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My uncle is persistently calling

(21 Posts)
SMJYellow Wed 18-Oct-17 17:23:20

I have an uncle. He is my mother's brother. He would be in his 50s. He's a bachelor. He never met anyone and he lives alone in the house that he grew up in. His and my mother's mother/my grandmother died over 7 years ago. At some stage after her death, an issue arose.

My mother gets a lot of calls from this uncle.

These calls are more annoying than anything else and there is no anger or badness behind these calls. I think my uncle is more simple than anything else. He is on disability allowance so he would be at his home a lot and he probably doesn't have a lot to do. So he probably thinks everyone else is the same - sitting at home doing nothing. Things is, this isn't the case with my mother. She does keep busy. She finds these calls so annoying.

Like, on Sunday morning she turned on her phone in case a call would come through from one of my brothers abroad.

The calls would start from my uncle. More often than not, he has little to say and she finds the calls more irritating than anything else. Sometimes she doesn't feel like talking to him or she's too busy to take the call and she would let the phone ring out. Thing is, my uncle is persistent with his calls. 20-30 minutes later she might get another call.

Other aunties, had the same problem of persist calls from my uncle but they managed to shake him off. One aunty claimed vertigo and claimed she has to limit the use of phones due to that.

At one stage my mam asked an aunty, would she tell the uncle that my mam lost her phone the next time she is speaking to him. She was hoping this would be enough to shake him off. Before the week is out, my uncle had a letter in the mail to my mother with a cash gift to help her buy a new phone. My mam felt bad after that.

Lately, my mother is getting me to answer the phone and tell him something: she's gone away for the weekend
Or she's gone to bed early
Or she's in town
Or she's sick

I'm not always at home to help her like this.

There is no badness whatsoever from my uncle. The calls aren't malicious.

My mother has a budget phone. Not a smartphone phone so there is no option to block his number on the phone.

My mother is at her wits end in relation to these calls. On one hand she wants to keep the line of communication open but she is getting too much calls and she wishes he would just stop or cut down. She doesn't want to come out and say it to him either.

Today, things came to a head. She said she will have to take the phone to the river and throw it in. Thankfully she said it to me before she did that and I explained, it's a good phone. You don't need to throw it away. I showed her the some card and explained this is the piece that she needs to get rid of, if she wants to and she can get a new number.

I suggested to my mother on getting a new phone and number and only giving it to the people she wants to and not the uncle, and she can still have the other phone and turn it on once or twice a week. Maybe tell the uncle an excuse about the battery failing in the phone.

My mother doesn't think this is the answer either.

What do you think we can do here?

scurryfunge Wed 18-Oct-17 17:29:46

Why wont she tell him she doesn't need so many calls? She needs to be firm and arrange a time, day of the week that he can call. He sounds pretty lonely.

teaandtoast Wed 18-Oct-17 17:31:49

Get her a smartphone.

Isetan Wed 18-Oct-17 17:40:22

How about telling him the truth and to put him on a schedule that is more convenient to her. Is the truth such an alien concept to your family?

The elaborate web of lies are benefiting no one.

RickJames Wed 18-Oct-17 17:42:50

Would it be a possibility to engage him in a time consuming hobby. Allotment gardening or pigeons or maybe cycling? These seem to be classic older man hobbies that lead to a lot of time being spent outdoors and can become quite obsessive. They don't really need input from others once set up. Older men often enjoy having a shed or garage to potter in and fiddle with things.

Bluntness100 Wed 18-Oct-17 17:46:13

This is quite sad, he’s probably lonely and bored. Does anyone visit him? There has to be another solution which is one of kindness. Can there be a rota of visiting him and proactively calling him where he will feel reassured?

NotTheFordType Wed 18-Oct-17 17:49:19

He is obviously very lonely and bored. Are his disabilities physical or mental? You stated that you thought he was simple hmm does this mean you think he may have ASD or another condition?

Lying to him and elaborate plans to change sim cards are uneccessary and as you've already found with the cash gift, pointless and innefficient. Your mum needs to be very honest and firm with him rather than trying to fob him off or ignore him.

"Derek, the number of times you're calling me, I just can't cope with. I work/have a lot of committments/etc and I can't give you the amount of time to chat that you seem to want. How about we have a catch up for an hour on a [weekend/weekday] evening once a week."

Could she also help find him some support closer to him (I'm assuming he's some distance away) to help him feel less lonely and isolated? Depending on his physical condition, doing some volunteer work might help him get out and about.

But honesty has to be the way forward. She can't keep avoiding the conversation.

Quartz2208 Wed 18-Oct-17 17:54:14

I think you try and help him - he seems to be a dirty family secret you keep locked up that the rest of the family has abandoned and has left to be lonely and sad

OnTheRise Wed 18-Oct-17 17:58:27

If she doesn't want to speak to him so often she has to tell him. If she suggests a weekly call every Tuesday evening, for example, she can then ignore all other calls, or answer with a brisk, "I can't talk now but I'm looking forward to catching up with you next Tuesday!" and that's that.

It's not your place to make excuses for her. She needs to deal with this herself, and be honest and open about it. Pretending to lose the phone isn't going to work as he'll just ask for her new number.

LadyWire Wed 18-Oct-17 18:07:59

Your poor uncle. He sounds desperately in need of some company/attention. Does he have a support worker? It sounds like you should be trying to help him rather than colluding with your mum to ignore him.

Rescuepuppydaft2 Wed 18-Oct-17 18:24:07

Your poor Uncle 😢

I would be devastated if this happens between my son and daughter.

Does your Uncle live far away? Perhaps you and your Mum and other Aunts can take it in turns to visit your Uncle, or have him visit them? He sounds lonely and kind, its heartbreaking to read.

Does your Uncle have any carers? Or a social worker? Perhaps there is a day centre he could go to or there are places he could volunteer?

Please don't ignore him. Imagine how upset your grandmother would be if she knew her daughters were treating her son this way! Was she his carer? What was their routine before she died? If your grandmother was with your uncle 24/7, then the poor man must be so lonely. It sounds like he doesn't know what to do anymore, like he needs a routine again. Please if you can, contact his social worker/ support worker. Your poor Uncle deserves better than this.

RickJames Wed 18-Oct-17 18:29:49

Or could he manage getting a puppy (rescue)? He would be very busy with it and it would get him out and about in the community. I'm not even that old but since we moved to a small village I find my puppy very good company and a great way to meet people. She's also small and friendly so I can take her to work/on errands with me and so she's no handicap at all.

Gazelda Wed 18-Oct-17 18:31:46

Surely she doesn’t want to break contact with him? There must be a better solution. Honesty seems to make the most sense, as well as an attempt to get him to socialise, take on a hobby or find other interests.
I feel sorry for the Uncle. Please ask your Mum to be honest and set regular times to chat.

NotTheDuchessOfCambridge Wed 18-Oct-17 18:36:09

sad I get how annoying it must be but the way you speak about him sounds so heartless. Can you arrange a certain time every day, for 10 minutes? Or do a phone call rota with the other sisters? 10 minutes out of the day isn’t much.

GuntyMcGee Wed 18-Oct-17 18:47:07

Your poor uncle. I actually feel a little sad for him. He's obviously lonely and wants to keep contact with his sister.

I can't believe that no one has explained to him that they can't always take his calls and arrange one day/evening a week for him to call.

By not giving him a clear idea of what's appropriate the whole family, it seems, is actually being quite cruel.

Perhaps if each of the siblings offered half an hour of their time for a phone call to him every other day or on a set day each, he wouldn't feel the need to pester and irritate with constant calls and focus just on one person.

The poor bloke is lonely and wants contact with his family.

Angelf1sh Wed 18-Oct-17 19:37:04

I feel sorry for your uncle too, it sounds like your family are being really mean to him (albeit probably unintentionally). For heavens sake just tell the man! Say that it’s not convenient to speak every day because of a busy schedule and fix a time(s) each week when your mum can call him (that way the power is still with your Mum). But all this lying to him and treating him like a burden to be passed from one family member to another is just nasty. I’d hate to be treated like this by my family.

IhaveChillyToes Wed 18-Oct-17 19:44:09


I think getting your mum and the other relatives to be on a rota to ring him one day a week and/or even better go to visit him

Or see if he could volunteer for THE SILVER LINE PHONE LINE 0800 4 70 80 90

So he can volunteer to ring other lonely people who are matched with him, they are elderly but lonely

As long as he can get on Internet, as the phone calls are via a free phone line (hopefully one of the family could help him with that)

Or set an alarm for him to beep beep on a Wednesday evening at 7pm so your mum gives him 30 - 45 mins of her time

Or get a headset for the phone and so she can carry on with things around the house while talking to him about what she is doing - like dusting or tidy up or other stuff that doesn't need much concentration

So he gets to talk to her but she can still carry on ironing or dusting or reading newspaper or whatever she can do while talking to him

IhaveChillyToes Wed 18-Oct-17 19:45:52

Actually reading newspaper wouldn't be fair so forget that suggestion

Christinayangstwistedsista Wed 18-Oct-17 19:46:06

Can someone help him access some local support, a befriender for example

meyourelookingfor Wed 18-Oct-17 20:37:10

He needs a best interests meeting if he is under the care of social services. Also they can advise your mum on how to set boundaries and maybe his social worker can assess him for additional assistance to broaden his interests.

ArchchancellorsHat Wed 18-Oct-17 20:54:37

Would he understand if she put him on a weekly schedule and said please don't call outside these times unless it's an emergency? Would he keep inventing emergencies?

Or are there social groups he could join locally? I liked pp's suggestion of a dog too, if he'd be able to look after it. maybe an older one that's been trained.

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