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How do we get our father to answer his phone and get messages?

Our father moved from an Independent Living community in Arizona to another independent living community in Ohio last May, in order to be nearer to one of his children. He also gave up driving at the same time. Since his move to Ohio, he has become more and more dependent his local daughter and unwilling to do things that we could do easily before the move, such as change his own sheets, use the microwave, etc. He also refuses to retrieve phone messages from his children and from health care providers who are trying to reach him. This has expanded to the point that he often just does not answer the phone at all. He does have caller ID. He expects that callers should keep calling him in order to reach him. He has stated that if doctors need to reach him, they should come to the community where he lives and leave a paper message for him. He has been given training on how to retrieve his messages by the staff in the community and by his children. He has typed up notes that walk him through the process should he forget. And his children have expresses how important it is for him to use this resource. Nevertheless he refuses to retrieve messages, and he appears to be screening calls. He also insists that his daughter has to travel 40 minutes to his community to retrieve the messages that show up on the alert on his phone screen. She says she has tried everything she can think of to persuade him to change his mind. Obviously, this is a control issue, and it is affecting communication with family and with his health care providers in a negative way.
Status: Open    Jan 21, 2016 - 02:09 PM

Other, Caregiving

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Jan 27, 2016 - 08:18 AM

Sometimes we have to respect the wishes of our aging parents. Having said that, you may want to ensure he is not experiencing depression, dementia, or some other illness which can cause behaviorial changes.

If he is lashing out to gain control over his life, then no amount of rationale or number "tip" sheets will help. He's got an emotional issue and you're treating it logically.

It may be time to hire a geriatric care manager, or the like, to assess him to determine of he needs to move to Assisted Living. You may also want to consider hiring a part-time caregiver to do these things for him. Finally, there is a new service called senior care auditing. Auditors will visit your father, assess 150 items (non medical or financial) affecting his well-being, and report back to you.



Jan 23, 2016 - 06:02 AM

Does he have Dementia? The move, even though it was something he wanted to do, may have caused a bit more of a decline in his memory.
He may do better is Assisted Living rather than Independent Living. I hope where he moved has both or you may be looking at another move soon.
Who if anyone is POA for Health? It might be best if that person or someone else in the family got messages from his Doctors. This way you will be kept "in the loop" as to what is going on and if there are any major problems.
For your phone calls and others from your siblings..if he does not answer..don't leave a message. Call back or wait until he calls you. Mybe you can set a schedule that he will call one of the siblings once a week and one of you will call him once a week. Talk to him and see if a particular day will work and what time would be good. I grew up with out a way to leave a message if no one answered the phone and I am sure he did as well. The world did not end then if you did not know who called or if anyone called. So if this is a "quirk" that he has don't stress about this. If it is a real important that you talk to him can a call be placed to the facility where he is and ask them to have him call you or at least get him to the phone so you can call and talk to him.
Anther thought..has he been check for depression? That may explain some of the personality change with the move. And how is his hearing? that may also explain the phone. Oh, and going back to the question if he has of the things I noticed about my husband when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's he did not like the phone and I think the reason is he could not figure out who was talking to him. It is a voice that comes out of a a little box, there is not a face to put to the voice so it may be just to confusing for him to figure out who is calling. The nurse at the doctors office may sound like you and it confuses him as to why you are calling him about his blood test..

Jan 23, 2016 - 10:53 AM

Sounds like he is clear-minded and he does not like to be bothered with the phone calls and messages. If that is true, please let him have the choice of not being bothered! He has the right to choose who to talk with on the phone, and any important messages can be retrieved remotely by a designated family member or a trusted third party hired by the family to handle the comunication tasks.
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