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Please help! My elderly DFIL, possible dementia, phone line (and scamming) issues

(10 Posts)
Lovelydiscusfish Thu 12-Nov-15 22:25:37

To be brief, DFIL, who is in his late 80s, is having some issues with his memory, etc (he is going to a memory clinic tomorrow for the first time, which hopefully will be helpful). In recent months, he has entered into various deals, based on phone calls, related to his and DMIL's internet provision, and various other things, which have cost them a lot of money, caused problems, and basically seemed to be scams.
To try to manage this, DMIL, who works out of the house quite a lot of the time, has put some kind of divert on their home phone, so that calls to their house go to her mobile.DFIL does not know about this.

DH is concerned about the fact that he can now no longer ring his dad, during the day when DMIL is not at home, to check he is ok. We live near to them, so are in a position to pop round of there are any problems (dh more than me -he works from home). But this would now rely on dFIL calling us, rather than a check-in phone call from Dh.

If you're still with me, is there any way that BT can set up a separate landline (does anyone know) within a house, where the number is only given to family, etc, and not available commercially? To protect the elderly. Feels like we need some kind of private family line.

If you've read all this, thanks in advance.

dalmatianmad Thu 12-Nov-15 22:35:25

Sounds like your dmil is doing the right thing in protecting your dfil if he hasn't got capacity. Could you get him a cheap PAYG??

zipzap Thu 12-Nov-15 22:40:42

DH got Mil a mobile that had buttons with names on to key people that you specified. There was no keypad. Not sure if you could ring it if you weren't one of the numbers on the buttons.

I think he got it through age concern or somebody like that - you might even see an ad for it on MN as they were also promoting them as first phones for young kids, that you could limit calls to parents etc on...

MatildaTheCat Thu 12-Nov-15 22:43:08

Could FIl manage a simple mobile? I suspect not based on my own experience. It may be possible to set up another landline but there could still be issues with cold callers and FIL might get very confused about which phone is which? My own FIL is master at leaving the phone off the hook and he doesn't even have an official memory problem.

One thing that has reassured us all is an alarm he wears around his neck. We can't call him on it but he can call for help in an emergency.


kerbs Thu 12-Nov-15 22:59:00

There is a gadget called Truecall Care, that sounds perfect for you. It's on Amazon, there may be other similar machines.

Not to be confused with ordinary call blockers, it's especially for older or more vulnerable people.

oldaninpurple Thu 12-Nov-15 23:06:51

There is a plethora of assistive technology available for just this kind of situation. From a traditional pendant, worn so that the button can be pressed in an emergency - right through to sophisticated motion sensors that trigger when someone walks past on the way to the bathroom at night and alerts if they don't walk back again in twenty minutes. Heat sensors, water sensors (in case you leave the tap or bath on), smoke detectors that alert if they aren't silenced in a set period of time, window alerts that contact a pager if an upstairs window is opened and fridge sensors that alert if a fridge is opened without a silence button being pressed first (stops young people with certain medical conditions, accessing food in the middle of night unnoticed). What I'm trying to say, is that with a little investigation you may be able to find some assistive technology that could solve any concerns about your DFIL's security and safety without needing a telephone line - some of the equipment means that a call centre could possibly buzz through once or even twice a day to the property to check on him.

Lovelydiscusfish Fri 13-Nov-15 06:45:51

Thanks all so much for your suggestions. We did buy him a mobile phone (one of those ones designed to be user friendly, with big buttons and no extras, just the phone) a few years ago, when we was still completely well, but he didn't like it and wouldn't keep it charged or take it with him. However, I'm wondering whether a simple mobile, kept charged by MIL and on ring in their house, would work for what we need. The Truecall Care call blocker also looks brilliant, and may be a better long term solution.

One issue we have is that, rightly or wrongly, dmil has not told him that she is diverting calls - I think she thinks it would be a blow to his pride, and he would just not accept the need (although now he has agreed to attend memory clinic, perhaps he is coming round to the idea of accepting he isn't well). Any solution involving different tech he would obviously need to know about. But I guess that is for the best anyway. It's just so hard!

pocketsaviour Fri 13-Nov-15 12:51:42

OK. It sounds like what's happened is they've received an initial call from some chancer, and FIL has paid for something. The phone number has now been classified as a "buyer lead" which means it has more value, and has been sold on to other equally dodgy scammers. Hence the number of calls increases.

I would consider talking to their phone provider, explaining the situation, and asking for the number to be changed, and that it must be ex directory and must not be a recycled number

Then the only people with the number should be family, doctors, etc.

Otherwise look for a call guard system which will only allow calls through if they're from a recognised number.

kickassangel Fri 13-Nov-15 12:57:02

Could you tell him that it's a phone specifically to block scammers? Not mention his abilities to deal with them, just that it's scam-safe.

Lovelydiscusfish Fri 13-Nov-15 19:12:34

Thanks again for all the replies. Kickassangel, yes, I think he would accept that to be honest. I'm pretty sure he understands in retrospect that he has been scammed - he's just really embarrassed and doesn't want to discuss it - so presumably would not want it to happen again.
To be honest I'm not sure that dh and I even know the extent of the scamming yet - dmil is kind of drip-feeding (to protect dfil's pride, I think), but has implied that he has spent quite a lot of money! Luckily they are financially pretty secure, but even so!
Sorry, am rambling on a bit now. Thanks again, all - lots of suggestions to explore!

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