She cries, complains of psychsomatic stomach aches, wails, etc. She has sort-term memory loss, but nothing more.

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I agree with all others. At this point--96 years of age--your mother has a right to be medicated to comfort. I would speak to doctor, assuming a urinary tract infection is ruled out and an MRI has been done to rule out any occult illness. I would tell the doctor you would prefer palliative care now. This will give mother access to more and better drugs, and whether anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressant meds, or other meds I think an answer need to be found MEDICALLY to make mother comfortable.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

Your profile says that your mother is 99 years old, and living at home.
Have you talked to her doctor to see if they could give her something for her anxiety, as I'm guessing all the rest is stemming from that?
And perhaps at her age it's time to bring hospice on board as they will supply any needed equipment, supplies and medications all covered 100% under your mothers Medicare. They will also have a nurse to come once a week to start, and aides to come bathe her at least twice a week. Might be worth looking into, as they can supply any needed anxiety medications along with pain medications too.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
Southernwaver May 18, 2024
I agree with all of this. It sounds like it’s time to bring in help and make her comfortable.
A slightly different take, as a 61-year-old with severe anxiety issues and trauma-based physical health issues (childhood and other trauma, and no, trauma isn't always what we think it is), who has a 91-year-old mother with severe anxiety issues and physical health stuff, I feel a real need here to ask people to please NEVER assume someone's pain is "psychosomatic". Even if there is "nothing wrong" there could be mental health issues causing very real pain.

Secondly, a lot of people are saying to prescribe antidepressants, and I'm sure that is an option, but just be aware that there ARE side effects of antidepressants, and often the elderly experience these more strongly than younger people. I would definitely discuss this with a hospice care/palliative care worker. It does sound like a very low dose of an anti-anxiety med would be appropriate here.

I also like the ideas of distraction, as that works well for me. My mom is pretty much bed-bound (she can get up if she needs to, but she's more comfortable in bed), and she's blind in one eye from AMD so puzzles, etc. wouldn't work in her case, but my dad will come in and read to her (they don't know how to "work" Audible) and keep her entertained sometimes. When she's alone is when she's the most anxious and she'll call me with worries.

Anyway -- I think there are a lot of good suggestions here already, just do be careful with meds as elderly people are usually a lot more sensitive to them. And please never write off anyone's pain as "psychosomatic" (as in "it's not really there"). It's really there, I promise.
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Reply to StacyAa
BurntCaregiver May 23, 2024

The OP is not claiming that her mother's anxiety is psychosematic. No one can live 24/7 with having to calm someone else down who is constantly working themselves up into hysterics. That is not sustainable. Even in a care facility, no one has their own private staff whose only job is calming them down. That's why they're medicated. Anti-anxiety meds as needed will help.
Yes to meds for anxiety, yes to looking into hospice. My Mom just turned 95 and this Feb started the lowest dose of Lexapro and it has helped her weepiness a lot.
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Reply to Geaton777

If you've never suffered from chronic anxiety--you can't imagine how horrible it feels. At ANY age!

My experience with uncontrolled anxiety was the worst thing I have ever gone through. It's as real as a broken leg.

You should get mom in to a Dr ASAP and have something prescribed to help her. She doesn't need to live out her life in free-floating fear and anxiousness.
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Reply to Midkid58

So much depends on her cognition / abilities.
Ask MD about medication.
Give / get her massages.
- Even parts, i.e., head, feet, hands, shoulders
- Gentle, relaxing touch may help (gets the oxytocin ('feel good hormones') activated.

* Talk to her; try to keep her calm
* Listen to what she has to say so she feels heard (not alone) and understood
* Try music.

Google as I just did, i.e., Why do older people get anxiety?

What is the most common cause of anxiety in the elderly?

Common fears about aging can lead to anxiety. Many older adults are afraid of falling, being unable to afford living expenses and medication, being victimized, being dependent on others, being left alone, and death. Older adults and their families should be aware that health changes can also bring on anxiety.

Personally, I am doing meditation more seriously/regularly although I realize you mom likely cannot 'do meditation' although you supporting her calm-ness will hopefully help her. Try / meditate yourself - really. It will help you to be more present with her if you are more relaxed and emotionally even. This is not easy, managing care of a loved one / parent.

Gena / Touch Matters
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Reply to TouchMatters
BurntCaregiver May 23, 2024

Do you understand that a person's life cannot be centered around being on duty 24/7 to keep an elderly LO calm. That is not sustainable. Believe me it's not.

I've had hundreds of elderly care clients over the years who played 'The Game' of working themselves up into hysterics and tears for attention. Some even "staged" falls and other health crises. I dealt with this for 25 years and with a hypochondriac, histrionic mother for 50 years.

When you know a person and are caring for them, you can also tell what's a performance for attention and what isn't.

True, many seniors and younger people alike benefit greatly from anti-anxiety medication. That is sustainable.

Do not give any attention when you know the complaining and carrying on is nonsense. Don't validate this behavior with attention because is will make it worse.

If the OP's mother lives with her, she should ask her mother's doctor to prescribe anti-anxiety meds and even try some socialization for her mother like adult day care a couple days a week. It really helps and I hope the OP gives it a try. If nothing helps and the complaining and hysterics continues, the OP should look into placement for her mother.
Medication to soothe, not sedate.
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Reply to LoopyLoo

My mom is 89, has dementia with short-term memory loss, anxiety and various aches and pains. When she becomes anxious and starts repeating things over and over, we found that doing puzzles (no more than 50 pieces) helps to distract her. Sometimes playing a simple game of cards (matching numbers or "war" or "go fish") helps to calm her down. Medication makes it too difficult for her function.
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Reply to Stephanie9

If you are open to it, I highly recommend trying CBD oil drops. They are non-psychoactive cannabis products and do wonders for pain and anxiety relief.
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Reply to SorayaAshBha
Santalynn May 25, 2024
Yes, anxiety ramps up the inflammation and vice versa, causing pain even if there's no 'injury' or 'cause'; you just feel everything more acutely. CBD, calming herbal teas that don't conflict with any meds she takes, etc., can help calm the entire nervous system, including pain.
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Ask moms doctor about antidepressants which should take care of her depression and anxiety both.

Best of luck to you.
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Reply to lealonnie1

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