Any tips on telephone contact as abroad?


Registered User
Jan 18, 2006
Hi, Both my sister & me live abroad so until we visit Maìum in the UK we rely on having tel. conversations with her. Sometimes it is very difficult as if the TV is on in her room she gets disattracted and is unable to turn the TV off (suddenly the phone goes down!) We tell her about our day & news and try to ask her questions like what is she wearing. She can't remember who's been to see her or what she's eaten. Apart from hearing her perky cheerful voice, she is always fine!!
trying to think or phrase some questions to keep the conversation going. Any tips will be appreciated.

Kinfd regards,



Registered User
May 24, 2006
I am afraid you will find it simply gets more difficult

Their attention span decreases as does their understanding

The TV is always on full blast and they cant work ou how to turn it off
If they are also deaf its a nightmare
We got so it was a waste of time even trying to phone


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Hi there.

I'm in exactly the same boat - my mother lives in the UK and I live in the US. While I don't have the problem with the TV (as mummy can no longer remember how to turn it on, let alone turn it off) I have had many occasions where the phone has been put down and then can't be found again. I can hear a little voice from somewhere in the room saying "Jenny? Jenny?" and there's me screaming down the phone "PICK UP THE PHONE! THE PHONES HERE!!" I have learnt NOT to ask any questions that might require her to look for something. Our telephone conversation is now extremely limited - apart from anything else she spends a great deal of her time asleep, and I'm not particularly lucid when I wake up, so I can't expect her to be. If I want to have anything more than a basic "just checking you're still alive" call, I call her carer, and get her to place the call when she goes in and mummy is awake and aware.

As for conversational topics, I am stumped. Like your mother, mine can not for the most part remember if she's eaten or whether she's been anywhere. Actually her world has closed in on itself - she rarely asks how her beloved grandchildren are. Topics I have learned to avoid: Pets and gardening, because because both result in sadness on her part. In the past I called her regularly, and we discussed evertyhting under the sun, but not any more.

Not much help. I'm afraid, but you're not alone. The only suggestion that I have found to be any use at all, is to make sure that you call only when there is someone else there.



Registered User
Jan 18, 2006
thanks jenny

Thanks for the reply. I thought this would be the case. You hope against hope. Yes, I'll ask the carer to be there as it's nice to hear her voice.

Thankd again, Sabato.

lou lou

Registered User
Nov 9, 2005
Difficulties on the phone

It's terribly sad but I can no longer speak to my mum on the phone.

I rang her nursing home a little while ago and she was standing right by the nurses station so the nurse put her on the phone but she kept on saying hello very loudly and didn't repond to me.

She's been in the nursing home over a year now. At home she became very dyspraxic, couldn't manage buttons, couldn't use the tv remote, didn't know how to switch her telly on and off etc.

We had carers going in 3 times a day but I used to make her lunch before I left for work in the morning and I used to ring her at lunch time to make sure she had remembered. When she stopped answering the phone was the beginning of the end of her being at home really.

When I went back to my family at weekends over 80 miles away I would phone her to make sure she was alright. I knew she was there so why didn't she answer ? was she ill, had she had another fall ? A few times I rushed back to London to find her sitting in her chair perplexed at my concern. Once I asked my brother to call round as he lived nearer but he found the same thing.

I bought her a new phone so she had an extension right next to her chair but she couldn't figure out how to press the green button to talk so I spent hours figuring out how to re program the darn thing so you could just answer on pickup but by then she couldn't even figure out which way was up.

My brother gave her a mobile phone but she never could figure it out. Someone needs to invent a mobile that just has a few big keypads that you can write someones name on and program to speed dial.

Now when I go to see her I take the hands free kit for my mobile and put her on the phone to other members of the family and she can then talk to people with nothing to hold or figure out just like she was talking to them in the room. The earphones from the hands free kit excludes extraneous noise so she can actually hear what people say.She has a limited conversation repertoire now but at least it lets my brothers and my cousins hear her voice and know shes OK ( well as OK as she's ever going to be).

She has a telephone socket in her room at the nursing home and they told us she could have her own phone line but there's very little point she no longer knows how to use a phone and hadn't made a telephone call for more than two years at home. Except one day when she rang the carers manager to complain about one of the carers stealing her purse ! How, I don't know. It turned up of course a few weeks later in an evening bag stuffed on the top of the hanging rail in one of her wardrobes.

This time last year she was not eating or drinking and went into hospital just before Christmas when they told us she would die. She didn't and is hanging on in there. I'm just hoping now she will be around for the birth of her first Great Grandchild in February.

Sorry for the ramble

Love to all

Lou Lou


Registered User
Sep 20, 2006
It's always hard to determine what is going on in the mind of the AD or dementia sufferer, or how much they are taking in of what is said. I don't have the phone problem as I am able to visit regularly, but I do think that the mobile hands-free set-up is ideal where other noise(s) are concerned.
For conversation, it's usually a one sided situation which does make it difficult for those doing the calling. However, the person being called has invariably forgotten yesterday or earlier, so depending on how frequently you call, you can repeat or go over what has been said before as though it is new. I do this a lot with my wife as I visit every day and making new conversation is extremely difficult, and I am not good at small talk (but learning fast).
You may feel a bit deceitful doing this at first, but by the tone of the response you realise that it has been taken as "new news". Try repeating something with "Did I tell you about blah blah" and if answer is "no" or a blank pause, repeat the old news. This approach should give you much more scope to pad out your conversation. I hope it helps.


Registered User
Oct 3, 2006
The first signs of dementia

Reading these posts brought back memories for me...about my mum. When she first fell (3 years ago now) I was in complete ignorance and denial that my mum had dementia. So much so I discharged her from hospital after 14 weeks...insisting I could look after her at home...and she would imporove 100%..Of course she didnt...and I remember the phone was the first of her problems. It used to amaze me that when it started mum would pick up the tv 'remote control'. If she did manage to pick up the telephone receiver....she would always get the ear piece wrong way round. One day I left her.. (well I thought she was fine at the time) to pop to the local supermarket. When my mobile rang (showing Mum Home) I was ecstatic. She had got it right...and had pressed 'redial' get me. When I answered all I could hear was the smoke alarm going off...and her little voice in the background...calling my name. Of course I panicked...put down my shopping... and rushed straight back home to her...where I found she had put the gas cooker on...and the tea towell had caught alight. Its from then on I realised....leaving her alone....could be life or I never left mum alone again. I would be interested to know from others what were the first signs for them. Best wishes. PP x x