My father calls us every 5-15 minutes begging to come home from the rehabilitation center. Is this normal? What can we do?

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My father has neuropathy and is not mobile. He cant get out of bed or out of a chair without a strong person helping him. He had a mini stroke and ended up in rehab. We are working on arrangements to allow him to stay in the skilled nursing facility indefinitely. He is 88 my mother is 76 and cannot care for him at home anymore.


Here is the problem:


He calls and begs to go home. Last month my mother broke down and took him home and for 10 days he fell every day, and they called 911 to come and pick him up every day. I live 800 miles away but even when I come visit we cant lift him.


He calls my mother every 15 minutes and asks when she is coming back to see him. Every 15 minutes. When he cant reach her he calls me and says “where is mom?” I have blocked his number and check on the blocked calls and call him back. He knows exactly what is going on, he does not have dementia. When we tell him no one can answer his calls every 15 minutes he lashes out at us and says “how do you think I feel sitting in this chair all day long!” I fly home about every month to try to cheer everyone up and help mom manage him. I have purchased video players and movies, games, crossword puzzles, music, magazines, large print books, He wont look at anything, try anything or play any games. He just wants us there to sit with him and when someone is not there he calls and calls and calls. Is this normal? What can we do? He is exhausting us and stressing everyone out. Thank you for your help. Yes, he is on Lexapro.

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Who says he doesn't have dementia?

Unless he's had a complete neuropsych exam ( as in 3 hours of paper and pencil testing, an MRI and a neurological exam) all the docs are telling you is that he's got some basic memory and arithmetic skills.

Look, his reasoning ability sounds shot. Get him to a geriatric psychiatrist who may be able to help with meds
(clearly, just Lexapro or the disage hes at isnt sufficient) for depression and agitation.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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SMMAC, you say your father doesn't have dementia; I wonder if by dementia you mean Alzheimer's Disease, and only Alzheimer's Disease?

The thing is, this obsessional repetitive behaviour sounds a heck of a lot like dementia: certainly all is not well with his ability to process thought, planning and memory, is it? And with strokes, there is often a close link to vascular dementia: different from Alzheimer's but in some ways just as challenging.

Have you and/or your mother discussed this with the SNF staff? Keeping your father comfortable, which includes keeping him free from anxiety as far as possible, is actually their responsibility. If they don't do anything to provide residents with occupation and company, perhaps it would be better to look for a facility with more emphasis on a good activities programme.

I don't see what you can do for your father from 800 miles away! And it's arguably your mother who needs help more. Encourage her to set fixed times for seeing and speaking to your father, and to feel no guilt for turning her phone off the rest of the time.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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his judgment doesn't sound too good. the reason I say that is because you state he went home for 10 days, and fell every day. and 911 had to be called. I think most people thinking clearly - would say, ya know im better off here in skilled nursing...

I know I hear a lot of eldery that even at 90 are still sharp minded etc.

but in my opinion - the older they get the more chance dementia is sneaking up

my aunt who was a real character. and very smart lady. quick wit and funny. I never thought she had any dementia. but one time I went to visit, she didn't know who I was. and then I realized I was just missing the signs.

but regarding the calls. don't know how to stop. except to remove the phone. or like you are doing -

agree with prev post. see a geriatric doc
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Reply to wally003
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There's another aspect and that's whether or not he's able or willing to, or if the staff are making attempts to get him involved in activities, beginning with music and animal therapy.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Was he able to participate and make any progress in physical therapy?

Let's face it, rehab and nursing homes are not fun and the thought of never leaving is too much for some people - working toward a goal is good motivation - dad, you need to get some strength back to help transfer from chair to bed before you can go home

His constant calling is very much a sign of dementia but if dad is used to mom always doing for him then he might have even a more difficult adjustment and she will have to try some tough love and not take all his calls - if the calls escalate late in the afternoon then it could be a sign of sundowners

If he has a neurologist then also ask for a follow up
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Reply to MsMadge
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I don't think there is much in the way of therapy with neuropathy. Nerves have been damaged. You know what I was told about mini strokes, they are strokes. Mini doesn't mean there has been no damage. He can also still be having mini strokes and not know it. My first thing would be take the phone away. Its not good for Mom to get these calls either. Someone posted there are phones you can call in but they can't call out. Tell him you understand his frustration but that Mom cannot take care of him. He is being unfair to her demanding her to come home and expecting her to be there 24/7. He needs to learn how to adjust to his situation. I know, right. Its nobodys fault he is where he is its just how it is. If he is agitated most of the time, there are meds for it.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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what types of losses has your father recently experienced?
Loss of his home, loss of mobility, loss of independence. Many times people in this type of situation know their reality and their restrictions but do not want to accept it. What types of things and activities give your dad purpose? Did he used to do wood work? Was he a locksmith? Was he a doctor? Farmer? Has he been the primary bread winner for your family his whole life. Has he slept next to your mother every night for the past 35 years. Can you imagine what suddenly that must feel like for him not being able to do so?
Your dad right now feels as though he has no purpose and likely at least at home he will feel that he has some sense of identify. You and your mom and the medical team need to come up with ideas and activities that would make your dad feel as though he has purpose and meaning. Sure you can add the diagnosis- dementia, but that is not going to resolve the issue and stop the phone calls.
Can he come home for the day 1x or 2x a month when family is around to help? Can you and your mom sit down with him and discuss what it would entail in order for him to SAFELY be at home and what the barriers would be at home that make it unsafe?
Hopefully this helps, its a different mind set and approach that needs to happen. Validating his feelings when he is saying things like you don't know what its like- a simple response would be "no dad, I do not know, help me understand." Open questions not closed.

Good luck,
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Reply to GLaack
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I am somewhat disappointed in some of the responses to your question. First I suggest that your father is diagnosed properly as it sounds like dementia issues. Anxiety and anger can present themselves and medication may be the way to help- I say help as the personality of the person also shows. I would suggest that your Mom turn her phone off at a particular time so she does not get the calls-maybe you too as either you trust the place your parent is living or go somewhere else if you can. The stress you all feel does not help your father. take care of yourself as you cant help anyone else if you dont.
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Reply to annabelle1027
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Whereas going home may be a non-negotiable, "Home" is the one place where one has a sense of autonomy and connectedness with what gave his life meaning. This is a major loss. Finding ways he can stay connected or preserve his autonomy in his current setting that work for all parties may provide some movement forward. Sometimes just asking the person those questions provides some sense of control of their daily activities. For example, did he have a pet that might help him feel connected with home? a favorite activity he likes rather than just plugging him into a scheduled activity? A friend or church member he could call? Any way to give him some control back in his life might alleviate some of his anxiety and make life easier for his family.
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Reply to Mark65
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When Mom wanted to come home from the hospital instead of going to a SNF her in her final weeks, I knew I could not take care of her. I lived out of state, it was the start of a new school year and my son was home with a broken leg & husband was driving Tractor Trailer all night.
I gave her goals, if could meet the goals I’d figure out bringing her home or to my house. She has to be able to get out of bed, dress herself, get to the bathroom and take care of her needs there. She tried for a day but needed a 2 person assist. So we reviewed with her what her needs were and how was her 80 Year Old Sister or I going to be able to care for her. It took time but she finally agreed that we could not take her home.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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