Mother has started calling me a lot of nights wanting me to come get her.

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She thinks I am her mother, and she is at college. Breaks my heart.


Daytime, she is not as confused. They require her to have a phone in order for her call button necklace to work. One night she called me 11 times, and also called 911, and police came to the facility to check on her.She is falling frequently, because she is getting out of wheelchair when no one is looking, because she is so busy packing up all her things ( she thinks she is leaving college). How do you get through something like this? It's heartbreaking to tell her I can't come get her. Upsets me at bedtime almost every night. I realize things will get worse, but I am just trying to get through "NOW".

10 Comments

Can you fib a little, tell her what she wants to hear to calm her? Is she in her home? Your Home? Is she ready for memory care?

Also, there may be a way to disable the phone so she can't use it but keep the line activated for her emergency pendant.
I'm a little confused. Your profile says that your mom is living at home but you wrote that she's in a facility. If she's in a facility why does she need a Life Alert-type system in place?

If she's in a facility I don't think she's getting the attention she needs if she's up and about, falling frequently, and making phone calls all night. Have you spoken to the Director of Nursing? Your mom needs closer monitoring.

I know it's difficult to get those phone calls. I used to get phone calls from my dad at night. He was in a nursing home and didn't have a phone in his room so he'd have to go to the nurses station and they'd hand him the phone. It could be 11pm at night and I'd get a call from my dad who was in distress because he couldn't find his socks. It would take some time for me to calm him down enough to want to hang up and go back to his room but then there was no one there to calm ME down once we hung up!

The way to get through it is to put out each little fire as it pops up. There is no one solution. Take her suitcase home with you the next time you visit. If she can't find her suitcase maybe she won't proceed with her packing. Talk to the staff regarding your mom falling. They don't want their residents falling all the time anymore than you want your mom to fall. Maybe the staff can peek in on her every 1/2 hour.

Talk to the nurse about anti-anxiety medication for your mom at night. Not to chemically restrain her but to soothe her obvious anxiety. Someone who is making 11 phone calls in one night and calling 911 is anxious and this can be solved fairly easily with medication.

I know how stressful it is and I'm sorry you're going through this. Just deal with it one situation at a time. That's all you can do. I cared for my dad in my home before he went into the nursing home. I thought things would get easier but I discovered that when our loved ones go into a nursing home the caregiving doesn't end, it's just different.

You can do this. Use the nursing home resources. That's what they're there for.
1. I'm wondering if there are some meds that are keeping her awake and stimulating the confusion. If she has high sugar snacks available as well, they can keep her awake and somewhat agitated. Check with the nursing staff or DON to find out what meds she gets in the evening, research the side effects, and if necessary ask to have the med schedule changed so she can get some well needed sleep.

2. Ask as well if she can have Melatonin which is a natural hormone produced by humans, but less so as the body ages. It's available in OTC form. Some herbal teas can also induce sleep.

3. As to the belief she's in college, there's something significant about that period that's bothering her. Did she go to college? Did she not go to college but always wanted to? Did she go but quit to start a career or family? Did she have a bad experience with a class and drop out?

Think back, ask relatives, and see if you can find out what's prompting these college days issues that seem to be unresolved after decades, and try to think of a way to help her address them. I.e., if she had a bad class and dropped out, tell her you've worked with the administration to get that class dropped so she can come back next semester if she wants to.

4. What you can also do when she calls is ask her if she's finished studying for her exam the next day, which has to be taken before she can come home. If you tell her you'll pick her up in a few days after finals are over, that might calm her because then she can, to the extent possible, believe she is leaving college. It might help her have something to look forward to, instead of being in a panic.

Good luck; these situations aren't easy to handle.
Thank you all for your answers. My mother is not at home. She is in an extended assisted living, a very small and intimate area, of a much larger facility. She has no suitcase there. She packs garbage bags, her book basket, whatever she can find. As for college, she graduated from Louisiana Tech, and never made less than an "A". This was a wonderful time of her life. She did, however, enjoy going home on occasion, and I think she is missing being "HOME", wherever that is , in her mind right now. I do fib to her, because its absolutely necessary. I will check with them about the telephone, and see if we can work out something different. I asked them to unplug it one night, but they said legally, they can't, but we can, for a short time.
She has just begun taking Zyprexa in the last five days, and takes an occasional Xanax, due to not wanting to shower, and getting mean about it. The Xanax she has taken for a while isn't doing the trick. We visit every day, either myself or my sister, or my stepdad. She forgets she cannot walk, due to a broken hip in August, and she trys to stand, and down she goes, but they can't be with her every minute. I understand this. I suppose I will need to learn to deal with things, as you say, one thing at a time. It's a long haul, and it just helps to voice things on this forum to people who understand.
Five years ago my dad was in a rehab center for five weeks. Dads second night there he called me begging me to come get him - he thought he was in the town where I went to college. Dad thought he was at my sorority and that all the nurses were my sorority sisters. On his third night he plotted his escape - took the screen off the window and was half way out when they discovered him. Just this past September my mom was at the same rehab - turns out my fathers antics were legionary and even staff who didn't work there at the time knew about my dad. It turned out he had a UTI.
Jana, you might want to consider to moving your Mom to a different facility. What worries me is that fact that your Mom can get her hands on enough trash bags to put things into said bags, those bags are high risk for someone with dementia, it's like giving a child a plastic bag.

Plus the fact your Mom needs to have access to a telephone 24 hours a day for her medical alert button to work. In a continuing care facility, if one is in bed there is a button to push for the Staff to response. You'd think her current facility would be high tech enough to program her room phone so she can't call out after a certain time. Oh my gosh, she called you 11 times. I wouldn't have the patience to deal with that.

My Mom is in a long-term-care facility and she cannot stand-up, either. The facility has her sitting in a Geri recliner which is very difficult to climb out. My Mom will occasionally slide out of bed when she starts getting fidgety and starts rolling back and forth. My Mom's room-mate is very alert so she will buzz the Staff.
Freqflyer, thank you. We had a long discussion tonight about this with my stepdad. My Mom does have a button in bathroom, and in her living area and bedroom, but can't think to push the button. She just cries out for HELP. She called 911 again last night and an officer came to speak with her about not doing that. I am going to meet with the head of the facility, and give notice, after I secure another facility. The staff where she is now is good. My Mom just needs more at this stage. She stayed in bed ALL DAY today, until 8:00 tonight. They say say can't force her to get up. This was the one day I could not be there, and learned of this tonight. She only let them get her up when she became so cold from being so wet. I think her new meds might have her sleeping more, plus she was up so late calling me and the POLICE!
We plan to move her back to the facility where she had her rehab. (which is also a NH). It is three blocks away, and my stepson, who is an orthopedic surgeon, is very respected there. That should get us some better care, or he won't refer patients to them any longer.
I suppose we just wanted her in more of a HOME type setting, but she needs nurses around the clock, before something disastrous happens.
Freqflyer, she called my sister ten times the same night she called me eleven!
Thank you for the idea of a Geri chair also. I am happy for you that your Mom has a great room-mate that can help watch out for her. Wishing the best of care for your Mom!
Rainmom, what a story! Your Dad is famous for his antics! Good thing they intervened!
My mother has been checked for UTI. She has had several along the way.
This is a long road, but with people like you, it is much easier. I am very thankful for all of you.
Gardenartist, I am checking on the Melatonin. Thank you for all your helpful words. It means the world to me!
Aww - thanks, janamark! My dad was quite a man. We lost him three years ago this past July. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and miss him with all my heart.

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