• All threads and posts regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 can be found in our area specifically for Coronavirus COVID-19 discussion.

    You can directly access this area >here<.

Mum panics when I don't phone

TracyM

New member
Sep 4, 2021
3
0
Hello, I am new to this site and have looked it up because I had a problem this evening and I wonder if anyone else has come across anything similar.
My Mum and Dad live 700 miles away from me (my sister lives nearer them and does a lot of caring for them). Since the start of the pandemic, as I was unable to visit during lockdown, I have phoned them every day around 6.30pm, they like to have a routine and it suits me too as I can schedule it in to my day. It's worked fine up until now.
This evening I was just about to phone when someone called at my door and I had to deal with them. I was still talking at the door at 6.50pm when my sister phoned saying Dad had been on the phone to her in a panic because I hadn't phoned them. I asked her to let them know all was fine and I would phone them as soon as I'd finished sorting out my doorstep caller. I phoned Mum & Dad about 5 minutes later and they were practically ready to call the police. They had convinced themselves I been abducted or mangled in a car accident or met with some horrific end. They were in a terrible state. All because I had been 20 minutes later than the normal time I phone.
What can I do? I've tried varying the time I phone but this just confuses them and they end up sitting and waiting by the phone for hours for me to ring, so I feel it's better if I phone at the same time each day.
They don't do technology so I can't send them a text or email.
Any suggestions would be gratefully received!
Many thanks
Tracy
 

JaneH4

New member
Jul 16, 2021
1
0
Hi Tracy. I'm also new to this site (or least this is my first post as I've been too upset to use it until now). I had to respond because I had exactly the same problem with my Mum for some time before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It became exhausting and progressed to my Mum getting terribly anxious if i was 5 minutes late when i visited her. I didn't recognise all this for what it was, but is is slowly dawning on me that so much of what i thought was "normal for Mum" was part of her illness.

The same applied to my Mum's insistence that she would not use any form of home delivery service because that required her to be at home for a particular time slot. My Mum in a care home now and, like you, i phone at different times of the day to avoid setting an expectation that i will always ring at the same time. I suspect that the care home team are very good at distraction techniques if my Mum is hovering by the phone but that's no use for you, I appreciate. My Mum is now being treated for anxiety and depression - is it possible that this might be part of the underlying cause in your parents' case?

Wishing you and your parents all the very best.

JaneH4
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
3,198
0
High Peak
My mum did this too, before dementia and after. We joked about it for years, that mum would have us already dead and buried if we were 5 minutes late.

Ahem. I have to admit I am guilty of the same at times, which I blame on my daughter staying out late one time as a young teenager. By the time she was an hour late I'd been through every possible scenario in my head and pretty much settled on 'dead in a ditch somewhere'. These days, I have been known to be the same if one of my cats is late home.

I wish I didn't do it but I cant help it - I am a worrier by nature. I over-think things. Disclaimer: I don't have dementia as far as I know :)

I've tried to compare your mum and dad's situation, i.e. expecting a call at a certain time, with my own experiences, trying to think what would have helped. (Luckily I'm fine with late/missing calls - it's just visitors not arriving when expected that panics me!) I'm afraid unless you can get a message to them some other way (which you've said you can't for non-tech reasons) this will happen every time you phone late, so I can only suggest you don't! Unfortunately it's very hard to change an established routine like calling at the same time each day and doing so might cause other issues. If they think you might phone 'at any time' they might put off anything else (having their meal, going shopping, etc) until you do, so it might not be a solution anyway.

Sorry I can't offer any solutions!
 

TracyM

New member
Sep 4, 2021
3
0
Hi Tracy. I'm also new to this site (or least this is my first post as I've been too upset to use it until now). I had to respond because I had exactly the same problem with my Mum for some time before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It became exhausting and progressed to my Mum getting terribly anxious if i was 5 minutes late when i visited her. I didn't recognise all this for what it was, but is is slowly dawning on me that so much of what i thought was "normal for Mum" was part of her illness.

The same applied to my Mum's insistence that she would not use any form of home delivery service because that required her to be at home for a particular time slot. My Mum in a care home now and, like you, i phone at different times of the day to avoid setting an expectation that i will always ring at the same time. I suspect that the care home team are very good at distraction techniques if my Mum is hovering by the phone but that's no use for you, I appreciate. My Mum is now being treated for anxiety and depression - is it possible that this might be part of the underlying cause in your parents' case?

Wishing you and your parents all the very best.

JaneH4
Thank you, it helps to know other people have had the same issues!
 

TracyM

New member
Sep 4, 2021
3
0
My mum did this too, before dementia and after. We joked about it for years, that mum would have us already dead and buried if we were 5 minutes late.

Ahem. I have to admit I am guilty of the same at times, which I blame on my daughter staying out late one time as a young teenager. By the time she was an hour late I'd been through every possible scenario in my head and pretty much settled on 'dead in a ditch somewhere'. These days, I have been known to be the same if one of my cats is late home.

I wish I didn't do it but I cant help it - I am a worrier by nature. I over-think things. Disclaimer: I don't have dementia as far as I know :)

I've tried to compare your mum and dad's situation, i.e. expecting a call at a certain time, with my own experiences, trying to think what would have helped. (Luckily I'm fine with late/missing calls - it's just visitors not arriving when expected that panics me!) I'm afraid unless you can get a message to them some other way (which you've said you can't for non-tech reasons) this will happen every time you phone late, so I can only suggest you don't! Unfortunately it's very hard to change an established routine like calling at the same time each day and doing so might cause other issues. If they think you might phone 'at any time' they might put off anything else (having their meal, going shopping, etc) until you do, so it might not be a solution anyway.

Sorry I can't offer any solutions!
Thank you anyway for taking the time to post, it helps! We all worry to some extent when things don't go to plan but Mum has taken it to obsessive levels - I'm beginning to learn this is all part of the dementia. Best wishes, Tracy
 

MartinWL

Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
2,029
0
65
London
I think you should try to wean them off expecting a timetabled call. There are bound to be future occasions when you can't keep the schedule. What if you were unwell or at a social event or traveling?

It is a lesson for us all I think not to get tied down to a commitment that could become a millstone.
 

Linbrusco

Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
1,698
0
Auckland...... New Zealand
Much like @MartinWL I would suggest varying the time, to give you a bit of breathing room.
How about if you normally ring by 6:30 which they’ve gotten used to , but assuming they can still tell time quite well, can you suggest you will phone them anytime between 6 & 7, and get your sister to mark it on a calendar or white board on the fridge.
If you say between 6 and 7pm, they might not be as fixated on 6:30 on the dot.

My Mum used to be fixated on our weekly shopping day being Wednesdays at 10am.
If i deviated from it, it just threw her into a tailspin.
It really was just anxiety.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
76,059
0
Kent
I think it will be difficult to change the routine now it is established and if you`re 700 miles away @TracyM it would have done no harm to make a quick call to your parents to tell them you have a visitor and will phone them later.

That 6.30 call is their security and if they are dependent a regular call can only help them.

When our son was a teenager he thought we were fussing when he was home late. One night when the weather was really bad, my husband was late home from a long journey. Every time a car drove down the street, our son rushed to the window to see if it was his dad. It made him see what thinking the worst was about and after that experience, if he was going to be late he always informed us.

I have a widowed friend who does not have dementia who phones me at 8am every day. She says she is checking to make sure I`m well. I don`t need this but I can see it is her way of feeling if she doesn`t phone I will think there is something amiss and look out for her.

These routines are a bit of a pain but a small price to pay to ensure someone with anxiety can settle for the day or evening knowing all is well.