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I hate to speak on telephone, feel guilty re: Mom's calls
Posted: Monday, May 23, 2016 1:32 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

Looking for some wisdom from my friends here on boards.

Yesterday was my birthday. I knew it could get weird or cause anxiety but with Keeper's help it all went smoothly except for the phone calls from my Mom who is 97.

I feel like it is a moral question at this point whether to take her phone calls or not.

We have not been close, many cruel experiences, she has always behaved as if my brother was her only child and penalizes my sister and I in any way possible. Plus I hate talking on phones. I freeze, they speak over me if I do not respond in 3 seconds, hate it.

I told her "no more phones" sent her a box of addressed stamped cards to keep in touch and that worked for a few weeks. She lives with my brother and has a woman come twice a week to get her out and about to do whatever she wants. She is virtually deaf.

Lately she has been calling me and hanging up when I answer. She starts every conversation with "I'm lonesome. How are you doing?" then she talks over me and hangs up. That ticks me off because I made myself answer the damn phone because it says her number and I worry she is home alone and injured or something.

She sometimes calls back and hangs up when I answer 3 times in a row.

Yesterday she had my drunk brother call, put her on his phone, same old same old, and she added "so it's your birthday..." talks over me..."hey, I'm 97 years old. Think of ME! Not easy being this old"...and so on then drunk brother says "hey sis, got a man here you used to know" and hands phone over to one of my nephews friends I met once 9 years ago.

He said "Hi! Long time since we've seen each other." He was sweet and friendly but my heart was banging and my mouth turned to sluggish operational capacity.

I said, "I do remember you. Look, those people don't understand, I really am not comfortable using the phone anymore" and began to cry. I could hear him adjusting the phone. I said, "Just do everything you really enjoy as much as possible. I can't do this phone thing."

I hung up on him.

My Mother is old, deaf, had strokes and I have done all I can for her my whole life. I really don't want to ever talk to her again. My sister and brother think because I can post on facebook or answer emails I am fully operational and have nothing to do with me. My family has no interest in helping me.

I don't want to feel guilty about not answering her calls and she will not speak to Keeper.

I tell myself, "It's only a couple minutes." "She could die tomorrow and you would have ignored her last call." This is my end of life time, I really do not want to speak to her on a phone  again and would prefer to say good bye to her entirely now.

I feel ashamed of that. Sorry this is so long. I need some counseling from you.

Posted: Monday, May 23, 2016 1:46 PM
Joined: 12/2/2015
Posts: 1018

alz+, I don't have any counsel, but I can say that you aren't alone. I almost never answer the phone, even when I know it is someone I should talk to. Worst of all, I frequently don't answer when my 34-year old son calls. I love the kid and his family, and I miss them much. But when he calls on the phone, he just goes on and on. He has always had ADD, and it makes him ramble on about nothing, or he is upset about something, or needs advice. I love to talk with him and help him, but I just can't bring myself to pick up the phone a whole lot of the time. I figure if it is important he will call back when his mom is home or he will send an e-mail. I feel really bad about not answering, but I just am not up to talking on the phone much of the time, and it really doesn't matter who is calling. It is like somebody is getting ready to put that last straw on the camel's back, only it is my brain instead of the camel's back. I just can't seem to take it. I figure it will stop some day, but it happened again around mid-day today that my son called. He never leaves a message, not ever. Usually because he doesn't have anything to say other than to ramble on about problems, and I just can't handle problems anymore. So I know how you feel. I think we aren't alone.
Iris L.
Posted: Monday, May 23, 2016 3:15 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18707

Perhaps you can have a few set phrases to repeat:  

"Hi, Mom, it's nice to hear from you. How are you?  Keeper and I are fine.  Dog is fine.  The weather is great.  Insert a small anecdote, such as I saw a deer yesterday/the flowers are blooming.  I'm glad you're doing well.  Take care."

In my state, California, disabled people can obtain for free a telephone that provides captioning for those who have trouble hearing and understanding the spoken word over the telephone.  Alz+, you might look into such a captioning telephone for yourself.

Iris L.

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 3:56 AM
Joined: 11/21/2015
Posts: 237

HHappy Birthday Alz+!

Good Luck with the family dynamics.  It can be a challenge.  Its not uncommon for women to be less regarded than men in older parents eyes.  Not sure how to change society.

I Know before I acquired dementia I really didn't understand things for the family member with it.  Now I'm walking in their shoes! Ugh!  I like the canned answers Iris mentioned.  I need some canned answers for my own life, as well as assertiveness training.     

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 6:56 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

Happy Birthday Alz+,

Take control. Send mom some thinking of you cards periodically. State in the first card that you prefer writing to talking on the phone these days which you have already done. You have already explained and there is no need to explain any further. Only answer the phone if you want or have Keeper answer and ask if there is an emergency or urgent issue? Have keeper tell her you are not're walking the dog, napping or maybe you are on some wild adventure. If you want to talk to her then you set the schedule and time when she can expect your calls and set boundaries around the calls and time limits. 

I loved my mother but we had a strained relationship also and my younger brother was the apple of her eye.  Sometimes calling her was like dialing 1-800-PAIN and I would have to mentally prepare myself before calling her. Iris's responses work really well in such situations.  

Love you, Alz+

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 7:15 AM
Joined: 9/30/2015
Posts: 1155

Happy Birthday!
Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 10:13 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

1 800 PAIN!  ha ha ha! thanks L lee!

Iris your suggestions are exactly right - for talking to a person who can hear + listen.

My Mom can do neither. I gave myself permission to not answer anymore.

Bill - thank for sharing similar remorse. Felt like a moral failing.

As it turns out I got a hot phone call from my brother today which both broke my heart and gave me courage to stick to my new plan. He also hung up on me but he might give me what I asked for when he calms down.

My mother refuses to let my sister and I know what is going on in a family trust, half of which is dedicated to her life long care. she has no expenses as she lives at brother's house. Post stroke and at 98 this summer she is confused and demanding, my brother says she is now totally incompetent.

At one time I learned they were pretending my mother still lived in Florida where she would not pay taxes on her investments. I do not want to be incompetent and find lawyers and penalties and court stuff holding up any future inheritance, having it all dwindle in courts for years until I get a check for $12,000 when I'm dead. This happened to several friends who were kept out of the loop as trust managers milked it into nothing.

My brother told me having her in his house for 10 years has driven him insane, that his marriage is ruined, and last night he came home to her crying and hysterical because she got my note asking for the same information my brother has on her trusts and income tax statements. I said to her in note, "This is the end of my life. Before you have another stroke or I do please give me peace of mind by treating me as if I am part of the family and provide me with financial information on both trusts. If something happens to my brother I will need to know what is going on."

she threw wild fit and made it all about her "confidentiality" which he tried then tried with me and I let him go on and on and finally he hung up on me when I said "just copy the papers and send them to me."

I am standing up for myself, I feel like I matter, and I am doing it to protect my sister's interest too. 

My daughter called yesterday and she said "just hang up on her, she does it you, you aren't being mean, you just can't handle it." My sister said same. Keeper said same.

SO - I feel free of telephone now! I had to separate my life long feelings of protecting her at all costs from life, and prioritize my own end of life need to make my life content as best I can.

With ALZ it is not just a matter of rationalizing, in fact my brain does not want to process voices coming at me on a phone. In fact, Keeper knew this and has been running our life so that I do not have to talk to anyone unless I choose to. yesterday I chose to talk to 2 neighbors, and in afternoon I spoke to another neighbor! Then when I was done I walked away or shut the door.

My time, what a gift of this illness! I do feel free of the big OWE - do not owe anyone the right to tell me what I can and can not know about money my father worked for his whole life and which he intended to help others when in need.

Thank you all for your input. I feel free of life long chains.

dementia lives matter...  


Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:04 AM
Joined: 3/7/2012
Posts: 1747

Alz+... Tranquil. Peaceful. Birth-date.


Family dynamics. Perfectly imperfect...

 Your birth mother... At 98 years of age, soon she will meet her god(s). I hope she finds peace and reconciliation. Before she takes her last breath on earth... Peace be with her.

And you , my dear... try to erase negative thoughts... Try not to worry, to stress about things and people you have no control over.... You are unique. Precious. You have one life to live. Nurture yourself. Dance with and celebrate what you've got. Focus on the depth. Colors. Textures. Rhyme. Rhythm. Of  Life. You are worthy.

Telephone, hmm... I use mine only for business and emergencies. I prefer to write and play with the 26 letters in front of me. Family and friends know it. It took me a while to teach them. I do not have dementia. But I do have lots of idiosyncrasies... All I ask for is to be accepted and respected. To be loved as I am. For I give all the goodness that is in my heart.

Hugs and kisses from you to you.

Hugs and kisses from us to you.

Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 1:57 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18707

Alz+, I apologize in overlooking your birthday.

Happy, Happy Birthday!  I hope you have many more!

I usually take three days to celebrate my birthday, so if you were stressed on your actual day, keep celebrating, until you feel like it's your birthday.

Image result for happy birthday smiley face

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 10:22 PM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

Ahh! 3 day B-day celebration sounds more manageable than a birthday week celebration.

It's still your birthday Alz+ if you want it to be. My son reminded me the ice cream palor around here also sells special ice cream for dogs. I did not remember the special occasion of he and I getting ice cream for the dog and us!

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 8:05 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

Not accepting calls from loved ones when I know it will cause me to become anxious is part of my need to take care of myself. Something I've learned over the years and especially on the board here. If ever we need to put ourselves first and go into survival mode it is now.  

I have been going back and forth with my son to family court about my youngest granddaughter whom I didn't see for 2.5 years until the other day. Very stressful but good at the same time. Her mother relocated with her boyfriend and was raising my 3 y/o granddaughter as his child. The boyfriend did not want any contact between the mother, and my granddaughter with my son or family. Due to the circumstances my son had a paternity test done and the baby is ours. They must have broken up and she is seeking child support from my son. She is out of the woodwork now and I will get to be in my granddaughter's life. I have a new granddaughter! A blondie with big blue eye's. She is the cutest little peanut...

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 12:03 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2659

Alz, it seems clear to me that your relationship with your mother is toxic.  It most likely isn'her fault.  No one asks for a mild personality disorder, and it's likely she has some form of dementia herself by this time in her life.  Ain't nobody asks for dat!

But you have your own peace of mind to consider now.  You didn't ask for YOAD either, and you have to avoid the stresses of toxic relationships.  Don't pick up the phone for your mother anymore, and do it with a clear heart.  It's basic self-preservation.

Happy birthday!  I hope you experience many more.  You also get to do whatever you want, even if it means lying around in your pajamas and binge-watching on Netflix rather than revving yourself up for a 'celebration'.  So let it be written; so let it be done.

Iris L.
Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 2:20 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18707

It's great that you are reconnecting with your granddaughter, Ilee.  I hope you and she will have great times together.

Iris L.

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016 5:10 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

Thanks Iris. I can't wait to see her again!
Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016 10:32 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

that kind of good news deserves a topic of its own. A grand daughter in your life!

love that - very cool! you never know when good is coming down the road....

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016 10:46 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

Unforgiven wrote:

Alz, it seems clear to me that your relationship with your mother is toxic.  It most likely isn'her fault.  No one asks for a mild personality disorder, and it's likely she has some form of dementia herself by this time in her life.  Ain't nobody asks for dat!

But you have your own peace of mind to consider now.  You didn't ask for YOAD either, and you have to avoid the stresses of toxic relationships.  Don't pick up the phone for your mother anymore, and do it with a clear heart.  It's basic self-preservation.

Unforgiven - your posts always affect me deeply.

things have churned now into my brother who is in control of everything claiming he wants to die, unacknowledged lifelong alcoholism-brain malfunctioning, banning my sister from visiting Mom without a paid aid he has hired present (?!!!?) and now me being told to butt out of helping him find a nursing home for her.

last email blast from him said he was taking her to Florida where she had seen a place she thought worthy of her. They are both racists and that was why she refused home help in past.

so without consulting my sister or me he will "put her" where we have no access which to me will mean ongoing financial issues. Nightmare, but not my nightmare anymore.

My mother has destroyed brother's marriage, his wife is leaving because my mother tortured her for 10 years in their home and has tantrums if she has to stay in assisted living for a weekend. she feels everyone is beneath her. hell bent on spending every last dime on her "care" now. feeling sick about it but I do know I  did my best to accommodate her personality and character quirks. she hates my husband too and my sister's husband.

glad to live far enough way to not be tempted to try salvage anything again. a form of OCD is excessive effort to do moral/ethical thing. learned that today.

thanks again Unforgiven for your many thoughtful and smart replies over years.