20130307 – Frustration and Boredom

I’m frustrated. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do for my mother-in-law. She’s bored. There are daily events inside and outside her residence and she doesn’t participate. She’s bored. She has knitting and puzzles and a phone to talk to family and friends but she’s bored. She has cable TV with five dozen channels but she’s bored. Other residents get together for dominoes, a game she really enjoys but she doesn’t join in and she’s bored.

Mom has always said she doesn’t make friends very easily and yet if you put her in a new place she often knows half the life story of the person sitting next to her when you come back ten minutes later. I’ve seen her do that in the mall, in a restaurant, on a dolphin-watching excursion in the bay, you name the place! But she’s bored in her new residence and there are loads of people she doesn’t know yet.

How can you tell if someone is giving up on life? Is this one of the signs? I know Mom’s been through a lot this past two years with the loss of her older sister, her husband, and her ability to manage a household on her own. She’s always been one to bounce back; forty year cancer survivor, multiple heart attacks, all sorts of other health problems and yet here she is, 88 years old and determined enough to hate using the walker beside her chair, but she’s bored. And she’s tired, and she’s in pain, and she doesn’t want to be a burden, and she insists she just doesn’t have the strength to go out for breakfast, or to church.

Is she giving up? Is there a way I can help her engage in life again? We don’t want to lose her any earlier than necessary but we don’t want to force her to do things she doesn’t want to do. Is it the pain talking and keeping her from doing things she usually enjoys? Is it just too tiring even with the pain medication she takes?

She says it’s time to start clearing out the condo, and she doesn’t want to visit there; she’d rather have us take care of it and just ask about certain things like her collections and china. We agree, but from the perspective that simplifying life can be liberating. She could enjoy life more without all the trappings accumulated over the years. We see it as a new beginning; she sees it as another end-of-life task.

So today I’m frustrated, and she’s bored … any ideas … anyone?

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