My siblings and I recently moved my eighty-five-year-old mother from her own home to an assisted living residence in Naples. Although there are many activities available to her, she constantly complains that she’s bored. As a result, she’s calling me multiple times a day and I’m losing my patience. Any suggestions?
Daughter In Distress
Dear Daughter In Distress,
Even when a loved one resides in assisted living, being a caregiver can be challenging. You’re not alone on this journey. I’m wondering where your siblings are. I’m also wondering if your mother has difficulty making friends. It sounds like loneliness may be an even greater problem to her than boredom, but boredom is easier to talk about.
Ask your siblings to call or visit their mother more frequently. Perhaps you can set up a schedule so everyone makes at least one call and/or visit a week. It sounds like the majority of the caregiving is falling on your shoulders.
To show your mom that you’re listening and to help alleviate her boredom, what could you take with you on each visit? Perhaps an adult coloring book and pencils, magazines or a book she’d enjoy, a puzzle, a blank journal. Don’t overwhelm her with more than one item per visit. Consider what she might like and test it out. Don’t be disappointed if she shows no interest at first. It might come later.
If your mother had difficulty entertaining herself or making new friends in the past, don’t expect her to change now. Start where she is and build. Remember—whether or not she feels contented in her new environment is ultimately her responsibility.