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How can we get our mother to stop calling us multiple times a day?

6 answers | Last updated: May 13, 2014
Not2Zen asked...
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Caring.com User - Joanne Koenig Coste
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Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author...
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This must be so so stressful for you. I feel distressed just reading about your dilemma but to live with your mother calling multiple times a days and her ongoing See also:
Caring for a Difficult Older Adult
manipulation seems overwhelming. It sounds as if you are also having to deal with other family dynamics without everyone on the same page.

My immediate reaction is the same as fellow-responder Elaine who suggests using caller ID and screening your calls. From years of experience, I can report this works exceedingly well. In many cases the behavior has actually been reversed after a number of calls have been placed with only an answering machine to respond.

Do not expect her 'controlling and manipulative' personality to be any different with Dementia than it was before the cognitive changes occurred and chances are the anxiety will also remain; you may actually see an exagerration of her former personality traits.

The diagnosis of a dementing neurological process leaves her incapable of controlling many of her actions. If she is not able to be in control, then you and your siblings need to be in charge and to act accordingly. This role-reversal is difficult at best but take heart because it may be short lived once you begin monitoring the phone calls. The fact that she is being moved to a more secure unit certainly underscores the staff agreeing with your assessment; the dementia is progressing and her skills are failing. There is a distinct possibility that phones will not be allowed in her new residence. Hopefully, she will also be kept busier with activities and enrichment programs and have less time to be making phone calls. It is often boredom and not need that leads to this kind of repetitive behavior. Keeping the person with dementia occupied frequently negates the aberrant behavior.

Meanwhile you need to save your own sanity by not allowing her to still have control over your life. Do take care of you!

 

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ElaineS answered...

Not2zen, This may sound cold but get caller ID and screen your calls. That way when you take her calls you will be better able to deal with her, more patient and calm. As long as the facility she is in is alert enough to her needs and she is safe a few calm calls is better than 20 frazzeled ones. Just my 2 cents. Elaine

 

Snowbirds answered...

I had to give my mom a phone but only gave her local calling and we are not local. I had no choice as I was working at the time and she would have called every few minutes. she wants long distance but she can't figure out how to do it and I made her a deal if she could get it, she can have it. she won't even try though. face that later. we are rvers and travel the country but she is in a home where she is safe. had to realize I could not take care of her long ago but I do know she is well cared for.

 

hilarytcmn answered...

We are having the same problem and I agree 100% that you have to lessen your own stress by screening the calls. My Mom calls and leaves a voice mail that says she is missing something; and then calls back to say she has found it. This happens over and over. I make a conscious choice to only pick up her calls one or two times a day, as whatever her 'emergency' is often resolves itself before I could possibly help. Also, she cannot dial well and we received a phone bill with over 50 long distance misdials. By looking at the number combinations, we could see she was attempting to make a local call to one of her children and misdials. We ended up taking away her long distance capabilities. I can only imagine what the people that picked up those phone calls thought! I have also turned off my phone or forwarded by landline to my cell phone and put it on vibrate to prevent the intrusiveness of of the phone ringing all day long. That way she can leave a message and relieve some anxiety, but we don't have to listen to the ringing!

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

My mom calls every phone # that she knows numerous times a day. She doesn't care if she wakes people up 4:30 in the morning. She will call my # & work # . If you do not answer she usually calls back every 5 minutes unless she luckily reaches someone else to talk to. Some of my family members have blocked her phone # & will call her off & on. Others have taken the ringer off. Some of us have even got to the point that we do not answer the phone & will check messages. When she does not have access to long distance, she will call friends or family members collect numerous times even the ones who already called her during the day. Sometimes she has even called another # in my work to tell them that she was in the hospital & had to reach me.

 

 
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