Like many of you, I have noticed a steep decline in my Aunts mental status with the isolation.
I had to place her in ALF in November. She is in California and I am in Montana. (Apologize if you already know this).
Long story, but after flying out there in late January, sitting her down with all of her friends, she seemed to understand that her home has been sold. The endless calls to her church and her friends for a ride home had totally stopped.
We had left her old home number working so we could answer important calls and let old friends know where she is.
Now that she has been in isolation the calls have started again.
She has been calling her old phone number 12 to 20 times a day!
So my question is do we disconnect the old number or leave it alone?
If we leave it, is it fostering the belief that her home is waiting for her? If we disconnect it, is it gonna throw her on the boat mentally?
I am at a complete loss as to what to do!
I'm so grateful for your support and insight!
I appreciate you all!!

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In a way it's great that she can still call the number. It may be best if you had that number forwarded to your number so that you'll know if any important calls come in, and you can screen the scam calls. "Grandmother" scams are very prevalent, so be careful about posing as somebody else. Also, it will be a way of knowing that she is OK if her calls come to you. Maybe you can pick up at times and talk to her.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to NancyIS
ineedadvice Apr 6, 2020
I agree with Nancy. I have my mom's old number forwarded to me. If anyone calls who you DO want her to speak to, give them her new number. Otherwise you can screen the unwanted calls, and accept the calls that SHE is making. My mom was getting lots of telemarketing calls - I have to intercept those because she would probably fall for all of them.

For her calls, like Nancy says, you can pick them up and talk to her. If she realizes that she was calling her old home, you can say that she called you by mistake and just start talking about other things.
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If her calls give her comfort, please don’t deprive her of it.

My aunt “called home” for a few months after entering her AL. The messages were heartbreaking to us, her caregivers, but always seemed to end on an upbeat note, letting her sisters, brother, or mother know that she’d be coming home late, or staying at work, or going to a meeting.

If she’d been distressed rather than satisfied, I’d have stopped the phone service. I was very comfortable for her to have it though, while she needed it.
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Reply to AnnReid

If her calls are not bothering you or others or a financial burden, it doesn't hurt anybody. The frequent calls may be a symptom that your aunt is lonely and does not have enough to do or enough social contact. Send her puzzles, find-a-words, sudoku, books, movies... Plan for more frequent phone calls and arrange phone visits with her friends. Social distancing should not mean social isolation.
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Reply to Taarna

Thid is such a terrifying time for many.

Add that to losing your home— and being thrown into a new, unfamiliar environment - and at a time when you are struggling to figure things out.

Alot of people in care facilities will die alone this year. It Is happening now, every hour.

Her life has spun out of her control. She must feel hopeless and sad, confused: like Dorothy mixed together with Alice in Wonderland.

it would be inhumane to disconnect the phone.
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Reply to ACaringDaughter

Calling her old phone # isn't hurting anyone.

Let her call her old phone # if that makes her happy.

Also, if you've already told her that her home was sold, no need to keep reminding her of that.

If it makes her happy and gives her hope that she still has a home, then let her think that as there is no harm and she should keep as many Happy Thoughts as she can.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to bevthegreat

If she is phoning it she's not getting an answer right? Or are you answering it when she phones? Do you have call display? Maybe just don't answer it when she phones? Or it's been a while since she's been there right? All her old friends should know by now? Maybe it's time to disconnect it. I think I would. Reality needs to set in for her if you want her to adjust to her situation so maybe it would be best.
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Reply to Gershun
xrayjodib Apr 2, 2020
My brother does communications for a living.
We didn't want to use her old number because we didn't want her to get calls from her mentally ill, abusive son. So we set her up with a new number, however, we are still able to hear messages left on the old number . We're still dealing with my deceased Uncles buisness and old friends calling.
When my Aunt calls her old phone number (of 43 years), she gets a voicemail with my brothers voice.
I know we need to disconnect it, but is now the right time? Or should we wait until she can get out of her room? Maybe then she wouldn't be so consumed ?
Can you transfer it (porting the number) to a new cheap cell phone? Keep that and disconnect the home phone. Maybe you already did that if her home is sold.

Keep the cell phone:
1) To answer at your convenience.
2) To test her memory, see if she forgets.
3) Does she know who she is calling still? Or where?

The goal would be for the next 4 months to not have any changes that would upset or confuse her. If you answer it, ask her if she needs anything.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Sendhelp
xrayjodib Apr 2, 2020
Send help
My brother is the one who has access to the messages on the old number. My Aunt has a new number. Every friend that I could find numbers for, has her new number.
Unfortunately she has never learned to use a cell phone or a computer for that matter. She has to ask for help with the TV remote.
She absolutely knows she calling her (previous) number. She's leaving messages for her son. He is currently in a homeless shelter. There is a restraining order against him because he was abusing her, which she doesn't remember. She's leaving messages telling him she'll be home in a few days.
Maybe the answer is to let it ride until she can resume activities at her ALF. Before all this, she was never in her room! Now she's in there 24/7 . Too much time to revert to the familiar???
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It sounds like keeping the phone is still somewhat useful to you (business and old friends.) That is one reason to keep it.

The second potential reason depends on how you perceive the messages she is leaving. You mention her son's voice is on the outgoing message and that she's forgotten what he did, so she still cares and/or worries about him. Are her messages just stating she will be home later, or does she sound upset or agitated? IF she is only leaving a simple message, mainly for the son, I would let the phone stay, at least for now. If it suddenly went away, she might end up more agitated and worried about him. She still understands leaving messages.

Is it possible to have someone, maybe your brother, call her back and pretend to be the son? Not every time, but once in a while, just to reassure her that "he is okay". I know it sounds deceptive, but a very brief call might be enough to soothe her. Be ready with a reason to cut the call short - such as break time is over, gotta run, love you, will talk later!
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to disgustedtoo

I would disconnect the phone.

Dementia steals memories, so you don't know what will cause a decline. Change does for some, some get a little brighter for a bit.

One thing is certain, just when you think it's all figured out, something will throw a curve ball in and you feel like you are starting over.

Best of luck dealing with the unknown of dementia. Hugs, it is difficult.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
xrayjodib Apr 2, 2020
I guess I'm just worried that if I disconnect the old number it will further add to her current anxiety.
Would it be better to wait till she can get out of her room?
I think you should trust your instincts on this. If you feel that she needs to have something familiar then keep it. Is it bothering you to keep it? Would you be sorry if you disconnect it? Have you asked at the facility what they feel is best. They see her and may have some insight.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

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