My Mom suffers from extreme anxiety, and has lately begun to call me many times in one day just to hear my voice. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My Mom suffers from extreme anxiety, and has lately begun to call me many times in one day just to hear my voice. Any advice?

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My mom has always been anxious, but it beginning to be uncontrollable. She broke her hip in July and the problem got worse after she left rehab. She is now calling me 30+ times a day, just to hear my voice. I am her care giver, and like many of you, have an a**hole brother who does nothing for her, not even visit. Of course, he lived off my parents for years. Now that I think of it, he rarely calls her, so that's a clue. I can tolerate a few call during the day, but 30 calls seems excessive. She is in independent living, and persuaded the administrator to call me because she was sure I was dead! I turned off my phone due to a doctor's appointment. When in rehab her anxiety was so apparent the doctor ordered an antidepressant. She would fight it so it did no good, forcing me to take her cell phone. I am now forced to turn mine off for part of the day to get some peace. Any comments or observations?

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I agree with the suggestion that others have posted that she might have memory loss, along with the anxiety that sometimes accompanies dementia. My dad calls 10-20 times a day some days, other days he doesn't call at all. It's actually the days when we don't talk that are worse. If I call him in the morning he will often not call me for several hours, but it all depends on whether or not he's having an anxiety attack at that moment. When he does feel anxiety, the first thing he does is call me. If he doesn't reach me, he forgets that he's already left a voicemail and he calls again, and again, and again. So: I guess I want to say, you're not alone, and also, that medications can definitely help. (Without the meds he is currently on, he was calling me in a blind panic, yelling and screaming at me, using profanity, and accusing me of stealing from him on a regular basis, even from some small event like misplacing a piece of paper for a few minutes. It was unbearable, and caused my poor mom so much stress.) Even without a geriatric psychiatrist, you could take her to a neuropsychologist to be evaluated for memory loss, and talk with another primary care doctor about her anxiety. Some anxiety is controlled well with some antidepressants for some people. For others, anti-anxiety meds are needed. I'd agree that Ativan might not be the best (I don't like it, as I believe it exacerbates memory loss, if not outright causes it for some people like my mom). But there are other options, like Buspar (buspirone) and Seroquel (quetiapine) that can work either separately or together to help stave off her anxiety. Small doses of Xanax (alprazolam) can be okay too if used very sparingly (it's apparently been shown to be addictive in the elderly, and can also worsen memory problems). Best of luck, I hope everything works out for you and you get some peace of mind.
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Oh, Lord, help! Here, it's been about 12.5 years ... waaay too long to deal w/alone. When my husband was alive (cancer got him at 43), he said, "If your mom needs help when she's older, she can live w/us." Well, he's not been around at help me deal w/her at all ... would sure love to have someone come and help with now & then. :(
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I agree that she needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. My Mother's anxiety was so intense it was making me crazy. If we have to wait in an exam room at the doctor's office, she wants me to open the door because she's sure they've forgotten her and everyone has left and locked the office. When my husband and go out (once a week) to pick up a takeout supper for all of us, I have to call her every half hour or she makes the sitter call me because she's afraid something has happened to us. Like your mom, she has always been nervous, and age and dementia has just made it worse. I talked to her PCP, who referred her to a psychiatric NP. The NP first prescribed klonipin, but it gave her the rare side effect of double vision. Next prescription was buspirone, which has been a Godsend. She still has anxiety, but seldom has the melt-downs she was having almost daily.

She is 93, has lived with us for 10 years, and had a stroke 2 years ago. No physical after-effects from the stoke - only mental. No short-term memory at all, medium-term is spotty, and she is not well oriented. She often doesn't know where she is or how she got here, and has to ask who I am. Once we re-establish those basic facts, she is fine until the next day.

Given all those things, I guess I would be anxious too.
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Oh I forgot to add, my mom started going nuts after a botched endoscopy for an upper GI bleed. They thought they got it and sent her to rehab a crappy one with roaches - my fault my mom was still quite lucid at the time Stage 2 when dementia kind of starts to show and I knew if she went where the doctor wanted to send her she would die of a heart attack if she thought I was going there at night - that is not irrational - it was in gang land and I would have been visiting at night, trembling in the car. So she's in this rehab that is crap but in a nice area for two weeks, she starts throwing up blood again, she goes back to the hospital and they do it again - anesthesia round 2. There was an oxygen machine that I don't think worked somewhere and a few bruises and dislocated elbow noticed by a nurse but my mom wasn't in a place to remember what happened after throwing up for two weeks aka not eating so there was nothing that could be done. Sorry this is so long, its been 18 months but THEY haven't had to live with the fall out. So they sent her back for another 10 days of refusing to eat the crappy food. She came up anemic - 3.5 weeks of not eating... and went back to the hospital. They kept her wallet and other belongings. I went to get it, they were all standing in a row some administrator types in suits and a couple of CNAs. Some preppy white suit guy was playing keep away with my moms wallet. He got slapped I admit it. And he had the wallet yanked from his hand as well. The wall of CNAs closed ranks. The black guy in the suit threatened to call the cops. I literally told them to "go ahead and make my day" so I can tell the cops how they steal 80 year old women's wallets, walkers, get well bouquets and have roaches in the rooms. The cops were not called. I made the doctor sign her out to me when she was stable. I took her home and she never recovered. This was February 2013, her memory was shot and she started the calling 20 times a day thing when I went back to work. She couldn't and barely can remember how her cell phone works. She was crying because she thought I was dead and by September she was obsesses with some reality TV show and thought they were taking over LA. By March she thought they were talking to her, by May she would yell at me to be dressed in front of the TV because those men would come out and rape me. I still remember her pointing to Ben Affleck and accusing him of potential rape and the next day my calling all over town to get someone to see her in my boss's office with a large Argo poster on the wall. Then she got combative and hit the apartment manager with a broom. I'm sure she wanted to do that for 10 years. I did. My mom claimed she stole from us. One would call that dementia except that I never did find the George Forman grill. That woman was a piece of trashy work. Still the point was she was too much for me to deal with. I moved July 3rd. July 2nd was my appointment with UCLA with the neurologist he diagnosed mild/moderate Alzheimers with Major Depression and a psychotic element. July 8th after 3 tried (July 4th an 6th) I had her committed. I thought they would give her some meds and send her home - dump the frigging lexapro. Nope they sent her to "rehab" where she hates it and wants to come home after 3 months. I've been running an unscientific poll since my childhood BFF told me this happened to her dad. And yes, its the anesthesia. It speeds up dementia. I am not sure about causing it but it will speed it up.
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@stuck1 fight her PLEASE. It took me way too long to get my mom into see a neurologist, I couldn't find a Spanish speaking psych by then because thanks to health care changes the one Spanish speaking geriatric psych in my part of LA (or all of LA) no longer takes medi/medi and by the time I found someone at UCLA it was too late for my mom.
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Does she have dementia? That was the first "weird" symptom I noticed in my mom looking back. I have Major Anxiety Disorder and so does my cousin hers was so bad it was more or less agoraphobia from 9 to 50 (her mom died at 9 but the other siblings recovered fast like kids do). Agoraphobia is the only anxiety disorder I don't have. I even like crowds (as long as they don't talk to me: social anxiety) - so while 30 times a day seemed excessive I still didn't think to get her tested.

My mom always thinks I'm dead. She hates when I leave the nursing home I put her in because I have to come to my dark empty apartment - sure I was her caretaker for 10 or 15 years, I've lost track and being alone was weird at first but I kind of like it. I just wish my parking spot wasn't in an alley. I REFUSE to get a roommate. I'm over 40 for God's sake. If I meet a guy then we'll see but I kind of like it.

Back to my mom currently she is on Aricept, Lexapro, Seroquel, Buspar, Ativan as needed and her blood pressure meds. She has been on the Lexapro for anxiety for years way before dementia was even a thought in the furthest reaches of my mind. I think it stopped working. The do that sometimes. I want a psych to remove it or switch it because she is depressed and now she had gone from me being dead to me abandoning her in the home. I would love to bring her home but I can't. It's just me and I am 25 years from retirement. It's 70 for Gens X and Y. Unlike Litldogtoo, we (I) am still working on the perfect cocktail. Oh yes, the Seroquel is one of the bad for seniors with dementia ones but I think it gets a bad rap, the company was marketing it for off label use and got in trouble.
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Thanks, Grettaharen, for explaining that you weren't telling me ("stuck1") that there's a remedy. ;) And ba8alou, so far as getting another doctor ... well, you'd first have to convince her to let you take her *TO* another doctor! A problem ... but good idea ... just doesn't work for everyone. Thanks all.
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Stuck1, I addressed my response to the original poster based on info she provided. It was not a blanket suggestion to everyone, and clearly not to you as I do not know details of your situation . Good luck to you.
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About the pooh pooh-ing docs, my uncle had one of those. She told my cousin "your parents are nice people and nice people don't get Alzheimers". Unbelievable! If the isn't meeting YOUR needs, find a better doc!
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Ativan worked well for dad, along with seraqual, there was many times my dad would look for me, he is still living with me and my ma, but he is bed bound and in late stage alzheimers. I only wish that he would call for me or come to my room and spend time with me, anyways, i know it seems bothersome now, but trust me, the day will come where u will want a phone call from her, and u won't receive it. I am not trying to depress u, i wouldn't wish that on anyone, but ask doc about ativan and seraqual,, could make a difference.......one day at a time dear friend,,,,god bless
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