My Elderly Mother Wants Constant Attention – What Should I Do?

So your elderly mother needs constant attention from you, and you are beginning to feel exhausted as a result. You need some perspective on this situation, so you can deal with it as soon as possible.

Most adult children of senior mothers feel this way when their loved one is unwell, and as a result seeks constant attention in the form of bickering, complaining, or simply calling them several times a day. This can happen if your mother is suffering from an illness and she is unable to deal with it by herself. She might help perform activities of daily living (ADL).

Possible reasons why your elderly mother might be needing constant attention

1. She has an undiagnosed illness

2. She needs help with her finances. She might be struggling with money 

3. She is unable to deal with her doctors or nursing home staff

4. She is not taking her medication on time

5. She feels lonely

6. She needs your help cleaning the backyard 

7. She is unable to book medical appointments and wants you to book, and remind her of that.

8. She wants to have a long discussion about her future. And you might be too busy to wait and listen to her talk. 

9. Her caregiver has passed away, and the new caregiver is not up to mark with his or her job. Or maybe she needs you to find a new caregiver.

10. She wants you to go shopping with her.  

11. She might be feeling insecure about getting old, and she has no one to share their insecurities with.

12. She is anxious about something. She wants you to help her navigate a particular problem she might be facing.

13. She wants you to promise her that you will take care of her when she’s older.

14. Are you unmarried? She might be worried that you will fail to find the right life partner if you delay getting married or don’t get married at the right age. (This is common in Asian cultures)

What can you do about it?

The first thing you can do is find out why your elderly mother wants constant attention. Ask yourself, what does she need? Most often, it is a mental or physical health condition that causes them to lose confidence in themselves. Hence, they begin to feel insecure about their future. They might try to reconnect with you if you live away from them. 

In such a situation, it is important that you do not put off calling them, or neglect them. Do not avoid them. Or they will continue calling you, or try to seek attention in a new way. 

It is likely that you are the only son or daughter she has. If you have siblings, ask them if mom called or if they are aware of her situation. In my opinion, you shouldn’t ignore her attempts to seek attention if you are the only family member she can rely on. 

How old is she?

Let’s assume she is ill and will be needing assisted care from a family member. If she’s in her fifties, you might be looking at a couple of decades of providing her care. In such a situation, it would be appropriate to enroll her in a nursing home facility

I am assuming you have a career or business to take care of, and you cannot afford to deal with her on a day-to-day basis. This is where nursing homes can benefit. Before you take the next step of speaking with her about this, make sure to check her Medicare and Mediclaim status. 

Until you find a suitable nursing home for her, you can establish healthy boundaries. Does she create unnecessary drama in the home? Is she manipulative? You must let her know that such things won’t be tolerated, and you are not against her. You are simply trying to help. 

Final steps

Have a conversation with her doctor. In some cases, doctors allow the family members of a patient to have access to medical records. There’s an authorization form that you must fill out and submit. You will find more information about the authorization from the doctor or the hospital help desk. 

Conversely, you can also create a medical record information release (HIPAA) form using this online tool

Why do you need access to her medical records? So that the doctor or the hospital staff can contact you directly. Your mother won’t have to deal with the hospital paperwork all by herself. 

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