My Mom is calling me up to six times daily now and we have a varied conversation about the mail. On one call she will say in a disgusted voice “I’ve only gotten two letters about Dad’s passing” and then a half-hour later she’s adamant that “I’m not getting ANY mail.” Each time I direct her back to where I stacked all the letters I found dispersed throughout her apartment. Sometimes, it takes several attempts for her to find the drawer where we put the stacked the letters together. On each call, as patient as I can be, I work on finding out what specifically is troubling her as I previously discussed in the Question Behind the Question.
Today, when I asked her who she was expecting letters from she said she hasn’t gotten any letters from her girlfriends. I dug a little deeper and asked her which ones? She couldn’t answer. To my knowledge, my Mom hasn’t had a girlfriend in over ten years. Her closest friend suddenly died in a car accident. She was my Mom’s main confident.
I realize that some of this issue may be stemming from pure loneliness. My parents stopped attending parties about five years ago. On occasion, my Dad would go to big events on his own. Instead, they would extend dinner invitations for friends to join them at their club, but as many of their guests learned, it was an awkward meal and the dinner guests dwindled. Having just one alcoholic beverage on top of their mild to moderate dementia made dinner conversation very difficult.
My parents isolated themselves and hung out together. Now that my Dad is gone, my Mom is very lonely and is struggling to connect and make friends. I’m glad she is in a community, where at least there are activities that she can attend and be around other people.It will be hard to make a new friend with no short-term memory.
However, watching this pattern of my parents has made acutely aware of the need — as well as the research — to stay socially active as we age.
My husband and I are introverts. While my upbringing allows me to walk in a room full of people I don’t know without pause, being around people for extended periods of time drains me. At least I know I will never get bored — I can always find the next obstacle to overcome. Challenged.
For you introverts, you will find Quiet a very interesting read.