I feel a bit guilty about my mother not having a phone, but then again I don't. Feedback?


I recently had to move my elderly mother to an assisted living facility. When we moved all of her things in, I asked her where she wanted the phone. She said she didn't think she needed one, and I was relieved.
When she was living alone in her house, she would get "robo calls" or surveys and not understand what the people wanted. In addition, she is extremely hard of hearing and trying to communicate over the phone is nearly impossible, and her short-term memory is highly compromised.
If she feels she needs to, she can make a call from the nurse's desk, as she did today.
She has a doctor's appointment 2 days from now, and called me to ask if we were still going tomorrow morning. I tried to explain where we are in days-of-the week, only to have her say she couldn't understand me. She also asked why we were going (she needs to be established with a doctor closer to her new residence) and I was unable to get her to understand that either.
Yesterday, when I visited, she said, 4 times, "tomorrow is Christmas." Each time I corrected her that the holiday is a week away, but it didn't seem to stick with her.
So I'm sure some may think I've isolated her by her not having a phone, it's a bit of a relief to not get phone calls from her when she doesn't remember what was said and can't hear.
Am I terrible for being relieved that she can't call me for every little thing and that she needs to use the facility phone?

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No. You're not terrible.

Your mother finds it difficult to use the phone. Using a new phone of her own would be a waking nightmare for her. When she uses the facility phone, there is assistance right there if she needs it.

If keeping track of appointments worries her you might like to get her a good, clear calendar and ask her helpers to write everything down that she needs to know. You can probably get one that has TODAY marked with a slidable tab to help her stay oriented.
Helpful Answer (13)

Don’t feel guilty. I had to pull my mother’s phone after we moved her to the nursing home, too. She had days and nights confused and would often call at 3AM. Two years ago, I visited a few days before Christmas and explained to her that I’d see her the day after Christmas. She called on Christmas Day, sobbing, agitated and angry and accused me of not coming to see her “for months”, of “hating” her, etc. I spent the day with my family, depressed, upset and withdrawn. The following week I pulled then phone. I told her if she needed help to summon a nurse and if she needed me she could use the nurse’s phone. It worked out and after a while she didn’t even miss the phone.
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Nope, you're not terrible. No guilt. You said she can't hear and has memory loss. Why would she need a phone?
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My mother has an "atomic clock" which displays the time, day, and date.
I have also given her a paper calendar, and wrote "Doctor" on the day we are to go.
And...I wrote a large reminder note on 8½ x 11 paper and taped it to the inside of her door, so she sees it least 3 times a day when she goes for meals.
Before i moved her, there were several times when she called at night, thinking it was morning, or vice versa. And after the conversation today, my voice is actually a bit hoarse from trying to be heard (to be addressed at the doctor).
Just wanted others who have faced the same to reassure me that for her, not having a phone is best.
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Your mom can't hear or remember much; you have no reason to feel guilty and are doing the right thing.

My mother lives on her own and never needs help but I leave my phone turned off for weeks at a time because she leaves messages in a hysterical tone of voice that upsets me for days.

In high school I had phone phobia and didn't use the phone for two years. It never went away entirely and is getting worse with her calls. To me phones are like bombs that could explode at any minute.
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geeez, thank goodness for this forum.
mom calls with several issues/questions, +/-10x each within 1-3 days - forgetting that we've already discussed [within those 1-3 days]
this disease is boggling my mind with its cruelty - removing dignity from afflicted person - and - baffling baby-boomer caregivers
Helpful Answer (6)

Um. I think OCC's mother's confusion is considered by her doctors, caregivers, daughter, people who know her to be more attributable to dementia than to lack of conversation.

Though it is certainly true that loneliness and isolation are no good for anybody's mental health.

Fortunately, this lady has lots of nice people around her who can help her use the telephone as needed, and can chat to her the rest of the time.
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In a word. No. You’ve clearly explained all the reasons why a phone isn’t a good idea.
Does she use the facility phone? Or rather has she used it since she has been there?
It sounds like it would be very frustrating for her trying to use the phone based on her current limitations.
Although the younger generation would never believe it today, humans did just fine without phones. I’m assuming she interacts with people face to face where she is rather than over a phone.
If there are those she misses talking to perhaps you can bring your cell phone and make a prearranged call as a special treat for her. If it’s a success you can do that often. If it’s too difficult discontinue.
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I am wondering about doctor visits and ALFs, also. The ALF my mother should be in (and I hope ends up in, if she ever agrees to go to one) doesn't have a doctor that visits, but does have van service to doctor appointments.

My question is just how workable are these van services? My mother takes forever to walk anywhere, needs to have the elevator door held open or she panics, can get turned around sometimes and not know the way out, etc. If the van takes them, are they just dropped off and expected to be totally self-sufficient beyond that?

(I'm sure my mother would expect me to still be her taxi service if she were in an AL; would consider herself too good to take the van. My thought would be that she is PAYING for that service, and should therefore utilize it. Besides, she doesn't allow me in the back for medical appointments, anyway. But I'm sure there would be a temper tantrum -- in her case, a crying/shaking fit -- because in her mind I OWE her.)

The phone is another good point. I don't want my mother to be calling me all the time with complaints/demands/etc.
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The same tips OnlyChildCarere wrote above was what I was going to write. We removed dad's phone while he is in SNF/ Rehab and it’s been wonderful not having him call me. It saved my sanity. But since he has no STM, I write and leave notes taped for him. Yesterday it was about our plans for Christmas holidays so he can refer to it as needed. I do the same for other situations. I have a calendar hanging up to write things on too.  
My dad's AL facility has doctors that will take on residents as patients. They come there to see them every 6 weeks. Does your mom's ALF have that too? It’s been wonderful as they can order labs, prescriptions etc and I don’t have to transport him.
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