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My mother is 77 and is starting to show her age but has not been diagnosed with any age-related conditions. I live with my parents due to a trauma I experienced at age 32 and they have been very supportive. Standing up to people is very hard for me. I am a beginning caregiver and very lucky that I have wonderful parents. My mother sometimes snaps at me and my father - for various reasons but it makes me see red. Once when she asked who I was talking to, I said something like "I am not sure why you are asking me that?" And she got mad and said that I was being touchy. Any suggestions? Thank you!!!!

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Since it's difficult to stand up for yourself, she probably feels the need to protect you. Even from people on the phone. ... Or she might just be flexing her mouth to remind you who's in charge. Next time, tell her it's a private conversation. If that's not good enough, just say it's none of her beeswax.

Standing up to her -- finally -- might be a liberating experience. But don't get carried away with this newly-found "power." Instead of a self-respecting, confident woman you might turn into a Queen ... something.
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N1K2R3, I agree! Separate housing worked for us for a long time until there became safety & health issues. I was making over 3 trips daily across town (not really far) to monitor meds & insulin, clean and help around the house; in addition to the many calls of "I can't find my (fill in the blank)," "I can't get my (fill in the blank) to work," or when I'd call her with no answer & I'd rush over picturing the worst, only to have her say she didn't hear the phone ring (right next to her)! Taking care of two households got to be too much for me. I have to say that, although loss of privacy & quiet for us both along with the merger has been a big adjustment, things are less stressful overall for me, and my mother is happy to be here (most of the time-Lol). From others' comments here, I'd say I have it easy for now & try to keep that in perspective.
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Not sure how happy I'd be if I couldn't watch my mother 24/7. Do I need an excuse for that?
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Separate housing........it's for everyone. Caregivers can "stop by", prepare food, bathe the elderly mom, and dress her if necessary, but separate housing keeps the peace and everyone remains happy. Now I'm waiting for the excuses..........
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"I hadn't thought about what talking to an attorney must have seemed like to her! Will keep that in mind in the future." Good point, GGsGirl - terribly easy to get hold of the wrong end of the stick when you're a) deaf and b) losing it a bit; it could be very frightening. Thank you.
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I agree with captian & Countrymouse. I think it is a general conversational thing in our household. My mother has been living with me since September and has her own phone. However I handle most of her doctor's appointments. If I get or make a personal call on my cell I usually go upstairs to talk, but she may ask later who it was. A simple answer is enough to satisfy. On the other side, if I overhear her talking to an unsolicited caller, I will interrupt and ask who it is, as she has donated to questionable charities in the past, and she doesn't seem to mind my intrusion. However, the other day a quick business call I made to an attorney must have triggered a bit of paranoia. Even though I was in another part of the downstairs, she must have overheard and asked if that call was about her. I hadn't thought about what talking to an attorney must have seemed like to her! Will keep that in mind in the future.
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Miasmom1, I wonder if this is partly an issue about expectations you set for yourself. You probably know you need to set boundaries with your mother, you need to assert yourself and not be smothered by her. So you are fretful over how do this is in every situation, and in this case regarding the phone.

Here is something to keep in mind: as a caregiver,: you need to pick your battles. It is OK if you are not assertive in every possible situation. Determine what is important to you and act accordingly. If Mom tries to control when and whom you talk to on the phone, certainly you need to prevent that. But just being curious? Hmm ... maybe you let that one go.

Good for you for wanting to set and enforce some boundaries! Just don't expect yourself to take on battles that really don't matter to you.
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This reminds me, when I went home for my sister's funeral, there were at least 15 relatives at my Mother's. I came into the living room and said "I am going to get my hair done." Everyone nodded "OK," but Mother said "What are you having done to it?" Now, I am 60 YO with really short hair. I said "I am getting it done. That is a sentence." Oh, well.
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This may sound silly, but for me its a privacy thing. He is constantly asking 'what are you doing' 'where are you going' ( just to another room) who are you talking to' Just want to have some things to myself. I agree with whoever said its a control thing. He was a controller before and is more so now.
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In many homes (such as mine), all my life we have asked each other, who was/is on the phone? Especially as a child your parent would just ask, "Who is on the phone?" This was to protect the child. Now, as an adult we are still programmed to ask that same question; my mother asks me and I will most assuredly ask her as she has a 10-15 minute memory and NEVER writes down a message.

If I was trying to hide something from them, then I might not want them to know, but since my life is an open book, I simply say...."It's just April." To me there is no big problem and I don't mind responding. Now if your mother ridicules you or has bad things to say when certain people call, I would just say....."It's (whomever she likes)," and then I would walk away to have my conversation if I could.

It really is no ones business who we are speaking to, but honestly it is not worth arguing over either. You are in your 30's and I am in my 60's....it doesn't get any better, we just have to pick our fights and this one just is not a good fight as far as I am concerned!

Best Wishes!
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For whatever reason it does irritate one when someone wants to know who one is talking to, however, wouldn't it be easier to just say who it is? I have a relative who will constantly ask me who I'm talking to and or what are we talking about, then tell me what to say to them. I quickly say who it is or I say" I will tell you as soon as I hang up". I just can't stand to hurt their feelings by ignoring or saying something rude.
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I can see my Mother doing that. I think that they just want to make conversation. I know that I sometimes ask my husband, after he is through. I always tell him who I was talking to. Is that unusual?
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My mom was "the boss" of her house. She also wanted to be thought of as the matriarch of the family, without realizing that it was an awarded rather than an automatic title; while she assumed she would BE "it", others wouldn't "give" heard that role willingly, and it aggravated her because she wanted to be both consulted about everything as well as be in control of everyone's business.

Fast forward to the last 9 years of her life. The first five of those we're when things were going wrong with her thought processes but none of us recognized it as dementia accept through hindsight. She was crabby, quarrelsome, petty and much more difficult than she had ever been. But the last 4 years, where drug induced dementia was diagnosed, wow (!), paranoia, awareness of not having control, but still with the desire to have it, not possible to be reasoned with, aggravated at life in general, etc., so many things we all know that dementia can turn into.

So, here is a controlling person, still aware that you are taking care of her in her house and the moment you don't like her behavior, try to reason with her, try to set boundaries, you are hostilly reminded "this is MY house, and if you don't like it you can leave". But you know you can't leave, so you tried to bite your tongue, suppress your irritation of being treated like a child, etc. etc. But the tension builds.

Even though there will always be many behavioral similarities, the brain of each dementia patient is affected differently. Couple that with the fact that a dementia patient still has an underlying personality that is not going to go away, sometimes never, not at all, sometimes not until nearer to the end, although sometimes it flips all together to something worse or something nicer.

Dementia is a confusing disease at best. The bottom line is that you never know the path is going to take. caregivers have to be knowledgeable and understanding, patient and adaptable. You just about have to expect anything.

I came to realize that conversation, words or any talking were like jibber jabber to my mom. The television or telephone represented all of those things to her. Hearing television language in a show she wasn't interested in, or couldn't intellectually follow, would set her off. No one else could focus on a show because she would begin talking over it, things like "we never do anything, we just sit here" (which was true because SHE was the limiting factor) or "I never get to do what I want in my OWN home!" (even tho all activities were planned AROUND her needs). On the other hand, if it was an old simpleton John Wayne movie or Bonanza rerun that she wanted to see, she would shush you if you even wanted to ask her what she'd like to eat for lunch.

The telephone was much worse. I couldn't talk in her presence because of the jibber jabber and I couldn't go off in another room because she would seek me out when she'd hear my voice. And then the fit would hit the shan, with challenging and hostilities. People joke about folks who have cats. To non-cat outside observers, they think we "spoil" our cats. But cat people know that slowly, methodically, our cats train us. And so it goes with the dementia patient. If we are trying with all of our powers to care take and just get along, we will end up being trained.

I am reminded of a great book title (you know, one where you don't need to read the book, just frame the title): "DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF (and it's ALL small stuff)". The long-term caregiver will just take a deep breath, be easy with it, and find a way to allow themselves to be "trained".
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I have my cell, dad has the land line (largely because he can hear on the old princess phone, but not on a cell). I watch my shows (those after 10pm) on demand (or recorded). We have cable because most signals do not make it here. You can also watch tv on a laptop with Wi Fi. I actually found I liked some of my parents' favorite shows (NCIS for example) and read during Wheel of Fortune. My Dad uses wireless headphones (otherwise the TV is at full volumn, too bad it took me 3 months to figure that solution out).
I was arranging a vacation, and Dad, with his poor hearing, was afraid I was arranging to move him to a nursing home. I finally wrote down what I was doing and that he would continue to live with me when I got home, and that calmed his worries. That may be why your mom asks questions. Or it could simply be boredom.
As for you feeling better about your self, there is counseling for trauma. You don't need to feel trapped you can choose to make choices about your life.
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I guess "Your mama" wouldn't be appropriate. I have been teaching inner city kids way too long :)
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Certainly now days you can get a very nice TV for less than $40 at Salvation Army, find a digital converter box on Craigs list, and get an antenna from Radio Shack! Or if you can afford it just get your own cable box for your own TV in your room. You don't have to share and you are not being disrespectful.
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Sorry typing too fast. Meant we pay the phone bill, and does NOT have all their faculties
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We have a TV in our room and a cell phone. My MIL listens in on phone conversations because "she has a right. It's her phone"! My husband told her "oh, so then I have a right to listen in on your conversations since pay the bill?" Of course, she doesn't believe it, I just go to the room where she is listening and tell her "it is for me", or" I'm on the phone; please hang up now".

I agree it is intrusive and we don't like it much. But It seems to be one of the prices we pay for living with and taking care of them. That being said, limits and boundaries, while necessary, are a balancing act at best. Remember, you are no dealing with someone who has all their faculties. I find Do Unto Others to be the best guideline.
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My mom did that with me for years and sometimes when I was in the middle of conversation. I learned that she simply wanted to be included in my life and recognized as important to me. When I told her I am talking to so and so sometimes she would say who is that - I would tell her a little bit about the person if she didn't know. It made her happy.
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elderly parents often have little in their lives and a phone call is an interesting event so she may just be curious. Either take you calls in your room or just tell Mom who or what it is or say you will tell her when you have fibished the call. She may just be interested. Another thing you can do is tell the caller you will call back and then do it in private.
My husband does the same to me but at the same time is annoyed if I continue to talk in his presence. Annoying but really not worth upseting yourself abou. if she is going through private papers or opening mail that is a really serious issue and she would need to be confronted. In that case I would recomend renting a PO box
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It is not a matter of hiding anything. Some people feel their right to privacy is important for them. Just a quick response of "a friend" with a smile should suffice.
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Miasmom1: You'll see red when you read my answer. Why not just say, " I'm talking with Jane". ? What's there to hide?
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If my mother (95 with dementia) is close enough to hear me (she's hard of hearing) I make a point of telling her who's on the phone. If it's one of my sisters, I get them to say hello to her. However if I'm talking ABOUT her, with medical personnel for example, I make sure the conversation is private.

In your case, I suspect the issue goes deeper than who's on the phone. It seems like you need to address the matter of your mother's verbal abuse.

If you aren't good at standing up for yourself, you can learn to do so and at the same time respond to your mother without being "touchy" by using assertiveness rather than aggression. Taking a course in your local community might give you a chance to practice with others. Or look for a self-improvement type of book, CD or DVD on the subject.

If you are resolved to find a peaceful, healthy resolution to this problem, you will succeed. Good luck and God bless.
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I'd get my own TV for my bedroom and go in there to watch it.
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I'm new as a caregiver, and my husband and I agreed before we even took my mother that she has to have her own phone and her own TV. Sharing them leads to a lack of privacy and hard feelings, and I notice you feel an issue with both these items, already. Just split them.

I do give my phone number to Mom's doctors, because I'm now managing all that, but friends and relatives have her number and she and they can call as they wish. One other issue is that when one person hogs the phone, the others get a little touchy, just as with the TV. Yet one more good reason not to share.
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Just know that you do have a right to your privacy if you want it! I wouldn't like my mother asking me, but if you don't mind...
I think we teach people how to treat us and what is OK. read the book 'Boundaries' if you struggle in this area. I do. The book has helped me tremendously.
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Thank you all!!! I just joined and I love this site already. It is very helpful to "get out of my head" and see this (and future) situations through other's eyes. The "just making conversation" answer is probably most accurate for this situation. I think it's a control issue (mine, not hers) as living with parents you give up some control. One very minor example is that I rarely get to watch what I want on TV. I do have a cell phone, but any call I get is usually a doctor's appointment reminder. LOL i guess I just find it a bit intrusive. When their phone rings I never ask who they are talking to unless I answer it. Thank you again!
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Agree with Captain. Say to the person you're speaking to "excuse me one moment," shield the mouthpiece, and tell your mother who it is. If it's someone she knows well, too, you could ask her if she has any message. Otherwise say "I'll be with you in a few minutes, mother, is that ok?" then return to your conversation.

If it's confidential or crucial, don't attempt the call when your mother's in the room or likely to come in. She's bound to start talking just as you're trying to hear something vital - that's Sod's Law, not your mother's fault.
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This is why I leave the room when I am on the phone. I can't carry on two conversations plus the TV in the background. I go out of the house, even in winter.
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My mother asks me who I was talking to sometimes. But I have to admit that I do the same to her. When she asks me who was on the phone, it is really just making conversation, so I answer her. When I ask her, I am checking to make sure she wasn't dealing with a business matter that I need to know about.
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