Long distance carers - what do you talk about on the phone?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by jenniferpa, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Basically, what the post title says. I'm finding it very difficult to find things to talk about on the phone to my Mother. Once we get past the first question (I don't suppose I'll be seeing you today? Well, no, I live in America and I visited 4 weeks ago, and I'll be coming over in September and it's July now) I'm at a loss. I tell her what the children are doing, what the dog's doing, what the weather's doing, but that's about it. Actually, I've stopped mentioning the dog, because that brings up the whole, why don't I have a pet issue. Current affairs are no good because a) she no longer watches TV or reads the newspaper, and b) she's not interested anyway. What have you been doing is pointless as well. What I've been doing is a pretty much a non-starter, because I don't do much, and anyway, she doesn't seem to be terribly interested.

    I never though I'd have this problem - I've spent the past 23 years with my DH complaining gently about my long transatlantic phone calls.

  2. jeannette

    jeannette Registered User

    Feb 27, 2006
    Had to smile

    Hi Jennifer.

    Probably shouldn't, but I had to giggle, because as a "short distance" daughter who in one billing period logged over three thousand (yes, really!) calls from her mother, a touch of envy came to mind!

    Seriously, though, I'm sorry to say that this is going to get worse, either with more recriminations or more remoteness - or a mix of both. And I'd say that all you can do is keep calling occasionally so that she can hear your voice - whether she registers that or not. Or maybe just so that you can hear hers. And I don't know if you're into photos or not, but if you are, maybe pictures of you from time to time might be good, at least for a while.

    Sorry for the smile at the outset - hope you're not upset by it.

    All the very best.

  3. Lucille

    Lucille Registered User

    Sep 10, 2005
    Hi Jenniferpa

    I'm not quite as long distance as you ! but I do speak to my mum every day. Before she became ill, we'd spend ages on the phone. Now, for the majority of the calls I keep them short, but might ring twice a day if she's said she's going out somewhere ... just to check she's got back! So, I talk about her carers/the weather ... several times! Her tubs of flowers she has. Sometimes I'll throw in something about the news and depending on what it is and how recent, she'll go along with it for a little while or be vague. The worst thing with my mum is that talking to her on the phone leaves her feeling 'on the spot' (her words) as she knows she can't recall things as she used to, and she feels frustrated. As I've become more used to her illness and her disappearing recall, so I've got used to some of the banal conversations we have. As we didn't have earth shattering chats on world politics before she was ill, I guess it's not too bad. Adapting is the key, I guess. Though it's not always easy. If you really can't face a non-conversation, why not miss a call. Although from experience, I know that's easier said than done! Not much help am I, really. But just so you know you're not on your own on this one! :)
  4. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    I live a distance away too although still in the UK

    Firstly its rare for my Mother to even hear /answer the phone
    2nd she only phones me once a year when a piece of equipment wont work

    3rd She is not interested in what I or the rest of the family have done

    4Th we get long silences

    5th she picks up the phone and puts it down again

    End result ...........why bother
  5. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    Newport, Gwent
    Hi Jenniferpa
    Although not really long distance, I live a good 45 minutes drive away so the phone is our main contact. I know exactly what you mean by long silences, nothing to talk about, but take heart, my mother calls me at least 18 times a day/night and we talk about the same old thing every time, which I wont bore you to death with. So take heart, it could be worse, you too could be experiencing GroundHog Day!!!
    Keep smiling.
  6. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    No, you're right - having nothing to talk about is much better than continuous calls. I will count my blessings! Regarding putting down the phone - on occasion I might forget, and ask her if so and so has arrived, which is deadly, because if I'm not really quick, she'll put the phone down to try and find whatever it is, whereupon she looses the phone. I can hear her saying in a questioning voice "Jenny? Jenny?" and I'm literally screaming down the phone "pick up the phone, the phone's here" or words to that effect. Since I normally make these calls first thing in the morning, I end up waking up the whole house. Oh well, they always say a trouble shared is a trouble halved - this way I get to share my troubles with the rest of the family!

  7. jeannette

    jeannette Registered User

    Feb 27, 2006
    groundhog day

    But Cate, does she harangue you most calls?
    Another reason to be grateful.
    I'm having a grumpy day - as anyone reading (or worse, speaking to me) has probably guessed.
    Weather not helping.
    Good wishes to all on-line (and off.)
  8. May

    May Registered User

    Oct 15, 2005
    I'm a 'very short distance' carer, but still speak to Mum on the phone and conversation is limited to 'are you OK', 'i'll see you later/tonight/tomorrow', any what have you done/said/had type questions only take us into shark infested waters!:eek: So i tend to keep it simple,and use the conversations as a touchbase and this is my voice today type thing. Strangely she always recognises me on the phone, but sometimes not in person:(
    Don't know what I'd do if I was long distance, that's a difficult one:(
  9. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    Newport, Gwent
    Harangue, Jeanette thats the understatement of the year (s). EVERY conversation is about stolen dentures, Yellow Pages, hair rollers, being lonely, duty as her daughter to have her live with me (hubby can cope for about 20 mins!) etc. etc. Then the phone goes 4 mins later and we start all over again. Tried diversion tactics, dont work. Have a nice BT day!!
    Love Cate
    PS Note the time, 3 calls aready!! Hayho
  10. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Sounds as though you could be in for a long day Cate!
    Mind you, next time you are all despairing about the endless calls and repeated questions, take a moment to be thankful that mum/dad can still talk and still use a phone. That is not meant as a criticism, I know how difficult the conversations can be, but there may well be a time when you just long to hear your loved one speak.
    Love Helen.
  11. Michael E

    Michael E Registered User

    Apr 14, 2005
    Ronda Spain
    This problem was one I was thinking about just as the tread appeared.. It is difficult to make the phone call because it seems so useless but at the 'home' end it does make a difference.

    Our daughter calls a couple of times a week -- London - France to speak to Monique and in a life that is pretty empty most of the time it can only be a 'good' event. She seems to have the knack of 'talking at' her mum on phone... Not expecting too much return for the effort and it depends on Monique's mood as to what real interchange there is. Monique's Brother in Paris cannot be bothered to make the calls... when he does he wants to speak to me not Monique and despite my requests calls very infrequently... Such a shame.

    Monique's life is pretty boring and empty because of AD - the phone sometimes provide interest and pleasure and sometimes not but that is what this illness is like - but when they do provide pleasure - a minute of something interesting happening then surely that makes them worth while... There are not too many rewards in looking after or communicating with somebody who has AD - that's the way it is --- but when they are happy for a minute that is the reward... bit pathetic isn't it?

  12. Rosalind

    Rosalind Registered User

    Jul 2, 2005
    Obviously not easy on the phone, but let's face it, conversation face to face, day after day, is just as hard. I know I used to enjoy repartee with my husband. Now it is platitudes at best, and repeated ones at that.
  13. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    I used to phone my mother 2-3 times a day whenever I wasn't there. The conversations were generally banal (the daily round, the common task), but still part of her lifeline until the last few days. I am missing them now of course, and next time I go to hospital for one of my own appointments no-one will phone the police if I'm late back.

  14. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    Telephone conversations

    I haven't spoken to my Mum on the phone since she went into a Care Home last year, but telephone conversations were almost impossible then, as she didn't hear or understand what was being said unless she was expecting the call.
    Talking to her in the NH can be quite difficult, but now Mum has made a friend who is often there when I visit. They get on really well, having parallel conversations and teasing each other as if they had been friends for years. The friend comes from London like my Mum, and I wonder if Mum thinks she is someone from her past, as she thinks it is the Second World War at the moment. Mum has Vascular Dementia and is confused about times and where she is now. The friend thinks that Mum's soft toys are real and need to be fed! It is quite amusing to hear the banter and strange conversations between the two of them. I'm actually finding it easier to talk to Mum when her friend is there as there is a three way conversation. Is it usual for Dementia patients to be able to make new friends?:)
  15. jc141265

    jc141265 Registered User

    Sep 16, 2005
    Grim reality

    This thread reminds me of how I used to hate it when mum put Dad on the phone to talk to me....the conversations got shorter and shorter as the disease progressed (they were never long even when he was well, neither of us are big talkers).

    The hardest was when I tried to tell Dad I was engaged, and couldn't tell if he understood me...the one that I remember as one of my last conversations on the phone with Dad was the one where I heard a strange sucking noise on the end of the phone and was informed that Dad was trying to eat the phone. Mum finally gave up putting him on the phone around then.

    People not affected by this disease have no idea of all the stupid little things that add up to one horrible reality that your parent/partner/loved one is losing their mind.

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