What do you do when your elderly parent won't answer your phone calls and you keep on calling them and leaving them messages?

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Let me tell you a story........ one year ago my brother called me. (I am the only child that lives close by - 10 miles away - to my mom). He had been trying to call her all day long and now it was about 7 p.m. He was very nice and asked me to please go check on her. I left my teenage daughter (I was helping her with her homework) to go. My heart was racing. I was sure, as was my brother, that something was wrong! I pound on her door. No answer. I get out my key and go in. She is in her bedroom, at the back of the house. I asked "didn't you check your messages?" Her response was "No, I didn't feel like talking on the phone today." I was furious! I went from scared to so very mad in just under a minute. I left before I said something. At home I called my brother and told him that if it every happens again he is to call the police and ask for a welfare check. I simply could not rush over there again. About 6 months after that another brother did just that. THEN, and only then, did she get better about answering her phone. No amount of pleding from her kids worked.
i am going by my moms house today and ring the bell myself.i already left a message and told her to call her cousin i will call him first too see if she called.
Your mother is becoming a recluse and doesn't want to be bothered by anyone. If you mother has a trusted neighbor or close friend, give that person a house key and pay that person to check your mother everyday and call you when anything serious occurs.
Hey there,
My mom did the same thing and I was across the country from her. I called the neighbor and he went over and knocked on the door. My mother still didn't return my call and I called again. (this had been going on for a few days and my mom had already let me know that she didn't need anyone's help and blah blah blah).
This time my mom answered the phone and called me every name in the book for 'disturbing' her and how dare I 'intrude', etc etc.
Well, she didn't speak to me for 3 months and since my mom had always been a, shall we say, difficult personality, I went with it and still called about every other day and she would answer but always be busy so we were on the phone for less than 30 seconds.
In retrospect I realized that she was dealing with Dementia but I didn't know it at the time and this was over 11 years ago when there wasn't much info out there like there is today.
About a year after the neighbor went over to check on her and she was speaking to me again on the phone and something just didn't sound right.
I booked a flight without telling her (she NEVER wanted me to come 'home') and went out to see her and the moment I walked into her house my life changed.
I realized what she had been trying to hide.
I gave up my job and life and cared for her until her death.
When they start the not answering the phone and reclusive behavior routine in many many cases you are in the END of early stage Dementia.
They are masters of masking the early stages and it can be almost impossible to see unless you are with them on a daily basis.
I'm sorry and I wish you the best of luck.
Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, but this site is full of stories where the doctors miss the symptoms and have a hard time diagnosing this stuff because they see the person for 10 minutes and the patient is really good at playing the game of hiding what they are about.
This early time is important because this is when you can intervene with Namenda or Aricept and SLOW down the progression. Dementia is a progressive disease and it is not a part of normal aging. Don't let anyone tell you different.
I gave my mom Namenda and in spite of a recent study slamming it, it was amazing for her and really helped her have extra time and feel better about herself.

This is a difficult issue and the usual response is for folks to say, oh no, that's not what's going on and be in denial big time.
What you're witnessing is a personality and habit change and now I know better and hopefully you do too.
One of the biggest issues for the parent is to be able to stay in their home. If you intervene soon enough you can get all that set up so they can stay home and be safe and sound.
All of that info is here on this site.
Once again, good luck and keep us posted.

Bob is right - any dramatic change in behavior sends up a red flag. In some instances it just may be that a parent is exerting their independence. My Mom loved the attention when someone called and said, "I've been worried about you...why didn't you answer the phone?"
For others, it may be the onset of more serious Alz. symptoms. There is a detachment from the "real world." If you are not a caregiver, you would think that it happens all at once. But, in fact, the deterioration happens in increments over time. That is why it is so hard to catch.
I thought about buying one of those medic alert systems...but I know mom would not wear the pendant on a regular basis. So we compromised by buying her a cell phone as a back up. Sometimes she wouldn't put the reg. phone back properly in the holder. So we call on the cell and have her hang up the other phone.
It is funny how, when things change for our parents, we adapt as caregivers.
Wow! It's good to find this site. My mother is a alcohol and lives in another state. Her 89 yo husband has dementia and I suspect she does too. She's been visited by a Protective Services Agent and told to clean up the house. It's a mess! She's been talking to me for the last several weeks about her husband and now she won't even answer the phone. If I let it ring a long time sometimes "someone" picks it up but doesn't say anything and then hangs up right away. I'm afraid even if I go down to California she won't cooperate. I don't know what to do at this point. She never signed Power of Attorney to me or anyone. I'm her only living relative.
This is very insightful. My Mom is taking Namenda and Exelon, w/o them we all have a very hard time so for now, I’m thankful for the way things are now. Before my mom moved into NH care, I got her the medical alert system, we had more problems than before, she slept with the necklace and or bracelet and would unknowingly set if off and blame the faulty” system and when the company called to check on her, she didn’t hear it. Then we bought her a cell phone which was not plugged up most times (wasting electricity) and finally ended up in a sink full of water.

Sometimes I don’t feel like talking either but I know that it’s very important to stay connected, especially if you live alone. Is it possible that your mom will make a call once or twice a day, maybe she’ll feel better thinking that she’s checking on you and your siblings. Many times our Elders feel useless and the smallest acts can make them feel needed or useful.

I hope to hear what works for you all, we become more creative with the challenges we are presented.
Best wishes.
Sheesh - it's good to see all these answers. I have been dealing with this issue and it's driving me nuts. My father, 80, is alcoholic and has dementia and parkinsons. His wife, thankfully is there to take care of him - she is younger - but she decided recently that she hates my guts. If I call, no one answers. If I email, he doesn't respond. I got back from vacation a few weeks ago, and they wouldn't answer the phone for 4 days. I finally drove over there at 11:30pm - I live an hour away - and they were fine, they just "forget" or don't hear the phone. And of course it pissed his wife off even more that I came over. I work nearly 100 hrs a week and cannot drive over there every time they don't answer the phone. My sister suggested sending the police for a welfare check if this keeps up. I do think he is in the next stage of dementia, and I know his wife is struggling to take care of him, but they refuse help. Particularly from me or anyone else. I like the idea of asking their neighbors to check in on them, as I don't know what else to do. I lost my job last year, and am trying to get my own life back together, I can't do everything. At least I have a place to live now and room and board covered. Thanks for your responses.
LOL, my Dad rarely answers the phone, and NEVER returns messages, but complains that I am not involved enough. I live 1500 miles away! He refuses to wear hearing aids either so even when he is in the house you have to time calls during meal times when you know he is in the kitchen! While there is no win situation here it makes me feel ever so much better to hear that I am not alone in all these troubles. You guys a just priceless! Thanks for being here!
My mom does this all the time. Sometimes she is in a deep sleep and just doesn't hear phone, doesn't want to be bothered, etc. I keep calling but no longer panic.

Once her phone was not in its cradle, so it was ringing. I called phone co to make sure the line was ok.

I have called police to check and they have done so a couple times but can't keep bothering them when she won't answer.

Neighbors no longer will stop by because she either won't answer door to them or she has chased them away and been nasty.

I tried calling every day at a certain agreed to time with her, but after a couple months she stopped and said she didn't like me checking up on her....

I have given up and call but if she doesn't answer I no longer worry as I just can't anymore. I know one day she may fall and lay there helpless or die without anyone knowing, but she wants it this way. She has refused an alert system, camera monitoring, portable doorbell and in home care.

You can't force anything on them. You can try for the personal alert system with the necklace or bracelet, but my mom said she wouldn't wear one and refused.

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