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Elderly relatives calling too much: advice?

My grandmother keeps calling me. It was 7 times today. She woke me up twice once when I was falling asleep last night and once this morning before I woke up.

Anyone know how to handle this? I have tried everything from compassion to anger but she just keeps calling. My parents see her all the time and insist she is fine and not unstable..

I don't know what I'm really looking for but any ideas might help.

by Anonymousreply 5008/22/2013

Turn off the phone.

by Anonymousreply 108/19/2013

Do you actually ANSWER the phone when she calls, or just let her calls roll to voicemail when you see her on your CallerID?

Is she still alive, or are you getting calls from dead people?

Is there a good reason why you might not be able to silence your ringer?

by Anonymousreply 208/19/2013

How old is she, and how healthy?

In frail elders, sudden confusion and forgetfulness can be a sign that they're getting sick.

by Anonymousreply 308/19/2013

Do you stand to inherit, OP?

by Anonymousreply 408/19/2013

If she is calling that often in one day, I suspect she's forgotten that she's already called you earlier, or yesterday. Do you know who's in charge of her medical care? Your parents may not have noticed (or don't want to notice) changes in cognitive function. And if she goes to her her doctor's visits on her own she might just smile, nod, and say everything is just fine. That's what my mother did until I became aggressive about being involved in her medical care. Her MD of a decade and a half performed a simple assessment of cognitive function during her appt. with me there and she failed with flying colors. It was the first step on the way to her eventual Alzheimer's diagnosis. It's not so bad for all who have cognitive issues. It does sound like it may be some struggles with these.

by Anonymousreply 508/19/2013

Thanks r5. She knows she has called before though. It is almost like an OCD thing. She is always like oh and one more thing I forgot to tell you (usually about something she saw on TV, Oprah said this and that and ....) and then if she leaves a message she has to check if you got the message etc.

That's what is so confusing. She is rather expert on details. You could call during the Trevon Martin case and she would give you the complete rundown of both sides and practically site case law. She does take care of her own medical stuff. I was wondering if somebody else contacted her doctor what he would say....or if he would be silenced by privacy laws.

by Anonymousreply 608/19/2013

Is she ass-dialing?

by Anonymousreply 708/19/2013

My telephone is programmed not to ring from 11 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

If she gets your voice mail late at night or early morning, she'll figure it out eventually.

Her doctor cannot discuss her health care with you, not without her permission. It's illegal under HIPAA. She sounds impulsive rather than demented; I wouldn't read anything so negative into her behavior.

by Anonymousreply 808/19/2013

No, really, if a frail older person becomes suddenly confused, anxious, and forgetful, it is likely to be the first symptom of a physical illness such as pneumonia or a UTI. I've seen it a million times, even in my own grandmother.

If this behavior is totally new, take her to her own doctor, have someone go with her and describe the symptoms. And if this behavior has appeared suddenly, it's not likely to be dementia. Dementia usually has a very gradual onset.

by Anonymousreply 908/19/2013

She is lonely.

by Anonymousreply 1008/19/2013

Put your phone on Silent.

by Anonymousreply 1108/19/2013

Unless there's a big inheritance at stake, unplug the phone.

by Anonymousreply 1208/19/2013

Have the call go to voicemail

by Anonymousreply 1308/19/2013

[quote]No, really, if a frail older person becomes suddenly confused, anxious, and forgetful, it is likely to be the first symptom of a physical illness such as pneumonia or a UTI.

A friend was working weekends caring for an elderly lady whose family was about to put her in assisted living because her behavior had changed. My friend told the woman's son she thought she should be checked for a UTI based on what she saw. Sure enough, once they treated her she was back to normal. It's easy for families to miss the symptoms because they aren't around much.

It almost sounds like OP's grandmother is determined not to leave any unfinished business.

by Anonymousreply 1408/19/2013

Can't you gently and sweetly tell her "I love you with all my heart, grandma, but QUIT CALLING ME SO MUCH! I love to talk to you but I have a lot going on and I just don't have the time" Something along those lines?

by Anonymousreply 1508/19/2013

She's not fine. She is starting into Alzheimer's or dementia. She might not have a memory of how often she calls you.

Turn off your phone.

by Anonymousreply 1608/19/2013

Your parents are lying about your grandmother being OK. More then likely they are just trying to cover up the fact that they need to be attending to her welfare but they are pushing the need aside by saying, "She's OK."

by Anonymousreply 1708/19/2013

I would visit the grandmother to see in her in person for how she is doing.

by Anonymousreply 1808/19/2013

R16, if she's saying, "I forgot to tell you something" or "Just one more thing," as OP said she does, that's an excellent indication that she remembers calling.

She's obviously not aware she's irritating OP.

by Anonymousreply 1908/19/2013

A few simple actions, OP;

1) First, stop answering every time she calls. Answer the first time, then when you end the conversation, tell her you are really busy or about to begin something that will keep you from answering the phone, like work, driving somewhere, running errands or cleaning the house (running the vacuum, etc.). Be very clear that you won't be able to talk or even answer the phone for a vague amount of time.

2) Let her next 3 calls, or her calls for the next 3 hours, whichever is first) go to voicemail. Check them (when you have a minute) to make sure she's not freaking out that you're not answering.

3) Answer her 5th call (or the next one after 3 hours have passed). Respectfully humor her as usual, unless she is freaking out over the unanswered calls. If that is the case, gently remind her that you told her earlier that you were unable to use the phone due to whatever excuse you used earlier.

If she persists in her anxiety or anger over the unanswered calls, your grandma is going slightly insane. If she claims she doesn't remember you telling her you'd be unable to take phonecalls, your grandma has dementia. Either of these scenarios requires new plans of action for you and your family. Adjust accordingly and consult a healthcare professional. Dementia, anxiety and extreme emotions can all be signs of larger health issues.

4) If all is well on that 5th call, end the conversation as you normally would, then tell her (since it will likely be evening by this time) that you enjoyed hearing from her today, that you look forward to talking again tomorrow, but you are going to finish work:eat/go out/do chores/whatever, before turning in for the night.

5) Repeat step 3. Again, check the vms to make sure she's not having an anxiety attack. If she calls back more than once, see the last paragraph of step 4.

6) Assuming your grandmother has not proven herself to have dementia or another mental illness, repeat all over again the next day.

7) Visit your grandma more often. She's likely just bored and depressed, very common in old folks.

by Anonymousreply 2008/19/2013

State your boundaries.

Tell her now so you don't have to tell her then.

by Anonymousreply 2108/19/2013

OP sounds like one of those people who can't stay away from a phone. One day, he'll be repeating the current actions of his grandmother.

I see people at the beach who are on a phone the entire time they're in the great outdoors. They don't go in the water above their waist so they can stay on the phone. Many people no longer know how to relax.

by Anonymousreply 2208/19/2013

r22 is as judgmental as they come.

by Anonymousreply 2308/19/2013

R23 is unable to turn off a phone.

by Anonymousreply 2408/19/2013

I'm with R21. State your fucking boundaries.

Tell her you're not able to talk during the day (unless it's an emergency) while making a habit of speaking to her once a day at the same time every day. Tell her that between X and Y hours is the ideal time to call. Let her calls outside the prescribed hours go to voicemail; when you speak with her (at the regular time), acknowledge that you saw a message from her earlier but explain that you've not had time to call back until now -- ask her why she was calling, as if you didn't listen to her message. Forced to recall what was so blazing important, she can mend her ways to recognize that there is one and only one window of opportunity each day.

Really, once a day is too much, but it beats the hell out of 7 times a day.

Old people especially should recognize that the phone is a convenience and a burden, too, and the the recipients of calls have other things in their lives such as not to be tethered to a phone 24/7.

by Anonymousreply 2508/19/2013

Just answer it at one of the more inconvenient times and say, "Hello, this is Death. I'm coming for you very soon, and it will not be pleasant or quick." That'll get her to stop calling.

by Anonymousreply 2608/19/2013


She's within a decade of death and is reaching out to someone she thinks is pleasant for chatter. I have two people in their eighties who call in bursts. We chat for an hour and then give it a rest until the next month.

OP, call her on a schedule - twice a month or more, at the same time on the same weekday.

She'll view you as dependable and you'll stop being such a whiny bitch.

by Anonymousreply 2708/19/2013

It sounds like r27 is at old people's beck and call. he must wear matching outfits with his mother every year to Motherboy in San Diego!

by Anonymousreply 2808/19/2013

Slap her pussy

by Anonymousreply 2908/19/2013

[quote]My parents see her all the time and insist she is fine and not unstable..

That may be part of the problem. They are too close and either don't recognize or are in denial about the problem.

My mother lived with my sister and her husband and I lived 4 hours away, so we only visited every couple of months. When we took my mother on a vacation with us, she started showing symptoms of dementia. I mentioned it to my sister who said, "No, she's fine".


It took a couple of years for my sister to agree something was wrong.

by Anonymousreply 3008/19/2013

R28, my old people are fascinating.

I came out to them and they were fine with it because of Ellen.

They've swallowed their pride when grandchildren gave birth without the benefit of marriage.

They've adopted brown neighbors - after years of bigotry.

If you avoid old people, you're missing out on great cultural change.

by Anonymousreply 3108/19/2013

She is your granny so take lunch over to her, sit down and have a meal with her. Eventually you will start to notice if she is having a memory problem.

by Anonymousreply 3208/19/2013

I wish my two grandmothers were still around and alive to call me and to talk on the phone with me.

I would love to talk with them.

by Anonymousreply 3308/19/2013

The guilt trip finally showed up at R33. I kept waiting for it; usually it happens sooner.

by Anonymousreply 3408/19/2013

For some people, they have to be older to appreciate grandparents.

Then when they are finally old enough to appreciate grandparents, the grandparents are dead.

by Anonymousreply 3508/19/2013

There is definitely a lack of the purposely outrageous "PUNCH AND DELETE!" type responses I was hoping for when I read the OP.

by Anonymousreply 3608/19/2013

R36, it's because DL is full of crazy elderly gays who are afraid no one will answer when they lose it and start calling relatives a dozen times a day.

by Anonymousreply 3708/19/2013

R10 is correct - it's old lady loneliness.

She's not demented, she doesn't have a UTI, the calls are not meant to piss the OP off.

OP, answer once, twice if you're nice. Seven calls a day is unreasonable.

by Anonymousreply 3808/19/2013

[quote]Thanks [R5]. She knows she has called before though. It is almost like an OCD thing. She is always like oh and one more thing I forgot to tell you (usually about something she saw on TV, Oprah said this and that and ....) and then if she leaves a message she has to check if you got the message etc.

I don't mean to contradict your experience with her, OP, but often, folks who suffer from memory lapses understand/have an unease about possible deficits and realize upon repeating that others realize that it's not the first time this has happened. So they try to cover their embarrassment or confabulate.

by Anonymousreply 3908/19/2013

You mentioned that she's up on current events. Check out to see if there are any "elder learning" programs in your area and get her involved. They go out on field trips and such, just like you did in school. You didn't say when her husband die, but it sounds like she's lonely. This way, she would be active and meet new people.

by Anonymousreply 4008/19/2013

Op, does she live alone?? If so make sure she joins a club and gets a social life. Getting older can be lonely. Also tell her to only call you one a day nicely. And make sure you initiate the calls so she feels special.

by Anonymousreply 4108/22/2013

Thanks r41. She's very social more than I am actually. My mother says she is freaked out because I had surgery a few weeks ago and she is worried about me so she calls a lot. Hopefully this will slow down once I'm fully functioning again.

by Anonymousreply 4208/22/2013

[quote]My parents see her all the time and insist she is fine and not unstable..

[quote]That may be part of the problem. They are too close and either don't recognize or are in denial about the problem.

Not for necessarily for the OP, but to reiterate how this can be an issue for caretakers.

My mother's sister, who is ten years older and also has Alzheimers, had been living with her daughter (my cousin) and her husband for at least a couple of decades before diagnosis. When I spoke with my cousin, she relayed to me when she realized her mother had problem. Her mom's underwear wasn't turning up in the laundry and she wondered how her mom could run out of underwear. She finally found the soiled underwear hidden under her mother's pillow. Seriously, this was the first time she noticed? She swore up and down that yes that was the case.

I can assure you there were signs and symptoms likely visible for years beforehand. Maybe subtle, maybe not so subtle. Relatives can blind themselves to the obvious.

by Anonymousreply 4308/22/2013

Why do elderly people get UTIs and not know it? It should be painful and burn to urinate.

by Anonymousreply 4408/22/2013

R44, when frail elders get UTIs, they don't get the same pain and burning as younger people do. It's actually quite common for the only symptom to be confusion of sudden onset.

Nobody knows why, but it happens a lot.

by Anonymousreply 4508/22/2013

Get the only gets worse from here.

by Anonymousreply 4608/22/2013

Disconnect your phone service.

Move out of state.

Try not to become a burden yourself once you're old. (Europe has permissive euthanasia laws, OP)

by Anonymousreply 4708/22/2013

Either block her number or find a way to divert all her calls to voicemail. Then set your phone to not ring when you don't want to be disturbed. Get back to her on your terms, and no other time.

Let your parents know you're doing this, and are sad you won't ever be able to respond to a real emergency because of Gram's inappropriateness daily.

by Anonymousreply 4808/22/2013

Tell her she can't call you 7 times a day. Really, it's that simple.

Say, "Grandma, has anyone called you 7 times every day? What do you think it would be like? Especially if you still had a job and needed to get a good night's sleep and still had to do all the housework when you came home. How do you think it would be to have someone calling you 7 times a day when you have other calls to take and other things to do. I don't think you realise how much of an interruption that can be. Let's agree to talk once every day. If you remember something you haven't told me, write it down on a pad next to your telephone and tell me the next day."

by Anonymousreply 4908/22/2013

[quote] mother lived with my sister and her husband and I lived 4 hours away, so we only visited every couple of months. When we took my mother on a vacation with us, she started showing symptoms of dementia. I mentioned it to my sister who said, "No, she's fine".

This happened to the mother of one of my husband's friends. I was an RN/NP for years and my husband's friend came to visit with his patents. I immediately noted his mother was behaving in a way that was indicative of dementia. The son had come to our house with his mother and the father was coming in on the train after he finished work. My husband and his friend drove to the train station to pick up the father while the mother stayed with me. She became disoriented and frightened, she didn't know where she was (she didn't know me well, but she knew me well enough to know I was not a stranger or crazy person). She insisted we had to leave the house and go into the front yard to "watch for them" to come back from the station. She had this feeling of dread that if she didn't go outside and look for them, something bad would happen to them. It's a form of sundowning --She had become disoriented in unfamiliar surroundings.

Later, her husband was talking about Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" (both parents had been teachers and old lefty red diaper babies) and she said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. I've never heard of such a thing." She got very cranky and snippy after that.

After they all left, I told my husband that the mother was showing signs of dementia. I told him to tell his friend and to get his mother to a doctor. His friend and the father scoffed at me, saying the mother was her usual self. One problem was that she was the only female in the family. There were no female siblings, cousins, aunts etc, and the husband and two sons -- for all their supposed leftiness-- , were chauvinists who believed women were less intelligent, more emotional and less interesting than men. They barely listened to the mother and basically just expected her to fill their needs. Cook, clean, etc.

She died in a nursing home a few years later of Alzheimer's. I felt so bad for her because she showed that irrational fear that Alzheimer's patients do and the husband would yell at her for annoying him with her silly over-emotional "female" behavior. They did not recognise her dementia until she couldn't find her way into the kitchen to fix them a meal.

by Anonymousreply 5008/22/2013
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