How can I motivate mum?


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Hi all

My mum lives on her own and regularly complains that she's bored and never sees anyone. (I know this isn't entirely true, because she forgets people have been), but she'd like to get to know someone, maybe go out for a coffee and have a bit more regular contact. I do my bit but it's exhausting trying to 'entertain' her having done hundreds of miles to get to see her in the first place; plus all the associated domestic cr*p: washing, ironing etc. I've suggested hobbies she's done in the past (she insists she still does them, but doesn't). And if I come up with any new ideas I get my head ripped off. I've tried to get her on to the buddy scheme with a local charity but she blew the woman out saying she didn't need anyone. I'm also trying to coax her into going to a local community centre, although I've been building up to this for months because, as we all know, they can be very contrary! One minute she thinks it's a great idea and the next she says I'm persecuting her. Then she's bored! Aggh! What does anyone else out there do? And how did/have you managed someone in the early stages when motivation is plummeting like a stone but the independent streak bites every time you try anything? :eek: Tricky, eh?

Thanks for any replies!


Registered User
Feb 3, 2006
Hi Lucille

My mother is 86 and has mixed AD/Vascular Dementia,
Everything you have said about your Mum mine is so similar, Bored!! Bored !! Bored.
When I phone I ask what she has been doing "nothing" I ask if she has seen anbody "no", she does see people but never remembers.
I bought her an adult colouring book with pictures of flowers and country scenes and a pkt of colouring pencils, this does keep her busy for a little while.
We have tried to get her to go to a day centre "Boring" "they are all so old",
Her CPN visits once a fortnight but says why does she bother !! there's nothing wrong with me !!!!!!
Last week she came out with a real gem "I am going to get a job so I can earn some Money !!, Why Mum ? "So I Can buy things !
If we put more than a couple of pounds in her purse she is off down the supermarket and stocking up on wine, which she will down in a couple of hours !!! make herself drunk & the next day a bad hangover, But of course she doesn't drink !!!!
I too live about 75 miles away, with my brother living near by, but he has to work but manages to pop in ensure she has a meal and collects her washing and does her housework, which she really believes she does all herself and tells her doctor and consultant all this as well.
I really have no answer to all this and just go along 1 day at a time, I too would love any suggestions.


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
I'm not entirely sure that even if you had a full round of entertainments lined up it would make any difference, particularly if there are short-term memory issues. My mother always says she seen no one, done nothing. She actually has carers coming in at 8am, 9,30 am, 11 am, 3pm and 7.30'pm. A cleaner comes in every day, her meals are delivered at 12.30 and 5.30. On top of that, there's a coffee morning once a week, plus another activity also once a week, and sometimes more. Still, she see no one! Does nothing! It's not unreasonable, because she simply cannot remember one moment to the next, but it does mean that as far as she's concerned her days stretch out aimlessly. Particularly odd is the fact that before she had her strokes one visit a week from a friend was more than enough - she was never a social individual. Unfortunately those pastimes that she enjoyed before she can no longer do - reading isn't possible because the stroke damaged her sight and listening to books on tape, or being read to is frustrating because she can't follow the plot, even when they are books that previously she probably knew off by heart.

What I'm trying to say is: don't beat yourself up over it



Registered User
Jul 13, 2005
It's really hard to put yourself in their place, and comments ring so many bells. Before Mary moved in with us, she religiously kept a diary, but if you looked at it, it said "bored" "seen no one" on virtually every day, even the days we'd visited.

Now she lives here, originally she said she was going to be just glad to have the company, but now the reality is she seems to want to be entertained all the time. She reads a newspaper over and over, can't handle books because she can't follow the plot once she puts it down, doesn't follow what's on TV ( once an avid Coronation Street fan, hasn't watched for years because she can't follow the plot) It's become evident lately that she has touble separating fictional TV from news , laughing in inappropriate places etc.

It must be so frustrating not to be able to even read. She does crosswords and puzzle books, but she is bored 90% of the time, sits and looks at the floor for ages. I've tried to get her involved in helping me clean etc, but as she considers herself a guest ( she doesn't live here you know, but come in anyway to anyone she answers the door to), she doesn't see why she should!! This is the 4th year she's lived with us.

I know I should be glad she is obviously more capable than some sufferer's but it's like walking on eggshells!! Nothing you can do is right.


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Thanks all for your replies.

Splat88, my mum also reads the paper over and over and comments on the headline as if it's the first time she's seen it. Every day she insists it's bought. And comes out with such gems as: "It helps me know what day it is and what's going on in the world." I try not to comment. On Sunday, on hearing that our dear PM had finally commented upon Saddam H's execution. Mum said: "Have they executed him?" When I said, yes, about a week ago, she said. Well I didn't know! I pointed out that it's been headline news for a week and she said, "well, I never read the paper. Don't have time!" ;)

I thought, yeah, right mum. She is always busy doing nothing! It's such a shame. Her place used to be like a palace but now the cleaning is left. She won't let the carer do it as, yes, you've guessed it, mum will do it or she's too busy! I'm going to persevere with the community centre idea and I'm going to try the buddy scheme again.

If some 'Entertainment Wizard' lands on my doorstep in a puff of smoke, I'll let you all know!

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hi Lucille, Are there any day centres your mother could go to. My mother used to go to one and loved it. Her social worker arranged it and she was transported there and back every day. Your mother doesn`t need to know anything other than it`s an `over 60`s club`.
I think it`s easier to persuade people living by themselves to attend day centres, than those who have a partner at home with them, or those living with their children.
One way of persuasion I used was to tell my mother how much money she`d save on heating bills if she was out all day. She liked the idea of that.

Love Sylvia

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Lucille said:
I've tried to get her on to the buddy scheme with a local charity but she blew the woman out saying she didn't need anyone.
Lucille, just guessing here but the buddy scheme you mention may be the same one my mum has now ... you may well know this already but may be worth mentioning here for others .... it's actually part of Age Concern's CARER'S Outreach Service for people who work/ live away etc and can't access local carers' support groups etc .... ... and my getting a 'buddy' for mum was meant as much to help me as her ... talk about resistance from mum ... "Not having anyone coming into MY house" - you'll know the stuff ...;)

Buddy is now 'Numero Uno' in mum's affections (well, she doesn't do the nagging like me, does she?:rolleyes: ) ... but admit it was a 'Team effort' between me, my 'outreach worker' and the 'buddy' that got mum to agree to it .... now they're 'Ladies who lunch' - or go to garden centres ... or just sit and drink tea and have a chat if that's all mum can manage on the day ..... I struggle with mum having a friend who is essentially a 'paid friend' .... conversely, I know the buddy is not simply a 'bit of company' but appropriately trained, CRB checked etc etc

So know where Sylvia is coming from - after a couple of weeks when mum decided she liked the idea of a 'buddy' after all .... her only concern was whether she had to pay ....... :eek: (Buddy is now introducing mum to Day Care .... run at a certain Cricket Club in the area - so mum thinks she's going to an extended 'posh lunch club' ....)..

I know I'm not a million miles from your mum - huge initiatives for Local History / Leisure Groups etc in the area these days that may be appropriate ..... if she'd be interested (daytimes, public venues etc) ... some can be found on local council website of course ... but if you want to PM with just 'which' community mum's in - more than happy to make local enquiries for you ..... in fact - probably got a few contacts I could let you have ... salt of the earth stuff up here, as you know, chuck!!!!!

Love, Karen, x


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Hello Sylvia and Karen

I've tried the Day Centre idea with mum and she went ballistic. Even mentioning those two words sends her into a rage. She seems to think it's basket weaving classes on a grand scale and just won't accept it isn't! What I seem to be having a problem with now is one minute she wants help, the next minute she doesn't and gets very uppity about it. The SW has tried a couple of times but mum is as stubborn as a mule!

Karen: Yes, it was the Age Concern buddy scheme I was trying to get her on. Firstly they rang mum and made an appointment which she forgot about. (I did ask them to contact me). Then when I made contact with them, I heard nothing, so they went to see mum again (without me there) and she said she didn't need them! I eventually spoke to them and they said they'd try again; but it's never when I'm there! Karen, I'll drop you a PM and get some ideas.

Cheers both!


Registered User
Jul 13, 2005
Mary reacts the same way to any suggestion of day care, she will not go where she knows no one, even if I offer to go along too. She will not have SW approached, there's nothing wrong so why bother, she's happy as she is, she doesn't need it, she has me hasn't she? I'm the one making all the fuss, not her!!!


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Splat88 said:
She will not have SW approached, there's nothing wrong so why bother, she's happy as she is, she doesn't need it, she has me hasn't she? I'm the one making all the fuss, not her!!!
Hi Splat88
Definitely agree with your quote above. Mum is the same: there is nothing wrong with her ... it's infuriating, isn't it? I've tried reasoning with her, but of course she's lost the ability to do that. What would be good is if she took one path and stuck to it ... would make it more manageable in some ways. But, this disease doesn't want to be managed, does it? It wants to be bl**dy awkward and so on it goes ...:mad:


Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
Mum is in a Nursing Home (actually Hostel accommodation we call it in Aust. - do you have the same in the UK??) and she is still "bored" and "lonely" all the time. (Of course her loneliness is explained by Dad only being gone for three months.)

Will she take part in any - some - a few - just one!! - of the organised activities in the NH?? NO! Why not? "They (the other residents) are all nutty." If we get past this argument she says "None of them is educated!" (this from my Mum who left school at 15!!).

The Christmas Concert?? "All they sing is stupid Christmas songs" (well, I wonder why??!) The various activity classes? Yoga - "too hard". Active exercise - "too easy".

The Library mornings? (Mum can still read.) "I don't like to bother the staff". "Mum, this is an organised activity with the Activity Officers - it is their job - they won't be bothered." "Well, I don't want people telling me when I can go to the Library and when I can't!"

Craft activities? You guessed it! "I'm not intested in going to Kindergarten."

So how about activities to do on her own? She can't manage the DVD or the video player, and refuses to ask the staff to help her, so these are out. She has never been interersted in craft so sewing, knitting, etc. are all out. She won't try crosswords or other puzzles.

How can we help? "You could visit me more and stay longer". My two sisters live at a distance but both visit her once a week (usually) for a full day at a time. I visit about 3-4 times a week for 4-5 hour sessions. Despite all this, the 3 of us feel very guilty about hoe "lonely" and "bored" she is!!!!

One of this year's resolutions is to take all this with a great big grain of salt and try (really really hard!!) NOT to feel guilty! We already do what we can and Mum won't / can't help herself, so I expect we will just have to keep hearing how "bored and lonely" she is. :rolleyes: Nell


Registered User
Oct 22, 2004
Lucille said:
I've tried the Day Centre idea with mum and she went ballistic.
I think the name "Day Centre" has lots of unfortunate images associated with it. Probably calling it an "over 60's club" or something similar might be better. Having said that, I haven't got my Mum to go to one yet. She does sound to be at a similar stage to yours, varies from day to day with what help she says she needs - then just when I get it organised says she doesn't need it!

I know things are only going to get worse, but I do find this early-ish stage very hard to deal with - while she's so capable in some ways but absolutely not in others!


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
I do find this early-ish stage very hard to deal with
I do so agree. They are almost at their most vulnerable at this stage as they have comprehension of what is going on but not why.

My wife HATED the day centre - so much that they threw her out for being disruptive, but then she was 25 years younger than the other people there.

We just have to try everything and hope for the best.


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Thanks, Nell, MJK and Brucie.

Nell: I had a wry smile on my face reading your post. As I too have gone through all those things; books, puzzles, knitting. The reaction is always the same. It is a very difficult stage. It's like dealing with a petulant teenager at times!

Hey ho. Thanks again. I will try the 'over-60s club' approach. Although she'd have a problem with that, of course, because "they'll all be over 60"!!! :D


Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
We've been trying to get my Dad to go the the Day Centre for ages but he just won't have it. Then he spends all day moaning that he's got no-one to talk to so spends ages in the front garden hoping someone will talk to him. Or constantly phoning his friends and telling them the same things he told them the day before.

What infuriated me was that we almost got him to go to the Day Centre, if Mum could go with him, at which point Social Services said this wasn't possible as only Dad was "the patient". Dad=81, Mum=77!

It's enough to make you scream. The most annoying part is that Dad soon finds people to chat to - he hated the idea of going to our local community centre's OAP "Lunch Club" yet now spends the whole hour nattering to everyone in sight. I bet he'd do the same in the Day Centre after the first visit. There'd probably be a fair number of people there who would have the same problems and wouldn't realise they were saying/hearing the same things over and over again either.

I agree though, "Day Centre" does seem to have a sinister meaning for many people...I think they see it as a precursor to a nursing home.