Mom Worries Too Much
"I am one of the caregivers for my 90-year-old mother. She worries constantly about my sister and me, and I am not exaggerating when I say that she reminds us of this every time we talk. She worries about our jobs, our children, our travels, and the list goes on. I have been dismissing her constant concern, but I am starting to wonder if there is something wrong. Do you think she is in need of some counseling?" - READER
Everyone worries about things. Your mother's worrying is not that unusual. What is different about her, though, is that she tells you about all of her worries every time you two interact.
If your mother is sleeping and eating fine, there is less cause for concern. Something to consider is that some people define "worrying" differently. Is it possible that when your mother says she worries about you, she simply means she is thinking about you? That her concern for you is not as detrimental to her health as you may think? It may simply be her unique way of starting a conversation with you about family matters. Then again, maybe not.
Counseling is a potential option for Mom if she is interested in pursuing it. Feel free to bring it up to her, not as a threat but as a solution. Tell your mother, “You seem to worry quite a bit about the family. Would you like to talk to a counselor about your concerns?” If she is interested, help her set up an appointment with a counselor. If not, use this moment as an opportunity for her to explain why her worries are being expressed so frequently. Remember that 90-year-olds sometimes express their opinions quite freely. If that is the case with your mother, you may simply need to accept this communication style and give her comments less weight than you may have in the past.
Why does Mom worry?
If your mother is at all isolated, she likely places a great deal of emotional weight on your interactions as her opportunity to vent and socialize. We all have thoughts that we need to let out and share with someone else from time to time. It is therapeutic and healthy. Take away that outlet from someone, and over time they are likely to suffer. Your mother loves and admires you, which qualifies you as the perfect person to talk to about her thoughts and feelings with. Your mother may need more to do with her time than eating, sleeping, and watching television. I am a strong believer that we all need a purpose. It appears that she may have made her purpose, worrying about her children. It may be time for hobbies or work that are useful to others. Look for a project that your mother can help you with. There are plenty of things a 90-year-old can do that matter and make a difference in the lives of others. Maybe she will feel a little better if she is helping you to work less. Her finding a more fulfilling sense of purpose may even bring you two closer.
Your situation may also improve by providing more structure to your conversations with her. Allow a little bit of time for her to express worries, and then change the subject to current events, grandchildren, travel, or whatever else is going on in the family. A little redirection is fine.
I wish you well in working with your mother.
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