My mom is in denial about dementia. We took her to a geriatric specialist who gave her the memory test and it upset her. I'm following the advice of and I don't push the subject. I just encourage her to share with me any memory problems she's having so that I can help her with it. I explain that it can be a UTI, ear infection etc, and that if she tells me, we can treat it and most likely she will see an improvement.

The personality changes are very hard for me, though. She struggles with anxiety and depression. She's on meds for both. When she's having a bad day, she takes it out on me and ridicules me. I have noticed that when she talks to certain friends on the phone, her irritation and belittling of me is worse. Her friends ask inappropriate questions about her life and give her financial and medical advice that is completely ill-informed. These friends have not been courteous or kind to me. My mom moved in with me for several years now. The plan has been to move into assisted living, but with the pandemic, that has been put on hold.

There was a seemingly Divine intervention in that my mom accidentally dropped and broke her cellphone. I've not replaced it yet because 1) I limit my trips out of the house in order to remain as safe from the coronavirus as possible. 2) I've noticed that not talking to these friends, my mom is much more pleasant with me. We spend more time together talking, writing songs, gardening, crafting, etc. I FEEL SO MUCH MORE PEACE without her having access to her friends via her cellphone 24/7.

For my own self care, I don't see a reason why my mom needs to talk to these friends. There are a couple that are very supportive and encouraging. But there are others who vent their anxiety about the pandemic, politics, and who are busy bodies. One friend needed a reference for a job and asked my mom to call that person for them. My mom doesnt have the judgment or ability to figure this out and so it ended up on my plate. I texted them and told them they needed to figure this out on their own. This is just one of more than dozens of examples of how her friends create more work for me because they ask her to do things. Or they give unsolicited advice about money, benefits, etc. and then my mom asks me 100 questions again about her social security, how much money she has, blah blah blah. And I'm caught in a predicament of spending what little self-care time I have to answer, yet again, all her questions about her money and bills. We've been through this many times, she's just unable to remember. And then she get's anxious or depressed about money.

She lives with me, her little bit of social security covers some of her groceries and supplies she needs. The rest, I cover. When she is able to go into care, more than 75% of it will be paid by me.

I'm tired of her friends. They weren't there for her when she was living in her home. Several years ago, I got a phone call from her and she said she had no groceries. I live 2500 miles away. I couldn't get any help for her. The "friend" that she paid to do errands had left the state for 3 weeks without me knowing. So I called home health agencies to try to get help immediately, and I got a plane ticket for the very next day. I have a lot of resentment about these so called "friends" who weren't there for her when she needed help.

Now she lives with me and it's a lot of work. I'm just now starting to be able to focus on basic self-care such as eating more healthily and cutting down sugar. Her friends are WAY TOO MUCH for me. And they are causing me more problems. They aren't helping at all. They seem to be nosy busybodies who just want to get my mom upset.

Any advice or support is greatly appreciated.

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Seems that the broken cell phone has been a golden opportunity to prune "friends" that are not very friendly from your mother's life. Feel free to contact the few supportive people and give them your phone number. Let them know that your mom has dementia and anxiety so any conversations that involve decision-making or anxiety-producing should be avoided. Eventually, your mom will not miss her so-called friends that gave you so much grief. And you may find that her true friends may become your friends as well.
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Reply to Taarna

"There was a seemingly Divine intervention in that my mom accidentally dropped and broke her cellphone."

"I've noticed that not talking to these friends, my mom is much more pleasant with me. We spend more time together talking, writing songs, gardening, crafting, etc. I FEEL SO MUCH MORE PEACE without her having access to her friends via her cellphone 24/7."

The second quote should be your answer!

You know these women only stir things up and likely confuse your mother. They don't know of her issues and unless they were very close with the family, it's none of their business. It does sound like the "relationship" was merely superficial - if they couldn't tell she was having troubles, they are living in their own little bubble and projecting everything onto her. Just another person to gossip with.

Out of sight, out of mind and no phone = lots more happiness all around! I'd skip getting another phone. She will likely reach a point where she won't be able to use it anyway. She really doesn't need these people upsetting her.

If/when she moves to AL (more likely MC), you could get her a phone in her room, if you think she can use it. I didn't set my mother up with one, because of hearing issues and the dementia. If she can use it, prearrange your calls so she can be in her room to get the call. Otherwise, just visit often! She may also make new friends there, hopefully none of those who are full of woes!

As others said, any kind of senior living can be expensive, esp if you have to go MC. You don't want to be paying 75% of the cost, as it might take ALL your income and savings, then you will have nothing later if you need it. If you can, work with EC atty (they aren't cheap either, but you might find one who will give your mom a break - it should be her assets/income that pays for this, but if you are already paying for her needs, that won't happen.) Costs vary from one region to another, but your profile has no location listed (which is fine.) Places like NYC, CA, the NE can be pricey - mom's is now over 8k/month. 75% would be 6k/month or $72,000/year! Many people don't even make that much!

But, for your original question/concern - don't replace the phone. These people are not really her friends and they clearly upset her, so she becomes agitated and takes it out on you! Relish the good times you are having together now!
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Reply to disgustedtoo

These women are not genuine friends. You already know this. Did she use her phone to call other people? If not, I wouldn’t replace it.

If she is anxious not having a phone and you don’t mind her having one, then simply block these women’s phone numbers.

Call Council on Aging in your area to see if she qualifies to receive help. You will get a break and she will have new people to communicate with. They will sit with her, bathe her, light housekeeping in her room and prepare light meals.

You may even want to start looking at facilities now to see which ones would suit her situation best.

Best wishes to you and your mom.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

People have lived a really long time without the constant contact afforded by cell phones. I wouldn't replace the phone. Can your mom still write letters? She could write letters to the busybodies to keep in touch. It would be an effort for them to reply in kind so maybe they won't.

Unless you are quite secure in your own retirement funds, please reconsider your plan to pay for your mom's assisted living. Look into all your other options before you impoverish your future self. The local Office on Aging would be a good place to start.
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Reply to Marcia732

If not having a phone doesn't seem to bother your mom then I wouldn't worry about getting it fixed.

But, if it's causing your mom to be upset, anxious and she's always asking about it then you should get it fixed.
Does your mom call her friends or is it mostly her friends calling your mom?
Remember, if you plan to put her in Assisted Living then it helps to have friends to talk to because she won't have you.
So, you wouldn't want to destroy all her contacts with her friends.
Maybe you could let her use your phone to chat with a couple friends that don't make her anxious.
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Reply to bevthegreat
disgustedtoo Sep 23, 2020
"...if you plan to put her in Assisted Living then it helps to have friends to talk to because she won't have you."

1) she not going to be in solitary confinement, she can make NEW friends
2) why would she not have OP? OP can visit/call, that shouldn't be an issue.
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Do the friends actually physically visit? If not, if they are only "Phone Friends" then, even if you give her a new phone, who is to say you have to add back all of her old contacts? Unless you specifically ask, when you change phones you also change numbers. If you do not give out the number, no one calls.
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Reply to LS2234

If Mom is pretty into her Dementia, I may consider a very nice Long term care facility. If she meets the criteria, Medicaid will pay for her care. Her SS will be used to help offset it. It cost anywhere from 60k to 100k or more for an AL a year. Your future is important too.

If she hasn't missed the phone, I wouldn't worry about getting another. If she asks tell her you may replace it after the COVID restrictions are off. Or, can't afford it right now.

My husband had an Aunt by marriage who was always in my MILs ear telling her what she needed to do when it came to dealing with me. When the Aunt moved, I got along with my MIL better. Not great but better.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Where are you that you have to pay 75% of Mum's care costs? If she has little income or savings , she should be able to get a spot covered by Medicaid.
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Reply to Tothill
JoAnn29 Sep 21, 2020
In an AL. Medicaid does not pay for ALs.
Things change so..... 2 of my older friends don't want to talk on the phone, only write letters, which is hard for me. Three are nearly deaf, so have to speak very slowly and distinctly; one so that she can get most of it (if she has both her hearing aids in, if she found them, if they're not broken), and the other two have machines for the deaf on their phone (or some sort of software), so they are one step behind what you're saying because they're reading it. Oh, yeah; 2 have some dementia, but they can manage to converse with me. Oh, well.... at least we're all still trying!
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Reply to mally1
JoAnn29 Sep 21, 2020
There is a 3rd party involved too. You speak and then a 3rd party types it in. Unless, they are now voice activated which adds to the monthly expense. My husband won't use it because of the 3rd party
The friends do not sound very supportive or good for your Mom.
It is a normal part of aging that we lose touch with our friends over time. Cards during holidays even fade away, especially if she cannot write and send them.

Have you considered, that they may be responding to things your own mother has, in her dementia mind, said to them? Some twisted misinformation perhaps?

Maybe, out of sight, out of mind. Have her write to them, help her mail cards and letters at this time. When and if she requests it.

My advice: Keep on doing what you are doing. And remember, no good deed goes unpunished. Sounds like your Mom cannot afford a cell phone at all. So do not replace it. If it is your money she is needing, put her on a very strict budget, no guilt.
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Reply to Sendhelp
movingforward19 Sep 19, 2020
Thank you for sharing that it is normal to lose touch with our friends over time. I feel grateful to have this time with my mom right now. When she has her good days, the time spent sharing stories and the connection and intimacy between mother/daughter feels really good. I think of this as our time now. I dont have time and energy to manage the upsets that her friends cause.

Thanks, too, for your advice too about the cell phone and budget.
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When your Mom's friends are unable to call her, does she complain about missing them, ask when her phone will be fixed, and etc? I would let that be your guide. You cannot, of course, manage your Mom's friends. They are unlikely to change and you cannot forbid her seeing them UNLESS she doesn't really remember them or ask after them. Then seems you would have free rein.
As to your spending your own funds on your Mom, unless you are independently wealthy this would be a grave mistake for your own future; I would seek advice on that on.
Wishing you the best.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
movingforward19 Sep 19, 2020
thanks for the advice about letting her questions to be her guide. She hasn't asked to talk to them. If she does, I wont stop her.
I should add that her friends don't know about my mom's dementia diagnosis. I dont feel that it is my place to tell them private medical information. They are the type of people who would probably gossip about it anyway. In other words, they aren't really good friends. If they were my friends and they behaved like they have, I would end the friendship. But I don't have that authority.

Also, I'm remember that when my parents took care of their parents 20 years ago, they didn't have cell phones. They just acclimated to my parent's home. I really wonder how much benefit versus harm cell phones are for people with dementia and their caregivers?
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Reply to movingforward19

Sounds like a sticky wicket you're in with these 'friends' of your mom's, that's for sure. I don't see how you can prevent her from speaking with them, however.........? My mother also has dementia and whenever she gets a phone call, the caller seems to irritate her to all new heights of aggravation. Basically b/c she hates women with a the nieces who call her she can't stand to begin with, but the dementia has made her a lot more difficult in general. It took her original personality traits and exacerbated them a thousand fold. So, she was always a tightwad but nowadays, it's ridiculous the amount of worrying she does over money, in spite of the fact that she has never even paid a BILL in her life!! She has no idea how much money she has or anything, yet she's OCD about it nevertheless.

What worries me about your post is that you're saying you plan to pay 75% of her expenses when she moves into care. Why would you do that? What about YOUR life? YOUR retirement? Who's going to pay YOUR way when you get there and need help? It's never a good idea to pay anyone else's way in life, even your own mother's. If she needs care, you can apply for Medicaid and get her into long term care on the state's dime, not yours. You don't say how old your mom is, but mine is almost 94. She's been living in Assisted Living and now Memory Care AL since 2014! Her money will be all gone some time in 2021 and I'll have to apply for Medicaid on her behalf b/c there is NO WAY I can afford her life AND my life, especially considering her rent is over $6,500 a month!

Anyway, about the 'friends'........unless you don't give her the cellphone back, and unless you don't have a house phone, you can't stop her from chatting with her friends. I understand how they cause both of you grief, but they're her only ties to the outside world, same with my mother.

Wishing you the best of luck dealing with a tough situation and taking care of YOURSELF in the process.
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Reply to lealonnie1

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