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I travel frequently for work and pleasure. I recently moved my mom from her home several states away to a wonderful assisted living home near me.

Recently while I was away Mom's phone died on a Saturday. I submitted an on-line request for a repair but it took the phone company until Thursday to repair it. She couldn't call he phone company because they make you do everything on-line, so she wasn't reassured. She could use the phone in the office and of course they would have helped her in an emergency but she was in a panic and felt abandoned. Now she's more clingy than ever.

How can I reassure her that in an emergency the staff would have acted with greater urgency as the situation would have required? She isn't abandoned at all. She insists I don't understand and while they're nice people they can't be counted on.

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I used to type a reminder letters to my mother and put it near her bed encouraging her to count her blessings, be patient, and understanding of the staff when they couldn't get things done in her time frame, and reminding her that were doing the best they could. Sometimes it would work, sometimes not.. so well...
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I thought that might be the case - couldn't find it and was too late to pick it up. We all are doing what we can, no more, no less, otherwise we would not be contributing to this discussion, n'est-ce pas?
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Just for clarification, DT, the site monitor pulled a very inappropriate comment from this thread.
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Does the facility have a psych person on staff? maybe they could help her with some "self talk" ways she could use to help with her anxiety among the other feelings she is experiencing. She could be displacing many feelings for panic that you are not there. No one likes to cope with debilitating feelings of lonliness and loss; anxiety placed upon the situation that you are not there is easier to cope with that the hopelessness of loss and despair. A support group? One that can TRULY be depended on for many different kinds sof support. Another elder form your church? Someone for both of you to rely on?
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Not sure where the above argument about abandonment came from, my mom (94) does not have dimentia but does have a lot of other medical problems. In that she does not have dimentia, we are lucky, but as for the rest of it I have already discussed with her that if she comes to the stage at which she cannot get into the bathroom by herself, or she needs medical assistance like injections, we will have to make other arrangements. Our house is too small for me to help her to the bathroom or use a wheelchair, I do not mind changing potty pans, but this all may become too much for me to handle, as I have some problems of my own and I am not getting any younger myself, I am 69. If it comes to the point where I have to put her in AL, it will be a last resort, it will NOT mean that I have abandoned her. The guilt may be there, but not guilt by abandonment.
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My mother-in-law has both dementia/Alz and macular degeneration, so she can do neither see nor remember anything anymore. I got her a big button land line a few years ago when she could remember a little better. I programmed her phone to call her boys & me really easy. Her sons were now #1, #2, #3 and me #4 on the memory dial. Well when she was living at home alone still, some woman called her and wanted to ask her some dumb question that she didn't understand. She told the woman to call her daughter-in-law cause I was the one taking care of her needs. The woman said okay, what was my number? My m-i-l told her " She's #4". She and I laughed about that for a long time.
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Mostly my suggestion about cellphones was as a kind of security blanket, but if they can cope with it, it is a good thing for seniors.
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Is she able to use a cell phone? They do have ones that are designed for the eldery.
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Lucy it is no use arguing with nelkster. Some people have only one point of view Theirs.....

True loving caregivers know better, and only put family in al if necessary. Nelkster probably does not understand this and think that caregiving can go on forever. We know that is not the case. I took care of my mom for over 10+ years and I am only 30. My whole 20s was caregiving and I would not have traded any of the expirences for the time back. I raised 3 kids, kept my marriage and took care of my mom. She is in a Nursing home because of her wounds and the docs. said that her illness is now BEYOND ME.

How dare nelkster say keepon put her mom there for selfish reasons. I wonder how many years nelkster would care give for? Even if situations arise that would permit otherwis.

By the way this is a LOVING LOYAL SITE FOR RESPECTABLE CAREGIVERS WHO HAVE REAL PROBLEMS THAT CAN NOT BE OTHERWISE ANSWERED BY JUST ANY PERSON THAT HAS NOT BEEN IN THE SAME SITUATION.

I am not taking care of my mom 24/7 anymore but want to genuinely help others who need a hug or a push or some recognition to keep caring for their loved ones. I feel that is the least I can do is maybe help someone else, so they know they are not alone( even though Isolation goes hand on hand with caregivers everywhere).
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No, she did NOT abandon her mom. If she had she wouldn't be concerned about it. You need to get off your high horse nelkster. Sometimes there are situations that make it necessary to use AL. I had always thought my mom would be able to stay with me. Well my husband got cancer and my mother's mind went downhill. You don't know what all is going on in someone else's life and got no business trying to be the judge and jury!
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I got a Jitterbug for my husband, too. WIth a lot of practice and repetition he leared to use the simple features. He does not use it for social calls, but it it good to be able to reach him when he is out on his mobility scooter for what I begin to worry is too long, or for him to call me for a reminder of what he was supposed to get at the drug store.
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After my sister could not handle a Tracphone (not only do they eat up minutes like I can eat M&M's, but they are quite small) I got her a Jitterbug. You have to pay a monthly fee but she could handle it better because the numbers are bigger, and it is simple to use. She still went over on her minutes, but the plans are flexable and I kept after her as I was paying the bill. After she died I got the Jitterbug back and that is the one I use now - it suits my simple needs quite well. It has no 'bells and whistles', just makes and recieves calls, but it is OK and as per my original suggestion, I use it for emergencies and to keep in touch with mom when I am out of the house. It could have a louder volume on some of the nicer ringtones, but if I keep in near me it works out fine.
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Keepon, my mom is like yours in that she won't use modern things like cell phones. I have seen those cell phones on television though for seniors that looks like its larger and would be easier for the elderly to handle. I'm thinking about checking into one of those for her. She's in Asst. living too but she's in the back part where there are assistants overseeing them all the time. She says she doesn't want a phone but I think I would feel better if she could call me if she's feeling lonely or down.
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I answered earlier with a suggestion about using a cell phone. If it would be too difficult for your mother, I understand. I call my mother every night at the same time and write down her concerns. The following night I ask her about one of the concerns she mentioned the night before and discuss how she handled her problem.You could call any time of the day. Another choice is to link with volunteers who could be introduced to your mother by you and could take turns visiting her daily. I can understand being afraid in a different city and a strange place. It reminds me of my first semester of college 30 years ago. Once I developed a support group, I did not miss my parents and siblings as much. I hope things become better for your mother soon. Living in fear is miserable no matter how pleasant the surroundings might be. Rebecca




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So many helpful suggestions! Thanks you. Mom hates computers and modern technology. She refuses to use a cell phone. I've barely been able to teach her to use the cable remote. What do you do?

Thanks for your great things to think about.
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I'm not sure why to raise as stink with the AL? But sounds like your mom has become very dependent upon you. This happened to me out of nowhere or maybe it was lying just beneath the sheets but it was sapping my energy and life, I'm still working on getting back to me but it's a road.

Maybe a cell phone for your Mom would make her feel more comfortable. I tried this with my Mom but, between it surviving being dropping it in a sink full of water, constantly un-plugging it, not being able to distingush the ring tone from the blarring TV...lost phone, or cord. JESH! But perhaps your Mom can handle "modern day technology" better than my Mom.

I too have seen my Mom's NH respond quickly in emergencies for she and my dad and like wise she still has that "what if" and I still say okay big girl...you made in life this far, lets not create a situation that is not there.
I think that over time, your Mom will become familiar with her new surroundings and her trust level will allow you both to be at peace.
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I think a cellphone is a great idea and hopefully you can preset your number and put a small pic or your name on one of the buttons that will go right to you. If you cannot go there daily, why not hire someone warm and personable to go for you when you cant. IF she can get to know and depend on someone daily, it would help. Maybe this person can play cards with her or just talk to her and visit. I have had to pay out plenty when I work so my Moms never alone and she feels safe and secure . When I kiss her goodnight I tell her I am staying all night long. Everynight she says "really? Oh that makes me feel so good." Every night she forgets and I say it again everynight, reassurance is so important. Did you call your Mom when her phone was out? I think you should call your Mom daily, and more than once if you can, this way she can count on You. Before my mom moved in with us, I called her 4x a day just to check in and she got to depend on it, which was nice. Good luck.
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You could get her an inexpensive cell phone. I have a land line but also have a Motorola cell phone ($29.95 at WalMart) and have Tracfon service. I pay $29.95 for 90 days (60 minutes)service. Nothing fancy, but does the job for me...I am 80.
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Could you get her a very simple cell phone that could reach you? Your mother could leave a verbal message and you could call back. You could even set up the phone so that she can reach you if she presses the #1, for example.

Rebecca
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Kitty, sundowner's is just the worst for both parents and family. I am sorry that you suffered from it, too. It seems totally "irrational" from those looking from the outside in, but to my Mom it is real. When she is one of these modes, she does not think that anything will get better and has such a sense of doom. The next day, she is back to herself and forgets the awful things she says to people. I feel helpless because I know that it is temporary and there is nothing I can do to help. All I can do is suggest the usual "remedies:" warm milk, a tylenol, soft music. The worst thing is that when this happens she won't turn on lights...just sits in the dark and gets worse.
But all one can do is offer help...
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I recently just moved my mom to an nursing home as well. For my mom it's not about her age (62) but more about her wounds and illness. I am in a bind as well, I am 9 mos, pregnate and cannot see her often. I am getting her a cell phone for the fact that the facility might change her room . I also understand your mom's point of view. Alot of not just elder people, but people in general, can not feel comfortable counting on the staff, because they see them as strangers. You and I know different but when you're used to life a certain way and then it changes, it can be very diffulcult to adapt. So therefor the extra clingy feelings she has.
There is not much you can do except reassure her, maybe if you choose to get a pre-paid cell phone so if the phone goes out she has a back-up plan.

If she never uses the pre-paid cell phone , the minutes will sit there and not cost you anything, and that may reassure her abandonment issues.

What you have to understand is the stero-type of all elders going into a facility. They think it is literaly the end. They hear so many stories of family members leaving them there , that even if you are working and don't see her for a week, they think the worst.

I am very sypathetic to you and understand that you have to work, I am very pregnate, and you just can't go down there every day. They on the other hand are going through this huge life change and feel that the world is on their shoulders and think that if they don't get seen every day or talk to you every day that we just stopped caring, or loving them. That is just not true, but that is their perspective.

Talk to her about a pre-paid cell phone. and I'm telling you that it will most definatly help with the reassurance.
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Igloo - valid point.
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Did you mom leave friends when she moved? Was she active? I am sure it must be very difficult on her to have moved recently to a totally different region and left everything she knew behind. She is probably grieving the loss of her home and life before. She is probably also angry (part of the grief) and may be the phone is away of indirectly saying she is angry because she can directly express that to you but not tell you she is angry? Have you had any chance to acclimate her to her new town? Taken her to see the sites?

Lilliput, I certainly sympathize with people who experience sundowner's and their caregivers. I experienced something very similar about 6 weeks postpartum. It took several months to not have these evening attacks of panic. They would start about an hour before sunset and then last until an hour or so after sunset. It was as if I did not want the dark to come. I am usually such a night owl, too. I remember once during this time the electricity was out from about 1 AM to 3 AM and I could not stand it even though I should have been asleep at this time and would not have noticed otherwise.
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Alot of this really depends on the cognitive state of the elder and what the other residents of the AL is also. It could just be a waste and something expensive to be MIA. If there's alot of residents with dementia, stuff is going to walk. There is no way to keep this from happening. Mawmaw's shiny red Acer is gonna end up in someone else's room or with someone else's family.

When my mom was in IL, there was a computer zone on each floor for the residents and guests. It was set up adjacent to the card tables, which were used three times a week for set card games. Other than family teens and tweens using it on visits to gran, there was only 2 residents out of 25 apts who used it on her floor. None of the others had computers in their apts either.I'm not sure how realistic it would be to give an AL resident a ipad.
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P.S. Or, how about a laptop or notebook so that she can be in touch with the world more through the net?
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JeannieG & Heaton are spot-on in their comments.

First of all, it's really great that you have done the work (and it's not easy) to get your mom moved several states to AL closer to you. If this move is very recent, it could be that she is still adjusting and frightened and you are the only one she knows. Perhaps the AL has a "buddy" system for the new residents, someone who will save her a seat at lunch, remind her about the sign up sheet for the weekly grocery/shopping/outing trip, the "Susie, I'm going to the beauty shop want to come?" type. They had this at my mom's IL and for their AL section too.

But perhaps you mom's cognitive state is not what it seems to be. Was she still living at her home of decades before? This can mask alot of problems as they can control things in their home & can seem capable but cannot really function once moved. Does she really understand what AL is/does, what the button on her wrist is for, that they check in on her on a regular basis and what that means?

With my mom, she fell at least 3 times from a dizzy spell when she went to get clothes out of her closet and even though the emergency cord pull was right there
and she was wearing the emergency pendant, she could not mentally process that she could pull the cord for help and also that she needed help and could ask.

Your mom's AL sounds like a good place, they did what they should have once they found out about a problem.

My gut feeling is that there may be some larger issues for you as to your mom's health. What is her health like - both physical and mental? What was it that got you to the tipping point of moving her to AL?

Was you mom evaluated for dementia? If not perhaps you could have your mom evaluated. It would be helpful for you, her AL and for mom.

Dementia is just so unique. None of the symptoms happen overnight or all at the same time. A lot of what happens depends on what type of dementia. My experience is that getting them evaluated by a gerontolgist MD makes a huge difference in deciding the best care. Having a baseline Folstein/MMSE done & repeated is really helpful to be realistic about what careplan to take. Same with scan on brain shrinkage. After my mom's last fall in her IL, she had a MMSE done - she had gone from a 25/26 to a 12. So she went from IL to LTC/NH. She has Lewy Body Dementia, which seems to be more episodic for problems.

If your mom is still on the young and vibrant side you could forego the Folstein and do a MiniCog on your own – I got my son to do it with my mom, as she thought of it as a game he played with her. Also he has alot more patience that I do!

Good Luck and let us know what happens.
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Realistically, more than likely you will not be able to reassure her, especially if you are the only family or friend she has to rely on. I am always here but my mom (she is not in assisted living or nursing home yet) is very needy and actually really Has been abandoned by half of the family, the rest are so widely spread that they cannot reassure her either. I am the only one. I might suggest as a backup you get her one of those cheap "disposable" celphones. You just have to convince her that it is only for emergencies and not to gossip on - I could never convince my sister of that and she could go through Tracphone minutes like a hot knife through butter! Anyway, just having it may give her a sort of 'woobie' or security blanket until she feels more secure again. Do NOT do as I have done, sacrifice all your spare time reassuring someone who can't be reassured. You need that time for You!
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When someone we love has an unpleasant feeling, we all tend to try to talk them out of it -- that's the impulse behind reassurance, essentially, isn't it? We go "Don't worry, it's not like you think." We even do this to ourselves. But when someone's trying to express something and it doesn't get heard, they get louder (us included). Validate FIRST: "It sounds like it felt scary not to have the phone working right away." "It sounds like these inconveniences are unsettling to you." You're NOT agreeing. You're showing that you've heard the feelings. It seems like doing that will magnify the feelings, but it's often surprising how that calms them down instead. Of course, you also show that you're solving whatever actual logistical problems you can, for which others here have given great suggestions.
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I have observed that when we age our world becomes smaller and small problems become bigger. My Mom tends to isolate herself and not get involved with activities or in making friends. Then when some minor inconvenience happens it becomes monumental to her.
My Mom, too, tends to panic when she knows her family is out of town. She also has "sundowner's" episodes that cause her panic attacks in the evening. We all do what we can for her, but it isn't humanly possible for anyone to live someone else's life for them.
I can understand her fear in not being able to dial out on her phone - it is her lifeline to the outside world. But it wasn't the ALF's responsibility to repair her phone. Your Mom is just using this incident to add to her fears.
When my Mom is having a panic attack she cannot articulate what she wants so it is difficult for me to "fix it." I would suggest that you help your Mom through these episodes by listening but do not try to remedy the situation until she is calmer and can tell you what is really bothering her. It may be as simple as getting more help for her or asking the staff to make some changes in her care. Also, if your Mom is isolating herself at the ALF, she needs to get more involved with activities or outings. If she just sits in her room alone all day, there is not much to occupy her mind.
good luck.
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Get her a Tracfone and make sure it is always plugged in to the power so will be available to her should the phone go out again. If she can handle it the phone, plugging it in to power when needed, then get her a little pouch to carry it around her neck. then she will be able to call you whenever, even when she is out of her room. If she can handle it, then a G4 smartphone with two way video would be great...then she can see you and you her. You can hook up a remote camera so you can always view her room on your computer. Perhaps several little security steps will make her feel more secure.
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