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Mom Is Lonely, But Busier Than Ever. What To Do?

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My mother has been complaining that she has no friends and nothing to do. Despite the fact that we went out for lunch together and I took her shopping for half the day, when my sister calls and asks her what she did, she'll say, "nothing".

This is killing me slowly. I'm not sure if she's depressed or if just a turn of phrase.

Regardless, this idea that you can be lonely, despite not being alone has got me thinking that she actually might be lonely. With my father passed and her two best friends gone as well, she might actually be going through some adjustment period.

While we speak quite often, I don't believe I've replaced her friends and definitely not my father.

I'm worried because as I researched senior loneliness, I learned that it's actually quite dangerous. Not only can it result in depression, it's actually bad for your health, as bad as obesity! One Harvard article I read said loneliness is just as bad for your heart as smoking.

I'm wondering, as my mother shows disinterest in her days if she's actually becoming a little depressed. What should I do? I offered to have her see a psychologist and she refused, actually, she got insulted, asking if I thought she was a "quack"!.

I'm a little hesitant to put her on any anti-depression or anti-anxiety medications, despite her Dr.'s suggestions, because it seems like it would only mask the root cause. Moreover, she's already on a ton of medications, and the last thing she needs is more medication to worry about.

I've also noticed, she's starting to stay in bed longer, have a little less energy and lose her balance more. Not sure if any of that is related to feeling lonely. We got her one of those medical alert devices (reviewed it at, so she never feels alone. Although I know it doesn't replace a friend, hopefully it makes her feel more secure when I'm not around.

I also have my kids call her every night before they go to bed and we have her over for dinner every Friday night. As much as they may sound like a lot, I recognize that she's alone for dinner the rest of the week, which is sad.

Maybe we have to arrange for her to get more involved in community programming like bridge, which she loved playing with the girls, and a yoga or gym class. A little something everyday.

She has a hole in her life and I just don't know how to fill it. I wonder if you get to a certain point in your life, after losing your spouse and friends, where you ask if life is worth living. I remember my grandmother used to ask if she could just die. In fact, she even attempted suicide, by taking pills, on one occasion. I think the effort to fill time, just for the sake of filling time, wasn't worth the reward for her. She used to tell me she hoped she'd never wake up from her sleep!

Is my mother going through a similar thing? If so, how do you solve an existential question like that? Or do you focus on creating experiences that make life worth living? Instead of manufacturing events to fill up her day, is there something worthy in and of itself that she can launch herself into? Grandchildren, volunteering?

What to do?

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