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Mom is 84 and resides at an assisted living facility, she has very bad arthritus and other age related health problems. Last night since I would not stop everything and look up her meds on the computer, she blasted me and said I do not care. She told me that since she no longer has a computer she cannot look up side affects associated with her meds, which if she knows of them she always ends up having them. Now she thinks her meds could kill her (most medications have many potential side affects) and since I do not want to look them up , I dont care. She is in assisted living and seems to not get enough attention so I get these calls daily. What can I do, Last week we made three visits to the Doctor, it looks like I will have to take her again this week, nothing changes. Soon her Doctor may give up..but I cannot...she is my mom.... but I am afraid this daily complaining and Dr visits is killing me...No matter what, mom is unhappy, uncomfortable and just plain mean at times. She wants me to listen and take her to the Dr. constantly, it is her neck today, her leg tomorrow, then confusion, then her back, then her stomach, then her teeth. Seriously my mother has an issue every day, it is always something and If I do not come running , then I do not care, I am beginning to think otherwise. Maybe I should not respond everytime, she is not going to be happy anyway. My sweet wife is very helpful but at what point will she say the heck with this...I am just worn out and have very little patience....what to do....

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thank you for your encouragement!!!
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Jaye, it sounds like you are using boundaries to me. I think part of good boundaries is not taking on responsibility for someone elses feelings. Most high maintenance mothers get anxious if they don't get an answer on the phone. But that's not your fault if you're mother gets anxious. It's her experience and only she can deal with it. And yes behaviour will escalate before it tapers off once you set a boundary which may be what's happening when your mother calls multiple times. And that's the hard part of boundaries. Once you have set them you have to keep them. You can't be answering the phone when you want to discourage that behaviour.

You arranged for your mother to get her banking done and didn't rush over there to take her when she called. I'd call that a boundary.

As for respecting boundaries, of course she never will. Because if she respected them you wouldn't have to set them. What you are doing is requring that she change her behaviour by changing your behavior. It's not easy. There will be lots of opposition from her corner. And lots of gut wrenching from yours. But eventually she will mellow. And you won't come home from work sick.
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yes that is really good however my Mother has NEVER respected boundaries and I don't have that option. She will keep calling me and get my anxious til I call her back!!! Yesterday I literally went home from work sick she called and was insistant that I take her to the bank. I just said Mom I can't if you will wait my husband will help you. we just have to let her know she cannot run rough shot over us... I love her and so does my husband thank God!!!
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Good boundaries, PamelaSue
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i am going through this with my mother, she has been a hypochondriac my whole life and it only has gotten worse. do what i do, DO NOT ANSWER THE PHONE. let it go to voice mail. i listen to the messages later and then decide if any are important enough to respond.

my mother asked me why i don't answer my phone and i told her the truth, "mother, you call too much to often, and it's usually about things that i can do nothing about until the next time i visit, so i call back shortly before the visit". she said, "but i worry about you, i thought something had happened to you and steve and the kids". i told her that if anything had actually happened to us, that she would have been informed.
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My mom calls all the time and will usually leave a voicemail. What my mom doesn't understand is that she is not really talking to me, but she is leaving a "voicemail" . . . where she carries on a one-sided conversation. I just have to smile and laugh . . . getting old is hard and once I figured out that its okay NOT to take every single call she makes to me, I can deal with her better. She is in an Assisted Living Facility for a reason and I know she is getting the care she needs. My mom is 82 years old and worked right up until 5 years ago. She is a go getter and is very, very independent. Being in this AFC home is NOT with her approval and of course, she misses her family. If she wants to call me and carry on a conversation on my voicemail, that is okay with me. I will call her back when I can and when I'M READY to talk to her. I love her dearly and want only the best for her, but I have to do what is best for me too, and it sounds like you need to do this as well before you end up resenting her.
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The loss of independence is a big deal when our parents health causes them to have to move to an assisted living center. The fears of end of life, lonliness, feelings of uselessness and many other emotions that they have to deal with and try to work through are difficult for them. Maybe your Mom just wants to feel your love and enjoy as many visits & conversations from you as she get, therefore looking for any reason at all to get your attention. My Mom passed away in May (85 yrs old) and believe me I would give anything for just one more of those phone calls. I did use the idea of keeping a note of her physical complaints to talk to the doctor on the next scheduled appointment unless it was something serious that needed immediate attention. Good luck...make sure you tell her that you love her...you never know when that last phone call will come.
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There are telephone answering machines that show the number of the caller. You then have the option of accepting the call or to not do so.Personally, I would record a this message, "Hello, this is Jerry, I.m away from my phone right now but if you will leave a message I will get back to you when I return." Of course if your name isn't Jerry..................
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My parents argued constantly about my nannas demands and too late we discovered she had ll the symptoms of dementia and was just scared. Attention is something old people do not get enough of in this country and they lose their dignity and independence when in AL. When we get married we expect to come first and take precedence over our spouses parents but your wife wasn,t there when you were growing up and your mum was looking after you. Its tiring and a balancing act but instead of your mum just having her ailments to focus on perhaps a weekly fun outing will give her something to look forward to. Make sure you take some time for you, pamper your wife and set boundaries with your mum, maybe her complaints are the only time she feels listened to. Is there no one else that can pop by and see her? A couple of my mums friends stopped by to give my mum a break, we the grandkids did as well and I must be honest deep down I do feel resentment that my dad forced my mum to make choices and guilty for visiting my nan and not going with her so hopefully your wife understands and would do the same for her parents. Read the book "contented dementia" its excellent if she does develop further problems.
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Keepontryin, this actually sounds like my Mom. She has abandonment issues too. However, she never calls anyone. Even me, her daughter. I can go for weeks and weeks without her ever calling me, my brother, any of her siblings, neighbors, etc. It is our job to call and check on her. She keeps a tab of who is calling "her" and who doesn't. I call her almost daily, that sort of makes her happy. She really wants my brother to call her daily since he is closer to her and could be of use to her. Strange what parents do in their old age. Mom is very selfish, lives alone. But my brothre is 6 miles away. She tells anyone who will listen that she has "no one", which translate into my son and daughter are not at my beck and call. I guess I am sort of lucky that she doesn't call me. If I decide to not call her today, it will take about 3 or 4 weeks for her to pick up the phone and call to see if I am dead or alive. All of the parents are just pulling our strings. Geez
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My Mom was doing this, including calling me at 3am. I talked with a psychiatrist about this. He had a good suggestion. He said she feels abandoned, even though you talk with her constantly. He said to set a time you will call her and stick with it. For example, tell her you'll call her at 7pm every Mon-Wed-Fri evening. That way if she has things to discuss with you she can wait because she knows you'll be talking with her soon.

I'd also suggest caller-id. The problem with ignoring her though is at her age there could be something really wrong. And also you'll just add to her fear of being abandoned.

This works with my Mom.
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I can really relate to your situation my Mother calls me constantly too... She does NOT get bounderies and NEVER has!!! I have been married almost 36 yrs several times before my Father's death I told them do not make me choose between you and my husband I will choose my husband!!! the nurses perhaps need to talk a little more time with her. I understand she wants YOU... however you have got to have YOUR life too...
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Tell your mom that you will call the Dr. and get back to her with info, Rx, or other directives - there are placebo tablets available at some drugstores. Rexall drugstores used to have them. They work well if you highly suspect that an ailment is bogus. As far as researching Rx - I highly recommend it - but not necessarily in the middle of the night. If I had researched Zyprexa earlier, my mom would still be with me. It killed her just like the FDA warned that it could - within 1 month of it being given to her. I would give anything to have my mom back to wake us up at 3 am to ask if it were time to get up yet. Your mom is frustrated at not being able to do for herself -- give her something to do. Ask her to keep a list of her medicines in a notebook and you can pass along any info you run across. Have a meeting with her weekly or monthly to take a look at all the info. Maybe she would be open to such activity - and it would make her more of a participant. I truly hope this helps. God bless you and your mom - cherish her while you have her, even when she's mean. She's just trying to survive. Remember - flattery will score points, too.
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My mother would do the same thing - call in a panic and then when I would get there the episode would be over. I got the doctor to tell her the story about the boy who cried wolf - and then when she would have a REAL episode, she would say "See, I'm not crying wolf." So now, I have a planned visit weekly. I bring her groceries (she is in independent living instead of assisted where she belongs". If she calls in a panic for ANY reason, I tell her I will call the service on site to assist her. They are trained medical personnel and will call me back if it is a real emergency at which point I will meet her at the hospital. Otherwise I stick to the 1X per week visit. It has truly helped with my sanity and my ability to stay calm.
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JaneB does a good job of explaining what goes on in the mind of the elderly. I'm a logical and factual person. I like that sort of explanation.

What occurred to me when I was reading JaneB's post was that my mother and father were always in deep denial about their health and bodies. When my dad died it was an immense suprise to them both although it was obvious to me for some time that he wasn't going to live much longer. My dad liked us to pretend that he was getting better. He believed in optimisim at all times, never acceptance of the inevitable results of a life of drinking and smoking. Consequently we never discussed his death.

My mother is 93 and fading from frailty. Every part of her is slowing and falling apart. She asked me yesterday if her trouble with eyesight was the result of watching too much tv. She wants to believe that it can all be fixed just like my dad did.

Do they think they can avoid death? I guess that's part of a lifetime of denial.
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I love the idea Eddie posted of making sure she has the printouts from the pharmacy of potential side effects. Tell her take a look at those, or go to the facility computer if she needs it.

You are not a "bad son" and no matter how much she complains, you will not suddenly become a "bad son." There is no making some people happy, and the history of your mother sounds like she is such a person. Nothing you can do will make the aches and pains go away. The underlying fears -- that she is closer to death daily, that things won't "get better" but harder -- are what she is distracting herself from, by latching on to a litany of daily problems. Calling you for help is her way of believing she still has ways to push away the impacts of aging, that she still has some control in her life. And it occurs to me that you might just say that to her. Notice how it feels for YOU (for me, for anyone reading this) to read, "Getting old is hard, isn't it?" It just makes me (at least) kind of relax: "Yes it IS hard!" maybe that bit of relief is something that could quell the fears and anger at being fearful, at least for a little bit.
But the main thing I want to say is find ways to give up needing to be a "good son" to her. That's an impossible task, at least in terms of getting her to acknowledge it and stop complaining. Say no. Say, "look it up in the papers that are in the desk, where I left them." Say, "It must be hard to be worried like this and have nothing to distract yourself from the worry." And if none of that helps, say, "I love you Mom AND I can't look that up for you now. I'm sorry you feel so angry right now." And hang up.
Oooooh, I feel for you. I feel for all of us. And all of them, too.
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Sounds familiar, need to just ignore her calls. Tell her you didn't hear your phone or whatever. you have to realize she is safe and in good care. The nurses are right, she is playing you like a fiddle and she is selfish. Set your boundaries. Good luck
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Hi, sacline. It makes perfect sense to me that you are emotionally exhausted. The examples you shared are consistent with your mother being a high maintenance individual. Does she have enough to do during the day? If you can afford to get her a computer, have you considered doing that? You may want to let her know that barring a medical emergency, she will simply need to write down each of her medical ailments as they come up and save them for her monthly, or whenever scheduled, medical visits, unless you and the doctor have reason to be medically concerned about each symptom she comes up with daily. In fairness to her, she probably is acutely aware of how much her body is changing with age and it may frighten her. That's normal, in my opinion only.

You don't have to respond to her daily. You may choose to listen and not act upon what she has to say unless you determine that there is a need to do so. Cut yourself some slack if medically reasonable. You can let her know that you will make mental note of her concerns and encourage her to share those with her doctor at next opportunity. Remind her that she has shared many details of her medical symptoms with her doctor already and the doctor gets the bigger health picture. Encourage her to start a list of questions to ask her doctor at her next visit, including her fears of where the road may lead.

You will also need to stop worrying about what she thinks of your non-responses. She worries, and so do you. If her doctor gives her up as a patient, all you can do is try to find another doctor if or when that may happen. If her health is going to worsen, no amount of worry will prevent that from happening. Instead of worrying about how soon your wife will become fed up, share your frustrations with your wife and let her know that you want her help to break the cycle of worrying so much about your mother's situation. When was the last time you enjoyed a date night with your wife? Invite her to dinner soon and start to expand your shared world in ways that you will both find fulfilling. Good luck in breaking the cycle!
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Thumbs up Eddie, it has taken me only 45 years to realise I was being played like a fiddle by my mother. I'd been her full time carer for 5 months, after a year of running around the country when she called. WELL...what a blardy mess she made of my life, I was ready to volunteer to be put in a straight jacket, one because I felt completely mad, and two to stop me from throttling her.

I get the calls to my mobile ph from her, which I used to take and then race off to her side because she felt she was going to die...*rolls eyes*, then the call to bring her favourite shoes....*rolls eyes*, the things I've dashed into her for is ridiculous, and I'm embarrassed now that I have distanced myself from it to see how manipulative she was being.
The last straw for me was when she started confiding in my husband what an evil cow I am and how useless I have always been. Massive boundaries crossed...It caused no end of trouble I can tell you.
Advice which I found helpful....turn off yah phone!!!!, learn to say NO!!!!!, take back control, and tell ya mum to pull her head in...she will hate you for a few days or longer, but once you realise the sky didn't fall down because you didn't run to your mum, it gets better and better as you take back control of your life. Good lucks matey
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Brandy here, I didn't mean bad by my above statement. I know how it is, my husband and mother are killing me too. I consider both of them my wayward children. I really can't tell you what to do, if I had the answers, I would fix my life as well. The book Boundaries was somewhat helpful for me.
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I agree with Eddie as well. Your wife should come first. You made vows to her. A good leader in his family finds a way to make time for the wife first, then mother.
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I agree with Eddie as I had to learn boundaries with my mother who is a hypochondriac. I don't know what the deal is with old people. But they do get self- absorbed. She has probably always yelled at you when you don't do what she wants. So she's trained you to respond without thinking. Step back and take a look at what she is saying. Is it true? No. It's the yelling that you are responding to not the message which is blantantly false.

Set some boundaries and stick to them otherwise she'll eat you alive and move on to the next person.
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SA:

You might not like this, but I'll say it anyway. People living in AL aren't helpless individuals but do need assistance with some things. She might not have a computer, but the facility has one. They can help her look up the side effects. Or, the next time she picks up her meds, insist a monograph for every medication is included. That way she'll have a list of side effects handy.

She hollers, you jump. I'm sure your wife has told you this many times but you'll continue running to her rescue as long as she pulls the strings and pushes the buttons she installed to ensure your subservience whether you're single or not. She needs to be weaned. You already know the difference between legit phone calls and attention-seeking BS.

Needy people = entrapment, so don't be surprised when your wife starts packing. It's not easy being married to a shadow and pretend everything is honky-dory when he's around. Your Mom might say something like "She wasn't right for you anyway" just to keep your blinders on. Your wife, then, is the only barrier that's keeping her from moving in. Yes my brother, that's the name of her game.

No man should have to choose between mother and wife, but unless you set boundaries and enforce them consistently there isn't a woman in the world that will put up with all that nonsense. You'll be alone and bitter because the best years of your life were sacrificed to serve an individual who's never given much thought to the effect her neediness is having on you and your loved ones.

She wants what she wants when she wants it. It's for you to decide whether she gets it or not.
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Thank you. Yes mom has always been a hypochondriac. The boy who called wolf too many times..I did call the nurse and ask them to check on her. The nurse says that my mom is playing me like a fiddle. She is obsessed with her body in every way . The fact is we are all getting older and yes it can stink. Period.
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Has your mom always been a hypochondriac or at least been focused on her body like this? Or is this just an old age thing? My mother-in-law lives in asst living also, so when she tells me she doesn't 'feel right', the first place I start is there. They have a nurse staffed 24/7 so I call them and they check on her for me. Now m-i-l doesn't go on and on like your mom does, but still that would be the first place I'd go if she did. I figure they're getting $3400 a month, so they ought to earn it. My mother-in-law told me once (she's 87) that nothing works like it used to, and it's frustrating and scary so old people become obsessed with their bodies. You know even at my age, this body isn't working like it used to. Stuff hurts, stuff goes out, stuff makes other stuff ache, stuff is gross, the list goes on and on. I guess you're going to have to weed out the 'not normal' stuff from the 'serious' stuff and take the appropriate action. You may have to tell mom that you're going to call the staff where she lives and have them talk to her when she calls you. The fact is, getting old stinks. Period.
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