Follow
Share

I have explained to her how dangerous it is for her to talk to people she doesn't know. I have given her printouts of stories where elderly people have been taken advantage of. But, she continues to do it. Her memory has gotten really bad, so I know she forgets. And, I also know she misses her friends and is hoping the call is from someone she knows. How do I protect her?

Thank you all for your good information. One thing is for sure, taking her phone away or having all her calls go to voicemail is out of the question. She lives for her calls from her friends and family. I just can't do that to her. I did have a serious talk with her the other day. I stressed how worried I was and that she is not doing her part to make herself safe. I explained how I worry about her everyday and need her help badly. It brought tears to her eyes. She said I will try harder cause I don't want to worry you. I know I will have to continue to remind her, but I'm sure she understood the urgency. Thank you all again for your help.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to gaylynn
Report
disgustedtoo Jan 15, 2020
While I understand your reasons for not taking the phone (I wouldn't recommend that anyway) or having all calls go to voicemail, are you looking into suggestions that were made, such as getting the call filter that is supposed to block junk/robo/spam calls from the service provider and/or the thing someone mentioned that allows you to program in all the numbers that would be allowed through (friends and family) and block all others? She isn't going to remember what you asked or what she promised, based on what you posted:

"I did have a serious talk with her the other day... She said I will try harder", yet in your comment you touch on her memory and in your original post you say her memory has gotten really bad. If you mentioned dementia, I missed it, but it sounds like she is in the early stages. Short term memory goes first - my mother was like this and it could be seconds, minutes, hours or a day later, whatever was said/promised would be gone, usually sooner than later, sometimes in the blink of an eye! In the moment, sure, they understand the concern, the urgency and what you are asking, but they don't retain any of that!

If she doesn't get calls daily and you are looking into various ways to block calls, can you at least temporarily forward the calls, until you get something working? I had to do this with mom's mail - temp forward to me so I could get all the billers & addresses to set up bill payments. She was not happy - her only daily "outing" at that point was to get the mail, but it was only for about 1.5 months - she would get non-first-class mail still, and after I was done, no bills.... Fortunately she was not the type to give away to charity scams etc. OR, could you ask everyone to call at specific times, say only in the evening, when there are less of these scam calls? Forward daytime calls, then turn it off (should be able to do this with your phone or online.)

On the flip side, do you have POA and can you take over finances? Freeze her credit reports? If she slips just once and gives out her SS#, the gig is up - close the barn door first, get the horse situated and then open the door again!

Final questions - is she living alone? do you go there every day? are there plans in place for safety and care? If her memory is already this bad, you will need to be more watchful and proactive. The changes to the next level will sneak up on you...
(1)
Report
~ a very difficult situation. Is her number UNlisted?
Explain she needs to initiate calls, perhaps one a day to people she want to connect with. Schedule a time to call friends so they are available?
Schedule your daily call to her too!
Of course, sign up on the National Registry to block calls to her #.
Landline? Call you service provider to find out if spam calls can be blocked by the service; if a smartphone, try call for a fee-call-blocking services
Turning the phone ringer off is a last resort.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to CrystalDenver
Report

WorriedinCali: You're 100% correct. The National Do Not Call Registry verbalized to me "We can't keep up with it." No good there. But the valid other point I made was if the eder answers the phone and person on the other end says - CAN YOU HEAR ME? DON'T SAY "YES."
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report
disgustedtoo Jan 13, 2020
The Do Not Call was originally set up to reduce the number of legit (mostly) calls soliciting whatever. IF you had a relationship with say a credit card company, it wouldn't apply to them. You would have to request no calls from that company. It also didn't apply to charitable organizations and I don't think it applied to political calls (yuk.)

That system really can't handle this situation. These scammers are spoofing numbers all the time AND are not legit. Even if they weren't spoofing numbers, they wouldn't give a rats patootie whose number was on that list! They would call anyway.

Your comment about responding with yes is valid, but for the most part one shouldn't answer the calls at all. IF it is important, you'll get a voice message (if you have voicemail - many elders still out there might not)!

The bigger problem is the trusting elders and even worse, those with dementia. Not only will they answer all the calls, and perhaps fall for the scams, but telling them not to answer and/or not to say yes is not going to stick with them.
(0)
Report
Oh Gaylynn, my Dad did the same thing and got taken advantage of horribly by scammers. I called the phone company, the police (who were kind enough to go to his apartment and warn him) eventually the FBI. I had to call Adult Protective Services to take control of his money as he thought these callers were his friends and kept sending money he could not afford. FBI is still working on this case as the scammers used my Dad for money laundering. Looking back I think changing his phone number and only giving it out to family and close friends would have worked.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to DixieCz
Report
disgustedtoo Jan 13, 2020
Robo and spam callers don't bother with numbers given to legit places - their "system" just dials numbers. So, changing his number and only giving it to certain people wouldn't have changed much (and more than likely you would get calls for whoever owned that number before him - I had that happen and had to switch the number back.) Hopefully at the least the flow of money out has been stopped. Scary that now the FBI is involved in this one!

I have read about even somewhat savvy smart people being taken in by some of these spam/robo callers, but it is so sad when they do this to vulnerable trusting people like your dad. The best we can do is ignore the calls, but many elders don't understand all that and those with cognitive issues are easily taken in. :-(

Don't look back - there really isn't much you could have done until the problem reared it's ugly head, and then you did do what you could.
(0)
Report
Turn off the ringer. Let all calls go to voicemail. When you go to check on her, listen to the messages and turn the ringer on so you can screen calls when you’re there to help her. Then turn off the ringer when you’re not there.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to gemswinner12
Report

Several others have mentioned Grandpad. I looked it up and it seems pretty interesting. However, not sure someone with the PO mom's level of memory problems will be able to "learn" how to use such a tool. A good lesson in getting our senior LOs into new technologies while they can still learn.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Geaton777
Report

Grandpad, Grandpad, Grandpad...
Got it for my Dad and have the landline on silent
He can call anyone from his Grandpad and the approved people can call him.
Best thing on the market since sliced bread!
NO I do not get a kickback from them but I am a satisfied customer!!! : )
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Ohwow323
Report

I have tried the blocking of numbers with robo calls. Guess what? Total waste of time!

These scammers switch numbers like we change our underwear, seriously. No matter how many numbers we block, a bazillion more numbers pop up. It’s so frustrating. They even fake calls so they appear to come from our area code.

I have even received calls from my own number! So am I going to block myself? Hahaha 😂. It’s a joke!

Blocking feature won’t work for robo calls. It works for other purposes very well, just not in this instance. Wish it did though...

Actually, anyone who is seriously trying to contact someone will leave a voicemail, so let voicemail pick up calls.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
Report

This is what is so frustrating about caring for someone. Those scammer calls that they believe. TG my Mom forgot how to use a phone early on. But my SIL fights with her Mom constantly about giving her money away to these people. Her Mom even has the scammers phone #s. She has taken her Moms phone away only to have her sister get Mom another one. Sister had Mom revolk SILs POA and her assigned only to not take the responsibility of paying Moms bills. She was past due on rent and utilities. SIL was able to get Mom to revolk sisters and reassign hers. But my SIL is so stressed out she is losing her hair.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Most cell phones have a "do not disturb" option that allows you to send all anonymous numbers and/or all numbers not listed in the phone contact list to voice mail. I keep my phone on do not disturb most of the time. If it's a legitimate call, people leave a message and I add them to my contacts before calling them back. Most dubious calls do not even leave a message.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to TNtechie
Report
cherokeegrrl54 Jan 10, 2020
After receiving calls from my own phn#, i have done the same thing. And while my mom and i were in the Verizon store, she got a cpl calls from the kingston jamaica scammers and accidentally answered it. I clicked off asap but she still got charged several $$ for international calls 😡😡😡 and yeah, the do not call list cant work because these scammers just call from a different #....,
(0)
Report
Grand Pad is the only system that I am aware of where you tell the system which phone numbers are permitted to go through. That could keep her in touch with her friends (if you can gather the numbers) without allowing strangers to get through. As for doctors' offices, have your number be the only contact number. If anyone knows of any other service where one whitelists numbers, I live to know.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to MaryNTN
Report

Place a block on those phone numbers. My phone company allows 25 blocked phone numbers. Now while this may not work for her - the latest scam is when the receiver of the call picks up the phone and says "Hello," the caller will then say "Can you hear me?" Then if the elder says "Yes," they've got you because you don't know what you've said "yes" to, e.g. could be signing up for an unneeded service or virtually anything deemed fraudulent! Scam artists are working 24/7 365 days a year! I'm wise to them SO far. Here's a good one - several times my own home phone called my home phone! Spoofing is the latest new scam.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report
worriedinCali Jan 10, 2020
The problem with blocking numbers is that the scammers use spoofed numbers. The number on the caller Isn’t the number they are actually calling from. So blocking doesn’t work because it blocks the number on the caller ID.
(4)
Report
See 1 more reply
If it's telemarketers and scammers, we use the No Mo Robo call screener. It will ring only one time if it's a red flag call. Luckily, it takes more than one ring for my dad to get there in time to answer, so problem solved. Also if her phone company has feature where you could program the numbers that are allowed and screen everyone else out.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to LivingSouth
Report

With the robo calls, you're never going to stop unwanted calls. It's just an auto dial system that continually dials numbers. If she happens to give out personal info, that's when the problems will start. Forwarding calls to your phone means all the calls go to you and if one of her friends tried to call, she could not talk w/them. However, forwarding is the only way to stop calls going direct to her.

Let calls go to you and get her in the habit of calling people herself if she wants to talk. Make sure she has an up to date phone book handy of family and friends. Then she isn't waiting on a call, she is doing the calling.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to my2cents
Report

There is a device called a GrandPad thru Consumer Cellular.... my mother uses one in her assisted living facility... it is a wonderful product and I recommend it highly. You would be the administrator of the device and only those people/phone numbers you allow are able to contact her. It has many other features such as music, games, pictures, weather and is super simple to use...it is cheaper than a landline in our area and I receive nothing for recommending it, just a fan. You can research it online...
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Animalpal
Report

My mother is of the polite generation that will listen patiently to donation requests from anyone who calls. However, she is also someone who lived in the NYC area most of her life! She always asks people to send her a printed request or invoice. If they bother to do that, we can intercept or she will throw it away herself.

Fortunately she hasn’t lost her skepticism yet! Now if we could just get her to stop calling 911 when she forgets where she is...
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to KathyT124
Report

Maybe you could set up a schedule of telephone calls with her friends and family to satisfy her need to talk. I like the suggestions of other posters that set up call forwarding to monitor incoming calls, I wish I would have realized that option when my mother was still in her home. Back in the day (two years ago?), I had to get my mother a new phone, phone number and telephone service carrier. "New" phone number started to get repeated calls from Spanish speaking callers. Turned ringer off so she could not hear the ring. Worked while she was napping and while she was watching TV in another room. Phone was next to computer and she would see the flashing display and pick it up while she was playing her computer games. Even though we had repeatedly explained to her to not pick it up unless it showed our names on the caller id display and that by even picking it up and then hanging it up would designate her phone number as an active number and increase the probability of future human spam calls. We did enjoy a brief period when I was able to use my iPad to "virtual visit" with her sister-in-law (my cousin's smart phone on their end). Mostly a "Hi and a wave and then more of a group talk between the four of us.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to GAinPA
Report

You could give her a new “debit” card - but it would actually be a prepaid card with a low balance on it, like $50. Tell her it is only for buying things over the phone or for charities. That might solve the problem.

I bet my mom have her bank info a half dozen times to scammers. She always realized what she had done after she hung up the phone. She would call the bank and they would close her account and give her a new one. She’d say, I thought it was my routing number I wasn’t allowed to give! She was in her mid 90’s.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to BeckyT
Report

Gaylynn, when my mom, who has Vascular Dementia, moved to a skilled nursing facility, she missed having a phone more than anything else and was constantly asking for one. She, too, would answer any and all calls and was scammed out of a lot of money while she was independent. Even though she no longer had access to her finances, she remembered all her personal information and would freely give it out. I went as far as buying an "old school" Trimline phone and set up an account but could never bring myself to activate it, knowing it would lead to a world of problems. Then I ran across a company called TeleCalm. Oh. My. Word! I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it's been! Mama has her phone and I have an app on mine so I can set "quiet hours" -- no more middle-of-the-night or early morning calls; she gets a comforting recording from me instead. She can only make OR receive calls from those on her call list. No scammers ever! No calling 800 shopping numbers from commercials! Her friends can call her, she can call them, my sister, and me but she can't call 911 (she's tried, believe me, but doesn't need to because she's being well cared for.) She also can't use the phone book to call out to strangers in the middle of the night (has done this from the facility phone.) The funny thing is, now that she has her phone (fire-engine red, her favorite color!) she doesn't make that many calls. I think just having it there makes her feel connected.
If not very many of your mom's friends are no longer living, there are services that make daily calls to seniors just to check in and chat.
Hope this helps you, dear fellow caregiver.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to VickyGrace
Report

Hopefully I'm not repeating someone else's advice. We had difficulty with my mom answering calls from solicitors and donating money. ATT has a call screening feature. I was able to program up to 20 allowable numbers. All others are blocked. As her POA I was able to create an online account in order to access all of these things. Also with our children's cell phones there's a similar feature on Verizon Smart Family. Maybe your mom's carrier offers something along the same lines.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to LRS123
Report

Someone needs to assume financial POA as we do hear of people who regularly lose money this way. Last I saw on the forum was a man who gave away 35,000.00. You can keep spending money in a small account for Mom, but other money is best now managed by a family member willing to take on the burden of financial power of attorney or trustee of trust, and to have oversight of accounts.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Report

I agree with Disgustedtoo, if there are more crap calls than personal calls, you could always call forward to your phone number. I did this while my Dad was in hospital and my Mom was in turmoil over that. I was so afraid she would give out personal information - she just was so anxiety ridden that I'm sure something bad would have happened. I just call forwarded calls to my phone. If it was someone "real", I told them Mom would call back at a later time. Then, when I went to see her, we made all of her call backs.
Once my Dad came home, he was in charge of the phone. I got them caller ID and a list of who will NEVER, EVER call you (Aetna, Social Security, etc). If he sees those names come up or if he sees names he does not recognize, let it go to voicemail. Now Verizon has the actual words SPAM show up so that helps a lot.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to imtheparentnow
Report

I would also monitor her credit/debit cards, checking/savings accounts. Maybe put a distance between her and her ability to provide financial information. If her memory is deteriorating, it may be time to have her cogniition be evaluated by a neuropsychologist,geriatric psychiatrist, or even her PCP. Hopefully, she has a DPOA so that her expenditures could be managed,
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Peanuts56
Report

While some of the call filters help, calls still do come through (my phone is a cell.) With the filter, some calls ring, but get blocked (but still manage to sometimes go through to voicemail - what a pain!) Some show up as Potential Spam. Many still manage to get through - the system is not fool-proof. I have read others getting calls from their own phone #, mine showed up on the display as Voicemail - seriously, my voice mail is calling me???? I happened to move over the border to another state but kept my old #. This has been somewhat of a blessing, because the majority of junk calls come from area codes in the old state (the rest come from all over the states!) So far in 5+ years only maybe 2-3 calls came from my current area code. So, even when the # isn't programmed in my phone, generally I am "safe" in answering those calls!

With mom's hearing issues and memory issues, I think the easiest solution is to set up call forwarding and have ALL calls go to your phone. More than likely most, if not all, calls are crap. How often do her friends call? Does she initiate calls? She would still have a phone and could call her friends, if she is capable. If the friends happen to call and get you, explain the situation and then tell mom you ran into this person and they would like to chat - mom could call them. You could also warn them upfront, so they are aware.

I also agree with the suggestions to freeze credit. I did this years ago for a specific reason, but it is even better now that it is FREE. Because of the reason why I needed to do this (idiot at EC atty office sent my SS via email!), I have alerts on EVERYTHING! So far there has been no issue, but I plan to keep it as is! Most elders won't need to have their credit accessed for any reason, so freezing it would likely be a one-and-done. Taking a credit card away might be wise, providing them with a debit card that requires fill-up and is kept at a low balance. Taking SS card might work for some, but even with dementia, SS # is a long-term memory. Mom could still spew her # from memory despite dementia. Remember back in the day it was needed for just about anything you did? I even have my son's memorized because I had to use it every time I had to pay this tuition. It is nice that Medicare changed to a random number, removing it from access there, but the SS # is more important.

I would contact her phone service provider and ask for any call-blocking AND to have all calls forwarded to your phone (the blocking might reduce the number of calls you get!) Regardless of robo/spam calls being made "illegal", until they find a way to really stop it, it will continue!
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to disgustedtoo
Report

I use Ooma (Voice Over IP based phone service) to get around this problem with my husband with dementia. It has a built-in blacklist for scam numbers. Any number that’s not specifically white-listed goes directly to voicemail for me to deal with later. I even do it for numbers we do know (doctors, dentists, etc) because if he answers the phone, they will give him info (despite my repeatedly telling them NOT to talk to him) & then he will promptly forget what they said.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to tvdavis
Report
worriedinCali Jan 9, 2020
You know this isn’t fool proof right? Scammers spoof numbers so their calls will always get through. All it takes is spoofing a white listed phone number.
(2)
Report
See 1 more reply
Scams are always a concern not only for the elderly but everyone. Have you registered her telephone number with the national do not call list? As an added layer of protection, her phone provider also can provide you with the information you need to set up call blocking. Lastly could you put a reminder of some sort on the phone itself? Something like do not answer SPAM? Called it should be on the phone as well.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Peanuts56
Report
worriedinCali Jan 9, 2020
The national do not call list is a joke, you know it doesn’t work right? It doesn’t stop scammers and telemarketers from calling.
(7)
Report
Have you spent a significant amount of time with her in her home lately? I'd do that and observe how she is operating. You say that her memory is really bad. I suspect that she is not going to be capable of remembering what you are telling her. Has she been diagnosed with cognitive decline? Notes may not help either. If the reminder notes don't work, I'd really explore plans to have her supervised.

When my LO started having trouble with financial things, I didn't realize the extent of it. I knew that she divulged way too much information to store clerks about her bank accounts, like how much was in them. Then, she started chatting with people in parking lots who asked her for cash. She could not resist their pleas, which was dangerous.

THEN, one day she called me in a panic and said that she had really made a mistake. She had let TWO complete strangers into her home and gave them her ss#, bank account info, driver license, date of birth, bank card no., etc. AND signed a contract for a home security system! I immediately went to work to confirm their identity and they were legit, but, what if they had not been? They could have wiped out her assets or harmed her. At that point, I knew that she was not able to resist exploitation. At some point, they are not able to handle situations like that.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Sunnygirl1
Report

First put a credit freeze on moms accounts. Take away her credit cards and anything she can read off - ss card for example. Mom managed to get on every scammers list so I programmed her phone to ring twice before going to voicemail. (Her discrimination is gone and will talk with anyone now.) We can answer if a real call but she is unable to that quickly. A real caller will leave a message and we help her call back
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to janlee
Report

Discontinue house phone. Keep only your cell phone and maybe cell phone for her. Place all phone numbers on do not call register. Make sure to install features to block all numbers that are unrecognized.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Taarna
Report

Good Luck to you - my mother thought it was wonderful that people called her.
I was unable to ever convince her that these were not friends, they were people trying to get money from her. Sadly, she often made donations that she really shouldn't have. Any time I tried to tell her otherwise, she shut me down.

I finally got tired of beating my head against the wall. It really was her money and I had to allow her to talk to people that weren't thinking of her best interests.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to RayLinStephens
Report

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter