My MIL is in a full-time care facility and continually asks for a phone. Any advice?


She's in a full-time care facility and continually asks us to get her a phone. When she had a landline in the hospital, she called all hours. She was eventually moved to a facility with no phone line, and my sister-in-law got her a cell phone. She'd burn through the minutes in a day calling random numbers because she can't remember how to use the phone. I gave the phone back to my SIL because of the frustration it was causing my MIL. She would always think the phone was broken and it was out of minutes, nothing but random numbers that she had called (she forgets where she has put the laminated cards I made her with our names and phone numbers on each card). Now, she is insistant on getting a cell phone because _____. (Fill in the blank because it's something different each time.) She needs a phone because they're beating her up, someone came and had a gun, someone was trying to kidnap her, someone was stealing her stuff, etc. Reasoning does no good. I tell her I'm working on it, but she's persistent. I just don't know how to handle this. I was her caregiver before the police had to break into her home and we found her unresponsive and hours from death. She trusts me and I don't want to break that trust. I'm just at a loss.

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Cellphones are just too complex for some of us old timers to use. I still use a flip phone and half the stuff I cannot figure out. I prefer to use my landline. I know how to use it, it's been ingrained in my mind since I was a kid over 60 years ago. The phone rings, you pick up the receiver, and if it is landline to landline the call is crystal clear.

On my cell phone, if it rings I have to remember to hit "send" in order to answer the call.... which makes no sense at all :P My sig other has to use a Smart Phone for work and he hates it with a passion.

When my Dad lived in Memory Care he had his own landline to use, but he would forget to dial 9 first, which was ok because who knows who he was trying to call.  Those in Memory Care that had no phones could use the lobby phone, again one would need to dial 9.  Usually one would give up being distracted by something else.
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Reply to freqflyer

"I'm looking into that, Mom" is a good general response.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

So sad. I have no answer. I can only say that I live the cellphone saga with you. We got my mother a Jitterbug cellphone last summer. She has called 8-10 times a day at stretches, leaving horrible ranting messages about how she's going to leave assisted living and move back to her home. At other times she claims her phone is broken. I'll go to her assisted living facility, turn her phone back on and tell her "okay Mother, it's working now." She wants an iPhone to look at pictures, yet when I got her an iPad for Christmas two years ago she couldn't work it. She's called me in the middle of the night to tell me the roof is leaking in her room (it isn't) or ask me when her next doctor's appointment is; the same appointment I told her about, complete with time, that same day. She'll call me and claim she was trying to call a friend. She can't dial numbers anymore, and it's hit and miss when she tries to call a pre-programmed number. She might call me, my wife, my daughters, who knows. It's to the point where I don't take most of her calls because I know if it's a real emergency the assisted living facility will call.
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Reply to rwbpiano

I would continue what you are doing. Hopefully as her Dementia progresses she'll forget about a phone. I would not get her a phone for all the reasons you mention.
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Reply to JoAnn29

In the meantime, what about getting a child's 'look-a-like' toy phone. One that says things?

An example of one is on Amazon -

Just a thought. :)
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Reply to BuzzyBee

If you consider getting a phone at all, you might want to look at getting the Jitterbug or consider setting up a line with "child" controls. Verizon child controls include limiting both incoming and outgoing calls to known numbers and limiting the time of day when the phone can make calls.
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Reply to TNtechie

Can you get a cell phone, preprogram your numbers, and block ability to call any others? On the other hand, I can see why you would not want her to have a phone, my dad is on his 3rd phone in 3 months, and calls constantly. We’ve finally told him that no more phones if this one is lost or damaged. I do not take his calls all the time as I also know if something happens the NH will contact us.
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Reply to ML4444

This is so difficult on us. My dad used to do the same thing, only he wanted a credit card. He wouldn’t let up.
Finally, I got him a gift card that resembled a credit card.
He accepted it and never asked again. But, after a few days he started up with something else he had to have!
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Reply to yogagirl

I just told my mom that she couldn’t have a cellphone where she was and if she needed me she could use the facility ‘s phone, the nurse had my number and she could call anytime. She soon forgot about having a phone and started obsessing about having a good comb. LOL! I bought a case of combs and take her a new one every couple of days.
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Reply to momsrok

I would keep putting it off saying you are working on it. A former neighbor of my Mom's when Mom had her condo but my Mom was in a NH for rehab, kept calling my Mom's number from the memory care facility she was in. She would yell into the message machine angry that Mom would not return her calls, not knowing my Mom was in a NH for rehab from a broken bone. This neighbor never called my Mom when she lived near her. I found out later she was calling everyone, all 100 residents in the condo complex, because she had saved a list of everyone's phone number. The calls finally stopped and I assume her family took her phone.
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Reply to Katie22

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