Thanks.
It might take some time to convince her to go out and meet and greet. She needs to first accept this life change of her Husband being in the nursing home. My mother used to help as a volunteer in the nursing home where her husband was-crafts and singing, etc. It helped her feel needed-which might be one of the losses that the lady feels now?
Millie, I think the lady needs to grow up and do something for herself. My almost 50 year-old daughter is taking her 95 year old MIL (mother of her deceased husband) to the bookstore and shopping for groceries every two weeks; and visiting me almost weekly; One of my four granddaughters cleans for me, the other girls rotate with her and help in the garden; My daughter visits her new MIL (husband's stepmother) once a month and her own grandmother in a nursing home every couple of months. She also sees her Dad who lives in a distant city every couple of months. Before she died, my daughter also visited with her MIL (birth mother of her new husband); Enough is enough already. Dianne
Maybe the mother is content to just stay home. Sometimes we think we know what is best for others, but that may not be what they want.

Has he daughter asked her mother what she really wants to do or is she assuming that her mother is lonesome?

If the mother does miss being with people there are all kinds of ways to volunteer and that is rewarding. Or there are Senior groups where she can attend if she so desires. They usually sponsor day trips and have many activities.
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