Registered User
Oct 29, 2005
I haven't been on here for ages, but I wrote about how I thought my dad had Alzheimers. It turns out that he doesn't, he's had all the tests, but he does have chronic short term memory loss, though is able to cope day to day, can still drive and leads a fairly active life. He's 81.

Just recently my mum, who is 79, has been suffering memory loss. She has become really depressed by it, and I encouraged her to visit her doctor. Apparently he did some blood tests, which all came back negative and that's as much as I know right now.

I live about 130 miles from my parents, and talk to my mum once a week. It's always been as regular as clockwork - Thursday evenings, 7:00 till 7:30 (so she can get off in time to watch EastEnders!!) :p About 2 weeks ago she was out on the Thursday so called on the Friday evening instead. Then last week she didn't phone on the Thursday, so I called her. She was surprised to hear from me and said that she had it written in her diary to phone me on Friday. I didn't say anything to her, because I didn't want to upset her. Well, this week she hasn't phoned at all.

This is where the problem comes in, and I am so embarrassed to admit it, and I really, really hope that no-one will tell me to stop being so stupid and just get on with it. I don't know if any of you here have phobias. Myself, I'm agoraphobic, social phobic and various others which I won't bore you with. But the one that's troubling me so much now is that ever since I was a child, I've had a fear of "old" people and illness (I can't even cope with my own kids being ill, thank goodness I have an understanding husband - mind you, I do give them all the cuddles they need after they've finished being sick) :eek: For those of you who know anything about phobias, you will know that they are usually irrational....I'm smart enough to know that, but not smart enough to overcome my phobias :eek:

I sat by the phone all evening Thursday and Friday, waiting to see if my mum would call.....I told my husband that if she didn't phone Friday, that I'd call her. But I didn't...I guess I'm too scared of what I'm going to discover when I do phone her. The last few times I've spoken to her she has been distraught about her memory loss, and I think she's really struggling as well because she's never been very sympathetic to my dad with his poor memory. It's almost as if she became old overnight....she doesn't want to do anything (the depression), has no energy, doesn't want to go out, doesn't want us to visit her (we were supposed to go down next week, but I offered to postpone it till she's feeling better - she would never normally put us off because she loves seeing the grandchildren so much). She tries to make a joke of her memory loss, but she can't hide the frustration and depression.

It's got to the point where my dad is the one taking notes for mum, instead of the other way around, and his memory is really bad, so I honestly don't know how they're going to cope.

I feel like a total failure as a daughter - to make matters worse, my husband and I have recently taken our children out of school (they're 11 and 12) because the 12 year old was so depressed at senior school (almost to the point of suicide). My entire family are shocked and dismayed, appalled even, as my sister-in-law so eloquently put it!!, and she (my sister-in-law) has been adding emotional pressure by claiming that what we have done with the children has contributed greatly to my mum's depression.

I don't know what I want from this post, other than to get these things off my chest, and share, hopefully, with other people who might have a little idea of where I'm coming from.

How do I overcome my phobia so that I can be there for my parents? I've thought that I'd get my husband to phone my folks tomorrow, and pretend that I've a migraine or something as a reason for me not being on the phone, but that way he can find out how they are. I don't want to point out to my mum that she forgot to phone because I'm so concerned about her depression.

I really don't know what to do, I know I'm being irrational in my fears here, but this is a phobia I've had since being a young child....I just never, ever thought that phobia would extend to my own parents.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hi JackaNoodle,

Have you sought medical help about your phobias? If you have so many, what is the quality of your life.

Do you want to be able to help your parents, should they need help?

Only you can decide what path you want your life to take and only you can decide whether or not you want change in the life you have now, and the quality of that life.

I do believe phobias can be overcome, but I`m also aware it`s a long haul. I feel you must decide whether or not you are ready to seek help.

I wish you well.


Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
I really don't think you're alone in your fear of illness/the elderley at all. A friend of mine cannot cope with illness in others of any sort and always beats a hasty retreat, even from very close relatives. It's just something she finds very difficult.

You sound like you need more support. It seems such a difficult and worrying time for you and it would be for anyone - with or without phobias.

Could your doctor be of any help or your mum and dad's doctor? Maybe it could be a route to some support/advice.

Best wishes,


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Dear Jackanoodle

That's one of the reasons TP exists: to get things of your chest. Phobias are, I'm afraid, a closed book to me, but depression, oh yes I know more about that than I care too. It is entirely possible that your mother's depression is contributing to her memory loss: my mother's stroke damaged memory has actually improved since being on anti-depressants. You absolutely need to encourage her to go and see her GP: I know it's hard, because when you're in the depths of depression doing anything is a major trial. Could you perhaps call the GP and see if he could make a house call? I think it was perhaps a mistake to postpone your visit: if she doesn't get help, you'll be postponing for ever.

As to taking your children out of school: I did this with my second child. I hardly think that that is contributing to your mother's depression: when you're depressed such things don't impinge at all as you're too wrapped up in your own head to even consider outside things. Anyway, protecting a child is always a worthwhile thing to do (my mother is an ex-head teacher, and she fully supported our decision). In fact, a lot of home-schoolers in the USA, at any rate, are former teachers: they know how bad the school systems can be for some children (my first born, incidentally, was fine).

As to your own phobias, have you ever consulted a professional about them? I have no idea if anything can be done, but it is surely worthwhile to try - not to be flippant, but you'll be old one day, and it would be a good idea to get this under control before then!



Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Dear Jackanoodle

I agree with Jennifer about your mum. I sounds as if she is very depressed, and needs medical help. I don't think your taking your children out of school will have contributed to the depression; as Jennifer says, nothing seems to impinge.

Your phobias are another matter. I don't think you're being silly -- no-one would choose to live like that. But I do think you should seek help to overcome them. You can be cured, and your and your family's lives would be so much happier.

As for the telephone calls, why not take the resposibility for them yourself? Agree with your mum that you will phone her every Thursday at seven. That will make her feel better (perhaps she feels lonely and neglected). If you write it on your calendar and resolve to keep to it, it will be one small step for you, and you won't spend the weekend worrying because she hasn't phoned.

It's not going to be easy, but if you have the determination totake your children out of school, you have the determination to do this.

Let us know how you get on.


Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Hi Jackanoodle

Don't really know what to say to support - other than post this link:

No recommendation - although shall we just say it was a potential point of support pointed out to me some years ago .... I have learned to live life 'around' the phobias I have - my main one being claustrophobia....

That alone can impinge on my ability to 'care' for mum - I am blessed with a local hospital which has a glass lift :) so our hospital visits tend to take a while longer than they should coz when we have to navigate to the first floor - I can only use that one lift and mum can't manage the stairs. I did try once confronting my fear when mum was having a 'wheelchair bound day' and had no option but to use the main lifts ..... by the time we had been hoisted up one floor it was ME needing medical attention!

I've now learnt to call on porters - or even willing strangers - to roll mum in and out of lifts while I race up or down the adjacent stairs ....

On the surface, it may seem almost comical - but just wanted you to know I do understand how difficult it can be to overcome any phobia ... even the fact that we can rationalise that it is irrational proves how cruel phobias can be!!!!

I personally have given up on trying to 'overcome' but instead ease the pressure on myself in simply trying to 'get round' ....

You'll find a way .......I'm sure.

Love, Karen, x