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Ask Dr-A-Greene Your Own Question
Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 309
Experience:  Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
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My aging mother appears to be putting a wedge between my adult

Customer Question

My aging mother appears to be putting a wedge between my adult daughter and me. She's been complaining of very early morning "one ring" phone calls that can't be traced and disrupt her sleep. She went to the police and they questioned the man she's accusing of calling her; police told her they don't believe he's doing it, but she's convinced it's him anyway. Trying to help her, I asked an attorney how best to help her not get calls like this and also to stop the telemarketer/"scammer" calls as she calls them. He gave advice, of which my mom hasn't followed, such as telling the phone company her new phone number should be unlisted and unpublished; not answering calls, but letting her machine screen them and calling people back. 2 days after her 2nd new phone# ***** issued to her, I found her name, address, and the new number listed on the internet. She had already received a few more of the early morning calls to the new phone number. When I ask her questions to find why this might have happened, her answers are evasive, or she answers another question, or it goes around in circles so there's no straight answer. She didn't seem to understand the difference between Caller ID, and having and unpublished number, so I explained and answered her until she understood. She seemed truly amazed, but I'm not sure if it's an act. She has yet a third new land line phone number and received another early morning call on Friday after having this number for only a couple of days. On Saturday she said that the only person she gave the number to was me, and seemed to glare at me. I corrected her as she had also given it to my daughter. She seems to now have distrust of me trying to help her, and she's not been following my or my brother's advice either (which has been essentially the same). She's been talking to my daughter saying that I'm picking on her, yet her confusion and trying to get out of learning how to use her cell phone voicemail has been going on for over a year. Although she was agitated while learning, when we finally got her to be able to use cell phone voice mail, she was happy, and she also found 4 voice mails from people. My mother has been to the police, and they even questioned the person she's been accusing of doing this. They believe he is not calling her. Don't know how to stop the merry go round that it feels like, and also have her be safe. Her confusion is very bad when she's tired, and I speak with her the most, so I notice when she's having a rough time. She lives a distance from all the family. Please if you have advice.
JA: The Psychologist will need to help you with this. Is there anything else the Psychologist should be aware of?
Customer: My mom comes from an alcoholic family, and sided with her father saying he always loved her and her mom never hugged her. She didn't think it was wrong when her dad gave her mother a black eye while he was drunk. She says my grandmother found lipstick on a shirt once, and my mom has the opinion that it's what men do. She's never expressed how difficult it must have been for my grandmother to deal with these behaviors, or that it may have affected my mom in some way.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Psychologist about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr-A-Greene replied 1 year ago.
Well, it sounds like a dementia process may have begun with your mother. Depending on her age, family history, etc, it could be the case that this process is being accompanied by some paranoia as well. In fact, there is really no way to know if she's even getting these phone calls or not! What I do know is that (from what you said), she is familiar with splitting (taking the side of one person and pitting them against another). She's done it from a young age, so the behavior is showing itself again with your daughter. My honest advice would be to let her speak to your daughter about these ongoing concerns and to back away from the problem altogether. After all, is there any indication that she truly isn't safe? If the calls are happening, there have been no threats, correct? In fact, might she be using all of this as a bid for attention from the family members that are so distant from her?Clearly, she wants some attention and is beginning to experience some overwhelming emotions (perhaps fear, confusion, and paranoia). So the best thing to do might be to try to communicate with her about the underlying issue - which seems to be loneliness.