My husband has dementia with many additional medical problems. Heart, kidney, inoperable shoulder injuries from falling. He calls me all hours of the day and night. It is making me sick, literally. What do I do?

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Charlottem36: Welcome to the AgingCare forum! In order for you to keep some measure of sanity and restorative sleep, you must let your DH's (Dear Husband) telephone calls go to voice mail by changing your cellular phone's sound mode to vibrate OR power down the device. Then return his call daily when you arise for the day. You have made the correct choice in placing your DH in a managed care facility. By him "calling you all hours of the day and night," he is not getting any sleep. Don't let guilt enter the decision.

Turn off your phone at night or block him completely (that way to can speak to him when YOU want to). There's no need for one disease to kill two people, right?

Mute your phone at night when you don't want to be disturbed. People who need to reach you can leave a message. Should he even have a phone if he has dementia (depends on how advanced it is). Ask the staff at the nursing home to call you if there is anything serious and to leave a message if you don't answer. Even so, as long as the staff have his medical directives, they can take care of emergencies. You need your sleep.

I've dealt with the same problem, Charlottem36, and my DH is still persisting. Here's what worked for me. It's a solution I learned about from another person on this forum, and I wish more people knew about it. There's a phone designed for people with memory issues, called a RAZ Memory phone. You can Google it and see different places to buy it. You, the caregiver, set up the parameters. You can choose who he's able to call and he'll call by just pressing their picture. You can decide who can call him (no spam calls to worry about). Best of all, you can set his phone to have quiet hours so it won't connect to anyone and he'll get a nice recording that says something like "the person you are calling wants to hear from you at a later time but they're not available right now." Something like that -- it's very friendly. You can also sign up to protect against 911 calls. For a small amount (like $6 roughly) if your DH calls 911 it will go to the service and they can intercept, call you first, or however you set it up. There are other features, too but I sound like a commercial.

I got my DH this phone and it solved a lot of problems. No more middle-of-the-night calls or calling the bank to take out all "his" money. In addition to the phone, I've also had to block DH's calls so they go to voice mail and I can listen to my messages later or just delete if they're too disturbing.

This is a rough time, friend. I hope our suggestions are helpful. Hang in there.

PS: No, I don't make a commission on the RAZ phone I recommended. I just wish more people knew about it. Blessings.

This is a little more costly but maybe you should buy a second phone and give out that number only to appropriate people.

if the number your husband has is connected to a landline you can unplug the phone line from the wall. The phone will continue to ring but not connect.

if it’s a cellphone turn the sound and vibrate function off.

he can still call on that number but the facility will have the correct working number for emergencies and contact.

My husband is also new to a SNF. He was calling me all night long. I told him the facility needed it to be very quiet at night so they needed to take his phone. They would return it first thing in the morning. It worked for him. Our situation is very similar to yours except I’m fortunate he never mentions home. He seems to have forgotten our cozy little house in the mountains. This is all very sad to me. I’m heartbroken. I just ordered the book mentioned in the above comment. Hope I’ll find it helpful.

Thank you so much for your input. I will follow up on your suggestions. Very thankful.

Welcome to the forum Charlotte!

I'm so sorry you are dealing with such a stressful situation with your husband *DH* I suggest you let his phone calls go to voice mail and call him back when YOU are emotionally ready to speak with him, once per day. At night when you go to sleep, turn your phone to vibrate or off completely. That's what I did when my mother lived in Memory Care Assisted Living. I'd get a dozen calls a day some days, and it was too much to deal with. Affecting my health in a negative fashion was not going to improve HER life in any way, so why have 2 miserable people? That's my thinking on the subject.

DH needs time to adjust to his new surroundings. If he's calling you all day and night, how is he getting to know other residents and getting involved in activities in his facility? He's not. He's obsessing over 'going home' and trying to guilt you into taking him home, which is not possible. Unfortunately, dementia and medical issues can create a no win situation for some of us when old age sets in. That doesn't mean you're the 'bad guy'; it's not your fault that DH is in this position. It's the fault of old age and the disease process. Just b/c he thinks you can 'fix' this situation, doesn't mean you can. That's part of the dementia delusion; that it's OUR fault they're in this situation to begin with, and that we can turn back the hands of time and make things all better again. We can't.

So he's in the right place for him right now, and you're doing the best you can with the whole situation.

Once DH gets adjusted a bit more, decide which day(s) you are going to the SNF to visit him, and how long you'll stay. If/when he starts getting agitated and angry, then you choose to get up and leave. Let him know that you're leaving b/c he's acting out and that you don't appreciate it. And that you'll come back another time when he's in a better mood. You'll be surprised how quickly he'll understand you mean business, even with dementia at play. I did not put up with my mother's fits of pique against me, and would tell her why I was leaving or hanging up the phone.

When you do visit, bring some snacks and photos to go through with DH. Distract him from negative subjects about 'going home' and remind him he's in the SNF under doctor's orders. When the doctor says he can go home, THEN you will discuss it further with him. Until such time, however, he is going to remain at the SNF. Then have a snack together or watch a movie or TV show.

That's the best you can do.

I suggest you read this 33 page booklet (a free download) which has THE best information ever about managing dementia and what to expect with an elder who's been diagnosed with it.

Understanding the Dementia Experience, by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller

Jennifer is a nurse who worked for many years as an educator and counsellor for people with dementia and their families, as well as others in caring roles. She addresses the emotional and grief issues in the contexts in which they arise for families living with dementia. The reviews for her books are phenomenal b/c they are written in plain English & very easy to read/understand. Her writings have been VERY helpful for me.

The full copy of her book is available here:

You may glean some useful tips to help you deal with DH from this article/book.

Best of luck!

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