Before I get started, know I love my mother very much. I call her myself every day to check in and try to see her every couple weeks. I’m just getting frustrated and need advice. I also can’t imagine how scary/frustrating this may be for her, even though she denies there’s anything wrong. So in posting this, please don’t read it as a daughter complaining, but a daughter needing advice on what I can do.

To give a back story. She isn’t diagnosed with memory related illness, but that’s because she refuses to go to a doctor. She’s 65 years old (not what I consider “old”) and no longer works. She has all the signs of a memory complicated condition but denies it’s an issue. I’m a mental health professional, I see these things a lot and try to tell her about the warning sings I’m seeing. However, she still sees me as her child and not a professional.

So here’s the issue: She calls me, constantly. Work days, weekends, middle of the night, it’s all the time. My call log is her every 30 minutes - 1 hour (sometimes less time in between on a bad day. The calls are always the same conversation over and over again. She gets so mad and says I don’t want to talk to her if I don’t answer and denies that we’ve spoke when I try to kindly tell her we’ve spoke. This wouldn’t be an issue if she wasn’t so persistent and rude. I’ll be blunt, my mom isn’t the most pleasant of people. I love her and care about her very much, however she’s very stubborn and can be only concerned about herself. She’s been like this my whole life. She will say things like “I’m your mother, I’m important” when she’s called me 5x during my morning meetings and I tell her I’m working and can’t answer. she will say the same when she’s woke me up by calling at 11pm. She lives with her significant other, but he gets equally as frustrated.

What can can I do? This is ruining our relationship because she just won’t stop. If I don’t answer she will just call again and again. I work a stressful and mentally taxing full time job where I can’t be on my phone. I also need to have some time to decompress and this constant calling drives me crazy. My husband is so supportive, but it’s hard for him too. We will be at dinner, at a movie, with his family, etc and my phone is always going off (I have to keep it on ringer for my patients). There’s times she won’t remember calling and others when she will say she remembers we’ve spoke but she’ll say she needed to make sure to tell me ______ (which she did, 5x already). I’m trying to understand and be empathetic, but it’s so hard. She gets so mad if I don’t answer but I can’t leave my desk, pull my car over, stop my dinner, or wake up to answer her every time she calls. I wish she would go to a neurologist, but she won’t. She says she’s “doing just fine and there’s no problem.” Then will go on to say I need to be more understanding. I’ll show her my phone logs and she gets embarrassed and walks away/changes the subject rather than seeing that I’m trying to show her there’s a problem. I’m fearful for her because it’s clear something is wrong. Besides the constant calling, she has multiple other signs. She forgets when I come over, she even forgot her birthday party this year. She doesn’t remember my birthday or how old I am, she has days where she forgets what day/time of day it is, and she isn’t able to remember new things (like how to take her blood sugar). She always is anxious, for example she always feels her computer or phone is broke (never is). She has “good days” but far more bad days.

So all all in all, what can I do for my own sanity and to help her realize there’s more than just “old age (her words)” going on here?

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She is doing what she wants to do, for a reason that seems good to her. While you take the calls, she is getting what she wants – why stop? I’d say that your only chance is to say that you will block her number if she continues to call and will not see a doctor. That’s the ‘stick’. What can you offer as ‘carrot’? Perhaps a scheduled longer call at a special time of the day? Or carrot cake, even? If you block her number for a week, you can try the conversation again.
Helpful Answer (4)

Does your phone have the ability to block her number?

The only way that you're going to be able to force this issue is by no longer responding to her ongoing anxiety.

Try giving her a choice: "we can go see dr. X or dr. Y. No mom, not going is no longer on the table".

Sometimes when elders are ill but still competent, there has to be an emergency, like a fall or hospitalization that allows us to get them the help they need.
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My dad almost died because of his stubbornness, maybe you can share a couple of stories about people that decided ignorance was bliss until they ended up on life support with the family having to decide if the plug should be pulled or wait, when a little medical care sooner would have kept him stable and relatively healthy. He lost ground because of it and now has medical issues that he wouldn't have had, had he seen a doctor when his family said something doesn't seem right.

Maybe shock her system a bit. I had to tell my dad I would walk away and never look back if he didn't do what was needed, because I wasn't going to watch him die needlessly.

You are gonna have to get tough with her. Not everything is fatal, not everything is dementia, but everything will get worse left to fester. Maybe tell her that you wish she loved you enough to get it checked. Anything goes sometimes.

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65 is not old. Can you approach it from the angle that she has many years yet and you know that she would not want to live with an untreated issue that will affect her and all of her loved ones adversely.

Don't let her walk away, make her face it. As hard as it will be to say, no, this needs to be looked at, it can help. Maybe a family intervention would be helpful. Does she have anyone that she listens to? Get them on board.

These are tough love times, I am thinking.

I can't imagine not being willing to find out, it may be something treatable. Could she possibly know and refuses to face it? My dad is good about "if I don't look, it's not really there!" living. Ugh!
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Unfortunately I’m her only child and the person she trust most, per her. I agree, she’s not old at all. She thinks she is and would rather blame it on that than face the real issue.

I agree, I couldn’t imagine not wanting to get help. I think she’s, similar to how you said about you dad, afraid that it’s real once she knows about it. Rather than the thought of, it’s happening no matter if we ignore it or not and getting help will make it so we can treat it.
As a mental health professional, I’m rather surprised that you don’t say Mom has been evaluated and formally diagnosed with dementia. 65 isn’t that old. It may not be dementia but something is going with her and you need to find out what.

You have a life, a career and your own family. You love your mother and were brought up to be a good daughter. However, lines need to be drawn. Others here have suggested getting another phone. New you do not give to your mother. Keep the old phone for her calls only. Leave the phone on silent mode. Answer as you are able. If she becomes verbally abusive, tell her you will speak with her when she can speak politely and kindly, and hang up. You are not obligated to answer every single call. Truthfully, this sounds like an obsession, a very common symptom of dementia. In any case, she needs to be seen and evaluated by her doctor.
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That’s the thing, I’ve been trying to get her help. I’m a mental health professional, but not a doctor. I work with doctors who would gladly see her, but we can’t force her. I have no doubt when/if she agrees to go that she will be diagnosed.

Thank tou you for the advice, it’s definitely something to consider!
As a professional you know this is not her. 65 is not old. She needs a full workup. Now she is eligible for Medicare, maybe you can tell her they require a complete physical.

This is not going to stop till Mom can get on some kind of medication. This is like OCD.
Helpful Answer (3)
Yes I agree 100%. I’ve been asking her to see a doctor for months. She will agree to go but then refuse once I’ve made an appointment for us to go to together. She’s not old at all, in my opinion. She is who will say it’s because she old. That’s when I counter by saying “No, you’re not old you just need some help figuring out what’s going on with your memory”. She then shuts down the conversation. I will try the Medicare physical requirement- if I could just get her in I have a feeling she maybe would realize it’s whats best and will continue.
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