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Mom has demetia and is in an Assisted Living Center. I visit at least 4 times each week and it is not enough for her. The staff says she is fine and that she is just "playing" me. She cries everytime I talk to her or visit her. She begs for me to bring her food, tissues, bandaids...anything that she thinks will get me to visit even more. She socializes and apparently appears happy when I'm not around, but absolutely miserable with me. I know I need to drop the guilt, but how do I get past the feeling that I am letting her down when I don't visit everyday. BTW, she is often angry and says ugly things to me in addition to just being plain miserable. How do I separate from this? Is it okay to stop visiting so often and stop answering the phone when she calls 20 times each day? I work full time and I'm really getting tired and discouraged. Just now...while typing this message, she called and said that I had to get there asap. When I told her I would have someone check on her, she berated me for not caring about her and putting work ahead of everything. HELP!!!

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The workers at facilities often think they know the patient. There are so many patients they work with and often, as with my mother, she could come across to some of those that worked at the facility, as "normal" while others who worked there knew better. You know the truth and that is what matters. My mother became an expert at manipulation - and it could be so cruel.

It took me a long time, but realized it did not matter what the workers thought and I would disregard their comments. I once spoke to the social worker in charge who truly knew and understood the severity of my mother's mental problems. She had often been on the receiving end of my mother's psychotic behavior, while others are not. It was through her understanding and caring that I could ignore the opinions of workers who don't know what they are talking about. Take care.
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I'm happy to report that there was only one phone call today. After I told Mom that I would see her on Wednesday, perhaps it freed her to enjoy other things today...at least that's what I'm telling myself. Since I worry about her not eating, she has learned to use that as a primary method of manipulation. Wierd thing happened this past weekend. I was talking to one of the Med Techs about my Mom and the fact that she often didn't know where she was and called me at all hours of the night. The Med Tech said "but your mom is in her right mind". I said "no, she's not". She responded that when Mom was with the other residents she was "sharp as a tack". I just don't know how that is possible. She is taking so many meds...from anti-anxiety to anti-psychotics...how could the Med Tech (who has access to all her records) think she is "in her right mind". Some nights Mom calls me 3 or 4 times to tell me she's scared and lost. This is such a difficult journey. Thanks for understanding and taking the time to help me. I can't tell you how much it means.
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Abby, I can so relate to what you are experiencing with your mother. My mother's behavior was much like your mother. Long story short, she was diagnosed with personality disorder, delusional disorder, etc. and always was narcissistic. My father had waited on her hand and foot and enabled her demanding ways. He was the kindest man I ever knew and she made his life miserable.

As others have advised; there is nothing you can do about this. You have nothing to feel guilty about; that said, she will continue to TRY and push your buttons. To the best of your ability, try to not let her do this to you. I know it is easier said than done. She is taken care of, safe and enjoying life more than she lets on to you. My mother was the same; but I came to fully realize it was out of my control. It was my nature to be kind and to help her; but due to the mental illness, she would take full advantage of this as she was programmed to do so. It was interesting how she could be completely different with others, etc. This is part of the manipulation. I visited less and talked less on the phone. I will admit, it was quite a challenge and she often did get to me. But, it became easier and easier as time went on. She eventually was taking the proper meds for her diagnosis and this improved her life immensely, and mine as well. She had previously refused certain meds and this was to her detriment.

You are a wonderful, caring daughter - she is blessed to have you in her life. Hugs to you and take care
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I feel for you and what your going through with Mom. On the one hand, I think she's playing you out of boredom... and on the other hand she may have legitimate reasoning.

I watched my Mom go through so much emotionally during her final years. Between her fear of illness, the failing mobility, the strangeness of not living the life she imagined she'd have at her age... it's not hard to imagine the emotional roller-coaster she's experiencing. And the fear.

I think my Mom expected me to be able to wave a magic wand and make everything better for her. I'm tearing up as I write this because I NEVER could make anything completely better. It's an impossible task. Aging is horrible for many of us. The panic attacks your Mom is having when she demands this and that from you is somewhat normal.

Your task is difficult. You need to develop that inner gut feeling about what's a real emergency and what's not. This isn't easy to do. I still have guilt for the times when I shunned action and my Mom was legitimately suffering. But the "cry wolf" syndrome has bad consequences. I explained this to her, but it didn't make a difference.

I can't imagine what I'll be like when I'm a senior. I pray I'm not as full of confusion, loneliness, fear, boredom and anxiety as my Mom was.

note: the multiple phone calls I understand. before I left my career to take care of my Mother full-time... I'd get calls from her AND her agency caregiver throughout the day. Eventually, I just learned to screen the calls. Turn off the ringer (vibration is quiet) and ignore 19 of the 20 calls she gives you. Follow up after work with 1 phone call and ask her about her day. I eventually added a date night with my Mom. Just the two of us. Dinner, movie, shopping! Her favorite things. I did this once a week, but it can be done once a month or bi-monthly. It allowed us to bond, it allowed her to have something to look forward to, and I got to know my Mother and hang out with her for fun. Great memories there!

I know I'm not the voice that represents everyone. But, sometimes just figuring out the "why" behind the behavior helps. Then addressing it in a meaningful and personal way (date night) can make life with an aging parent sooo much better.

Hoping the best for you and your Mom!
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Thanks for the support. Late yesterday afternoon, I stopped answering the calls. She continued to call until 9:30pm, leaving messages about how I was going to pay for how I treated her. I called her this morning to say hello and to remind her of her hair appointment. She was fine and was eager to get off the phone because she and her friends were going "out to eat"...that would be downstairs. She called me back after her hair appt. and asked me what she was supposed to do now because she didn't know where she was and she was starving because she hadn't eaten in three days. I talked to her and told that I would visit her on Wednesday. She didn't like it but she didn't complain too much. I won't answer any more calls from her at work today. I hope it doesn't seem that I am being mean. I really am trying to establish boundaries and keep my sanity.
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Feeling guilty is pretty much the default emotion for caregiving. I doubt you can get rid of it completely. Shove it to the background and carry on. (You aren't earning that guilt. You don't have to be ruled by it.)

Visit as often as it suits YOU. Do not take phone calls during your work day. As geewiz suggests, leave or end the phone call if she gets nasty.

It doesn't sound like she really misses you and wants to see you. It sounds more like she enjoys watching you jump through hoops and seeing if she can manipulate you. Those are not roles that a dutiful daughter needs to fulfill.
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She has always been emotionally manipulative and I've always done everything I could to please her...but that has always been impossible. Now that she's sick, I am definitely over-compensating and it making me weary. She has called 3 more times since I typed the original post (about an hour ago). I have told her that I have to work late tonight and won't be stopping by and now I have put the phone aside. One step forward and two steps back...wow it is so frustrating. Thank you for taking the time to answer.
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This came up on another thread, but does your Mom have her own phone? If it's a mobile phone, delete your office number from her directory. Trust me, the AL will contact you if needed. Think about your visiting schedule. Are you going after work, at the end of the day? I find this the worst time for dementia residents. See if you can't scramble it up a bit. Finally, if she starts to complain or become nasty, tell her you're sorry you caught her a ta bad time. "I so wanted to have a pleasant chat" . And promise to come back at another time when you hope she will be feeling better.
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You are a very good daughter with more patience than I have.

Has your mother always been this emotionally manipulative? It sounds like she is using the fear of making her angry to make you feel obligated if you don't visit everyday and then comes the guilt. Knowing that she socializes and apparently appears happy when you are not around is a better focus for your thinking than you are letting her down because of not visiting or going there asap. I would also try to focus on the fact that your mother is in a safe place and is being cared for.

Evidently, your mother must be functioning fairly well to be in assisted living. If you are seeking permission to not visit her every day and not answer all of her phone calls, then yes you have my permission to set some boundaries. With a full time job, you can't be answering her phone calls 20 times a day. That's just not reasonable. Also, while I'm not a therapist, I would see one to see what help they can give you with the guilt. You have not done anything worthy of guilt. She's putting a guilt trip on you which is "emotional blackmail." I would not visit 4 times a week, but I would consider doing some surprise visits during which you might catch her socializing and being happy which might have the benefit of calling her game. I wish you well as you try to find your way out of the emotional F.O.G. (fear, obligation and guilt).
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