My 80 yr old mom has been at the rehab facility for 3 weeks now.
I am her only child (54 yrs old w/anxiety issues stemming from worry over my moms condition).

I go to see her almost every evening after work.

I was there last night from 7:30-11pm.

My mom has called me in the middle of the night numerous times telling me she can't breathe, "please bring my asthma medicine", or just 3am & 6am this morning saying @my chest is hurting, please come here & bring me some baby aspirin"..
Both times she called today I had my phone ringer off so I could sleep, but again, I'm having trouble sleeping because I'm constantly checking my phone to see if there are any calls or messages & sure enough there were these 2 calls from my mom.
I am feeling guilty for not picking up the phone for her last call (did speak w/her when she called @ 3am & told her I couldn't drive there because it was 3 in the morning" & she was disregarding what I was saying to her & hung up on me.
Am I being selfish for not answering her calls??
I mean if she was having chest pains she has an emergency button attached to her bed that would call the nurses & they would come immediately..& wouldn't they call me if anything serious was happening to my mom??

I'm so upset by this I'm shaking.

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Ah, the phone. I could go on for hours about the negative effects my mom, her situation and the phone calling had/has on me! I've been looking after my mom for five years now - My mom had been showing signs of dementia for a while but I knew next to nothing about the disease and didn't recognize the beggining signs - plus mom was abusing oxycodone and she's a master manipulator so things were complicated. So about 1 1/2 years ago she started calling in the middle of the night to ask me if it was 3:00 in the morning or afternoon. No matter what I did by ways of helping her identify am or pm worked. I think everyone can agree what a ring phone in the middle of the night can do to your nerves. After several months the calling slowed down - I think she actually realized she was bringing attention to her deminishing mental capacity and didn't want me pushing a move from her current Independent Living situation. Then in late August she had a fall that resulted in four days in the hospital and then off to rehab for three weeks. The first night in rehab she called at 10:30pm having an epic meltdown. She wanted me to come get her and take her back to her apartment - when I said I wouldn't do that all hell broke loose! Mom started screaming at me, calling me every name in the book, I was no longer her daughter etc. moms room mate was in the background yelling at mom to shut up - it was a nightmare. In hindsight I don't understand why the rehab didn't step in - mom had to be disrupting the entire wing. Anyhow - that marked when the phone calling really got out of hand. Everyday it was mom - either angry or pathetic - even though I visited every other day. Doctors, PT, social worker, my brother, moms friends, the regular caregiver, the caregiver agency, on and on. My husband and I had planned a 3-day trip to the beach, I had notified everyone I was going and still people called. Every day for 49 straight days I got calls - hours on the phone by day, hysterical calls from mom at night. At a point mom was moved from rehab into AL - she didn't make 10 days until she fell - we had to move her to a NH, the call from mom that first night made the rehab call look like a picnic. By mid November I was nearing a complete break down. Every time the phone rang I would practically get sick - a few times I did. It was only after finding this site and taking the advice of the wonderful people her - plus a rx for an anxiety med that I finally was able to get a grip. I stopped picking up the phone everytime it rang. I learned to trust the staff at the NH - mom was safe, well taken care of and allowing her to verbally abuse and berate me wasn't going to change her needs or situation. Moms most recent attempt was a few days before Christmas. She called in the morning to see if I would be over - "no" I said, I had Christmas shopping to do. Later that afternoon she called again - in her most helpless voice she said she had had an accident - "it was like diarrhea - it was everywhere". She wanted me to come help her clean it up. "No mom, I'm not going to do that. Did you push your call button for help?" No - she hadn't. I told her to push the button and they would come help her. Ever so weakly she said "I'll try". I called the NH - told then what she said, hung up and went shopping. Granted the holiday spirit had long left me at that point but I felt good at standing my ground. I'll never know if she actually had an accident or if it was a ploy to get me over there - I never asked, I never will. Mom gave me the silent treatment for a week after that along with plenty of dirty looks - but she hasn't called me since. I'm still visiting - reduced to 2x a week for about 90 minutes each. I talk to her doctors etc on my schedule - if I feel like picking up the phone I do - if not, I listen to the message when I'm ready. I feel so much better than I did two months ago - I can't tell you! Please - get ahold of yourself and the situation before it completely gets ahold of you. See your doctor, get counseling, turn off the phone if you can't resist picking it up. Do whatever it takes. Save yourself!
Helpful Answer (9)

Hangingon61, I know it is tough not to worry about your Mom, since your her only child you have no one to bounce off ideas. So welcome to this forum, we will be your adopted siblings that you can talk to, pass around ideas, etc.

First thing I noticed, and so had others, you are visiting too much and for too long. Cut the visit to 7:30 to 8.55 and tell Mom the visiting hours have been cut back and visitors have to leave at 9:00 pm. Then start visiting every other day.

Ask the Staff when does Mom sleep? She could be a night owl, thus the reason for the wee hour telephone calls. If Mom sleeps during the day, have the Staff try to keep her awake during the day, except for an occasional nap, that way hopefully Mom will sleep through the night.
Helpful Answer (8)

Yes, thank you everyone.
I just got off the phone (I picked it up because I thought it was the nurse calling me back after checking in on mom) and my mother said "why are you doing this to me?".
I told her "what am Indoing to you?".
I also told her that calling me in the middle of the night for things is causing me a lot of stress & it's affecting my health & to please not do this anymore".
She said "you put me here".
I said "I put you there?".
She said "yes, you did"..
I told her "good night mom & I hung up"..
She has since called 3 times since I started writing this.
I'm going to take advice here & leave my phone in another room & get some sleep.
Helpful Answer (7)

If your mom is competent enough to dial a phone, ahe is competent enough to push a call button.

I would inform the social worker that this is happening and ask her to work with staff on getting mom to push the button. Ask for mom to be evaluated for dementia (if she doesn't have a dx already) and by a psychiatrist or psychoatric nurse for anxiety, depression and other mental/emotional issues.

Tell the staff you are taking a few days off from visiting due to your own health. Shut off your phone and let mom see that she can rely on staff.
Helpful Answer (6)

Rehab is temporary. What is her condition and where will she be going? Those are the questions to worry about. If she has chest pain, she does not need you to run over with aspirin, she needs would now how to handle a real case.

Visit her, get your rest, keep up with your health, work, life....draw your boundaries so you have the strength for the next phase of issues
Helpful Answer (6)

Hangingon, the fact that there have been so many responses to your question in only three hours tells you that this is a common problem. My mom is 89, in AL but moving to memory care very soon, and for the last several months has been calling to yell and hang up on me several times each day. At first it was just me, then she began also calling her elderly sister. She has a cell phone, so I had the cell company de-activate her phone (we wanted to change plans and her old phone was not compatible with the new plan, anyway). The staff at her AL was aware of this. It took her just a couple of hours to realize that the phone was not working. The plan was to stretch out the "repair" long enough that she would forget about having a phone. I waited a whole day, went out to get the phone and told her that it would take a day or two to get it fixed. Of course, with dementia she couldn't remember any of this but she could remember that she didn't have a working phone! The staff made several fake phone calls to me and told her I would be bringing the phone back soon. By the second day she was becoming physically aggressive with the other residents and the staff, so I bought her a new phone and brought it out to her. One of her first calls to me (on the new phone) was a message "When are you going to bring my phone back to me?" Some times you just have to laugh.

The calls became even more frequent and more angry. I took her to a psychiatrist asking for a med change, but he refused citing side effects. Her PCP gave me a long lecture about looking for changes in her environment, new staff, etc that might be causing her agitation. No, Doctor, the staff is great and I can set my watch by when they come to get her for an activity (several times each day) because the calls stop for a while. He also cited side effects and refused meds. I finally called her neurologist, and fortunately his mother had also suffered from Alzheimer's and he was very understanding. He started her on Seroquel yesterday and I am hoping it works.

Meanwhile, I have stopped answering her calls. I answer one call each day, allow her to yell at me and hang up, and then no more. The calls are affecting me physically, and coming to this site and reading other answers about setting boundaries gives me the spine I need to ignore the calls. Last Sunday the count was 21 calls, and yesterday there were 18. So far today there have been six, and it is only 10am. I still feel the stress each time the phone rings, (I work from home so I can't turn the phone off) but I am hoping that the drugs help and that I can establish a routine that helps me cope. She is at an activity now, so I can relax a bit and visit the Aging Care site. I am trying very hard to follow the advice of everyone on this site and take care of myself first.
Helpful Answer (6)

I agree - sleep. You need it. Don't skimp on it.

A couple of things to add:

1. Have you told the staff at the rehab facility about your mother's calls? I think/hope you'd find them sympathetic, and they might be able to help by, for example, giving your mother extra reassurance, especially at night time. It might even be appropriate to consider disconnecting your mother's phone outside normal social hours, but you'd want to talk that one through with them.

2. Do your best not to take your mother's actual words to heart: it is very unlikely that she herself believes what she is saying, and neither should you. Objectively, you are not responsible for her needing to be in rehab, and you are most certainly not responsible for her safe management while she is there. It is natural that you are constantly anxious about her - of course you are, how could you not be? - but it sounds as if you could do with help to manage your anxiety better so that it is not so destructive to your own day-to-day life and, crucially, therefore your ability to give your mother the practical and moral support that she needs. In other words, the better you feel, the better the care you can give her.

My mother was in rehab for nearly a month last year. I sympathise with the desire to stay involved in hands-on care, and I'm not saying you shouldn't; but I think you should consider making your evening visits shorter. I say that for two main reasons: firstly, shorter visits will be more upbeat and more focused, not least because you will free up at least a short period of time to yourself to relax and recover at home; whereas stretching them out to the last possible minute is subject to the law of diminishing returns - your mother isn't getting any additional benefit from the third or fourth hour that you're there; it may even be counterproductive.

Secondly, if you're there until very late in the evening you're not giving the rehab staff a chance to get your mother settled for the night. There is a fine line to be trodden between being helpful and supportive, and getting in their way - make sure you're not stopping them doing their job.

So two things to work on: timetabling mother-related activities so that they don't overwhelm everything else you need to do; and developing a really good working relationship with the rehab staff so that your mother's care is a team effort.

Finally, don't worry about worrying! You can very easily get yourself into a proper tailspin, where feeling anxious about your mother's welfare - which is only natural - leads to disproportionate anxiety about whether you are doing enough to "save" her - which is deeply unhelpful to both of you. God knows I'm no therapist, but I think you'd find it useful to unpack all those fears and worries, and sort them out into those you can act on, and those nobody can do anything to change.

Big hugs to you, this is a rough, tough time to be going through and I know we all feel for you. Please let us know how you and your mother are getting on.
Helpful Answer (5)

If your Mom was alone at home that would be one thing. (And the solution would be to move her to a facility or get someone to stay with her so she doesn't need to keep you awake all night). But your mother is in a medical facility, where she belongs. They can attend to all of her medical (and other needs) right there, unless it's a true emergency.

You have your own needs, and are entitled (and obligated) to attend to them. Your needs include getting uninterrupted sleep every night so you can function at work and in your life, and not driving in the middle of the night where you could cause an accident.

Your mother is worried and scared and she'd like you to be there 24/7. That's not possible. She lives there. You don't, and can't. Tell her until it sinks in that she needs to ring the nursing staff with all her issues at night, and they will call you if it's an emergency.
Helpful Answer (4)

I guess I am luckier in this respect Mum has lost the ability to use the phone except for ringing 999. And she won't ring that because they just might cart her off to a hospital.

Everyone is right - sleep deprivation is THE worst enemy of the caregiver/relative. You cannot function once that sets in even if you think you can. Turn off your tv turn off your phone and sleep.

If the very very worst were to happen you could do nothing to change that except that you would be there but you must be ready to forgive yourself on that one.

You know your Mum is in safe hands, you know her health is being looked after. make the most of it and rest. xx
Helpful Answer (4)

Akdaughter - I don't know if your phones will allow for this - if not given your situation it might be worth looking into - my mom has her own ringtone and the NH has their own. Plus I obliterated any trace of my landline from my moms phone books and she only has my cell - which helps with not waking my son and hubby at night when the phone rings. Also my cell allows for temporarily or regularly blocking calls from specific callers. You've probably already considered this but thought I'd mention it anyhow. You have my sympathies for sure!
Helpful Answer (4)

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