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Addicted to the phone

(28 Posts)
MooM00 Sat 11-May-19 00:21:18

Hi, my sister lives on her own, her husband died 10years ago and her daughter died last November. She has 4 grown up boys and 11 grandchildren. All her sons live near her. I live 250 miles away. The trouble is she rings me every day starting in the morning and through out the day none stop which can add up to 20 times a day, also she wants me to call her at night. It is starting to make me angry. I have started to turn my mobile off and ignore some of the calls on my home phone. When I do answer some calls in the morning she can be on the phone for thirty minutes I ring off and within 10 seconds she is back on the phone. She says she is very lonely and just wants to talk to people. I have asked her to go to the doctors, see a therapist, get a voluntary job but she won't do anything I try to suggest. I try to be patient with her but it is really starting to drag me down.

Sussexborn Sat 11-May-19 00:52:18

Just typed my thoughts and ideas then lost the lot! Briefly I wondered if you could help find out if there is any chance of bereavement counselling at her surgery or if there is a CRUSE service available in her area. She must be feeling so wretched but could drag you down mentally if this continues much longer. Could her sons or their partners help? If any appointments can be made would you be able to stay for a few days to accompany her on initial visits? Sorry if this is a bit confused but I really do feel for both of you.

Ailsa43 Sat 11-May-19 01:02:44

If she's very lonely, would she not be interested in joining some online forums where she can talk night and day if she wants...

M0nica Sat 11-May-19 06:34:19

You say her family live near her. Doesn't she have any contact with them?

Ringing you as frequently as you describe suggests something rather more than the loneliness and grief which, must, understandably still be very raw for her.

Can you talk to her sons about this? Could you visit and help her make contact with local groups like Cruise and contact Age UK to see what help they can offer?

Obsessive phone calling like you describe can be the first sign of dementia. But more than anything it sounds like gtirf and her sons should really be taking up the care.

chelseababy Sat 11-May-19 06:53:12

Did this start after her daughter died?

Harris27 Sat 11-May-19 07:03:11

This reminds me if my mother in law who used to ring constantly but not to your sister extent.i think I would try and talk to her gently advising some help needed. Then try her sons it does seem as if she's struggling with anxiety. I think she does need some sort of help.

sodapop Sat 11-May-19 09:01:01

Your sister needs some help to manage her grief and anxiety Moo
MOnica had some good suggestions. You need to talk to her children as well they may not realise how much she is struggling.

seacliff Sat 11-May-19 09:35:48

Poor lady needs some help. Of course you can't have this everyday all day and night.

Maybe the hospital or GP would know of local bereavement groups, if she would go.

Also she needs an outlet other than you when lonely. Does she have any particular interests? Gardening, crafts, home décor etc. There are so many facebook groups on all types of subject. She could chat for ages on there with like minded people and feel part of things, give her opinion etc, feel she matters. Her sons could set it up for her and make her privacy settings safe.

For example - UK group - Friendly Gardeners or I Just love to decorate.

Witzend Sat 11-May-19 20:04:34

I hesitate to say it, but could it be the start of dementia? - she might be forgetting that she only spoke to you a little while ago.
My mother (with dementia) was eventually ringing my poor brother up to 30 times in one hour - she simply couldn't remember having only just spoken to him.
It's a fairly common symptom.

I don't know whether this will help at all, but what is often recommended with endless calls where dementia is involved, is to have a dedicated mobile for that person, to answer only at certain times of day, and to have a message on it saying, e.g. 'Sorry I can't speak to you just now, but we'll have a chat later.' So at least they hear your voice.

Tangerine Sat 11-May-19 20:25:22

Would it be possible to recommend Gransnet to your sister?

wot Sun 12-May-19 09:44:24

My sister is the same. She lives 160 miles away, has a loving husband, adult children, numerous grandchildren all near her. It drives me crazy but I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Jaycee5 Sun 12-May-19 10:14:30

Would you be able to visit and stay for a couple of weeks? She needs help but I think someone needs to be with her and guide her to things.
You have to do something dramatic to end this situation and it seems to me that it is either by pulling away or grasping the nettle and trying to be the support that she seems to need for a short time. That is what I needed when I had a breakdown. It took a good year for me to really start to recover but in the first few weeks I needed people to deal with practical things that normally I would just have done without thinking.
Either decision is reasonable depending on what you are able to do but if you can step in then I think that you should seriously consider it. If not, then you have to consider your own life and mental health and no one could tolerate this all day and every day. I would cut it down to one call a day and be hard about sticking to that. You can't let it become a habit (any more than it already has).

NotSpaghetti Sun 12-May-19 10:17:51

Witzend - I think this may be the issue. My father's cousin rang her son 30 plus times a day for this reason. He too was obviously fed up with it and eventually bought a "dedicated" phone.

loltara Sun 12-May-19 10:37:23

Have a chat with all of her children to have them put things in place to occupy her time. You don't want to fall out over this, as she clearly thinks a lot of you. You could have a set time, say on a Sunday when you have a catch up. In the meantime, ignore her calls, until you feel able to manage the situation.

4allweknow Sun 12-May-19 11:07:07

Do you know if there is a local Salvation Army in your sister's area. Or if there is a Volunteer Centre. Both are good at providing visitors just for chats and also social outings. Perhaps your sister feels she can't approach her sons thinking they won't understand or that they are busy with their lives. Social Services may have a list of organisations that can help in the circumstances you describe.

Annaram1 Sun 12-May-19 14:25:08

When my husband's dementia started he insisted on ringing my son up 2 or 3 times an evening, My son is a busy doctor and doesn't usually get home until after 9 in the evening. Son knew my husband had Alzheimers but he tried to get me to stop the constant phoning, But it was impossible.

Annaram1 Sun 12-May-19 14:27:29

I am sorry for your sister's loss. She must be very sad. I am also sorry for you..

Mistymorningstar Sun 12-May-19 15:14:54

Hi, if your sister has so many people & family in her life, she can easily phone elsewhere at times. But she has turned to you as you have known her the longest, you both grew up as children together and she just need to touch base as that's where she feels the most comfort. This though can drive anyone nuts. I worked in different therapies for many years and no longer do, so now my clients call me all hours because they cant sleep/ feel alone/ say I'm their best friend, but its really because i am a kind sympathetic soul who will sit on the phone and listen to a one sided conversation for up to an hour or more. But when i had my hip replacement recently, and almost died (not due to surgery but to a bad reaction from medication) and was ill for around 3 months - not one of my so called clients called. Its all about them and only them letting off steam at your expense. I now have unplugged my landline, anyone and everyone family and good friends and the medical profession only call me on my mobile so now i know who calls and don't answer anyone who is simply a pest. When you are lying sick for so long and cannot do anything, you have a hell of a lot of time to think and then you realise - who really cares about you as a person, only your family and good friends.

SunnySusie Sun 12-May-19 15:44:29

You have my sympathy Moomoo, but I also feel for your sister being driven to behave the way she is. However I think it is up to you to set some boundaries, starting small and working up so she doesnt feel discouraged. For example I volunteer at the hospital on Thursdays and elsewhere on Fridays. I am 'at work' and therefore not contactable. I simply tell everyone I cant take calls when I am on duty and turn my phone off. I also cant take calls when I am swimming or doing aqua-aerobics. If I decide to take myself off for a nice long tramp across the fields I simply dont take my mobile. It is possible even if you are retired to control when you answer the phone and I dont feel its unreasonable to establish that there are times when you are doing something else. You wouldnt be cutting your sister off or saying she cant call you, but you would be in charge of when and for how long. It might be hard at first, but I dont think its good for either of you with the current scenario. If she learns you are not available on a particular day she may well be more motivated to do something else on that day and end up making new contacts or taking up new activities.

allule Sun 12-May-19 16:40:37

Might she find Skype or something possible? We find this handy as it doesn't disturb what you are doing, and you can reply when convenient.

trendygran Sun 12-May-19 16:43:33

I also lost my DH over 10 years ago and my younger daughter 16 months later. At the time I barely knew what I was doing for a time , but no siblings to ring. I wonder if she does realise what she is doing to you and to herself . Somehow she really needs to try and find a new life for herself I did volunteering-and still meet up with friends made then. I also belong to two U3A groups and have made friends there -plus opportunities for theatre trips, days out and several interest groups. You sister will probably not want to do any of these.,but maybe her sons ,or her GP ,could encourage her. Like others I do wonder if her mind is not all it might be. Good luck before she makes you have a breakdown .

MooM00 Sun 12-May-19 17:57:33

Thank you so much for all of your support I am so greatful. My Sisters Sons are very good to her with their time when they can at weekends. She still pesters them in a morning by ringing knowing they are busy with work. She goes out with her friends twice a week, goes to the local church for lunch once a week and goes to a singles club each Wednesday night. She just cannot bare being on her own and says she just wants someone to look after her. Our Mother died 2 years ago. We suggested she had counselling, she did go once for one session but said it was not for her so never went back. Also what makes me cross is the fact she lives in a 3 bedroomed council house and refuses to move. I am sure their must be a family out there looking for a bigger home. If she moved into a nice one bedroomed flat I would be more than happy to spend a few weeks with her. My nephews are beyond suggesting things as am I. She will not listen to any advice and is so stubborn.

phoenix Sun 12-May-19 18:20:45

MooM00 she wants someone to "look after her" , well, sorry, it isn't going to happen.

I really think that we should, wherever possible, be able to"look after" ourselves, ok, a bit of support where really needed, but not a crutch to get through daily life.

When I left my first husband, the only thing I needed help with was the bloody huge calor gas canisters that provided the heating in the little annex I was renting!

NudeJude Sun 12-May-19 22:13:47

This is one reason why I absolutely hate mobile phones, it has made it impossible to have uninterrupted time alone, unless you are strong willed enough to switch it off. In the days before we had them, people would ring your landline, and if you didn't answer would leave a message (or not), their choice, and you could choose (or not) to get back to them. I therefore think that 'SunnySusie' has the right idea, tell your sister there are certain times when you're busy and can't chat, but you'll give her a call at least once a day to make sure she's alright. If you have a landline, put the answerphone on if you have one, and if you really must have a mobile switched on at all times, put it on answer phone setting too, then just choose to take some of her calls.

I realise that this may seem harsh, but if you get so fed up that you end up blowing your top with her, it will upset her far more than not being able to call you 20 times a day.

Legs55 Sun 12-May-19 23:06:10

NudeJude there is no need to answer a mobile if you don't want to, switch it of or put it where you can't hear it, check the number & choose whether to answer it.

However putting the the answer phone on your landline is a great idea, mine only does 5 rings before it kicks in, can be a bit of a nuisance if you just get to the phone ^& it rings offhmm.

I do think this is a difficult problem as mooM00s sister wants some-one to look after her, that's not going too happen, difficult as it is we have to rely on available services & our own resilience. I was widowed at 57 & lived some distance from my Mum & DD so phoning was my only contact, but that was only every few days not even daily.

So many phone calls a day would drive me demented, I would actually ignore the phone, that of course isn't the answer.

mooMOO I do hope you & the family can find some way of helping your sister but if she doesn't want help I'm don't what the answer isflowers