Follow
Share

Just like everyone else, Covid has limited me to phone contact with mom who is in a memory care unit. I live across the country too, so I have not seen her since November of 2019 (went in for a Thanksgiving visit and dad passed while I was there--will always be truly grateful I could be there). Of course, mom's AD has progressed over this time. She is now at the point where she really can't even complete a sentence. But I know she has complete thoughts because she gets so frustrated not being able to say things. She did manage to tell me during out last phone "visit" that she does not know who I am. This too is to be expected. Unfortunately, mom has never been able to understand virtual visits, so that is not an option. I just don't know whether to continue calling to talk to her. On her unit, the staff answers the phone and takes it to the residents. More often than not, mom ends up getting upset because she cannot communicate, even if she was having a "good day" prior to the call. Then the staff has to deal with the aftermath of my call. And now that mom doesn't know who I am, I can't imagine she needs to hear from me. A big part of me still wants to call to hear her voice and tell her I love her. And, of course I feel like I'm abandoning her if I don't call. But if it mostly upsets her, and makes more work for the staff, then I feel like I'm being selfish by calling. I did tell staff I likely would not continue asking to talk to mom for all the reasons I've explained above, and I asked if I could call them just to check on her. They of course said I could do that any time. I would just like to hear from you folks as to whether you would continue to try to talk with mom. Thank you so much for sharing your hard-earned wisdom. Hugs to you all!

Find Care & Housing
I don’t have any advice to offer but just wanted to express my support for you in this sad situation. Your mom is lucky to have such a kind, thoughtful daughter. 😊
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to SnoopyLove
Report
MelissaPA2AZ Mar 11, 2021
Thank you for your kindness.
(1)
Report
Melissa, I just want to add one more thing, for all those saying Oh Call Your Mom!!! Please don't apply YOUR rules of 'normalcy' to a disease like Alzheimer's which robs a person of all aspects of normalcy. Dementia & AD sends error messages to the brain of the afflicted; telling them things that aren't true, like 'Melissa is a stranger or a bad person, and she upsets me when she calls.' That is your mother's 'normal' now. Which is what YOU have to respect, and put 'normalcy' aside. It's the same when people tell you Oh Never EVER Lie to Your Mother, It's WRONG! Well, that's applying rules of normal life to a condition like dementia where lying becomes REQUIRED in order to keep the person calm and happy.

Before giving advice about dementia, everyone should learn all they can about it and THEN offer advice.

Melissa, the rule of thumb is this: do whatever it takes NOT to upset your mom and to keep her happy, THAT is the only goal here.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report
MelissaPA2AZ Mar 14, 2021
This is such a helpful reminder! Thank you so much.<3
(2)
Report
Well, except that apparently for this individual lady and confused soul, the calls are not beneficial but distressing.

As a worker who would happily spend a full hour supporting a phone call if it would make my client's day better, I will say that solely for the reason it is distressing for your mother and for no other reason, I would discontinue the calls.

By keeping in touch with the staff, if your mother should have a better day or a brighter spell you'll hear about it and can always change your mind; I would also ask the staff to ask *her* if she would like to call you (just possible it might be easier for her if she initiates it); and do start or continue to send her cheerful, easy to read written messages and pictures.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

why not ask staff to take a video or FaceTime w/ a staff person and they can turn the camera to ur mom while ur mom interacts w/ the staff...u can see her and hear her voice w/o triggering an incident ?
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Eastbay1970
Report

If you know anything she enjoys, or used to enjoy, try sending pictures. Flowers, balloons, babies, animals, fancy dresses, wedding pictures. Perhaps that will trigger happy associations. Also, she may recognize pictures of you as a child, or her house, or her town. The old memories are the last to go. You love her and she loved you, that is still somewhere. You hold onto the old memories as well.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Moxies
Report

When someone is "gone" and can't communicate and can't do even a slightly normal thing and gets upset when attempts are made, let go. It is destroying you emotionally and with guilt and you did nothing wrong and it is upsetting to the patient. Send some nice cards she can look at and keep checking with the staff. I would NOT call if it were me.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Riley2166
Report

MelissaPA2AZ: I believe that you are doing the right thing by not continuing to call. You're very astute in knowing that it puts your dear mom through a test with a mind that is broken. Prayers sent, dear lady.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report

Call, and ask the staff to tell her that her daughter called to say hello.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Sendhelp
Report

You answered your own question with "she gets upset". I don't think you should do anything but check in with staff. Let them know you send her love and if she mentions you, they are free to call, but that you will refrain from upsetting her. How hard this must be for you. I am so sorry.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Report
ShirleyB Mar 13, 2021
Your answer is right on the button. I live in the "independent living" section of a senior housing complex. If I ever get moved to the "assisted living" or "memory care" section and don't know my 6 children or my grandkids, I hope they will just check in with the staff often to make sure I'm ok, but not try to talk with me if it upsets me, which would then also upset them. From what I've observed here, the people who are in the other 2 departments love to get little gifts and some enjoy receiving colorful cards...especially the colorful ones really designed for children. Sometimes their family visits just upset them and it takes the rest of the day for the staff to scrape them off the ceiling. I know this all sounds harsh and unloving, but it's just the way it is. If a parent gets upset for any reason, what's the purpose of the visit? Loving a parent doesn't mean you must visit...especially if it upsets them. Don't go on those miserable guilt trips...they serve no one.
God bless all of you.
Shirley
(12)
Report
See 1 more reply
This isn't about you, but about your mom now. What's best for HER and her emotional wellbeing moving forward. If your calls upset her, why would you want to continue calling her? It's for YOUR sake, and that's understandable, because you love her. But if it's going to cause angst for her, then you have to back off in my opinion. Call the nurse, ask HER how mom is doing. See if she can Facetime you w/o mom even knowing she's doing it, so you can 'lay eyes' on your mother and feel like you've had a 'visit' without actually upsetting her.

My mother lives in Memory Care too, and we have a standing appointment for a window visit every Sunday at 1:15 pm. Maybe you could arrange a 'standing visit' with your mom's MC too.........whereby they go into your mom's room and film her via Facetime (or whatever) for a few minutes while you watch on your end of the phone. They may be very willing to do that for you, just ask.

I know how dreadful this whole scenario is, I deal with it daily myself. Every day is a new issue where my mother is upset about something and lately it's that she really lives 'elsewhere' and feels 'out of place' in her own apartment where she's lived the past 2 years. Sigh. I hate ALZ/dementia with every ounce of my being and pray for God to come take my 94 y/o mother home daily. It's too much for her and there's no quality of life left now.

Wishing you peace as you try to navigate a difficult path.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report
MelissaPA2AZ Mar 14, 2021
Thank you for sharing. Such a painful journey we are all on. My heart goes out to you too.
(2)
Report
See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter