Mom has a cellphone in the AL facility and her calls are becoming compulsive (one after another all day). Do I ignore her calls, or answer? - AgingCare.com

Mom has a cellphone in the AL facility and her calls are becoming compulsive (one after another all day). Do I ignore her calls, or answer?

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She has been in the AL since July 2013. We had a good schedule at the beginning but now that she is slipping deeper into dementia, she is unsure of herself and stays very confused. The first time I ignore her calls, she had her first panic attack so now I don't know whether to answer or let them roll to voice mail. Also, she has stopped depending on the staff to help her so she is depending on me to help her with dinner time and activities. I have talked to the director and he said that as long as she was calling I knew she was ok so let them roll. Of course now that her memory is getting worse and I live 2 hours from her, I have the quilt of something happening to her and I didn't answer her call.
What to do ??????
Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
(btw she has called three times while I was typing this)

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Don't know if this would work - why don't you call her at precise times, say eight in the morning and six in the evening, or whatever suits your schedule? And keep a separate phone for calls to/from her. The rest of the time let it go to voicemail, with a special outgoing message for her - something she'd find reassuring but that wouldn't encourage her to keep ringing the number over and over. Maybe reminding her that you're out, and she should ask the staff if she needs help. And don't weaken! - if you get really anxious about how much she's calling on a given day, you can always call the ALF and check up on her.

Then make sure the staff have your regular cell phone number and know to call you without fail if there is actually a problem.
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Mom forgot how to use her phone....she had a marker and wrote a Big "GOOD BYE" on the reciever. This was in memory care, I really wanted to be able to call her....she forgot how to answer the phone also. It was a real loss to me
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At some pint as her dementia progreses, she will not be able to dial the phone by herself any more. You will miss it and you will not miss it one bit at the same time. Theoretically, the best behavior plan would be you call HER at set tmes regardless of how many times she calls you, and you don't answer her or you answer only the first call in a day. Your message on the phone for her would say that - if this is my mom remember I love you mom but I am very busy and I can only answer your first call in the morning but I will all you at ____. In an emergency, the staff would reliably call you, wouldn't they?
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I would also try putting a message on your machine telling her that you'll call her at a certain time every day. Try to shift it to you calling her. "Hi Mom, this is Mary and I'm fine. I'll call you today at such-and-such a time. If you need anything, just call the front desk and they'll help you." (Or whatever is right about her needing help where she is).

It's a tough one...but she's in AL and they need to help manage her behavior. That's why you're paying them the big bucks.
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Does she realize that she has talked to you? I mean, is she coherent enough to know that she just called and you didn't answer? If she doesn't remember, I would have no trouble ignoring her calls.

My mother did this same thing to my sister, but Mother was living alone. My sister refused to ignore her. It wasn't a good thing to go through.
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Try turning off the ringer so you don't hear the phone. Have a message for her on the machine so she can be reassured by hearing your voice. Get another phone and number for everyone else to reach you. She can call all she wants but you won't be driven crazy by the calls, or have your new phone tied up.
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I would step back. You have your own life, and if you spend all your day answering her calls, you won't have your own life. If your mother were in her right mind, she would not want to be a burden on you. She is not there anymore, so you need to think back to what she would have you do - when she was thinking right. She would want you to have a good life, not be tethered to a phone!

Turn off the ringer. If the home calls, you know something is wrong. Step back a week or two and tell her you went on vacation. She probably won't remember that you were not answering the day before. Call her once a week, more if you must, but go out and LIVE like she taught you to!
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Unfortunately, answering just a few of your mom's daily calls a day will reinforce her calling pattern. That is called 'intermittent reward', and has long been known to be a highly effective 'teaching' method. psteigman has the right idea. Stop the calls for at least 2 weeks. How to do that...take the phone away, remove your number from her phone, block her calls. If you answer her calls before she can bond with the AL staff, she'll never stop calling until the phone is taken from her. If you can't make that break, expect her behavior to continue, but that's not fair to her.

She is no longer responsible for her actions of compulsively calling you. She is in that gray area between functionality and the awful descent of dementia. In our modern world, we must put our elders in AL and NHs, instead of keeping them in our homes. We just can't stay with them every day, unless we're independently wealthy. Your mother is frightened, she needs to learn to bond with the AL staff or she will continue to be miserable and make you miserable with the phone calls, too. She will still love you if you let her go for a while. It's not permanent. It's for her sake, and there's not much more you can do.
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Also. Your mom is in a paid care facility. Use them. Your mother is fine. That's what you are paying them for. Her care & safety. If you keep going at this rate. It's going to wear you down. It did me.
Your mom probably has OCD too. & just calls you. It's become part of a habit for her. My mom is opposite. Won't answer her cell phone.
She wants everyone to go away. Leave her alone to drink alone.
I answered above. But thought of more.
Nothing is harder than care takings our moms. It's beyond hard.
I've had to put those thoughts of my mom in a place in my head. That it's beyond my control.
My mothers actions caused her to bleed to death. Alcohol ulcer.
Lucky she was brought back to life. & blood pumped into her.
My mom was given another chance at life.
She's blowing it. Her choice. Her life. Very sad.
Try to laugh when she calls. & think of me. I have the mom who never calls. Cuz she's so drunk.
You have the mom that calls too much. Lol !!!!!
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Here's my 2 cents. Be grateful she's calling. That means she's alive. My mom will not answer her phone. Because she is a drunk. So if I were in your shoes. Ignore the million phone calls. Just answer like 3 a day. Also try to trust God. I'm learning to lean on him more. It's helping. Mind control too. Aging parents is hard. My mom lives bout 4 hours away. It's crazy !!! I've learned to assume she's ok. My own health is now suffering because of my trying to care for mom. At first. It was fun. The care for her. Then. Not so much fun. Keep venting to others. Ask questions. My mom is an alcoholic. Basically. A dirty old drunk. It's sad. Disgusting.
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