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Impatience May Be Sign of Boredom in Elderly

Senior ladies laughing and scrapbooking
Encourage your mom to develop a routine of activities and projects. Perhaps there’s a woman’s group or card club she would enjoy

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Why is Mom so fidgety? A number of issues could explain, but a doctor’s checkup is the first place to start. If all is well with her health, consider getting Mom involved in something such as a women’s group, card club, church committee or hobby so that she can channel her energy.

Q. My 82-year-old mother seems so impatient these days. Sometimes it gets to the point where it's very irritating. How can I calm her down so that I can tolerate her for longer periods of time?

The transitions of aging can be difficult for many people. Please suggest to your mother that she get a complete physical. A physical condition could be affecting her mental attitude and behavior. For instance, one of the classic symptoms of dementia is mood change, according to medical experts. So you’ll want to know if anything is physically affecting your mother’s disposition. Ask for a doctor’s examination, input and recommendations.

If your mom appears to be in good physical and mental health, perhaps she’s just bored. Many older North Americans become isolated and lose their interest in socializing. Too much time alone can make them irritable and impatient. Encourage your mom to develop a routine of activities and projects. Even a schedule that includes a few regular tasks and outings can occupy her time and give her something to think about.

For instance, you could take her to lunch once a week. Or, if you aren’t able to do that, encourage a friend or other family member to join her. Check with her local senior center or Area Agency on Aging to learn about the activities in her area. Perhaps there’s a woman’s group or card club that your mother would enjoy. Does your mom belong to a church or synagogue? If so, find out what programs they have for seniors. Many church groups not only socialize, but also organize and coordinate worthwhile volunteer projects for their communities.

If your mother is uncomfortable socializing in groups, suggest that she renew hobbies she may have enjoyed in earlier years, such as reading. If her eyesight is a problem, many materials now come in large print.

Or recommend that she hire a non-medical caregiver. The local Home Instead® office, for example, tries to match CAREGiversSM with clients of similar interests. Many are also about the same age as seniors and often have common likes and hobbies.

Helping your mother to develop the kinds of activities that she can look forward to in her life may go a long way toward relieving her irritability and your frustration.

Last revised: October 19, 2011

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