Mom keeps breaking her phone and almost broke her TV. Should I disconnect them for good? - AgingCare.com

Mom keeps breaking her phone and almost broke her TV. Should I disconnect them for good?

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My mother, 81, is in a nursing home with dementia. I had a very basic phone installed so we could keep in touch. Otherwise, I was afraid that she'd constantly bother the staff to call me.

The first couple of months, there was no problem. Then she started pulling the cord from the wall jack and breaking it. After replacing the cord several times, the wonderful and patient maintenance staff finally put the phone up on the wall (it was on the table next to her bed) and put duct tape over the jack and little bit of exposed cord so she can't yank it out.

A couple of days ago she disconnected the handset and apparently threw it out because no one could find it. You can't ask her why she does it because she blames it on the staff or on my father (from whom she's been divorced almost 40 years and who's never visited.. not that he should). On Friday I brought the handset from an old phone I had. Yesterday she yanked it out but at least she didn't break the plug so maintenance plugged it back in and put duct tape over the hole. Hopefully this will work but somehow I doubt she'll leave it alone for long.

As for the TV, she got it into her head to remove it from her room. Which meant that she managed to unscrew the cable, climb up on furniture to remove the plug (which was high up on the wall) and carry or push it into the hallway. I don't know where she got the strength to do it. It's an older model that was sitting securely on a small dresser. The TV was put back into her room because she raised such a fuss saying that it was stolen. The nurse suggested that I get a small flat screen and have it mounted on the wall. I'm afraid that won't stop her from climbing up again if she gets another delusional idea. I thank God that she didn't hurt herself this time.

I can't make her understand that she shouldn't do the things she does because she doesn't acknowledge doing them in the first place. It's always someone else's fault. So I'm debating removing the TV from her room for her own safety (although chances are that she won't go to the day room or main dining room to watch TV) and disconnecting the phone service if she breaks the phone again.

Any thoughts?

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When my dad was first placed in dementia care, we got him a TV. His room also had a mini kitchen with a built in fridge. He was, by career, an electrical engineer. He broke the TV, by trying to 'fix' it and he pulled the fridge out of it's space and started 'working' on it. Very dangerous if one doesn't remember to unplug it. So both were removed. He's never missed them. I call in to talk to him or send him cards and letters. I live 5 hours away. Mom is in his town and visits daily. She frequently takes her cell phone and then dials me, so we can talk together on her cell phone. He still enjoys talking but doesn't remember numbers and couldn't figure out how to dial. He has friends too, that Mom will dial up while visiting with him, so they can talk for a few minutes....as well as the grandkids and the great grandkids who are out of state. When I am there, I can take my lap top or tablet and he can 'visit' using Skype too. He just cannot initiate any of this on his own, but enjoys being able to do it with assistance. He also, cannot really watch and follow TV any more, so is happy with the TV in his cottage's living area that all watch together.
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We took my dad's small flat screen from home and had put on dresser in NH home for him. I don't think he watches it much but its there in case he would want to or remember how to get turned on. He doesn't use the phone in the room, he always asks the nurse at nurse station to call cause he can't remember the number, so really why have a phone in their room. you sure wouldn't want them calling china or a long distance that you would have to pay for. I am sure that in time I will have my dad's tv taken back home but for now at least he doesn't disconnect things. he is always busy in his mind working on cars, fixing things. my dad was never a big tv person except for certain shows. I wish you luck, but it sounds like you would be better off removing the tv and just say that you had to get it fixed and will bring back later. (and just don't).
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My mother is 96 with dementia and can't operate much of anything. However she does enjoy watching TV and as full-time caregiver I've learned which programs hold her attention.

Reading between the lines in your message, your mother seems quite agitated. Perhaps it's time to review medications with her doctor?

Blessings for a quick and peaceful resolution to this issue.
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Phones and televisions are useless to persons with dementia. They don't understand how to use them, nor can they follow a story on t.v. Remove both and if your mother remembers you, staff will be happy to call you. Otherwise, she probably doesn't know to call you and doesn't talk much anyway.
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I think that is quite amazing your mom can do that at her age. I agree to have the TV professional mounted, removing her TV entertain won’t help but most likely to agitate her further.

You could also look into child based tablet devices (they are usually battle tested). If they have the internet you could connect to Netflix or some other service. You might want to look into children games or puzzles which are safe but provide your mother with time to undo things.

Dementia unfortunately brings us back to a child like state.

I would suggest requesting your mother's HealthCare records (called Release of Information) to perform a checks and balances on your mother’s care. This can ensure she has someone looking out for her at another level.

fss
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It's amazing your mom still knows how to use the items. Initially, my loved one would hide the phone, remote, etc. and swear she didn't. I would find them in the oddest spots. She would be so frustrated that she couldn't operate it, but soon it became impossible for her to do. Now she's in Memory Care and they have a tv in the sitting room that they all can watch. Her roommate has one, but she never seems to be interested in sitting in her room anymore to watch tv. And she doesn't remember to ask to call me. That's okay though. Her former place would call me over the slightest thing.

In the Memory Care where she is they don't allow the residents to have shampoo, lotion, mouthwash, toothpaste or anything like that in their rooms, for fear they would misuse it and harm themselves. All cords are kept out of their reach too.

I would discuss your situation with the staff at your mom's facility. Certainly, they have dealt with this before. I expect they will suggest to give up on the phone and tv. It seems like they not giving her much pleasure anyway. Why not just call your mom at the same time every day and the staff can call her to the phone?
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On my gosh, your Mom is one busy lady dismantling this or that. As must o us know, when it comes to someone who has dementia, there is no way to reason with that person. Even taking away the phone and TV from her, she will not reason out why that is being done.

Could a flat screen TV be mounted at eye level, so if your Mom feels the need to try to dismantle it, she wouldn't be harming herself. If the TV is professionally mounted to the wall, your Mom wouldn't have the tools to use to remove it. She would have to be Hulk Hogan to pull it off the wall.

As for the telephone, there are slim line landline phones where the cord is attached to the receiver, there is no way it would come out. The only thing the same cord to the receiver is the same one that plugs into the wall. It's made by GE and I bought it a few years ago at Target.
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