In person, I can diminish her anxiety, but never on the phone. It ended generally with her saying more or less that I'm a bad daughter. I've tried the listening with patience, I've tried the comforting ( even when she was not ill, she has never really listen to me with trust, contrary to my dad.) Her main complain is that people ( employees of the caring home or even visitors ) steals from her: lipstick, medicaments, old night gown etc. Sometimes she even doesn't remember what has been stolen and doesn't like it when I ask. I don't know what to say or answer anymore as everything I say isn't right. Her other pet peeves is the weekly shower that she refuses and sometimes even her daily hand washing. Mom is 86 June the sixth and in home care since last october.
What I learned that worked with my cousin was to tell her that I had solved the problem. I didn't dwell on it. Sometimes, she would tear up and say that everything was wrong. She wasn't able to say exactly what. I would tell her that I had already made a call or met with the boss of the situation and it was solved. And I was there to celebrate how things were now fine. She would thank me profusely and get a big smile on her face. (Of course, I always asked staff whether anything was wrong outside of her presence, to make sure she was okay. But, it was just her dementia.) I wouldn't blame yourself, as some dementia patients are inconsolable at times. Has she been evaluated for medication? If she's overly anxious or depressed, medication could help. I'd discuss it with her doctor.
When Mom complains about someone stealing, just say "oh my gosh that is terrible, I will buy you a new lipstick". You wouldn't need to buy that item as chances are your Mom wouldn't remember an hour later. As for the shower, say "I don't like showers, either, especially if the water isn't warm enough" or something like that. Keep it simple as possible.
Sometimes changing the subject might help... sometimes not, I've tried that with my Dad, but once they get something in a loop in their brain, it's hard to let go :(
It could be that your Mom doesn't have anyone else to complain to, so your are her closest choice. Mom could be just venting to you.
Mom may not realize she is speaking with you on the phone... and what you say, coming from "someone else", may be just shocking, annoying, perturbing... to her.
Keep phrases - sentences - very short.
Long stories, no good. Having her keep track of something she could in the past... no more.
Mom forgets now within seconds. It was days, hours, minutes, it is now seconds in a period of 5 years.........
Watching "Emma", the movie last night. Love story, good costumes, but... TOO MANY CHARACTERS...............she was immediately lost, and walked off. Explain it to her? I used to. No more, it makes me turn into the incredible HULK, and it is not fair on her. She has no idea WHY I am angry "all of a sudden". Yeap, everyone declines at their own pace. I just watch it happen, I used to take it VERY personally.........I thank this forum and the sky above that I am past that stage.
M 8 8
The best you can hope for is to encourage, enable, contribute to -- any progress at all -- your mom's comfort in the face of these symptoms. How to do that depends on your mother and on your relationship with her. In general, arguing about the reality of the thefts seldom helps. Telling her she must have misplaced the lipstick is not generally comforting, for example. It might help to assure her you are discussing increased security with the care center's management. Or maybe she'd be comforted to be told there are residents in the center who have memory issues and some poor soul probably thought it was hers. You'll buy her a replacement. You know your mother. What might calm her?
But please keep firmly in mind, your mother's dementia is Not Your Fault. You cannot fix her. These conversations are going to continue to happen. Dealing with them is hard. By trial and error you will come up with responses that seem most helpful or least damaging. But you can only do your best. Try very, very hard (and I know how difficult this is) to not take the implication that you are a bad daughter personally. It is not true, just as the thefts aren't true.
Sure, keep trying. But remember that if your efforts are not successful it is not because you are a bad daughter. It is because your mother has dementia.
Keep in touch. It helps to share!