My mom lives in a wonderful assisted living home but feels abandoned if I'm not always there. How can I reassure her she is not alone?

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I travel frequently for work and pleasure. I recently moved my mom from her home several states away to a wonderful assisted living home near me.

Recently while I was away Mom's phone died on a Saturday. I submitted an on-line request for a repair but it took the phone company until Thursday to repair it. She couldn't call he phone company because they make you do everything on-line, so she wasn't reassured. She could use the phone in the office and of course they would have helped her in an emergency but she was in a panic and felt abandoned. Now she's more clingy than ever.

How can I reassure her that in an emergency the staff would have acted with greater urgency as the situation would have required? She isn't abandoned at all. She insists I don't understand and while they're nice people they can't be counted on.

Answers 1 to 10 of 37
I am sure you have talked to the director-I have heard that some AL's are not that good-would it be possibe to move her to another or do you have a friend who has the time to visit or call her often-I can see how she would have been upset not having a phone and expecting an elder to just go online-lots of older people do not want to learn to use a computer-I know it cost a bundle to get into those places at the least I would make a big stink-they must be licensed so you should be able to file a complaint-maybe the Board of Health in your county-do they have family meetings where you could talk to other families.
You may want to let your Mom know that you agree with her that the situation should have and could have been handled better by the staff. Invite her to join you in meeting with the director to express your mutual concerns and expectations in moving forward should anything like that ever happen again. It may be comforting to your Mom to know that you are on her side and do want to be in touch with her on a regular basis. I have been without phone service over a weekend and felt totally isolated. It's more than a little scary to think that you wouldn't be able to call someone for help if you needed to do so.
Does this AL have call buttons in each apartment, in case of emergency? How isolated was your mother, in realtiy? If it took the phone company 4 days to repair the phone, what could your presence have done to change that? How is this the facility's fault? Were there some extenuating circumstances? Many phones out because of a major storm, etc?

You travel. Your mother cannot depend on your constant presence or even that you will always be nearby or available. That is, perhaps, sad for her, but it is also fact.

Does your mother need more care than assisted living?

I'm not sure what Austin would have you make a big stink about. What should the AL have done that they did not do?

I guess I'm missing a piece to this puzzle.
Keepon, I know with us, the asst living where my mother-in-law lives can't do anything for her, if she doesn't tell them there's a problem. Instead she tells me and I tell them. If your mother never told the place where she lives about the phone thing, then how could they have helped her? She must learn to speak up for herself they can't read minds.
Mom wears call button on her wrist. She can call them for any reason. Plus the staff checks on her several times a day. They'll also come by if she doesn't come to a meal. She wasn't alone at all. She just felt like she was alone.

The staff didn't call maintenance until Monday. If I had been there, I couldn't have done anything differently. The assisted living staff could have been more empathetic. The phone company just works at it's own speed. She just felt that no one thought it was an emergency like she did.

I've seen them respond quickly in a medical emergency. And I have every confidence they would act appropriately. Mom just doesn't share my confidence and I don't know how to reassure her. She also makes a bigger deal out of inconveniences than she should.
I'm sure the AL staff have seen and dealt with many, many life-threatening emergencies. To them, having a phone out of order when you have a portable call button and people checking on you several times a day is an inconvenience, not an emergency.

She insists that you don't understand, and that while they are nice people they can't be counted on. And her solution to this is ... ?? What is it she really wants? To come live with you? To have you stop traveling and be with her every day? To be 20 years younger and live with your father in their own home? What she wants may not be something she can have. (Just like the rest of us, alas. I sure don't get everything I really want.)

I don't know whether it would help matters or hurt to be talking about the real issues instead of talking about telephone repair service. How long has it been since she moved? Does she just need more time to feel "at home" in her new surroundings?
You mentioned that she is "more clingy than ever". Perhaps this is an ongoing relationship dynamic between the two of you? I doubt that call buttons will change it. Maybe if you decide how you want to respond physically, emotionally and verbally to her fear of abandonment (and maybe mortality), and then just practice that response repeatedly, you will have some peace. Your question in and of itself, reflects your compassionate nature. I wish you peace, for your and mother's sake.
Get her a Tracfone and make sure it is always plugged in to the power so will be available to her should the phone go out again. If she can handle it the phone, plugging it in to power when needed, then get her a little pouch to carry it around her neck. then she will be able to call you whenever, even when she is out of her room. If she can handle it, then a G4 smartphone with two way video would be great...then she can see you and you her. You can hook up a remote camera so you can always view her room on your computer. Perhaps several little security steps will make her feel more secure.
I have observed that when we age our world becomes smaller and small problems become bigger. My Mom tends to isolate herself and not get involved with activities or in making friends. Then when some minor inconvenience happens it becomes monumental to her.
My Mom, too, tends to panic when she knows her family is out of town. She also has "sundowner's" episodes that cause her panic attacks in the evening. We all do what we can for her, but it isn't humanly possible for anyone to live someone else's life for them.
I can understand her fear in not being able to dial out on her phone - it is her lifeline to the outside world. But it wasn't the ALF's responsibility to repair her phone. Your Mom is just using this incident to add to her fears.
When my Mom is having a panic attack she cannot articulate what she wants so it is difficult for me to "fix it." I would suggest that you help your Mom through these episodes by listening but do not try to remedy the situation until she is calmer and can tell you what is really bothering her. It may be as simple as getting more help for her or asking the staff to make some changes in her care. Also, if your Mom is isolating herself at the ALF, she needs to get more involved with activities or outings. If she just sits in her room alone all day, there is not much to occupy her mind.
good luck.
When someone we love has an unpleasant feeling, we all tend to try to talk them out of it -- that's the impulse behind reassurance, essentially, isn't it? We go "Don't worry, it's not like you think." We even do this to ourselves. But when someone's trying to express something and it doesn't get heard, they get louder (us included). Validate FIRST: "It sounds like it felt scary not to have the phone working right away." "It sounds like these inconveniences are unsettling to you." You're NOT agreeing. You're showing that you've heard the feelings. It seems like doing that will magnify the feelings, but it's often surprising how that calms them down instead. Of course, you also show that you're solving whatever actual logistical problems you can, for which others here have given great suggestions.

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