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Mom is in nursing home care and I'm very happy with the care she is receiving. The problem is she won't come out of her room, but just sits in there with the door closed, waiting for me to come. I'm working full time and my only brother is on the opposite side of the country. Mum has a phone in her room and regularly hears from my brother and her sisters. However, I am starting to feel as if I am under siege in my own home, due to phone call after phone call. There are tears, "when are you coming in?", "I'm frightened" (I don't know why); "I haven't got any clothes" (she does); "I haven't got any money" - she does and knows that I take care of it for her which she is very happy about. I have got to the stage where I have pulled my own phone from the wall. Someone told me that I didn't have to answer it, but I just felt so guilty letting it ring and ring. 31 times in one afternoon is the current record. I would love to take the phone from her, but then she would never get calls from others. My brother sympathizes a lot, but never comes for a visit and I had an email from him yesterday asking why he couldn't contact me by phone as he wanted to know how Mum was? I snapped a bit and told him to ring her and find out. When I do see Mom I would describe her as needy with a capital N. (She always has been.) She wants no one around her but me and/or my brother and keeps wistfully asking when I think he might visit again. Can anyone help with ideas, please?

You could do as I've had to with my own mom on occasion; tell her you can't talk, have to do something, will call her later, whatever isn't a lie, and hang up. Do it for a couple days, though be sure and call back later, and she may quit the constant calls - my mom does. I have to do it again eventually, but get peace and quiet out of it for awhile.
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She needs to get out and about. Moms NH had some kind of activity every afternoon. She has too much time to think. Can you ask that one of the aides prod her a little. They can force her but maybe one of the aides is good at coaxing. I guess all u can do is keep telling her, Mom please stop calling. I work and have things to do before I can visit. You need to join in on the activities to give you something to do.

My Mom was pretty out of it by the time she was placed in an AL and later a NH. She never had a phone, actually she forgot how to use one. The one time she called was at the desk. I lived right up the street, so I did visit almost every day.

This is an ongoing problem with our member so u will get responses.
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
So true that some elderly over think themselves... (into a panic sometimes). It's sad, but we cannot do anything about it. I've encouraged my mom to go 2 activities, chat with residents, or make just one friend. Her replies were: "I don't want any of these people for my friend", & "I'm not going to try to be positive, I'm going to stay like this until I die." It really made me feel ill to hear those things, cuz its a terrible memory, & makes me realize she is purposely toxic.
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Enlist the help of the activities director of her nursing home to try to coax mom into participating in some activities. Get caller ID if you don’t already have it on your phones and accept only every fourth or so call from her, time to wean mom from being so dependent on you for her company. If there’s any real emergency the staff will contact you so no worries that not answering will make you miss something. We teach people how to treat us, teach mom that you’re not so available
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Do you have a set day when you visit her or do you go whenever. Routine is important. Maybe try going the same time every week so she knows when to expect you. Reiterate to her you will see her on this date. As you work daily, maybe call her in the morning as part as your routine. Then you can cut call short as you have to leave for work and reiterare that you will see her on such and such day. I find that this works for my mom. Getting her out of her room is harder. Perhaps when you visit her, take her out and walk around the building, can you sit somewhere sunny or in a garden. Some place that the workers can go with her afterwards. She might be afraid of unfamiliar surrounding or she maybe bored.
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Susan317 Dec 31, 2018
I go four times a week to visit, on the same days and at the same time - when I arrive at 4:02 she tells me I'm late!
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The situation you find yourself in is extremely stressful, and for that you have my complete sympathy.

I have one question: why does your mother need nursing home care?
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Susan317 Dec 31, 2018
She has moderately advanced dementia; she has osteoporosis so severe that when she uses a walking frame she can't see straight ahead as her back is bent over at more than 45 degrees; she needs assistance to get out of bed; a caregiver has to walk with her whenever she does venture out of her room because she is at risk of falls and she is incontinent. She's actually hospital level care rather than just nursing home.
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You might try blocking her number and then calling her yourself once a day so she doesn't feel abandoned. Just tell her you don't know why her calls aren't getting through and you are looking into it. And talk to the staff about getting her out of her room.
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My FIL is very needy, also with a capital N. I feel for you!! My husband and I let most of the calls go to voicemail and ignore his freak out texts until we have mentally prepared ourselves to deal with both his repeated questions and failure to remember answers to his questions.
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Unfortunately, the phone becomes a GIGANTIC issue with lots of old people. Every single day my mother has an issue with the phone; she can't hear, she hangs up when someone calls, she forgets to charge it, the phone is running on 'low battery' even after it's charged, one thing after another. When she forgets to push the 'off' button, I have to call the front desk at the ALF to send a caregiver upstairs to hang up her phone. And this is after we bought her a brand new phone system specifically designed for the elderly. My aunt, mom's sister, used to call 911 on a regular basis begging for help, all the while living in an ALF and having plenty of help. Eventually, the phones have to be taken away from them for everyone's sanity. Until then, I love the idea of blocking her number and then calling her yourself instead of receiving 31 messages in one afternoon!! I also love Daughterof1930's comment that we teach people how to treat us. I've allowed myself to be treated like a doormat by my mother for my entire life, and have nobody to blame but myself. Nowadays I make the rules MYSELF, and it's gotten a tiny bit easier.

Best of luck!!!
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Susan317 Dec 31, 2018
Just got to the stage yesterday when she told me she had been ringing for a taxi to take her to me. She has no idea what the taxi number is ........ Has also rung emergency services but used 999 and an automated voice told her what the correct number was.
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If I were in your shoes and were being harassed by the incessant phone calls, I would BLOCK her number so her calls would not ring on my phone and I would not know about them. Peace of mind!!!

Then once or twice a day, I'd call to check on her to make sure everything is ok. With her dementia, she won't remember that she has called 20 times already that day so chances are she won't ask you about not answering her calls. If she can still remember and bring it up, you can say you were busy and couldn't answer the phone.

YOU have the CONTROL of this situation. She won't change her habit of calling if you keep picking up the phone.
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
Great solution 4 all☺.
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Another idea. My mom used to stick to me like glue and wanted me to take her out everyday, several times a day. She wouldn't go with anyone else. I finally hired a friend to take my mom out. Knowing my mother wouldn't go with strangers, I went with her and the friend several times until she agreed to go alone with the friend. There were some hiccups along the way, but now after 9 months, my mom will go willingly and happily with the friend and won't care that I go somewhere else or stay home.

If you can afford to pay someone to visit your mom in your place for an hour a few days a week, then you may want to try that. Take that person with you to see your mother and introduce her/him as a relative. Have that person call your mom or take her calls for you a couple of times a day. If this works, it will be money well spent.
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If you block her number it says you have been blocked from calling this number. We tried it to see what happens. It might hurt her feelings if she hears that.

Sometimes just being honest is the best solution. Tell her that you are busy and you give her 4 visits and will talk to her, 1, 2, 3xs daily whatever works for you. That her calling multiple times makes it harder for you to do your business. Repeat as needed.

I would try to visit when you can join in activities with her, she might meet a friend or two that will encourage her to join in. Speak with the activity Director and see if they have any ideas how to motivate her to participate.

It is okay to set boundaries and enforce them. That is the only way you will have any peace from her Neediness.
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polarbear Dec 31, 2018
Isthisrealyreal - i accidentally blocked a friend;'s number. She still called and left messages. My phone didn't tell her that her number was blocked. In my case, blocked calls still come through and go directly to voicemail, and I just don't hear the rings. I have T-mobile and a Windows phone.
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Nitvan easy situation I totally get it. We got to the point where we did not answer the phone. I know it sounds terrible, but I knew my mom was fine. The tears and when am I going home definitely wears on you. My mom does go to activities, but does not remember, so she says she just sits there and has not seen anyone all day. Try to be patient and get a copy of the activity schedule. I take a picture with my phone monthly. Go to a few with your mom, that way you can remind her. Good luck
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If you mum is able to make phone calls, sad she is in an institution..and institutionalized care is not good care. but I guess you don't have to see it.
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Fergie Jan 1, 2019
How cruel! You must be a very angry person. How sad for you.
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Do you ever notice that what people say and what they mean can be two different things? In the last 3 months I've realized that when my dad says 'I'm afraid' it's not about fear of his new environment (which certainly is a component to his fear) but fear of what comes next.

My parents are in their 90's and while Mom is further along on the slippery slope that is dementia, she doesn't seem to have the same acute fears that Dad has anymore. In Sept when they both arrived at the NH my dad was convinced that he was only there to pacify my mom and that if she passed first he would be able to leave the nursing home and return to his 'normal' life. Fast forward to October and I remember vividly the day that we were discussing my mom and he ruefully said 'wait until I start to forget too'. It was shortly after that I noticed he was becoming fearful.

I suspect when you strip away the day to day duties that are generally required to exist in the world (cooking, cleaning, checking the mail, paying the bills etc) there's a great deal of extra time for elderly minds to fret about what the future holds. Couple that with the childlike qualities both my parents have adopted and it's important for me to remember that they are regressing and I need to care for them as if they are young children.

Like your mother, my parents are inclined to stay in their room all day, not venture out to socialize and it concerns me a great deal particularly given that I live 500 miles away and neither of my brothers will be visiting (or calling) very frequently. They were never social people, content to be each other's best friend so I understand the solitude. I also understand that who they are today versus the vibrant people they once were is worlds apart. I think that in a way they're reluctant to socialize because they are not proud of these versions of themselves...the forgetful, hunched, frightened versions.

I'm also reminded that they entered this new stage of their lives with very few of the physical trappings of what they identified as signs of success. Street address, furnishings, cars etc. all just a memory. Imagine losing everything and having to meet new people all at the same time while baring the indignity of someone else bathing you for the first time in 80 plus years. No one wonder they're afraid.

One of the things that I try to instill in one of my brothers is that if you want a true picture of how Mom and Dad are, don't ask them. It's not an accurate depiction. I have the luxury of speaking to the nursing staff regularly coupled with daily conversations with my parents on the phone but what they tell me is vastly different from what the staff are able to share.

Susan317, my heart goes out to you (and the rest of us); what we are experiencing is tough. Heartbreaking. I keep reminding myself that I have a limited amount of time left with them so I try to make each conversation count. When necessary, I'm stern. Where possible I take the role of caring parental figure attempting to ease their fears and when my brothers show any interest whatsoever I attempt to draw them in as much as possible so that when Mom and Dad are gone there will be a minimum of hard feelings and a semblance of family ties.

I know this response is light of suggestions but hopefully something in my words will resonate and give you confort. Happy New Year and best wishes.
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
True that our parent's description of events can be far off from what really happens. I've verified my mom's account of events (many times) with various staff members. It boggles my mind how things really are, (compared 2 what she tells me). (I'm told "mom ate lunch", or "I saw her eat", or "her weight is constant"...) But mom had called me repeatedly 2say that she's starving there, & wud die if I didn't bring her food immediately. I'm sad that I can't trust a single word she says.
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I think once someone on here said there's a way to receive calls but not call out. Maybe it’s a certain phone, I can’t recall but that would be ideal. I finally would turn my phone ringer off once I started fixing dinner until bedtime. I knew if dad called it wasn’t urgent because if there was an emergency the staff would call. Just hearing the ring and seeing my dad's name pop up gave me anxiety. Just because we have a phone doesn’t mean we need to answer it.
Your mom obviously needs activities and to fill her time with something, since she doesn’t she sits and worries and time stretches out for her. Do they give her anything to calm her anxiety during the day? That might help.
I know how very frustrating this is but set a workable boundary for you. And since this is the new year...have a talk with brother and set up a visiting schedule with him. Level with him! Sons/brothers can be so lazy!
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Hello - in my experience, polarbear’s idea worked well. Ease a helper, someone you hire or someone already at the nursing home, into mom’s life. There are people who are sitters - low pay for an hour or so a day. Also learned that having little surprises delivered was a way to break up the long days. Instead of showing up with all the treats in hand, ask an aide to hand out one or two in your absence. Nothing expensive...a favorite snack, card, magazine, book, etc., will be a welcome distraction. The digital photo frames that rotate hundreds of pictures...best thing ever!! Provides hours of distractions and once it is on, is just keeps cycling through the pictures. You can use photo editing to add little notes, too. Good luck!
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Hi Susan. When my folks still were able to use a phone, I received dozens of calls a day. I ended up blocking their number for short stints. The folks didn’t seem to really notice that they couldn’t get through because they would forget they even tried to call. Once they moved into a facility, we opted to not provide a personal phone for several reasons. Instead we gave the people who wished to speak with the folks and the people the folks still remembered, the number of the facility’s house phone. As the disease progressed, even using a phone became a challenge for my folks even though they were handed a phone already connected to a person. I don’t regret blocking numbers nor not providing a phone. Best to you, as you continue on.
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So sorry for you & your mom that this scenario is playing out on a perpetual loop! Frustrating & draining at the very least! So many great suggestions for you avoiding the calls, all worth a try to find a good fit. Now, about getting your mom out of her room & interacting with others. It certainly sounds as if getting up & moving about are extremely difficult & painful for her. Add in the fear of falling & of course she doesn't want to leave her room. Are meals served in her room? If she is escorted to & from the dining room maybe staff can take her a few minutes earlier & leave her a few minutes longer. Nothing drastic, but enough for her to see what she is missing in her room. Sitting in the lounge is like watching live theater! No one can "make" her participate, but there are ways to get her out of her room at activities time. Enlist the staff & activities director to help with some therapeutic fibs. Today is: group photo day; electrical inspection; maintenance inspection, moving furniture to clean behind, etc. Try once a week & add days as she adapts. If she has pain with walking, standing, moving make sure she isn't uncomfortable during the increase in activity. Did she have a handicraft hobby? Let staff know & they could have someone sit near her working the same hobby & ask her for input or help. There doesn't have to be a lot of hoopla, just a coordinated effort to separate her from her best friend "Ma Bell" for an hour or two. Best of luck to you both for a happy solution/compromise.
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I like the routine ideas and if you have siblings or other family members who can participate as well all the better. Maybe taking turns at day's or time of day to call mom so she has contact at regular times throughout each day. I agree it can be a vicious cycle, as they need more assistance and aren't able to do as much for themselves or no longer need to do because meals, cleaning and taking out the trash are taken care of, they have more and more free time and less and less reason to be active or leave their room and that in turn doesn't exercise their bodies and brain, things start to fail more. Your mom suddenly has a lot of time by herself and with no schedule is probably loosing time as well as being board. I'm not saying there is an easy fix but the fact that she is so focused on the need to have contact with you is just an indication of who she trusts, who she has relied on, having contact with you makes her feel in touch with reality and probably some normalcy. Doesn't make it any easier but take some credit for having cared for her so well and being so present for her that you are her security. I know that particularly dementia patients often abuse the phone and this isn't an uncommon problem. For me ignoring the calls seems too hard but then I haven't had this issue yet, still if you can establish a routine that gives her some comfort and a routine often does, as well as find others to help lighten the load by being part of that contact routine it might help. Our main vehicle of contact is by phone, cell phone, with my mom too but she also has 2 Amazon Echo Show's, one in the kitchen and one in her bedroom/main living area which allows only "approved" people to "drop in" so we can visit with her face to face and she doesn't have to do anything to make it happen. We are able to do this via an app on our phones, so no need for us to be home or own a Show ourselves (though that's an option too of course) and in our case Mom isn't able to speak clearly & consistently enough (aphasia) to command it to drop in on us, though there are options to prevent this anyway so that isn't an issue but giving your mom the ability to see familiar faces and have quick visits throughout the day, regularly scheduled maybe, might help ease some of her need. Just a thought, it sounded like her memory was good enough to know when you were "late" for a visit but I know for some it's just the function of calling and having someone pick up that they are stuck on so this idea isn't for everyone. Google has been advertising a very similar device now too so I know there are several to choose from, not saying the Echo Show is the best option necessarily but I can say it was a particular life saver for us when Mom was in the hospital. The electronic frame that rotates family photo's was also a god send when Mom was in rehab after the stroke (before we got the first Echo) as someone mentioned. Of course reminding your mom that you are working full time and the phone calls are becoming a problem so you really need to set some ground rules is always an option too if she can remember and abide (enlist her help rather than giving her rules like a child) but if she were able to reason and remember or judge the time of day and what you are doing that well she probably wouldn't be calling so often. It is so hard sometimes to remember or relate to where their minds are when they do things like this making it harder to deal with but try to remind yourself that she isn't thinking she just called or why am I calling she just knows she needs contact and you are the one she knows will help her feel better. Enlisting help in getting her active either in or out of her room might help a lot and so might talking to a geriatric specialist who might have tools for lessening her anxiety. She can get her daily walking needs in however they do that and be in a wheelchair to socialize the rest of the time for safety too if she will & it helps her get out of her room mor
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Arrange to go there when there is an activity you both would like then go to it jointly - I suggest when a musical talent is there or similar [at mom's they had a guy who sang well & we had non-alcoholic wine while listening] - mention it several times before that you are looking forward to going with her - then if she refuses to go you need to be hard but go on your own & report back how great it was - she'll go the next time

Once you get going she should ease into it - was she always withdrawn? if so then it will be harder -

Find a way to block her calls from certain hours to get some peace
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The phone became a problem for me, too. Mom had dementia and was in an assisted living facility. She would call me dozens of times in a short period of time and leave nasty messages if I didn’t answer. I had programmed my land and cell numbers into her phone and she called them alternately. I was working from home at the time and could not always answer, even if I wanted to. Then one day I printed the phone log for her phone and found that she was dialing other numbers, many of which were either in error or random, at all hours of the day and night. I had visions of law enforcement showing up at my door (the bill came to me) in response to complaints from strangers tired of the calls! Since I knew she would be angry if I took her phone, I had her service suspended. The AL staff was aware of the situation and my actions. When she told staff that her phone didn’t work, they called me and I went and picked up her phone to take it in “to be repaired”. She asked about the phone a few times in the weeks following, although she usually thought she had lost it. The staff and I reminded her that it was in the shop for repairs. Soon she forgot about it. A few months later, after she had moved to the memory care wing, she asked me to get her a phone and I told her they weren’t allowed in the rooms, but she could use the desk phone at any time. I also used my phone to call her sister so they could talk. I hated taking her phone, but sometimes you have to do things you hate when dealing with dementia.
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
Very true, peace2 u.
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Some who have responded here need to remember: one day, if you live long enough, your children/relatives/family, may have to put up with the same things from YOU! You won't fully understand what your aging parent is going through until you get there. The ravages of old age are not kind to anyone. It must be a dark, lonely, cold place to be. And, "do unto others as you want them to do unto you" should resonate with us all! Also, it doesn't have anything to do with whether they were "good" parents or not. It only has to do with who YOU are! My parents are both gone; my Mother, 45 years ago, my Father, 2018 June. What I wouldn't give to have both of them back, idiosyncrasies and all!
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
true, but nobody here means any disrespect to their parent, just sharing a practical compromise, which respects both parent & caregiver. Caregiving children still need their sanity.
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I had this problem with my grandmother. I'm her primary, and she sometimes calls me from assisted living dozens of times per day. I can't always answer. Sometimes I'm working or sometimes I just don't have the emotional energy to have the "same conversation" again.

What I did was to set up a Google voice number which I then programmed into the speed dial on her phone. I set up Google voice do integrate with Google hangouts in such a way that the phone does not ring when she calls, but I do get a notification on my phone, and a transcript of her message. So much better. I can still see that she called, and I can quickly read her message to see if there is any urgent concern.
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BaileyP3 Jan 1, 2019
I love this idea of Google voice and if weren't that my parents call on a landline I would definitely do this. We're so fortunate to live in an age where we have caller id. Something else that can be very helpful for people that are a distance away is to work with staff to help the elderly visit with you on Facetime.

As primary for both my parents I get regular updates from the nurses which helps a great deal although it's interesting that I can receive a call that what of them has taken a tumble and when I speak to my parents not a word is said. Conversely thru most of December my Dad kept telling me they were both very sick and yet the nurses were not aware there were any problems. I've opted not to tell my parents that I get regular medical updates as they are both notoriously private and recent that anyone (including me) 'knows their business'.
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I feel your pain, that's how my mother is. It seems to be anxiety (or depression) cuz of not knowing how to make friends, I think. It's sad, (but also maddening), I know.
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Alzh101 Jan 2, 2019
Hugs to you Tiger. Trying to help our loved ones when they have very limited cognitive abilities is so difficult. It seems we really have to facilitate every interaction for them because they truly do not know where to begin and even if you guide them through, they immediately forget. I hope you take comfort in knowing that whatever you do for your loved one, still matters.
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I had a similar problem with my husband who has alcoholic dementia. One day there were around 50 texts from him while he was in a psychiatric hospital. If I didn't respond to him, he would make serious threats, that sometimes he would actually carry out. I had to inform the hospital that I would send police to their hospital to stop the threats and abuse, if they didn't sort it out immediately. The texting stopped right away at the time. I've had to turn my phone off at night, but then he would turn up through the night most nights until he ran out of taxi money, sometimes he would turn up without money to pay the taxi, which I then had to sort out (he lived separately). The taxi driver would wait outside my house until they're paid or the taxi driver would return to my house later to get paid after I'd found enough money for them. Many times he would make up stories and send emergency services to me throughout the night, where I would have to defend myself, trying to convince them that he is just using them as pawns to stop me from sleeping and to control me to his demands. I've had to change my number several times. Forgiven him 100s of times. I eventually had to disappear. He couldn't stop the severe destructive behaviour.
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Zdarov Jan 3, 2019
cherry, this is very sad and to me quite different! Hoping you have or will start a record of instances with your local police. Hopefully you are feeling better yourself and in a better place, not just hiding. God bless.
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Remember--this too will end.❤❤
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Well.

On a practical point, you can deal more effectively with her access to the phone. Have the phone taken out of her room and instead leave a cellphone for her with the care team. They can take it to her when she receives incoming calls and take it away again afterwards. If it's a pay-as-you-go type and you don't put any credit on it there's no big risk of its going missing or being misused.

So that should put paid to the multiple calls per day coming through to you. You then establish your own routine for checking in with her.

But it's not just the phone calls, is it. Your mother's situation is heart-breaking. She has moderate dementia: she *is* frightened, she does feel lost and alone, and the (very nice, I don't doubt) people around her are strangers. It is not reasonable to expect her to cope better with this; but it's all landing on you and that is extremely hard to take.

What country is your brother on the other side of? Where are your aunts? You say you're very happy with the care your mother's receiving in the nursing home: are the staff trained and equipped to manage dementia specifically?
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What about Getting her Alexa? She could ask questions, play soothing music, and have conversations.
Is she permitted to have a fish bowl? A betta fish is calming, and might get her to focus on caring for something else.
Unfortunately, it’s a choice for our elders to stay in their rooms and not interact. My dad has activities in his apartment building and complex almost every day, yet he sits in front of the tv every day alone. I’ve offered to go with him, but he declines. He declines help from anyone but me, and it’s very hard. But it’s his choice...
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When you were a needy child who comforted You? Care Facilities are structured for physical care - and some emotional care. When MY mother aged to the point of needing care one of her sisters took her to Live with her and learned certain care taking skills to care for my Mom. Visiting Nurses - My Mom was lived daily and the rest of the Family was very involved. When My Mom died she was surrounded by love. All the family felt contorted we had done a group effort of love. Love us what is needed. Nursing Staff can become close and often do to patients. Other patients bond with one another. Neediness is emotional. Our World needs more heart - Love- not more stuff. Love for one another is essential not a bigger house - car - luxury vacation. Daily love is the key. The constant calls are fear based on your Mom's part. Would your Mom block your calls??? The solution is a Nursing home that is local so you can visit very often. Or have nursing care in your home & have your Mom live with you. She is your Mom. Good Luck -
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Isthisrealyreal Jan 3, 2019
You cannot give up your livelihood because a stubborn parent won't put any effort in to live their new reality. Of course it's a frightening thought but we have all learned that the anticipation is 1000x worse then the reality.

By the way, not all women that gave birth were moms, nor did they offer any comfort. If i cried my mommy dearest would tell me to STFUP or I'll give you a reason to cry. Should I tell her that when she calls me upset and crying? Just curious.
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Hi, Susan, you mentioned that your mom has moderate dementia. Is she taking any medication for fear and anxiety? That might help the situation.
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Susan317 Jan 4, 2019
This could be happening. A geriatrician has suggested she be taken off her "old fashioned" anti-depressants and have them replaced with more modern ones. In the change-over process she is being prescribed some sort of anxiety medication, which doesn't seem to be doing much good! I do wonder what harm it would do a woman of nearly 90 to continue with "old fashioned" antidepressants which suit her well ..........
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