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My mom still lives at her home alone (I'm researching memory care units) and calls me at least 50 times a day to tell me that she needs Fruit of the Loom underwear and cat food. Sometimes the calls start at 5 in the morning. She ties up my phone line and my answering machine is full every time I come home. Because I work from home, this can be very annoying. I had to remove call waiting because she was constantly "beeping in". She also doesn't recognize my voice on the answering machine, even though I say my name in the message. When this all started about 6 months ago, I was shocked when I heard some of her messages. She would cuss me out and use very foul language! I finally explained to her that she shouldn't do that and she apologized for "cussing out that poor lady that keeps answering my phone". I just had to laugh!


So, I started taking the phone off the hook for a couple or hours while I got some work done. I don't like to do that because I miss other calls from friends, doctors, etc. I am in the process of giving my cell phone number to people that I deal with.


Does anyone else have this problem?

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Arlene, I can't take her phone away. If I did that she would have no way to reach me (she is still in her own home). What I have done is muted the sound on my phone, so I can still see her messages. Sometimes, when her caregiver is there at lunch time, I take my phone off of the hook.
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Moved my Mom into Memory Care last year and after a few weeks, I gave her cell phone to her with some worry that she would get crazy with the calls like your Mom. Luckily, it's not much of a habit for Mom to call anyone...her husband was the one who enjoyed long phone calls catching up with family and friends. Of course, the dementia over the past 7 years also made phone calls less enjoyable for Mom.

However, she does call me now, usually to tell me she's out of Diet Coke, or needs new books from the Library. There have been times she has called to complain, cuss me out, or just say "hi."

The worst phone day she called 12 times, but then backed down, so I'm not "losing" her phone yet.
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Take the phone off her, say you are too busy with your work to answer her calls 50 times a day. Yes, she won't like it, but it will be a form of peace of mind for you. I knew of an old lady is a rest home who rang her family every night, clogging up the phone when other residents wanted to use it. Yes, it does mean you will need to visit her, but it is better than 50 calls a day when you are working. All the best.
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My Mom's obsession with the phone was different and it's what started her long decline.She was racing to answer the phone when she fell and broke her neck in the tip of her skull.C-1.Just a half of an inch and she'd have been dead or paralyzed then,but God had other plans.Mom loved talking to people so much and didn't want to miss a call and she almost lost her life ,racing for the phone,not to call,but to answer.
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Thank you MsMadge!

I heard from the memory care unit today! Apparently there was a miscommunication due to a change in the office personnel and I was not calling the correct dept. The lady I spoke to was very apologetic and she was able to give me the information I need to process to get Mom on a waiting list.

We have an appt. with the lawyer soon to move most of my mom's assets into a special trust fund so that Medicaid can't touch it (she does not qualify for it now). The memory care unit is very expensive if she self pays, but once she is on Medicaid the price will drop 50%.

PS - we live in Syracuse, NY How do I private message you?
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Hey Coralmae,
Do you know why Adult Protective Services opened an investigation? I'd try to get things straight with your mom, before they open a new one. If they came in the first place, there must be others who are concerned about her.

My experience with the admissions of LTC facilities is that you have to be proactive. They are often very busy and though, it may problematic, if your mom needs memory care and that's the only one, you may be limited in your option of places.

I showed up in person and said I'd wait to meet with the director and to get things ready for my LO to move in. (I had toured about a dozen places and settled on one.) Most places you need certain forms filled out. Is she self pay or on a state funded benefit program? I'd figure out how to pay pronto. (Does she qualify for help or is self pay?)

Most require that the doctor complete a form that provides her abilities and needs. Most Memory Care facilities require a signed form authorized by the doctor. I devoted several hours per day for several weeks doing all the leg work. I suppose you could hire a professional to get all of the done on your behalf. I would think that a social worker would be able to guide you.

Oh, the DPOA stand for Durable Power of Attorney, which means it stays in place after the person become incompetent.

Please let us know what happens.
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Coralmae
Not sure what part of the country you reside but a facility that won't return your call already sounds like a red flag to me - most will want a deposit to put you on a waiting list if they're currently full - and they will need to assess your mom before accepting her

if you want to private message I'm happy to share any other information about my mom's facility with you
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Freqflyer, thanks for your input. I have a place picked out for her. Went on 6/1 for an informal tour, got all the info I need along with an admissions packet, and left my name on a "customer info" sheet. I have called them 3 times and emailed them once, but haven't heard a thing from them. Mom's doctor said I had to keep after them. Maybe I should start getting more aggressive and just show up there and ask for an interview. This is so frustrating! After all the years I've been dealing with the dementia, with very little help, I would think that a facility would at least acknowledge my phone calls!
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coralmae, so happy to read that you have found an Assisted Living/Memory Care place for your Mom. Hope a room opens soon.

Once my Dad moved into Assisted Living/Memory Care I felt more secure knowing he wouldn't walk out the front door at night. That was my biggest fear, too.

Will your Mom like moving from her home to Memory Care? I know at this point in her life, she doesn't really have a choice. My Dad didn't mind the studio apartment as I would joke that was his college dorm room.

What helped with my Dad, before he moved to Independent Living, he had a professional caregiver with him at home, and when the time came she helped him get ready for his move to Memory Care. And she stayed on with him even when he moved to Memory Care. I was so glad the facility allowed that :)
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Sunnygirl1,

I have POA (don't know what you mean by DPOA). I've already picked a memory care center that is close to me but I have yet to hear from them since my initial visit. I've called every day & had to leave messages. I'm thinking that they may have called me back but my phone was either off the hook or they called when Mom was calling and couldn't get through. Today I sent an email to them and told them to contact me that way or call my cell phone. Yes, this is my top priority! I'm so afraid that she will fall and hurt herself or go wandering off (which she has never done). She has great neighbors, and if she did go to any of their homes, they would call me however, apparently a new neighbor moved in 6 months ago and reported that my mom was being left alone for long periods of time and not getting her medications (not true).

Adult Protective Services showed up at her door and gave her a card to give to me. We had to go to have a home visit and they also talked to her immediate neighbors and her lunch time caregiver. The case was dropped and the rep. told me that if I ever needed any help, I could call her. Maybe I should call her to see if she can get Mom placed sooner?
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Oh lordie
This is such a trying phase
My mom would sit for hours by the phone and write my number repeatedly on post its and stick them on the counter - this was her 'bookwork'

I would take a few calls from her at work but eventually took my office number away from her and then got a new cell phone number and kept the old one just for her as she would call that repeatedly from about 3 pm til when I left work
She would cuss on it - mainly about where her car keys were or when I'd be home - I would talk to her in the car as I drove home

When she couldn't get through to me she would call my brother and sister who wouldn't answer - they're retired - I had taken numbers away from her of other distant relatives so she wouldn't bother them but she'd dial O and get a recorded operator and cuss that out when she couldn't understand the message

When I moved mom to a memory care facility over a year ago it bothered me that none of the residents could make a phone call - to see folks in a panic and not be able to speak to their loved ones is hard to watch but alas I understand why that is now and will help redirect if I know the resident 

Dementia is a long tiring journey for everyone
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There are so many options to resolve the phone issues with aging parents and little time to determine best option. Cell phones are great for the caregiver, but not always best choice for aging parent. Example: In a hospital or care facility, landline phone is typically used anyway, and placed bedside. Cell phones these days have numerous features that can help or cause more problems for the parent who did not use in their adult life. Great if the parent leaves the house a lot, but not so great if the parent isolated at home all the time. Plus, then there is multiple phone company providers, supporting two separate accounts with separate customer service, etc. Best to ensure one provider, I think, and makes sense to have one phone for your business/work separate from parent. I guess all the voice mail receipts tell you calling at certain times, and sounds like it is now habitual. Probably not going to stop unless a better choice/solution to reduce stress for both of you. Not even hospital or nursing care would take that many calls for one person for a 7 day stay. Definitely need to find a better solution and eventually that can mean stopping the phone service for anyone that is seriously ill and requires more healthcare. Solve the issue, for sure.
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When I'm 90, I hope to heck I won't have to put up with annoying relatives! LOL
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It was both a blessing and a tragedy the day my mother forgot how to use the phone.

But up until that point, I did what you are doing. I segregated who got the landline number and who got the cell number. Then within the cell number I separated by ring tone - my mom had her own and the nursing home had theirs. The rest were separated by doctors, my friends, other family etc.

I don't work but that does mean I'm home a lot. Prior to the cell segregation - at times I would literally become sick when the phone rang. My mom passed away last August but my stomach still clenches up at times when my phone rings.

My advice for you regarding needing to work and the interruptions of your moms calls - give her your cell number with her own ring tone and when you need to focus on work - temporarily block her number. Most cells have this function and the caller doesn't know that they are blocked - it simply goes to the message recording- and you don't hear it ring.
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Hi Coralmae
Your post gave me a great laugh about your mom apologizing to the nice lady. Bless her heart. Is she alone all day? My aunt also lives alone. She has various people in and out all day and has a little dog. Her dementia is not at the level of your moms but I know its a matter of time. I recently installed two cameras and am going to add four more. They are so helpful at the stage of my aunt, I'm not sure if they would help you or not. After all, you pretty much know what your mom is doing. I'm concerned she will leave her dog outside too long in the heat this summer and I'm using it to see how often she gets up at night and if her aids are coming in at the correct time, etc. 
It does give me another view of her daily life that I wondered about before. My aunt looked more vulnerable to me on camera. She is such a lively personable being that sometimes I see the personality and not the physical presence. 
On the phone part, my aunt had pretty much stopped using the phone. With the camera I can see that she gets up, goes to the phone and then stops and listens to hear who is calling. If it's me, she will answer (so far) but some she would rather not talk to. They, instead of her, are calling me to say she won't answer the phone. How to tell them she doesn't want to talk to them?? I sometimes say call during the hours the aid is there and she will give her the phone. But she doesn't have a problem telling the aid no. She thinks at 90 she doesn't have to put up with annoying relatives. If they walked in the door she would have a nice visit with them but not so much on the phone.
As long as they are alive, there will be stress, and after they pass, there will be sorrow,..It just goes with the territory of the caretaker as far as I can tell.
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Yes, I had that problem, except my LO was calling about once an hour, not as much as your mom calls. I realize that you are searching for a place, but, I would put it on the front burner. Even though, I was at my LO house every day, she could not make it for more than an hour, without me. She wanted cat food. Even though, she had over 50 cans of cat food.

When that kind of behavior is going on, you really have to consider if it's safe for her to be left alone or to care for a pet. What happens if a stranger knocks on her door? How would she handle it? What happens if there is a fire or other emergency? At this point, explaining that her behavior is unacceptable is really not helpful, because they can't process that and even if they did, they'd forget. Keep in mind that the reason she's calling so much, is because she forgets that she has already done it many times before. To her, it's the first time. So, there is no point in trying to deter her. She won't remember it and it will her hurt her feelings in the moment.

Also, be careful, because if she can't reach you, she may call 911 for anything, even things that are not an emergency. My LO called 911 because she couldn't get her remote to work right. Also, she may do other things like go next door and tell neighbors that she needs cat food and underwear. And then those neighbors could call police or adult protective services.

I had to get real aggressive with getting medical authorization documenting the dementia, Filing DPOA, (You have DPOA, right), completing paperwork at AL application, arranged for admittance, pretty quickly.

I can't convey how assertive I was throughout the process. If you can't get her into a facility, I'd arrange for someone to be with her at all times. Just to make sure she's safe. Plus, it sounds like she is very anxious. I'd discuss this with her doctor.

Good luck. I know this is stressful. It caused me substantial stress and even physical problems as a result of stress. I'd try to get her the help she needs, as that's the only way to get out from under that stress.
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