The Avoidance Method

By Donna RandallUncategorizedWith 0 comments

One of the tricks of caring for aged people is attempting to gauge which issues to pursue verses which to let slide. Let me give you an example, which might help you in future situations.

From the outset, we have engaged in battles over those pieces of mail that arrive that boldly announce that the recipient has won the possibility of just maybe becoming one of the lucky contestants to win the right to receive yet more mail that could result in receiving yet another chance to win loads of money. Judging from the amount of such mail that used to arrive in our joint mailbox, our care recipient was in the habit of sending these people the $30 to $50 that would keep her in the running for the grand prize, so we made this matter one of importance, always emphasizing that these letters are scams designed to collect the money she returns and at worst to trick her into sending her banking and credit card information. Eventually, our close surveillance and her lack of response resulted in very few such letters arriving in the mailbox. Although we had to remain vigilant, we became convinced that we’d made great strides.

Just the other day, however, I had cause to leap out of my chair, when I heard the woman downstairs yelling (into the phone, I assumed) that she couldn’t hear the person on the other end of the phone. Then, I heard her rattling off a number of sorts, making my heart sink as I was thinking that she was giving the stranger an important piece of identification, such as her bank account number or the like. So I flew down the steps to find her still yelling “I CAN’T HEAR YOU”. As soon as she spotted me, she pushed the phone into my face and almost begged me to read off the PIN on the card she was holding because they wouldn’t listen to her. As soon as I began to listen into the receiver I realized that my mother in law was yelling at a recording, and had become extremely upset by this rude person on the other end of the phone. I was at once relieved and saddened that the situation was so pathetic in its own way. But then came my anger as my mother in law at once begged me to give them the information they wanted and yelled at me for not doing as she demanded I do.

Now it was time for me to calm our care recipient and remind her that she wasn’t supposed to engage in this behaviour, which she seemed to think was legitimate because she was not responding by sending something off in the mail. As usual, I suggested we show this card to her son to see what he suggested we do, and I was taken by surprise when she attempted to grab the card back from me while yelling that he’ll just rip up the card, and me then answering that he’d do that because he knows it is a scam. I then returned to my office and was interrupted twice and made to promise that I would address this issue with her son and that we both would visit her in her suite to discuss it further and make the phone call as instructed on the card just in case she won some money. During dinner I told my husband about this recent issue, and we then enjoyed our dinner and dropped the subject.

We now are three days past the incident and have heard nothing more about making that phone call that his mother so desperately needed us to make, as though it was a matter of life and death just three days previously. Both my husband and I are very happy to have averted another mail scam incident, and hope that much time will pass before another such trauma erupts. We realize, however, that had I not been in my office to hear her being thwarted by the recording, we could have a serious issue on our hands. And, while we know that being in charge of the receiving and distributing the mail for both levels of the household gives our care recipient pleasure, we need to take the mail out of her hands, and are not looking forward to implementing that change.

Yours in caregiving,

dfr