When School Starts for Caregivers
School is starting, and I am looking for ideas on how to keep my mother contented as I resume my work as a teacher. For two months of the year I am home, my children have fewer commitments, and life is more relaxed. Even though I see Mom several times a week during the summer, she says all autumn that she misses me and the family. It feels like there is nothing I can do to satisfy her need for companionship during the school year, and I am not giving up my career to entertain my mother.
She is a fairly able-bodied 78-year old. She drives, goes to church and cares for herself well. What is a daughter to do once school starts up again?
I suggest you say nothing. Fall is an adjustment period for you, your children and your mother. Missing the good times of summer is normal. Thank goodness summer carries fond memories for your mother. It means that she really enjoyed it. It sounds like you had some good times together.
As you settle into your school year, it is time for your mother to settle into a new routine also. The issue here is that she likely does not have enough to do, which can be a common problem for our elderly. In your mother's case, she does not have enough to do if she is hyper-focused on your return to work.
Without knowing your mother, it is hard to know what would convince her to be an active doer versus a passive complainer. If she is not already engaged in outside pursuits, she may likely need a little help getting involved.
Some suggestions to help engage your mother.
1. Work or Volunteer
In all seriousness, Mom needs work too. Perhaps a part-time job or volunteer opportunities in the community are a simple fix. There are numerous employers and not-for-profits looking for part-time workers and volunteers. A major bonus of one of these activities is meeting new people and being social.
Churches usually have many volunteer activities that she could become involved in. Though, if she has not chosen this option before, she will not likely be interested now.
2. Sign up for a Class
The simplest thing to do is to sign up for a class. Quilting, knitting, cooking, or anything that may interest her is a great idea. Maybe you both go initially, with you gradually pulling away. I do believe that summer may be the ideal time for this type of activity to begin for the two of you, based on your schedule.
3. Senior Centers
Senior centers are a place where seniors gather to do things together. It may be difficult for her to simply jump in, since she has not already done so; therefore, it is understandable if this option does not work for her, even though it is a good one.
4. Neighborhood Groups
Another option is engaging in some form of neighborhood group: book clubs, inviting neighbors over for coffee, walking to the park and engaging individuals one at a time.
All of these ideas require some initiative on her part and may require your assistance. The process may be slow, so be patient. I would call even one change or outreach a success.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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