My patience is running out and I feel bad!

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My mother is 92, in a seniors home. I live 2.5 hrs away, so I call every night. If I am a few minutes late calling - she makes me feel bad. She does not have Alzheimer's, but says the same things every night, like I have never heard it before. She talks about people that I know like I don't know them. Is this normal for her age. She says she doesn't sleep at all. But she must be, right?

15 Comments

Patience; what is that in the caregiving situation? I really don't have an answer. Does she have other relataives nearby that could pop in to visit a few times a week? I can only imagine what my Mother would be like if I was that far away..not a pretty picture. I would never get off the phone. Even thought she is right here in my house her conversations are always about the same things
every day. I don't think the distance is the problem.

Is she able to participate in activities the NH provides? Sounds like you are a caring daughter and doing the best you can. You just can't beat yourself up over things you can't control.

Good luck! Deep breath..relax!






Cathy mom has dementia and that is why she repeats her behavior whenever you talk with her. She has care givers with her so you can rest knowing she is okay. Since you are the one initiating the phone calls it might help to start limiting those calls to perhaps three a week. You don't have to call every day and if something should occur, such as a fall, the home would notify you. And that could happen whether you call once a week or 10 times a week. You need to find a way to lessen the stress whenever you talk with mom, which means limiting what you talk about. My husband and I went through this with his mother, she would call us several times a day demanding to be brought home, it was always " you're a doctor, you can fix what's wrong with me".....talk about a guilt trip....lol. Bottom line is that you don't have to put yourself through that daily stress, mom will be just fine with a lesser number of calls per week and you will look forward to talking with her.
Excellent advice from both littletonway and Jam. You are doing all that you can. Your mom is safe and being taken care of. I agree that you need to cut back on daily phone calls. You need to prepare her for this. Just say "tomorrow I won't be able to call." Make up some excuse -- someone else needs you, going out of town for the day and evening, you are sick, anything. Start slowly until you have cut back on daily calls. No, she won't like it, BUT DO NOT LET HER MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY. That seems to be a major problem that so many of us daughters have with our moms. Your mom sounds just like my mom although mine is still living on her own near me. I realize this has been going on my entire life (feeling guilty, being manipulated and controlled). Of course, I used to be able to walk away from it, but now can't do that. If you are not always there she may just reach out to others . . . such as partcipating more in activities where she is living. You sound like a loving and compasionate daughter. You have to take care of YOU too.
You have some good 'long life' genes to be thankful for. My mom (who died at 70) did not sleep much at night near the end. Luckily I was able to nap in the day when there was someone there. My mom had lost her hearing after open heart surgery so conversation was difficult. She talked and I listened and wrote any needed responses. You want and need some relief; mom will enjoy some new faces--see if someone will help the two of you. Good luck.
Do you have a headset? I felt the same way when talking to my mom, because it's usually an hour or 2 of her repeating herself about minimal things, etc. I dread calling (she doesn't call me) and I feel guilty when I don't. A friend got me some great earbuds for my cell phone. I put the phone in a pocket (if no pockets, I put on an apron with pockets!), ring her up, and do housework while we talk. I mop, fold laundry, sort bills- I find that I can stay on the line as long as she wants and actually be pleasant the whole time; no patience required!
Dear Cathy123,
Ask the charge nurse or the person in charge at night if your Mom is really sleeping or not sleeping at night. If she isn't her doctor can prescribe anti-anxiety pills that do help with sleep--as it does with my Mom. They are not sleeping pills per say, but anti-anxiety pills that also help with appetite and it also puts her to sleep. In your Mom's case, I think her doctor should intervene and examine your Mom. The home should know and keep a daily journal of all of their patients. If your Mom keeps repeating the same stories as if you've never heard them before or if she thinks that she's never said them to you before, it sounds like mild dementia to me. My Mom was exactly like that in the beginning of her stage of dementia. My Mom also suffered from insomnia--I think a lot of elderly people do--I've heard it many times from many different people.
I too feel very guilty when I do not go see Mom every day at hospice. I do go every day, but two times I haven't gone because of illness. And even when I do go every day, by the time the afternoon rolls around, she forgot that I came and tells bro and sis that I never came for 3 or 5 days. But bro and sis know better. Sometimes she calls me in the afternoon and wants to come home and doesn't understand why she cannot. And that makes me so very sad and hurt hearing her painful and pleading voice.
All excellent advice up there!! Please heed them as much as you are able.
I agree with the advice to get headphones and do your housework, pay bills, or do something else while talking to her is excellent advice. My mother is 89 and lives in the home with me. She repeats stories that she has already told me many, many times. I have started just nodding my head and saying uh huh every time she starts down the path. I used to try to tell her Ive heard the story before, but it does no good... she likes to tell the stories and she doesn't remember she's told it before. So I figure there's no harm in just listening again. I know the first instinct is to become impatient but I think this is just because we as caregivers feel helpless and upset at the fact that the loved one is losing her memory. I just try to accept it and listen. Once the story is told then they feel better.
So wise, southerngirl. Life is so much better when you quit trying to correct a failing mind, and just accept the situation and rechannel your energy into being pleasant.
So many things may be contributing to your mom's behaviors. Many times the transition itself into a congregate setting can trigger a gamut of emotions that will trigger anxiety . She most probalbly waits for those evening calls and gets anxious when they are a little late. Many folks in these settings experience loneliness, helplessness, and boredom despite what appears to be wonderful activity programs. Sounds like mom is clinging to familiarity and focusing on mutual relationships that you both share. Perhaps you should discuss with her her feelings about her placement and try to go from there about how you both can help eachother through it.
I once read an article from someone that asked his mother why she told the same stories over and over and she replied that she was not able to get out and had no new experiences to share and enjoyed talking about the ones that she did have. That helped me to have a bit more patience and understanding about that situation.

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