My Mom calls me 5 -10 times a day leaving nasty messages. Should I play any back to her? - AgingCare.com

My Mom calls me 5 -10 times a day leaving nasty messages. Should I play any back to her?

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My 92 year old mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimers/ dementia and was close to being "kicked" out of this ALF because she hid her belongings (purse, wallet, jewelry) then blamed the staff and became loudly and verbally abusive has been moved to their Memory Care unit.
She seemed to be adjusting well at first and then I would start to get strange messages on my voicemail from her about naked ladies trying to get into her room from the outside (impossible), then someone lifted up their skirt, squatted, and pooped in the middle of her floor, etc. I would just go along with the "excitement" of her story. Now she calls me about 10 times a day at minimum and leaves messages from being a nice tone to full on yelling at me saying I took her purse and she is tired of me and my attitude and she is going to call the police on me, etc.
My question is this? Should I play this message back to her when she is having her lucid moments so she realizes how she sounds and how it hurts me? She does act much different in front of me then she does when the staff or others are around.
She has always been verbally abusive to me and I am the only family member and child left that is willing to care of her and that has her best interest. The other sibling financially abused her in the amount of $70,000. Police say it's civil- so it's a lost cause there. That's another story.
What are some options here? She calls me constantly and I am seriously ready to have a nervous breakdown. She seems to have resorted back to a child and states, "I always got my way from my mom and dad".
She also, keeps asking where are dead relatives are and why they haven't come by to get her to take her to church or to school. I am just so confused with this chapter and its as if I'm going down a rabbit hole as well!

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I agree with NancyH. There is no point in showing her what she does when she is not lucid. It may mortify her and disturb her and embarrass her, but it won't change a dang thing, except make her feel bad briefly. Or she might deny that is her voice and accuse you of trying to make her crazy -- which will not only not stop the calls, it will make you feel worse.

Here are some options:

1) Continue along the way things are. Plan ahead a little for your nervous breakdown.
2) Accept that it isn't your mother screaming about calling the police on her daughter who stole her purse. It is the dementia hollering out in pain and confusion. Your mother cannot help her outbursts. Really. This would be particularly hard to grasp since before she had dementia and was presumably in charge of her behavior she was also verbally abusive. That was her fault. But this isn't. Dementia changes everything. No need for you to get defensive or hurt. This really isn't about you.
3) Read up on and learn a little about dementia and what to expect. Losing or hiding her possessions and then accusing someone of stealing them is EXTREMELY COMMON in dementia. This is not some special outrage your mother dream up for you. Sometimes knowing what is typical progression of dementia can help you not take it so personally. Similarly her regression to a time in her childhood when a relative came and took her to church is not unusual at all.
4) Don't answer any calls from her. Periodically listen to the first few seconds of each message. Delete those that you can tell aren't going to be meaningful, without listening to them.
5) Remove her phone. You'd have to consider if this would be an inconvenience to you and also if she regularly gets or makes calls to other people. But there is often no need for someone with dementia to have a phone.
6) Arrange you visits to take advantage of the "best" behavior. If that is in front of other people, try always to have other people there.
7) Join a local support group of caregivers for people with dementia. It will be a comfort to realize that you are not alone and your situation is not unusual, and to hear what others have tried.

You can try more than one of these options. I personally don't recommend #1, but it is an option.

Do come back and let us know what you decide to try and how it works out for you. We learn from each other. And we care!
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I feel for you, oh my gosh! But honestly, what would be the point of proving how crazy she gets? Even IF she were in her right mind the day you played the recording, she'd forget it 5 minutes later right? Seems like that would be like spitting into the wind. Can you block her calls? Or at least turn them off & on when you want? After all, if something terrible were to happen it'd be the aides that would call you I would think, not her. I don't know. What I DO know is, don't bother showing her what it's like when she melts down. Waste of time unfortunately. Sorry.
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It sounds like they need to remove the phone from her room or you need to turn off your voicemail. I wouldn't play the messages back to her. She wouldn't be able to adjust her behavior to prevent it from happening again.

The other option is to let things continue, but not to let it upset you on a personal level. I know it is painful to see and hear your mother like this. The person who is calling, saying weird things, however, is not your mother. It is the tricks that are going on in her mind. If you think of them in that way, maybe they won't hurt or make you angry.

In your position I would probably block the calls when I wasn't ready to talk to her. Then I would ignore the voicemails. Her cares are being met. If anything happens you need to know about, the facility will call.
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This happened to me. I had mom's phone removed. I didn't explain why, I just had it done. She was not just calling me, but her sisters and anybody else whose number she could get to, at all hours of the day/night.
These kinds of dementia problems require creative and practical thinking. Just take out the phone.

Get her evaluated by a geriatric physician and neurologist. You must know what's going on to react appropriately. Not every dementia is Alzheimer's and some have special treatment plans.

And then plan ahead for the upcoming changes that are going to happen that increase her care needs. Get her on whatever waiting lists to hopefully shift into those higher care levels when the time comes.

The crazy phone stunts are not happening in isolation. There are other things going haywire, I promise. They may not be as visible though. For my mom, it was hygiene. She stopped going to the dining room to eat and wouldn't/couldn't call for a tray instead. Dishes weren't getting washed. I did her laundry, but some weeks had very few items in the basket, so I wondered what she was doing with her dirty clothes. I think she was just re-wearing.

She was not able to keep track of her pill box, so we added the reminder service. In short order we had to request the locked pill box because mom got mad and threw her week's worth of pills in the box at the wall and broke it. Pills everywhere.

She hallucinated bad people hovering over her bed at night. People coming into her apartment all the time. People hurting her. These were hallucinations and there was medication to turn that noise down. At some point, the brain is not able to correctly process information anymore. The trash cart rolling down the hall was interpreted as a crowd of people banging on her door.

You can't make a dementia patient happy. Stop chasing that one. You can make them safe, looked after, and provided with being "fed, med, & bed".

You can't use ration and logic with dementia. I put signs up all over mom's apartment like "TAKE YOUR KEY" and "TRASH ON MON" or "CALL THE OK HOTLINE". Signs require a set of cognitive skills that are probably gone and not coming back. It's a helpless feeling to realize you're at that point with your parent. It's a sign a higher level of care is now required.
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So much truth on here. I went 300 miles away for 3 days, cutting it short as I could because of her. Came home yesterday to 5 calls in the last two days. She had gotten my cell phone # somehow and called me where I was out of town. Now denies ever having my number, doesn't remember calling my home and saying things like "I can't believe you would leave town and not tell me. I thought you cared about me more than that". Then when I called her on the way home she didn't mention nor remember the other calls, which I hadn't heard yet.
What makes things even harder is that I am hurting still, and she has already forgotten the words she spoke to me.
I'm now planning to put signs up around her room next time I go, and hope she reads them. I had the info on her calendar, but she didn't check it to see when I would be back. She doesn't know what day it is anyway and is too proud to ask the front desk for it. Heading to her house in a few minutes. She will probably act like nothing bad has happened. I can only be glad she is over it, if she is.
I've had to reconcile my self that I cannot make her happy, no matter how much I do to try.
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I'm usually not one to recommend more meds for elders but talk to the med staff about someting to calm her down.
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Thank you all so much! Sometimes I feel I am the only one having to go through all of this but I know there are so many of you and others having to deal with the same, had experience, and even worse situations.

As suggested, I won't play the messages back to her. The thought was out of frustration more than anything and I just take everything so personally and need to let that go!

I can't tell you by reading all your responses how much it gave me a peace of mind, if you will. Thank you again.

I am learning to ignore her messages but that calling the police message threw me off because she would and now thinking about it, they would realize she had dementia once she gave them her address.

I will ignore her calls and be selective as suggested and I think calling her once a day in the morning should help, at least me.

Visiting her gives me knots in my stomach because she is so mean to me and negative. Even her grandchildren won't visit because of the way she is, which is sad. Anyway, I will work that out.

I may even need to remove her phone service from her room if it continues or see if there is a way Time Warner can limit calls outgoing during certain times or even if there is a device that could do that. Perhaps I'm dreaming or an inventor!

What a blessing this site is and all of you for your help. Especially during this very hard step of a person's life. Thank you!
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I think I'm always second guessing myself but hearing from each of you, I really believe it is best to have the phone taken out. She even went as far as calling me in a frantic yesterday saying someone had just called her and stated, "you better watch out for your daughter" and they hung up. I even had an ALF staff member go look at her incoming calls to see if in fact this was true. It wasn't. She is so convincing and I fall for it.

She is on Seroquel now and Xanax. Her doctor is concerned about having her on too much where she would be a fall hazard, so she is very guarded. However, I called and let her know something needs to be done because my mom is miserable, at least in front of me. In front of staff, it's whole other story. I don't get it. Needless to say, I will let the ALF / Memory Care do what they are paid to do and I know they treat her well and I will do what I feel the troops here are helping me gain the courage to do, and that is take that phone out. There is no need for it. I have the messages for her doctor to hear, just like Babalou and Sophe509 recommended. This is so her doctor doesn't think I am being overly dramatic - as I sometimes can be during this trial and error process of dealing with this emotional part of seeing a parent struggle with reality and not so much of reality.

As others have asked, I have tried to redirect my mom's attention by her favorite magazine, tv show, reminiscing about her youth or boyfriends she likes to talk about, etc but it all ends abruptly with her asking me where her mom is, have I met my dad's new girlfriend, etc. I have no idea how to wing these left field questions.
For now, I'll start with removing the phone, requesting an increase in her medications to help with her phone "not working", and then after a while see if this will help with her increased confusion, crying, and outbursts with me.

Once again, thank you to each and everyone of you for your help and advice!
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As a last resort change your phone number and make it unlisted. That was what I had to do in the end when she drove me into a nervous breakdown ... told her I rarely used it so I got rid of it to save money.
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I have this same problem, it's common apparently. Misery loves company and the advice here will work for me, too. Babalou started an idea for me. I'm going to play the voicemails to her doctor (not to her) to let him know where she's at. The level of agitation, exit seeking, anger, etc to see if a change in meds is in order. Strangely, her telephone has 'broken' a few times and I'm working up to having it need to go in for 'service' to 'the phone company'. Then it won't come back.
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