How do you deal with the anxiety when the phone rings?

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I'm at the point where I feel fear, panic and anxiety whenever my phone rings. Of course when the group home calls it is never a good thing. They called in September that my Dad was not feeling well and needed to go to the ER. Turned out he had a UTI. This past weekend they called to say he fell, but nothing was broken, and he seemed under the weather. Or when my Dad calls its never to just say hello, he always wants something. How do you guys deal with it?

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I have always had phone anxiety. Basically unless it's my mother or my closest few friends, I normally let it go to voicemail....unless I'm expecting the call. (And before I began staying here, I had even started letting my mom go through to voicemail sometimes too, when she was getting demanding.) I almost never answer numbers I don't know. I check the voicemail right after the call. I call back as soon as I can if it's important or urgent. This way if there's something terrible going on, I have a few minutes to catch my breath and think before I return the call. If it's urgent they WILL leave a message. If they don't leave a voicemail, it's not my problem.

I'm an introvert (not really shy - just need periods of time to recharge after using up my "other people energy"). One thing I really hate about the cell phone era is everybody has this expectation now that you will be available 24/7!!! And some people get really annoyed if they can't reach you immediately! I like having a phone with me wherever I am, but I really hate this availability expectation. My "system" is designed to discourage it, lol.
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Kootiebear, welcome to the club.... I would jump out of my skin any time the telephone rang. And go into sheer panic when I saw the caller ID from the senior facility or long-term-care.

I think it is because we are in a situation where we are lost on what to do depending on what the telephone call was about. We never had training on this. There are no mentors standing next to us telling us how to manage the call. So we just panic. It's just our nature. Some can let such calls roll off their backs. NOT ME.

Oh those 3 a.m. calls. Unnecessary unless one of my parents was being transported to the ER. Calls about falls where there was no injury could wait until a decent hour.... but I do realize a senior facility gets pretty busy first thing in the morning. I even asked if such calls could be eliminated, no, it was State law. Oh great, no way I could get back to sleep, so there were a lot of sleepless nights.

My doctor kept suggesting I take something to calm me down, but I refused. Now I could kick myself for not taking her recommendation. See what your doctor would recommend and give it a try, it might do wonders.
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I went through that with my mom. She was in a nursing home and suffered from dementia. I was the only one she ever called so my # was first on her mind. At 3AM. Three times in one week. To tell me she learned how to use the phone. So, I told her I had to fix the phone and never brought it back. She wasn’t happy, but I told her if she ever needed to use the phone to ask the nurse.

When the NH called, the first thing they said was “everything is OK.” Maybe when the group home calls you, it’s not a good thing, but it’s not always a traumatic disaster either. Take a deep breath when you see the caller I.d. and just answer the phone. They found the UTI and treated it. They cared for him when he fell. They’re handling it, by law they have to notify you. But not to freak you out. As time goes on, you will learn how to take this in your stride. Nursing homes often have staff who help families, too. My saving grace was the Director of Nursing. He was wonderful to talk to!
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Oh also....when I first (apparently) took over my mother's health management, I got tons of phone calls all day long from all kinds of health care professionals. This drove me absolutely bonkers!! And sometimes it was for ridiculous things. (For example, the day a nurse phoned me asking if I could drop everything and run a snack over to the dialysis unit for my mom because she was hungry - it's in a hospital, I KNOW THERE'S FOOD THERE!)

I had a bit of a meltdown with the renal unit social worker, one day after receiving 4 phone calls from a nurse in the span of an hour, all to ask me to pick some meds up for mom that day because of a change. Which I could have done the next day. (Plus when I got there, they weren't supposed to be for pick-up - I was supposed to bring in mom's blister pack so they could remove one of the meds....which I could have done myself....yeah, it was a bad day. I illegally parked in a taxi zone to get to the pharmacy before it closed, too.) The SW did some intervention with a bunch of people on my behalf. I maybe get one or two calls a week now.

So if there is someone you can talk to about reducing the number of calls, it can help.  I doubt you even have to have a meltdown like I did. 
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OK, get ready for a cold-blooded answer: when I put my mom into the beautiful retirement center she now loves, I did not sign her up for a phone! She had become a nuisance and, in her dementia and delusions, was calling all sorts of groups and threatening to call a lawyer.

At that time, she was nuts and directing all or her ire at me, the one who was doing everything for her. So, no phone. When we get her on the right meds (including an anti-delusional), she calmed down and is now her old self. In the meantime, she is completely used to having no phone. I don't think she eve knows that others have phones.

When the "place" calls, the first words they say are "Mom's ok." Then I am at once calm and receptive.

Great topic, BTW!
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Your anxiety level has kicked into high gear and threatens your own health. Get a Rx for anxiety meds and turn the phone off at bedtime. Been there. Done that. Still alive.
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I basically do what Dorianne suggests...let it go to voicemail and then deal with the call accordingly, either ignoring it or calling back when my mind has processed the problem. I had terrible anxiety for a long time when I would hear a phone. I only pick up when it is very important or someone I want to talk with. I had the double whammy of the calls for my Mom from hospitals and rehab places, and a business partner, now gone, who had frequent meltdowns and a greed issues. My anxiety got to the point where I would actually yell "no!!!", if the phone rang. I learned to screen those calls. It took two years after my Mom passed away to not feel dread when I would hear a ringing phone...even in a restaurant when I knew the call could not be for me, just someone harmlessly calling the place to order take out. Voicemail is a necessity!
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I completely understand and am glad to see I'm not alone! I am actually relieved when I see it's a telemarketer on the caller ID and not Philips Lifeline. I think Freqflyer is absolutely correct - it's a fear of what will come next - not only how we will need to handle an emergency but if the person we care for is hurt. My anxiety level even goes up when I get a text from my brother since sometimes it will be to say that Mom isn't feeling well. I breathe a sigh of relief when it ends up being something mundane like what size long underwear he wants for Christmas...haha! And Katie22 reminded me of how I break out in a sweat when a cell phone (which has the same ringtone as mine) goes off on a TV show I watch. Geesh! I also wasn't sleeping and getting really run down so I tried an over the counter sleep aid which has helped me tremendously. At least I wake up refreshed and more ready for what the day might bring. Hugs to you!
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I know the feeling when my phone rings and it's my dad's assisted living. They start the conversation by stating it's not an emergency but still the heart rate goes up. My dad though has declined significantly over the past few months and now I'm worried I'll get a phone call that I've been dreading.
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Jolt of adrenaline for both myself and my husband!
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