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My Mother calls from the Nursing Home intermittently saying no one is paying attention to her. They don't care. Today she doesn't feel good and has laryngitis and chest congestion. The Nurse this morning said she would call the doctor she has a temperature. So she calls me saying no one is helping her - they don't care - and then apologizing for bothering me. She hung up on then called back to ask me not to call anyone - make no trouble - she has to live there but wishes she could die. She says this a lot but then by this afternoon she'll call me laughing about something and be completely different with her 'game' face on. What does anyone do with this? She has a psychiatrist visit every week - a caregiver she says she doesn't want help from - and then complains they don't do anything to help her but she says no one makes her bed right and she can dress herself. This facility is tops and I know she gets the best care she can. She's there from a fall and her dementia - the doctor said we can no longer care for her safely at home no matter how many bars and helps we provide. She is 85 has dementia going through stages for the past 3 years and chronic pain from a shoulder repair and post-herpetic shingles pain and anxiety - all being treated properly with the appropriate medications. I feel I can't feed into it and she needs to 'grow up' and adjust - yet - I don't want to miss something I should be doing as I have no experience with nursing homes.

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"Of course no one makes your bed right, Mom. Many of those old homemaking skills are not considered so important any more. But you sure taught us all to make our beds. I taught our boys but I don't think they pay much attention to that. They have so many other things to pay attention to in their lives that we didn't have. I'll bet if they had a bed-making contest there you'd win first place! But now you are retired from that task. You deserve someone else doing it for you, even if they don't do it your way."
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This is so hard! No, you don't want to feed into it, but you also don't want to argue with her reality.

Your mom has dementia (for at least 3 years) and she cannot "'grow up' and adjust." That is simply not an appropriate expectation, though I can certainly understand that reaction. She is already all grown up, and now she is progressing backward. Not Her Fault. Not your fault either, of course.

Could you have a consultation with the psychiatrist who visits her, for advice about how to deal with Mom?

How do you get into her world, validate her feelings, show compassion, and at the same time not agree that she is being neglected? Tough assignment!

How about acknowledging her feelings, assuring her that things will be better, expressing your love, and distracting to a more upbeat topic?

"Oh Mom, I am so sorry that you are not having a good day. I wonder if some staff are out sick or in training and they might be a little short-handed today. I know from my conferences there that they really like you and want to take good care of you. Let's hope that tomorrow things are more normal there. I love you very much and wish I had a magic wand to make you feel good. ... I was looking through some old pictures and cam across some of Aunt Edith at the Halloween party down at the lake. Wasn't she a character?! I remember the time ...."

This is Not Easy. You are facing a huge challenge in communication. Don't be hard on yourself. You are seeing that Mom really is getting good care.
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Please note that when an elder had dementia it is not unusual for them to make up stories to get attention.... in fact it is pretty common. Sometimes a parent will grumble that no one is taking care of them because they want you to bring them back home to their former house or into your home. You are right, don't feed into it.

Plus I have read many times on this forum you might find that if you visit your Mom unannounced you will witness that she is getting the care she needs and is enjoying being around the other residents.
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You said that this facility is tops and that your mom is getting the best care available so the issue lies in what your mom perceives and what she perceives is inaccurate due to her dementia. She's not being neglected by the staff so you can at least rest easy knowing that.

You said your mom is seeing a psychiatrist. Is she on an anti-depressant? If not, maybe she should be. If she is, maybe her dose needs to be tweaked. However, we all know that anti-depressants aren't happy pills. Your mom is still going to be in a nursing home whether she's taking an anti-depressant or not.

I don't think you're missing anything. Mood swings and exaggerations come with dementia. Unfortunately, it's not going to get any better as the dementia progresses. If you're uncomfortable with your mom's stories visit her more often for a while and at odd times. Reassure yourself that she's being treated well.
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