An elderly woman keeps calling me periodically by mistake, is there something I should do?

A fellow caregiver asked...

An elderly woman keeps calling my cell phone periodically for the last few months now. She leaves a message asking for someone that I've never heard of. She asks this person to call her and if she can bring her certain grocery items. I have tried answering my phone to tell her that she has a wrong number but she doesn't understand and continues to call and leave messages. My husband is concerned that this may be a scam of some sort, but I'm not entirely convinced that is true. I don't want to get involved but I do feel bad for this person and am wondering if there is something I should do. Thank you for your advice.

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Oh, how frustrating! You have a elderly lady, who obviously needs help, calling you. You have already tried to be nice about it and talk with her about her calling the wrong number, but that didn't work. Please reassure your husband that I do not think this is a scam, as most people would ask for money, not groceries. They also wouldn't keep calling the same number. What I do think is that this lady may have some dementia, and she doesn't understand who she is calling. I think she is just dialing your number (incorrectly) sometimes, and she probably cannot understand what went wrong.

Unfortunately, I think you will need to block her phone number to stop her calls. If you do block the number, she will get a message when she calls you that her number is blocked, and she will have to try to dial the number again (hopefully correctly) so that she can reach the other person.