April 20, 2007

Motivating the unmotivated

My granddad, affectionately known as Pop, has not been well. While his health isn't great, it sounds like his spirits are even worse. It's as if he has given up. I suspect that he never got over the passing of his wife several years ago, and perhaps time has made his grief and loneliness more intense instead of less. He is no longer the wise-cracking prankster you see above. Pop is far away in California. I wish I could be there, but I'm told that proximity doesn't help. There are a few relatives near him who are running out of ideas. One relative wrote:

It's hard to tell what's going on in Pop's head.
Whatever it is, he's in control.

I had long chats with his attending physician & nurse today.
Both are resigned to cutting Pop loose to decide for himself to get motivated about building his strength back or not.
He wants to watch TV and be waited on.
He asks for things that are in his reach, but won't reach for them.
He won't order his meals.
He won't get up without 3 people assisting, but doesn't help at all to lift himself.
He'll tell you that he wants to do physical therapy, but refuses when the therapist or nurse comes to get him up.

Nobody is going to make Pop do anything he doesn't want to do.
Why he doesn't want to help himself only he can answer. And he ain't sayin'.

Anyone willing to poke him with a motivational stick, PLEASE DO IT!!
We are out of tactics.

How do you deal with such hopelessness? My dad calls Pop daily and usually manages to get a laugh out of him, but Pop still isn't walking, still isn't helping himself. Any suggestions for a proven "motivational stick" would be appreciated.


Anonymous said...

He needs some visits from a dog!

Nothing like it when you're feeling low.

Rob K said...


I noticed my dad perked up whenever his nurse brought over her little grandson.

Like dogs, babies have a way of letting in the light when you think the sun will never rise.

I wish all the best for you and your family in this difficult time.

Robin said...

Jen, depression is a serious problem amongst the elderly. Family may have already talked with the doctor about the possibilities of medication that can help, but if not, it's something to investigate.

Calamity Jen said...

Thank you for your comments, everyone. I sure wish that I could bring Ferris to see Pop, and that Ava and Alexa could drop in to see him on occasion.

I believe my dad was going to talk to our family in California about the possibility of Pop requiring treatment for depression. I hope Pop will accept it. I was quite discouraged when I called him the other day and a nurse picked up the phone instead of Pop. She told me, "He doesn't want to open his eyes." I still haven't talked to him.

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

I wonder if anyone has asked him outright what he is feeling - I mean really asked him. Expressed specific concerns, etc.

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

I also wanted to say that my Papa had also gone 'downhill' as they say. There comes a point when people just simply get tired and it isn't necessarily about anything else...just worn out. I hope things improve for the best for him.

Perhaps you can call him and ask him some specific questions to get him talking - stuff about the past, the 'good old days' - how he met his wife, did he accomplish all he wanted to, what does he view as his greatest accomplishments - letting him know you love him and are proud of him is about all that is left. He'll make up his mind if he hasn't already.

love you J

Tami said...

I hope he snaps out of it (if it's something that he can snap out of). Otherwise, I think OrangeBlossom Goddess had a lot of good ideas. Too bad you can't make out here (CA) to visit him, even to make yourself feel better (since you can't predict how he'll react or not).

As for the motivation stick? Not sure there really is one. Will he do anything for himself if none of the nurses or family are around to help?

Calamity Jen said...

Thank you, Heather and Tami.

I do wish I could visit, although my brother and Laura were there just last month and Laura said that all she could get out of Pop were one-word answers. At the time it was thought that he had the flu, so everyone believed that he was simply under the weather.

No one else has been able to get through to him so I doubt that it will be any different with me, but I'm going to give it a try when I call (if I can get him to answer the phone). I suffer from depression myself, so perhaps taking that angle might have an effect.

Thanks again, everyone, for your valuable and thoughtful input.

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling for you and your family Jenni. My grandad's condition has been getting exponentially worse and we're also feeling helpless.

panda said...

I don't have anything helpful to add, unfortunately. My uncle has just had to have a competency hearing because he's been getting lost in the neighborhood where he's lived for over 70 years. He's had his car taken away, and may have to be moved into assisted living for his own safety.

It's hard to take care of those we care for when they do not seem to want help.

Our thoughts and good wishes are with you.


Calamity Jen said...

Again, everyone, thank you for your comments. I just called Pop. He says he feels crummy, as his back is sore and his stomach is bothering him. He claims to be doing his therapy and says that it is painful. Although I got a couple of chuckles out of him, he still sounds down. It's hard to tell how much is due the medication, how much is due the fact that I woke him up (oops), and how much is due to his low spirits. I wasn't able to give him a hug, but he did thank me for calling.

Rice said...

It really must be hard to get old. I feel for your Grandpa.

Shelley said...

I gotta hot 99 year old grandma that could perk him up...she's got a bad track record for men though, the last one only lasted 9 months before his heart gave out.