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Mom is in nursing home care and I'm very happy with the care she is receiving. The problem is she won't come out of her room, but just sits in there with the door closed, waiting for me to come. I'm working full time and my only brother is on the opposite side of the country. Mum has a phone in her room and regularly hears from my brother and her sisters. However, I am starting to feel as if I am under siege in my own home, due to phone call after phone call. There are tears, "when are you coming in?", "I'm frightened" (I don't know why); "I haven't got any clothes" (she does); "I haven't got any money" - she does and knows that I take care of it for her which she is very happy about. I have got to the stage where I have pulled my own phone from the wall. Someone told me that I didn't have to answer it, but I just felt so guilty letting it ring and ring. 31 times in one afternoon is the current record. I would love to take the phone from her, but then she would never get calls from others. My brother sympathizes a lot, but never comes for a visit and I had an email from him yesterday asking why he couldn't contact me by phone as he wanted to know how Mum was? I snapped a bit and told him to ring her and find out. When I do see Mom I would describe her as needy with a capital N. (She always has been.) She wants no one around her but me and/or my brother and keeps wistfully asking when I think he might visit again. Can anyone help with ideas, please?

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Unfortunately, the phone becomes a GIGANTIC issue with lots of old people. Every single day my mother has an issue with the phone; she can't hear, she hangs up when someone calls, she forgets to charge it, the phone is running on 'low battery' even after it's charged, one thing after another. When she forgets to push the 'off' button, I have to call the front desk at the ALF to send a caregiver upstairs to hang up her phone. And this is after we bought her a brand new phone system specifically designed for the elderly. My aunt, mom's sister, used to call 911 on a regular basis begging for help, all the while living in an ALF and having plenty of help. Eventually, the phones have to be taken away from them for everyone's sanity. Until then, I love the idea of blocking her number and then calling her yourself instead of receiving 31 messages in one afternoon!! I also love Daughterof1930's comment that we teach people how to treat us. I've allowed myself to be treated like a doormat by my mother for my entire life, and have nobody to blame but myself. Nowadays I make the rules MYSELF, and it's gotten a tiny bit easier.

Best of luck!!!
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Susan317 Dec 31, 2018
Just got to the stage yesterday when she told me she had been ringing for a taxi to take her to me. She has no idea what the taxi number is ........ Has also rung emergency services but used 999 and an automated voice told her what the correct number was.
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You might try blocking her number and then calling her yourself once a day so she doesn't feel abandoned. Just tell her you don't know why her calls aren't getting through and you are looking into it. And talk to the staff about getting her out of her room.
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Do you ever notice that what people say and what they mean can be two different things? In the last 3 months I've realized that when my dad says 'I'm afraid' it's not about fear of his new environment (which certainly is a component to his fear) but fear of what comes next.

My parents are in their 90's and while Mom is further along on the slippery slope that is dementia, she doesn't seem to have the same acute fears that Dad has anymore. In Sept when they both arrived at the NH my dad was convinced that he was only there to pacify my mom and that if she passed first he would be able to leave the nursing home and return to his 'normal' life. Fast forward to October and I remember vividly the day that we were discussing my mom and he ruefully said 'wait until I start to forget too'. It was shortly after that I noticed he was becoming fearful.

I suspect when you strip away the day to day duties that are generally required to exist in the world (cooking, cleaning, checking the mail, paying the bills etc) there's a great deal of extra time for elderly minds to fret about what the future holds. Couple that with the childlike qualities both my parents have adopted and it's important for me to remember that they are regressing and I need to care for them as if they are young children.

Like your mother, my parents are inclined to stay in their room all day, not venture out to socialize and it concerns me a great deal particularly given that I live 500 miles away and neither of my brothers will be visiting (or calling) very frequently. They were never social people, content to be each other's best friend so I understand the solitude. I also understand that who they are today versus the vibrant people they once were is worlds apart. I think that in a way they're reluctant to socialize because they are not proud of these versions of themselves...the forgetful, hunched, frightened versions.

I'm also reminded that they entered this new stage of their lives with very few of the physical trappings of what they identified as signs of success. Street address, furnishings, cars etc. all just a memory. Imagine losing everything and having to meet new people all at the same time while baring the indignity of someone else bathing you for the first time in 80 plus years. No one wonder they're afraid.

One of the things that I try to instill in one of my brothers is that if you want a true picture of how Mom and Dad are, don't ask them. It's not an accurate depiction. I have the luxury of speaking to the nursing staff regularly coupled with daily conversations with my parents on the phone but what they tell me is vastly different from what the staff are able to share.

Susan317, my heart goes out to you (and the rest of us); what we are experiencing is tough. Heartbreaking. I keep reminding myself that I have a limited amount of time left with them so I try to make each conversation count. When necessary, I'm stern. Where possible I take the role of caring parental figure attempting to ease their fears and when my brothers show any interest whatsoever I attempt to draw them in as much as possible so that when Mom and Dad are gone there will be a minimum of hard feelings and a semblance of family ties.

I know this response is light of suggestions but hopefully something in my words will resonate and give you confort. Happy New Year and best wishes.
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
True that our parent's description of events can be far off from what really happens. I've verified my mom's account of events (many times) with various staff members. It boggles my mind how things really are, (compared 2 what she tells me). (I'm told "mom ate lunch", or "I saw her eat", or "her weight is constant"...) But mom had called me repeatedly 2say that she's starving there, & wud die if I didn't bring her food immediately. I'm sad that I can't trust a single word she says.
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If I were in your shoes and were being harassed by the incessant phone calls, I would BLOCK her number so her calls would not ring on my phone and I would not know about them. Peace of mind!!!

Then once or twice a day, I'd call to check on her to make sure everything is ok. With her dementia, she won't remember that she has called 20 times already that day so chances are she won't ask you about not answering her calls. If she can still remember and bring it up, you can say you were busy and couldn't answer the phone.

YOU have the CONTROL of this situation. She won't change her habit of calling if you keep picking up the phone.
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
Great solution 4 all☺.
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If you block her number it says you have been blocked from calling this number. We tried it to see what happens. It might hurt her feelings if she hears that.

Sometimes just being honest is the best solution. Tell her that you are busy and you give her 4 visits and will talk to her, 1, 2, 3xs daily whatever works for you. That her calling multiple times makes it harder for you to do your business. Repeat as needed.

I would try to visit when you can join in activities with her, she might meet a friend or two that will encourage her to join in. Speak with the activity Director and see if they have any ideas how to motivate her to participate.

It is okay to set boundaries and enforce them. That is the only way you will have any peace from her Neediness.
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polarbear Dec 31, 2018
Isthisrealyreal - i accidentally blocked a friend;'s number. She still called and left messages. My phone didn't tell her that her number was blocked. In my case, blocked calls still come through and go directly to voicemail, and I just don't hear the rings. I have T-mobile and a Windows phone.
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The phone became a problem for me, too. Mom had dementia and was in an assisted living facility. She would call me dozens of times in a short period of time and leave nasty messages if I didn’t answer. I had programmed my land and cell numbers into her phone and she called them alternately. I was working from home at the time and could not always answer, even if I wanted to. Then one day I printed the phone log for her phone and found that she was dialing other numbers, many of which were either in error or random, at all hours of the day and night. I had visions of law enforcement showing up at my door (the bill came to me) in response to complaints from strangers tired of the calls! Since I knew she would be angry if I took her phone, I had her service suspended. The AL staff was aware of the situation and my actions. When she told staff that her phone didn’t work, they called me and I went and picked up her phone to take it in “to be repaired”. She asked about the phone a few times in the weeks following, although she usually thought she had lost it. The staff and I reminded her that it was in the shop for repairs. Soon she forgot about it. A few months later, after she had moved to the memory care wing, she asked me to get her a phone and I told her they weren’t allowed in the rooms, but she could use the desk phone at any time. I also used my phone to call her sister so they could talk. I hated taking her phone, but sometimes you have to do things you hate when dealing with dementia.
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Tiger55 Jan 1, 2019
Very true, peace2 u.
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Hello - in my experience, polarbear’s idea worked well. Ease a helper, someone you hire or someone already at the nursing home, into mom’s life. There are people who are sitters - low pay for an hour or so a day. Also learned that having little surprises delivered was a way to break up the long days. Instead of showing up with all the treats in hand, ask an aide to hand out one or two in your absence. Nothing expensive...a favorite snack, card, magazine, book, etc., will be a welcome distraction. The digital photo frames that rotate hundreds of pictures...best thing ever!! Provides hours of distractions and once it is on, is just keeps cycling through the pictures. You can use photo editing to add little notes, too. Good luck!
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I had this problem with my grandmother. I'm her primary, and she sometimes calls me from assisted living dozens of times per day. I can't always answer. Sometimes I'm working or sometimes I just don't have the emotional energy to have the "same conversation" again.

What I did was to set up a Google voice number which I then programmed into the speed dial on her phone. I set up Google voice do integrate with Google hangouts in such a way that the phone does not ring when she calls, but I do get a notification on my phone, and a transcript of her message. So much better. I can still see that she called, and I can quickly read her message to see if there is any urgent concern.
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BaileyP3 Jan 1, 2019
I love this idea of Google voice and if weren't that my parents call on a landline I would definitely do this. We're so fortunate to live in an age where we have caller id. Something else that can be very helpful for people that are a distance away is to work with staff to help the elderly visit with you on Facetime.

As primary for both my parents I get regular updates from the nurses which helps a great deal although it's interesting that I can receive a call that what of them has taken a tumble and when I speak to my parents not a word is said. Conversely thru most of December my Dad kept telling me they were both very sick and yet the nurses were not aware there were any problems. I've opted not to tell my parents that I get regular medical updates as they are both notoriously private and recent that anyone (including me) 'knows their business'.
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You could do as I've had to with my own mom on occasion; tell her you can't talk, have to do something, will call her later, whatever isn't a lie, and hang up. Do it for a couple days, though be sure and call back later, and she may quit the constant calls - my mom does. I have to do it again eventually, but get peace and quiet out of it for awhile.
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Enlist the help of the activities director of her nursing home to try to coax mom into participating in some activities. Get caller ID if you don’t already have it on your phones and accept only every fourth or so call from her, time to wean mom from being so dependent on you for her company. If there’s any real emergency the staff will contact you so no worries that not answering will make you miss something. We teach people how to treat us, teach mom that you’re not so available
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