Follow
Share

My mom will be 94 next week. She still lives in her condo apartment and is in relatively good health, except for arthritis aches and pains. She is legally blind and uses a walker but is quite independent and social.

Ever since she stopped driving at age 75, I've been her main "go to" person for grocery shopping, appointments, etc., as well as caring for her emotional needs. My brother does help out occasionally. I am self-employed and have a very hectic schedule.

Mom has always been an impatient, demanding woman and has become worse in the past couple of years. She has started to get more confused and doing some troublesome things, like freaking out if I don't answer the phone right away. The other day, I was in our swimming pool. The phone was inside. She called four times with a half hour. When I returned her call, she said she was worried that I was sick. She called my brother, who lives 20 minutes away, and told him to come to my house to check if I was okay. Fortunately, I was able to reach him to tell him I was okay.

This is not the first time mom has freaked out like this when I haven't immediately returned her phone calls. I suspect some dementia is setting in. I notice that she's getting a bit more confused, too.

Mom has said a couple of times that she wishes I called her every day, because some of her friends' children do that. She says she gets "lonely." Meanwhile, my sister calls every Sunday, my brother calls one a week, my niece visits her almost every Monday, I call Mondays and Thursdays and usually take her grocery shopping every Friday. Plus, she plays cards every night with the people in her building and goes out to lunches and other functions almost every week, so I'm not understanding why she's "lonely."

I really don't want to commit to calling her every day, for a few reasons, but most of all, because if I don't call her every day on time, she'll flip out and worry. As I said, I run a business and it requires me to be on the road every day, I also have battled anxiety for years and it would be just too much for me to deal with her drama on a daily basis. Certainly, I am always there for her if she needs anything, but calling every day would be absolutely too much for me to handle.

She's been on the list for assisted living for four years. I think she'd be much happier, less needy, and less "lonely" if she were in such an environment.

Anyone else dealing with a similar situation? Am I being selfish?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
Cat your being a terrific daughter and you need to be good to you too.
My M used to beg a daily call too, then it got to be twice a day "So I can say goodnight." Pretty soon it would have built up to me never being off the phone!
My widowed BIL is now starting the same pattern.
My advice is to reassure her the days/times you'll call. On the time give yourself a leeway for events. Mum I'll call you Monday between 9 and 10. If I don't call, don't worry because it just means I'm in the middle of something & I'll call as soon as I'm free.
BTW it's lovely to read of folks who so miss loving parents & would dearly relish 1 more call. Sadly we don't all get that relationship and calls bring grief, pain, anger, lack of self worth and a whole bag more of not feeling good.
Helpful Answer (11)
Report

I would like to offer a different perspective on this. I think that often as people who live alone age they crave a touchstone in their life simply because there is that nagging feeling that they could hurt themselves or die and no one would discover them for days, my Mom and her SIL talked daily for that very reason. The son of a friend of my mom's would bring in the newspaper for his mom every morning on his way to work, another had a neighbour that watched to see if she opened her curtains in the morning because then they knew she was up and about, simple things that made them feel less alone and vulnerable.
Helpful Answer (9)
Report

Where does this expectation and demand come from?

Well, let's face it, some people are like that - but they're not the issue so let's gratefully ignore them for once. The issue is to do with people who have been more or less normal and reasonable in their behaviour previously, but who are now turning into phone stalkers who freak out if you don't instantly answer the phone. What's going on with them?

Sit in a chair and imagine that you have an uneasy feeling that you should be somewhere else but you're not sure where. Your thinking skills don't seem to be working; as you might feel, for example, if you'd gone without sleep for 24 hours and then were shaken awake just after you'd dropped off - you'd seem to be alert but decision-making and information-processing? Fat chance. You think your memory's fine, and the gaps where information is missing are something that you are unaware of.The only location you can picture with any certainty is a house you definitely lived in sixty years ago. The only people you are completely confident you have a connection with are your mother and father, who must be around somewhere but you don't know where to look for them, and your children; those are the physiologically rooted bonds that go deep into the heart of your being. You have a sense of dread and you're not sure why, but something isn't right. You must consult someone. Who you gonna call?
Helpful Answer (9)
Report

Sounds like mom has plenty going on in her life. MY life should be so busy. Ha! You're not being selfish. Don't give it a thought. She's just all wrapped up in herself as old people often are. Put it out of your mind.

Good daughter!
Helpful Answer (8)
Report

Oh, I forgot to add. I wouldn't feel bad or guilty about not wanting to call her everyday. It's not a morality thing. I don't see anything to feel guilty over. It's your feelings and you have a right to them.
Helpful Answer (8)
Report

In my experience with aging parents, my in-laws, elders get lonely and there is never enough contact from their point of view. If you've never spoken with your mom on a daily basis it's going to take a lot out of you to make the small talk that those phone calls inevitably become. You do not sound like a selfish person. Caregivers need to manage our parents' expectations. Some will say that calling every day is a small thing. I disagree. If speaking with your mother every day is going to increase your stress then how is that going to make things better?
Helpful Answer (8)
Report

I can understand your feelings Cat. You have to do what is necessary to look after yourself. Running your own business takes energy and effort. Selfish? No way.
You are doing the best you can. It's good other family members help out. Yes, as a fellow "go-to" person, my parents expect me to drop everything. No question the pressure is there. On the other hand, you deserve a life. Good for you for reaching out on this discussion board. Don't forget we're here for you.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

I think the question of whether a daily call is "a lot to ask" depends a lot on what your parent is like and what your relationship with her/him is like. My mother at this point can't make conversation about anything but her own needs and problems. I dread her calls because it's invariably some "emergency" that she wants me to take care of. Her anxiety is not about whether I'm all right. Her anxiety is about making sure that any issues that arise are immediately transferred to someone else for immediate action. Her calls invariably make me angry, anxious and agitated. Luckily I can forestall most of the "emergency" calls by stopping in almost daily (which also leaves me angry, anxious and agitated more often than not). So I totally relate to someone not wanting to call every day, especially if the parent does have that "drama queen" mentality.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

I have a bit of a different take. If I was blind, I'd probably feel disconnected from the world. I'd want the assurances of people close to me, especially to know that they're okay. And I might be tempted to call someone repeatedly until getting that assurance.

When I haven't been able to reach my father and have been anxious or overly concerned, I've called repeatedly. A few times I've gotten in my car and driven the nearly 30 miles to make sure that he's okay. He tells me I'm a worrier. But I fear any manner of things happening to him and need to be reassured sometimes, especially when certain other conditions exist.

I can understand your position, especially since you write that your mother engages in "drama", but I honestly don't think it's too much to call her daily. She's an old woman, she can't see, and apparently she's alone all day.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

Setting reasonable limits with a truly needy loved one is not easy. But do something you can live with. Maybe a call every day before your or her bedtime would work. Pick a time that is not too hectic for you and feel free to keep it short and sweet, emphasis on short if it can't be sweet.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.