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I moved to FL from PA about 6 months before my mom was placed in the nursing home. My siblings are in PA and go to visit our mom weekly. I call when they are visiting so I can talk to my mom. I am struggling with what to talk about. She doesn’t remember that I moved, how old I am, that I have a husband and grown children ... she has trouble even forming a complete sentence but I love to hear her voice. What can I talk to her about?

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Recite bible scripture to her. I understand she may not retain it, but you'll feel good about it.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Save and go see her. And like lynina2 said, talk an talk.
It’s hard, its not really a communication, question an answer.
its like music to the mind, happy, exciting, restful.

There was a guy in a hospice, we’d talk baseball, and neither one of us really knew anything, he looked forward to it.
a million stories, the biggest thing missing is usually misguided love, but you’ve got that covered !
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Reply to vonrock
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First of all, if you love to hear her voice, she loves to hear your voice too. This is what worked for me with mom. You can read to her....Mom loved me to read to her about famous actors and actresses like Jimmy Stewart and Bette Davis. Also, she enjoyed a good joke or two and short poems. I also read a story book from her childhood called The Five Little Peppers. We would use the story to allow mom to reminisce about her childhood. And last, if you can, sing to her, singing uses a different part of the brain. You might be happily surprised if she joins in with you.
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Reply to lynina2
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Please whatever you do don't stop calling her. My mother has dementia and often doesn't even recall that someone called. My brother who lives out of state says this same thing that he doesn't know what to talk to her about. Honestly it really doesn't matter what. Just so you do. Many have really good ideas on here, especially talking about the past. But also about anything going on in your life. Maybe she can't understand and react the way she used to but it makes a person feel good about themselves just to be remembered and told about current situations going on. My younger sister (the baby) never calls my mother or even writes because she doesn't know what to say. Frankly if she would write what she had for breakfast or what shoes she decided to wear it would make Mom happy, just hearing from her. I've told her this but it does no good.
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Reply to Nancynurse
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Since my LO can barely speak anymore (one or two words once in good while) and I'm not sure if she's listening or even understands me, when I talk to her in person, I talk about our good times. I'll just start talking about how I just ran into Linda, an old college friend of hers and she sends her love (which isn't true, but, it might help her feel better) and that wasn't it so nice the way she had her dorm room fixed up. And, what fun we had at that concert standing in the rain! I tell her that I think about her all the time and that she should always know that she is so very loved. It's a one sided conversation, but, it's meant to lift her spirits. If others are present, I often brag on her accomplishments, travels and hobbies. If anything is getting through, I want it to make her happy.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
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I have found great ideas and guidance from Diana Waugh at www.waughconsulting.info she has a couple of great resources that helped me better communicate with my mom and dad. The workbook is awesome!
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Reply to Ombudsman1
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While my dad was not in as advanced a state as your mother, I found that he did remember things about life in his twenties, about presidents of the United States and giant historical political events (e.g., man's landing on the moon), his childhood, how and where he met my mom....so I'd try to steer the conversation towards things from long ago, and it worked. Alzheimer's attacks recent memories first, then, mercilessly, eats its way back to the earlier ones. I hope this helps.
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Reply to JGoldman
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I now live in NC and with my Own at Home Dad, Who is Alone up there since Mom Died....I call once a week and when I do, He keeps Me a Minute because of his Lung disorder where he cannot Breathe...
Me: "Hi, Dad, Just calling to let you know I am thinking of you and that I Love you...How are you doing?"
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Reply to Parise
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Talk to her about anything, even if she doesn’t remember. Talk to her about her childhood, how she met your dad. Talk to her about music, her favorite songs. Tell her you love her. Visit as often as you can and when you do, hold her hand, hug her and kiss her. They never lose the desire for touch and love and kindness.
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Reply to cdulac
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Anything and everything. And since she doesn't remember, you are not limited in how often you can call.

You meet a neighbor on the street - what do you talk about? Same thing here. Anything and everything is appropriate until Mom gets too tired to stay on the phone.

My DH's last 6 months were very difficult for him. He got a bout of pneumonia and it took much of his memory. So when his son called, I could tell from our end that Ray said the same things every week. So what? They were still talking.

One of the things Bob asked was, "what have you eaten today?" Did you go outside, did you walk, did you see anything on TV that you liked/hated - just anything that pops into your head will do. What are you wearing, did you get a walk today, have you been outside - mention your siblings, have you seen "so & so" lately. Is there anything you could send to her that she wants? You just talk until she is tired and wants off the phone.

If it helps, pretend you are talking to a small child and do the same kind of conversation.
Bless you for wanting to speak with her! DH's other 2 children couldn't be bothered even trying.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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jacobsonbob Mar 5, 2019
...but you probably wouldn't want to "baby talk" to him/her or otherwise "talk down", either. Maybe it's better to think of the parent as a "middle-aged" child--such as one about 8-10 with whom you might ask fairly simple questions while using a voice and manner quite similar to that used for adults. I've heard staff in nursing homes sometimes speaking in a tone of voice that would seem condescending and offensive to anyone having any remaining mental abilities.
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I talk on the phone with my Mom almost every evening. I love to hear about when she was a child, what her parents were like, the big garden they had, how she met my Dad, etc. Her memories of the distant past are quite strong, while she also cannot remember what she had for dinner 20 minutes ago. Two years ago I started a journal of these little conversational memories of hers--just 3 or 4 lines in a word document. For some Alzheimer's seniors a time comes when they no longer have language. I didn't want to lose this special aspect to our relationship. It is so precious to me to be able to remember her past through these short entries. I know when she is gone, it will become even more precious.
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Reply to daughter22moms
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Sing with her. If your mom has favorite old songs that she taught you as a child, she may even join you in the singing. My aunt loves for me to sing hymns with her, and amazingly she can recall all of the words and the notes! Music is a wonderful gift that sometimes people who are aging seem to miss (but don’t know it). When my dad was actively dying, I put a radio station on (using my Kindle) and placed it near his head. He played the radio consistently as I was growing up and when the songs came over the airways, he would join in the singing. Two days before he died, I saw him mouthing the words to one of the old-time hymns that was being played on my Kindle. It thrilled my heart, and I think it comforted my dad.
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Reply to busymom
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As mom continues to lose the ability to communicate effectively, the simpler the conversation the better, e.g. yes/no questions. Having someone else on the phone to help facilitate the conversation is also quite helpful. My folks are in assisted living in PA, while I am in AZ. My mother is increasingly reluctant to even get on the phone because of the difficulty she is having speaking due to her AD, and dad most always must join us. You have gotten lots of great advice here already. I encourage you to keep connecting by phone for as long as it is possible, even if the visits seem to make no sense or seem to have no meaningful content. I believe it will bring both you and your mother some measure of peace. The time may come when such connection causes too much anxiety for your mother, but you’ll be able to tell. It sounds like you and your siblings are working together as a good team on this and I’m happy for you for that. Wishing you the best.
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Reply to MelissaPA2AZ
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jacobsonbob Mar 5, 2019
I had to laugh when I read about having both parents on the phone because many years ago when my parents were both alive (and fine mentally), I called them but sometimes the conversation become one just between the two of them on their respective extensions. However, if this happens to you, then maybe they'll carry on the conversation after you have "hung up".
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The past. Get her to talk about her past, and yours You will treasure those conversations when she's gone. And besides, she won't remember what happened yesterday or this morning. But 40 years ago will likely be no problem.
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Reply to DoingbestIcan
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Not to seem glib but when I am away from my mother as I am now due to putting our house on the market in NY to move fulltime to SC where she is I ask about the weather. Alot of seniors focus on that. So we discuss the snow we are having right now. She always asks if I have warm clothes, each time we speak. Then I ask about the weather there. She might say it's cold but not as cold as NY since she lived here for many years. Her AL had to evacuate for hurricane Florence. We were in SC, didn't evacuate but moved my car to parking at her AL. A major weather event can promote alot of conversation. She seemed happy that her facility could help with my car. Hopefully despite her condition she might still know what the weather is like. And you have your own weather news to share. This might seem trite but it seems to be a constant source of interest with many elderly people.
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Reply to Riverdale
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IsntEasy Mar 5, 2019
I agree! I’m sure it eventually becomes beyond reach, too, but it’s a topic that many people with significant dementia can converse about engagingly and at length, but I never really thought about why until you just mentioned it. Maybe day-to-day weather changes become more interesting as one’s understanding of the world gets smaller and smaller.

My father’s favorite gift from me was one of those thermometers that give a reading of indoor and outdoor temperature. He loves comparing it to what’s on the weather channel and his first question to me every time I pick him up is what temperature does the thermometer in my car say. He also likes to compare the reports of the various weather people. Prior to dementia, he had no particular interest in the weather.
Great suggestion!
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I had the same problem with my mom until I started to ask her about her childhood. I would say something like "Was your mother a good cook?" or I hear that you won a dancing contest when you were 10. She would perk up and tell me the same story. I would just listen.

I stopped trying to get her to remember the things she no longer did but encouraged her to talk about whatever she wanted.

Good luck
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Reply to lulugirl
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Involve your siblings in conversation if possible. Stay in the moment with her, tell her you love her. Let her guide the conversation if possible. Talk about anything she may find interesting.
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Reply to trudy6234
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It might work to talk about your childhood, without reminding her that you are the same person as the child. You could sing a little song you remember and ask her if she remembers singing it to her children. You will be happy to hear her voice talking about times past, so it’s one thing to try.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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I’ve learned that it’s too frustrating for Alzheimer’s patients to answer questions about what they’ve been doing.
Ask the facility to give you an update on what your moms been up to and then ask them for a schedule of upcoming activities before calling your mom. You can then talk to her about what she’s been doing based on the facility report and also talk about all of the upcoming events.
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Reply to Qwerty
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Yes, I agree with Ahmijoy. Let her direct the conversation. Don't correct her because in her mind thats where she is. When she talks home, it could be where she grew up. My Mom forgot my Dad, a person hard to forget. Her kids.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Let her direct the conversation. That’s what I did with my mom. If my mom wanted to talk about how she went to the farm to buy eggs, butter and cream with her mom “yesterday”, I went along with it. I didn’t spend time trying to convince her she was 95 and in a nursing home now. It’s not a satisfactory conversation in the way that she’s talking about current events, friends and family, but you’ll still be hearing her voice.
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