My Mom calls every night. I feel guilty if I don't talk to her.

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It's same questions - same issues - it's like her day starts over - everyday. My Mother is in a nursing home and has been for 4 years now. She endured a Traumatic Brain Injury in a car accident 22 years ago and my father, her husband was killed in that accident. She is now 80 years old, suffering from multiple issues including the TBI, dementia, congestive heart failure, she is blind, cannot walk on her own nor feed herself on her own. She is hard to understand when she talks and everything is driven by panic and anxiety. At least once a week she calls me to tell me she has gone blind (she has been blind for 10 years). She wants to go home, which I understand - she believes she is perfectly healthy - the list goes on and on. Every time we talk which is around 3-4 times a week, it is an hour plus conversation about the very thing we talked about the day before. Nothing changes. I know she can't help it and it must be awful to relive that every day, but I'm so tired of going through this. I feel guilty saying that - if I don't answer, she just calls and calls until I do, then gets upset with me because I don't answer the phone. Those calls nearly ruin my evenings and my plans. I just hate feeling this way, but I don't know how to manage this. Has anyone else been through this - suggestions or thoughts?


Wow, your mother really has a lot on her plate, as do you. I do understand the frustration of repetitive questions and issues. What I TRY to do is think of it as a new question entirely and also put myself in the position of the person asking it, thinking how strange it must feel to have a memory so compromised that topics aren't remembered from one day to the next.

My phone is next to my computer station, so sometimes I quickly turn on the computer and go to a gardening site, or stare at my desktop (a beautiful garden scene with a sweet little cat heading toward the flowers). The beauty, the flowers and the cat calm me down and I can answer more helpfully.

I think trying to put yourself in your mother's situation might be the most helpful - imagine how strange it must be to lose so much and yet still manage to be able to ask questions.

Wish I had some better suggestions.
How far away are you from mom and is there any other friends or family or are you her sole emotional support?
I am a minimum of 8 hours away and there are no other family members, so it's Mom and I. We have a long time family friend that goes to see her almost every day for about a half hour and I am so grateful for that. Mom loves her, as do I so that is a blessing for sure. GardenArtist - great suggestions. I always think about my later years and wonder if that will be me! I guess we feel helpless - then guilty for feeling that way. I know I'm in for more tonight - I dread it.
I understand your need to connect with your mom, but circular conversations that drag on for over an hour can be trying to anyone's patience. My grandmother had a friend that she didn't want to offend, but her conversations sometimes became an endless marathon. Her solution was to ring her own doorbell to bring it to a close, I have been known to tell people I have another call coming in and I'll talk to them soon... With my sis I just tell her "OK, I've had enough"! Perhaps if you call her on set days she will be less inclined to call you as often. I think if you are talking several times a week it's fine to keep the conversations to under half an hour, and if she calls when it's not scheduled or convenient don't feel guilty about not taking her calls.
It's good to hear about the friend who visits every day. That's a huge lugs for your mom. I'm also long distance from my folks by 10 to 12 hours. They may have a grandkids stop by once a month or so but 90 percent of their human interaction is with me on the phone or when I make the drive to see them.

Dad has very little short term memory and I have to prompt him continually to converse. I ask about his flowers, the bird feeders, have you seen any deer lately and so on. We've had the same conversation hundreds of times. To mom I
Have become her aches and pains sounding board like I'm a visiting nurse and she has to report all details of her health, including BMs. This is small potatoes compared to what you're dealing with but I understand your fatigue.

Living that far away I don't think there is a solution other than what has been suggested above. But I think people like us to to reme,bet all those poor souls out there trapped in hands on, live with mom, caregiver hell. Spend 10 minutes exploring this site for those stories and you'll feel much better. I hate to say this but count your blessings. She's in care, she has a friend and a caring daughter who talks, or listens, to her frequently.

PS. I assume your a daughter. Mostly gals around here. And I state all the above with all respect to your situation. I in no way mean to appear scolding.
It's me again....Please excuse the typos. Big man hands, crappy little I pad.
Windyridge - great comments and suggestions. I don't take you comments as scolding at all. You are absolutely right - I'm so grateful for her and for our very precious friend who visits her daily. It means everything to me and to Mom. In between my posts I got a call from the friend that visits her and she said that Mom is "on a roll" and be aware. So, looks like it's going to be a night - again! I'll try the doorbell trick - it will make my dog bark too. That's a good one. I've tried the phone call one and she'll wait about a half hour and call back. Last nite I didn't answer the phone and she called our friend and said that she hadn't talked to me in a month and assumed me dead. Really? It's a vicious circle.
LucindaD, I can relate to that... my parents still live alone in their home...
I speak daily to my parents but it is the same conversation as the day before, and the day before that. Even I can't bring anything new into the conversation because I've been grounded myself due to an injury. Thank goodness Donald Trump threw his hat into the ring, it was a new subject for my Dad and I to talk about :)

Usually after 15-20 minutes of talking to Dad, I will ask him if Mom is nearby, and he gets her to the phone, those conversations are less than 60 seconds. My Mom can barely hear, so when I she ask how am I feeling and I answer "the pain is exhausting", she will answer "oh, that's nice" which tells me her hearing aid isn't working that day.

The only suggestion is similar to what cwillie had recommended above, a set day and time. My calls to my parents are around 8 pm daily, unless I had a delivery to make to them [they live down the street from me]. Sometimes I am glad for the delivery as that is quicker than the phone call ;)
I think you have to learn to be pretty deceitful. My mom, God bless her heart, will prattle on for hours if I dont eventually cue my wife to yell loudly, "Your dinners getting cold" , or " the horses got out again ". Believe me, we have done it all. I call every day and I'm good for a 30 or 40 minutes but when she gets to Donald Trumps hairdo the horses have usually gotten out.
Well, the only other thing I can think of, besides being resigned to doing the re-orienting and re-re-reassuring daily as just a ritual you have to do for her, would be to talk to her staff or therapists and see if they can figure out a way to help. Maybe they could ease things by talking to her about where she is and what's happening each day, and how they will help her deal with the activities that she won't be able to see to do the usual way since she has been blind for some time but not forever. Anxiety medication could be a consideration too, probably in VERY low dose though, with careful assessment of side effects.

No need to feel guilty about finding this hard! It has got to tear you up inside and feel like a difficult chore that has to be done over and over and over....and not even as much fun or exercise as rolling a big stone up a hill like Sisyphus.

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