Follow
Share

My 93 yr old mother has been thinking she hears babies crying for the last half dozen years. This happens day and night. She searches relentlessly for them and asks others to help her find them. She becomes very angry when someone doesn't help her. We have given her a doll which she cares for. At times she seems to think it is really a baby, but other times she laughs and admits it is just a doll. Yet she still hears other babies crying elsewhere. We have learned to tell her that "someone will feed (or change) (or rock) that baby soon." This seems to help. When she does not hear the babies crying, she will comment on how nice it is that they are quiet now. So actually she is living this scenario whether she hears the babies or not. When we take her out to eat, she makes sure we find someone to take care of the babies, and while we are out she comments that she hopes they are taken care of.


Beyond that, she does have some other memory problems, but also can live in the moment quite well. She is great with quips and wise cracks and plays on words. She can talk about recipes and can pick tomatoes and other vegetables, and loves it. She can do crafts and is very exacting about her work. She recognizes her husband, the dog, all her nine kids and many of their spouses. She can tell stories of the olden days with no problem. Usually she knows her stories are about long ago times. But other times she comes up with some whoppers. She may point at a jacket and say "My brother, Leo, made that for me." Leo is her son, not her brother. Leo couldn't sew a button on his underwear. Yet she tells a very vivid story about how she remembers watching him make it. She can describe the room, the machine, etc., to a form of exactness. If we didn't know it weren't true, we would believe it as if it were one of her other stories (that we know are true, having heard them before.)
Then she will hear babies crying...
And we go searching...
And she gets angry...
What can be done? It isn't that we mind looking for babies with her. Instead, we are upset that she feels this frustration, this pain, this sense of helplessness. She is suffering because of the babies, and there is nothing we can do about it.
Or is there?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Thank you. We are making a list of questions for her doctor and this will be on it! She falls frequently and had one done not too long ago but we will definitely pursue it.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

My Dad complained off and on about loud noise in his head (not his ears..his head). In recent years it was "someone in the house at night yelling and throwing things around".

I learned of this 2 months ago when I came to help my parents after my Mom had a stroke.

I told the VA nurse about this. A CAT scan was done of his head...and he has hydrocephalus! Oh geez! In his case, due to heart failure, it cannot be treated. But, if only it had been treated earlier ...he might never have developed dementia and paranoia.

Please...have a cat scan done!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

No, she often asks for a sleep aid but her doc only provided a tricyclic antidepressant. He OK'd and she will sometimes take an OTC sleep aid (diphenhydramine) but it only "works" sporadically.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Farmerswife, does she take Ambien, occasionally or regularly? It can cause hallucinations.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

My MIL (89) takes Ativan for anxiety and has been having auditory hallucinations at night. Shes convinced there are people in the porch outside her room and she swears and threatens them loudly all night long. I am convinced there is a connection to the Ativan. She has been on it for YEARS, 3x/daily and shows other signs of benzo dependency (insomnia, increasing anxiety, unstable gait and poor balance resulting in frequent falls. Also relentless med seeking -- regardless of what her condition it "makes her nervous" and,she,tries yo work the doctors for more benzos). She almost seems,in some kind of fugue state or waking sleep when it happens. She responds when spoken to but doesnt identify us,correctly and is kind of out of it -- and resolutely convinced her imaginary friends are real. We had a huge battle this morning -- she was convinced the people were real alternating with denying any knowledge of the whole incident.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Yes. Did the music thing. I brought a radio and tuned it to the local station she always listened to. She called it 'Noise.' We also got her some long playing CDs of music and she didn't want them on.

I know I may sometimes make it sound as if Mom is always negative, but she's not. She loves to visit with people. She'll do whatever crafts she can and participates in games. She loves to go out. She shares stories about baking, working, raising kids, etc. That is, until she hears the baby crying...
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

GB have you tried having background music playing all the time? Maybe if there is other noise she won't focus on babies crying as much or often. Maybe a recording of chain saws if something pleasant will not work. LOL
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Yes, a baby that "cries" could be a fix for Mom at times, unless she would still Hear that other babying crying out-there-somewhere.
Yes, Mom has had tinnitus for the last 20+ years. I brought this up to the Drs a couple times, but they just said there was no cure for tinnitus. They seem to think there isn't a connection between the tinnitus and the babies. I think they are wrong and have told them so. Because she has high blood pressure when taken on one arm, and low when taken on the other, I believe the various degrees of blood pulsing through her veins could cause a variation in the tinnitus that used to be just a ringing in her ears. (That seems to be too simple an explanation for the Drs, though. Maybe it is.)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Cwillie, great thought! My tinnitus is like kettle drums. Someone in this forum has galloping horses. And so much ear ringing could very well sound like a baby crying!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

While there can be no doubt her obsession with crying babies is a cognitive issue I'm wondering if she could have tinnitus, and the crying babies is her interpretation of the noise in her ears?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I'm not current on the advanced details of dolls but I'm guessing there might be some that can cry, realistically. If you can get those, she could comfort them when they cry. That might help provide "resolution" to the issue of crying babies, but I still think there are throwback issues to the children who died in her early life.

We never really know what memories our minds are harboring.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Yes, Mom has a two dolls of her own that she is responsible to "care for." Then there are a few in the nurses' station that can be Found. Yet, those are never crying when we find them. She's happy to see the comforted baby, yet there is always still one or two out there that cry.
I'm going to check on her meds again. Also, I'm not sure if her caregivers are aware of her past experiences, or what their take is on PTSD. I'll find out.
Thank you all so much.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Does she take any prescription medications? If she does, it can't hurt to check the side effects and make sure this isn't one of them.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Birdie, I think you have the answer in the first paragraph of your post of 3 hours ago. That must be so sad to be troubled by those kinds of memories.

I think the early memories of the babies who didn't make it as well as the other baby traumas are what's prompting the current focus on babies. It all fits like a hand and glove.

I'm wondering if there's some kind of delayed PTSD that metamorphoses during aging. I'm also wondering if any kind of psychological therapy would help.

It must be so distressing for your mother. I'm just wondering if you could get some dolls and help her "find" the babies?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Ha. That's funny, Sunnygirl1. Yes, Mom has those moments as well. They don't bother her. Sometimes she even realizes what she said, and then adds "Aw Shucks" and laughs. But the search for crying babies is severe. And intense. And totally real to her. I've heard of Cymbalta. I'll ask a geriatric Dr about it.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I would focus on find a medication to help her. My loved one would be quite anxious and unset if she were not on Cymbalta. It's for anxiety and depression. It gives one a feeling of contentment.

I think that babies or children are a common delusion. We have a family friend, who is in her 80's, who has dementia. She visits us quite a bit, as she still asks her daughter to take her places, but she will often say she has to return home because her mother is watching the children and she is probably tired of them after about an hour. She talks about her children being at home with her mother a lot. She had 5 children.

We have another family friend who is male. He never had any children, but he reports that a woman has brought several children over to his house and they are jumping on his bed and making a loud racket. He is told they will go home soon.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Yes, GardenArtist. Besides having 8 babies that lived and are still around, Mom had two babies that died. One was only about 5 or 6 months gestation, and the other lived only a few moments. He was full term, or nearly so. He was born in the car on the way to the hospital. (Long story about driving house to house looking for the doctor some 60 years ago.) Mom said she felt him move so she knows he was alive. I guess she took it very very hard. I remember her crying at home. (She had three babies after that. All of whom had to be in intensive care.)
AND in the mid 70's she and Dad cared for an abandoned Vietnamese baby. The doctors said the little girl wouldn't make it. I suppose she was barely a month old. Spent much time in the hospital. Drs said she would never make it. If she did she would likely be very physically and mentally handicapped. Drs said she should be left to "find peace." My folks wouldn't hear of it. Threatened to sue the hospital. Long story short, she is now a beautiful married lady who just finished her masters degree and is employed in a major company. (My folks were finally allowed to adopt her when she was 15.)
Anyway, so yes, she did suffer through baby trauma. She was an extremely hard worker on the farm, and then in an electronics factory until she was nearly 80, I think. She was one of their top producers. She still is very loving, very kind, and very strong willed. She is determined to keep others happy. Until we made her stop, she would serve at least 40 relatives for holidays. She had some other heartbreakers, too. For example, she earned her nursing degree with high honors and was hired by Mayo clinic. (Long Story, again). But on the third day of work her nursing cap was taken away from her and she was sent home because she did not have a high school diploma. My dear Mama.
And now they tell us there's nothing we can do.
I am definitely going to take your and gadimhere's advice an check with a geriatric specialist.
Both Mom and Dad would love to come live with me (in a city where 4 other of their children also live) but I don't think I could handle the continual baby trauma. Other than that, she's a hoot to be with. Fun. Nutsy. And loves to garden.
Thank you so much for your words of support.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

There are drugs that help with the sundowning! Get her to a geriatrician, and/or neurologist that specializes in treating dementia. Is the doc she has been seeing a general practitioner. Many of them have absolutely no idea about treating the elderly. The primary objective is keeping Mom comfortable, this means easing the YES, anxiety! Be wary of Ativan, as in the elderly it can have the completely opposite effect as intended. It may be trial and error to find something that will work for her.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This sounds like more than just sundowning; it almost borders on an obsession. Something is provoking these unsettling thoughts, and if the doctor says "just live with it" I'd be tempted to tell him (although I probably wouldn't) that he can just live with the fact that his casual attitude has lost him a patient.

Seriously, I would try to find another doctor. I'm not in favor of medication unnecessarily, but I think that this is a situation which dictates some relief for your mother.

I'm wondering if there was a death of an infant in her family, or if she came from a country in which infants (especially females) were not valued. This focus on the specific issue of babies makes me wonder if there wasn't some event far, far ago in her past which is now surfacing.

Did she ever work in child care, in a neonatal ward, something that would put her in direct contact with infants? Adoption agency? Did she care for any of her siblings, one of which was an infant with medical issues? Did she babysit for other families in her younger days?

Any other early traumas, such as being in a tornado or hurricane devastated area?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Thanks Maggie. Yes, no sleep does seem unconscionable, yet we are told her night escapades are a symptom of "sundowning." And for sundowning, we've been told to let her walk. Let her look. She needs to get it out of her system.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

You need a geriatric specialist. No sleep? Unconscionable.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

There are doctors who specialize in geriatric patients. I'd be all OVER her doctor about treating her anxiety. And all over your local hospital for a referral to a geriatric specialist.

If I can think of anxiety being a possible cause, what's wrong with the doctor. As for him saying, "We'll just have to live with it," swear to God I'd have to stop myself from saying, "Okay, I understand. We'll bring her to your home on Friday. Your turn."

Some doctors have no empathy.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

I've also been told that Mom should get more sleep to reduce the hallucinations (and anxiety, I assume.) That's tough, because she also has the hallucinations at night and spends most of the night up looking for the babies. The Dr. tried a very mild sleeping pill but that didn't help. He said a stronger sleeping pill would result in other problems.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

We've talked with the Dr about this quite often. His basic response is "It's something we'll have to live with." Perhaps we need a new doctor. Is there a specialist for this? Yes, Mom is in hell. I never thought of it as anxiety, but now that you mention it, it does seem very probable.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I'd ask the doctor is there was any medication that would help. Seems to me this is a manifestation of severe anxiety. Treat the anxiety, and the baby just may stop crying. Do it soon. Sounds like mom's in hell.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.