Do you feel like your elderly mother is becoming a difficult person because she wants constant attention? You are certainly not alone – as a family caregiver, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to take care of your parent the way that they want.
An elderly mother wanting constant attention can stem from various factors such as loneliness, physical limitations, or cognitive impairment. It is crucial to understand her needs and provide appropriate support while considering factors like her health, available resources, and personal boundaries. Engaging in open communication, involving other family members or caregivers, and exploring social activities or support groups can help address her need for attention while ensuring a balanced and sustainable caregiving approach.
An elderly parent often requires assistance with basic needs such as mobility, eating, and hygiene but they also need emotional support which adds another layer of complex physical demands.
In this article, we’ll explore why elderly mothers desire so much attention from their family caregivers and how best to provide them with the love, care, and compassion necessary for daily living.
Understanding Your Elderly Mother’s Need for Attention
A best friend of mine is the primary caregiver of her 92-year-old mother who lives alone but has in-home care for 8 hours a day. Her mother calls her daughter an average of 6 times a day. Every day.
The majority, if not all of the calls are for menial things like the fact that her toe hurts or that the bushes around the house need trimming, or that the news these days is all bad, etc. My friend works full-time and has her own family to care for.
She has a schedule of visiting her mother every other day for lunch or dinner so it’s not as if her mother doesn’t see her on a regular basis.
So, you can imagine that her mother’s calls are causing a high level of chronic stress for my friend.
When my friend gets fed up with her mom, she ends up facing all sorts of criticism and guilt. It’s like she’s always given a hard time just because she doesn’t jump up and answer to her mom’s every phone call.
It can be very difficult to know how best to manage the situation since there is no easy answer.
Of course, my friend is not happy with this situation and is trying to figure out what she can do in order to reduce the number of calls and visits.
There could be a variety of reasons why your elderly mother wants a lot of attention. It’s important to remember that aging can bring about changes in the physical and mental health of older adults, which can impact their emotional well-being and increase their need for attention and support.
The best solution for you and for her is to try and understand why she needs so much attention and then respond accordingly with compassion, empathy, and open communication.
By delving into the underlying reasons behind her constant need for attention, you can tailor your responses to address her emotional needs, find a balance that respects your own boundaries, and ensure a supportive and fulfilling relationship for both of you.
I know, I know it’s a lot of work but it’s worth it.
Here are some potential reasons why your mother might be seeking attention:
- Loneliness and isolation: As people age, they may live alone or lose friends and loved ones. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can increase the need for social interaction and attention.
- Physical limitations: Aging can bring about physical limitations, such as reduced mobility or chronic pain, which can make it difficult for your mother to do things on her own. This could increase her need for assistance and attention from others.
- Cognitive decline: As people age, they may experience cognitive decline and memory loss from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This can make it harder for them to communicate and feel understood, which could increase their need for attention and validation.
- Emotional distress: Your mother may be experiencing emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression, which could make her feel more needy for attention and support.
- Personal history: It’s possible that your mother has always been someone who seeks attention and validation, regardless of her age. This could be a personality trait that has become more pronounced as she’s gotten older.
- Personality disorder: If your mother has a personality disorder such as borderline personality disorder or dependent personality disorder, she may have difficulty regulating her emotions and could be more prone to seeking attention. Mental illness does not go away with old age.
It’s important to approach your mother’s need for attention with empathy and understanding. Try to listen to her and identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to her behavior.
It may also be helpful to encourage her to engage in activities that promote social interaction and provide opportunities for her to feel valued and connected to others.
I know that meaningful tasks are the most important ones. Things like helping out with daily tasks (i.e., laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.).
Signs That Your Elderly Mother is Seeking Constant Attention
If you suspect that your aging mother is in constant need of attention, there are several signs that you can look for.
Here are some common behaviors that may indicate a need for attention:
- Excessive phone calls: Your mother may call you frequently, sometimes several times a day, just to chat or check-in. She may also become upset or anxious if you don’t answer the phone right away.
- Interrupting conversations: Your mother may interrupt conversations between you and others to share her thoughts or feelings. She may also become upset if she feels ignored or overlooked.
- Attention-seeking behaviors: Your mother may engage in attention-seeking behaviors, such as making loud noises, exaggerating symptoms, or behaving in a dramatic or emotional manner.
- Jealousy or resentment: Your mother may become jealous or resentful if she perceives that others are getting more attention than she is. She may also become upset if she feels left out of family events or gatherings.
- Neediness: Your mother may become overly needy, expecting you to do things for her or spend all of your time with her. She may also become upset if you have other obligations or responsibilities.
- Manipulation: Your mother may use manipulation tactics, such as guilt-tripping or emotional blackmail, to get the attention she wants.
It’s important to remember that seeking attention is not necessarily a negative behavior. As mentioned earlier, there may be underlying reasons why your mother is seeking attention.
If you notice any of these behaviors, try to talk to your mother and understand what is causing her behavior. Encouraging her to engage in social activities or seeking professional help may also be helpful.
How to Support an Elderly Mother Who Wants Constant Attention
As our mothers age, they may develop a desire for constant attention that can be difficult to keep up with. However, providing support for an elderly mother is crucial to their well-being.
- In my personal experience, the best thing that you can do to support your mom is to keep her involved and active. Encourage her interests and hobbies and try to make time to share them with her.
- It’s a really good idea to set boundaries and not feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Honestly, this is one of the most important things that you can do to ensure your own mental health and well-being.
- If you set a schedule so that your mother (or elderly parent) knows that you will see them or contact them on a regular basis, this should help to lessen the need for constant attention.
- Consider hiring professional caregivers or seeking assistance from a social worker and/or support groups to ensure that your mother is receiving adequate care and attention.
- Don’t shy away from getting respite help. This allows you to take a break without feeling guilty or worrying about your mother’s well-being.
By balancing your mother’s needs with your own, you can provide the necessary support she needs to thrive in her later years.
Tips on Making Time for Yourself as a Caregiver of an Elderly Mother
Adult children are often faced with the difficult task of providing care and attention for their elderly parents. This can be a challenge, especially if those older people want constant attention – it can be hard to find a way to balance her needs with your own life demands.
It is important for adult children who are the primary caregiver to understand their parent’s individual needs and interests, as well as their own physical and emotional limitations.
Involving other family members or caregivers, exploring social activities or support groups, and communicating openly are all strategies that can help adult children provide balanced and sustainable care for their elderly mothers.
The following tips can help you make more time for yourself as a caregiver of an elderly mother:
- Schedule time for yourself: Set aside specific times during the day or week for yourself, and treat them as important appointments that cannot be missed. Use this time to engage in activities that you enjoy or to simply relax and recharge.
- Seek respite care: Respite care is a temporary break from caregiving responsibilities that allows you to take time for yourself. You can enlist the help of a professional caregiver or ask a family member or friend to take over for a few hours or days.
- Join a caregiver support group: Joining a support group for caregivers can provide you with a sense of community and support. You can share your experiences and challenges with others who are in similar situations.
- Practice self-care: Take care of your mental, emotional and physical health by eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and engaging in activities that reduce stress.
- Delegate tasks: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family members or close friends. Delegate tasks such as grocery shopping or meal preparation to others so that you can have more time for yourself.
- Use technology: There are many technology tools available that can help you save time and reduce stress, such as scheduling apps or medication reminder apps.
Remember, taking care of yourself is essential to being a good caregiver. When you take time for yourself, you will be better able to provide the care your elderly mother needs while maintaining your own health and well-being.
In conclusion, caring for an elderly mother or older parents can be difficult and often overwhelming. It is important to understand your elderly mother’s need to receive attention and identify signs that your mother may need more attention.
Establishing healthy boundaries, engaging in compassionate communication, and making time for yourself are all beneficial measures to take when dealing with an elderly mother who desires constant attention.
Having an understanding of the mental health challenges caregivers of elderly mothers face will also ensure that you are aware of potential risks and can provide your elderly mother with the care she needs.
Council services or healthcare professionals may be beneficial resources to take advantage of if feeling overwhelmed by the caregiving responsibilities associated with looking after an elderly mother.
Some Helpful Resources
If you’ve read any of my other articles you know that I am very passionate about using the advice of others via books for help. So, here’s a list of some of my favorite books that can help you care for your elderly mother and/or parents.
The Thoughtful Caregivers: Surviving, Thriving and Growing in Spirit as You Care for Your Elderly Parent
Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide for Stressed-Out Children
Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver