How do I stop people from calling my mom?

Suezq77July 31, 2012

A little background first, my 86 yr old mother has dementia and is still living in her home. I visit her at least every other day, call her every day, do her grocery shopping, fix meals, pay her bills, take her to her doctor and other appointments, plus take her out on regular outings just to get her out of the house. It is starting to progress a little more and I am starting to think about having to move her. My cousin lives 2 doors down, and so she is fine for the most part, but she has lost her appetite and we are trying to get her to put some weight on at only 86 lbs. My problem today was I got a call from a financial adviser who was at her house, apparently made an appointment to go over her portfolio and update their records. I'm sure she was surprised, and didn't remember making the appointment at all. She didn't tell me, and she doesn't have a clue anymore about financial matters and her records. I was a little upset about this, and told the advisor to call me tomorrow so I could fill her in on mom's condition. This has happened before, someone has called from the cable company offering a new service that she agreed to and luckily I caught it before they came out. Same goes with lawn service companies, and even her doctors office called her recently to reschedule her appointment and I didn't know about it. I look through her caller ID an see what looks like some solicitation numbers (though she is on the Do Not Call registry), and other numbers I don't recognize. I'm afraid of who is calling her and what she tells them. I pay her bills so I would know right away if she was giving money but this worries me. I wish there were something I could do to deflect her calls, but I don't want them all forwarded because then family wouldn't be able to call her. Has anybody else experienced this, I don't know what to do.

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I think you're getting a signal that it is time to move her.

For the time being, change the contact phone number on all her accounts to your number. Financial, doctors, cable company, etc. Make sure that all legit calls go to you or your cousin, whoever is responsible.

But there's no end to this cycle, really. You're only a bad experience away from something a lot worse, like someone getting her signature on something, and it will take you a huge effort to change it.

Start right now figuring out where you will move her. Will she move in with you? An assisted-living facility? Are you prepared?

Sigh. Been there, etc etc. It helped after I changed the contact phone number and it helped that my mother didn't trust anyone.

But you won't stop the solicitation calls (Do Not Call list is only for the rare honest business, most such calls are not honest anyway) or the real true crooks. Is your Mother prepared for the fake utility guys who show up at her door, distract her and then rob the place? Will she be upset to get the fake grandson calls in the middle of the night? Even if she doesn't give anyone any money, she's still going to be very upset.

So what are your next plans for dealing with your mother's dementia? That's your real question.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Does she have an answering machine? Can you convince her to NOT answer the ohone unless it is you or your cousin or other family member calling? Can she screen the calls?

You cannot make all the calls stop, you can only manage how to deal with them.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Sushi has pretty much summarized the dangers ahead. There is no way to truly screen her calls other than you or your cousin being with her 24 hours a day. Allowing her the freedom of answering her phone, puts her at risk -- for physical, financial, and emotional harm.

I'm also a "been there, done that." My mom used to think she was outsmarting telemarketers by telling them that she was a widow and in ill health, so she couldn't afford to buy their products. Some of the callers had her name and some address info. I'd tell her over and over again that she was saying too much and that the callers could come to the house. She'd promise to do better, but the next time I'd see her, she'd proudly relate how she told off a telemarketer.

Eventually she moved to an assisted living facility and the situation was better. The address change in addition to the phone number change lessened the frequency of calls. When she moved into the memory care wing, her phone did not move with her.

As far as doctors, etc., do what sushi recommends. Make yourself or your cousin the contact person. That's what I did with my mom even before she moved to assisted living. Perhaps you could "train" your mom to always defer to either you or your cousin when answering questions over the phone. For example, "I'm sorry. You need to talk to my daughter/niece about this. She takes care of everything for me."

There's always the possibility of changing her phone number to a new and unlisted number.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:21PM
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This is a problem. Have you talked to the phone company about either you or your cousin receiving the phone calls first then transfereing them to her? Not sure if this could be done, but you could ask.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Just change her phone number to a new unlisted. I did not receive any telemarketers when I had an unlisted. Then give all companies, doctor, utilities, prescriptions, etc. your phone number. You will probably have to have a POA to change the phone number. That is what we did with our Mom.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Something to think about if you change her number; is it a number she needs to or can remember? Will she need to or be able to remember that is has been changed? Be sure to address that tradeoff.

My wife wandered off several times but can still remember our number. When she came to she called home. Land line - a cell is beyond her. Twice nearby people made the cell call for her. At this point my tradeoff is to keep the old number. That will change presumably.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:22AM
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I told my Mom to always carry ID with her. She gave up her driver's license then started walking to a neighborhood grocery. It worked fine until she had dementia. After that she knew never to walk to the store.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:30PM
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I wouldn't get rid of the phone. Just use Call forwarding.

Call the phone company and have them add this service to the bill.

Anyone who calls your mother's number will have their call(s) automatically forwarded to whatever phone number you choose. You could even use an answering service to start with.

Bet you will be surprised by the number of unsolicited callers hoping to catch your mom when you aren't there.

Better to nip this in the bud before your mother ends up signing something you can't get her out of.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:04PM
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I am so glad I found this forum. I am in the midst of trying to manage my 78 year old mother with dementia in her own home. We are having a lot of problems with solicitors calling (her number is unpublished, unlisted and on a do not call list) The problem is that my mom will call companies from magazines, TV, etc. She has just ordered/agreed to her 6th glucometer to test her blood sugar. She owns three and doesn't use any of them. I believe she got on a list from calling after watching an enticing TV commercial claiming they are free. These all get shipped and billed to Medicare (who will not pay for them) These companies are totally taking advantage of the elderly.
Short of turning off her phone, which would not be safe, I am at a loss for how to stop the phone calls. I have many siblings who contact her sporadically so I can't block long distance or forward her calls.
I am struggling with the decision to move her to assisted living but she will not go willingly.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 8:10AM
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Jodykb-"I am struggling with the decision to move her to assisted living but she will not go willingly."

You might need to have her declared incompetent before you can do much, but it will be better than allowing $predators to keep picking her wallet.

Please take care when seeking guardianship. You don't want to be in this situation:

Judges, lawyers use guardianships to prey on elderly
By: Barbara Hollingsworth : 11/01/11
Local Opinion Editor

Think your well-tended nest egg will protect you from the depredations of old age? Don't count on it.

Little has changed since the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled almost a decade ago that Probate Judge Kaye Christian abused her power by ordering retired economist Mollie Orshansky, creator of the federal poverty line, removed from her sister's care in New York and placed in a District guardianship against her will.

Even multimillionaires cannot prevent a judge from appointing a total stranger to take complete control of their affairs -- and banish family members who object."

Links you might find useful.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:36AM
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