The Telephone – the new enemy…….

The telephone – the normal everyday object that has become the enemy……

Since being diagnosed, I’ve found it harder and harder to use the telephone. In my previous world, the phone was as easy as typing my blog. It was something I used many times a day.
So what’s changed? Well, when you have dementia, your brain doesn’t think at the same speed as it used to. It can’t formulate a response as quickly as it used to. So now there can be a long delay while you think of the answer you want to give. It makes for a very frustrating conversation. When someone doesn’t know you it must sound even stranger. I often give a random response simply to give a response. But I often think of the right answer ages after I’ve put the phone down – once my brain has caught up……

Not everyone is the same remember – some people may be fine using the phone, however, some may not understand why it’s now difficult. Some may still use it, yet give random responses as they can’t make sense of what’s different and what they find difficult. They may not be able to articulate the problem. Sadly, some people simply feel stupid and stop answering it…..Loved ones may think they don’t want to be contacted if they end the conversation quickly……..when really, all they need is to be contacted differently.
I find FaceTime easier with my daughters as they can see I’m struggling to think of the words or what to say. I can see their face and they can see mine. They understand and accept that it’s fine for me to say ‘I can’t think of anything to say now’……They don’t get upset if the call is a short one. I tend to ramble on at the beginning if many things come to mind all at once. If a researcher or journalist asks me to speak to them by phone, I have to insist on having their questions sent ahead so I can type out my response to read out.

A phone call is hard with a stranger, especially if they speak quickly and ask too many questions in one sentence.  They then get impatient when a response isn’t forthcoming. I was recently asked to look over a research paper which was littered with statements of ‘ringing the participant’, until I pointed out that I wouldn’t take part in this research if the phone was the only mode of contact. They changed the wording. The offer of different modes of contact is key. For me, anything in written form is best as then I have time to read and re read the words……

So if you know someone with dementia who appears not to want to speak to you over the phone any more, it’s not because they don’t want to speak to you…’s because the phone is now difficult to use…….


About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

9 thoughts on “The Telephone – the new enemy…….

  1. Once again, Wendy, I find myself in total empathy with the situation you describe. I do not have dementia (as far as I know) but I do have multiple sclerosis and experience very similar difficulties in both face-to-face and telephone conversations. I am not aware that I give random responses, but I do a mix of rambling or leaving long gaps because my brain and speech are not in sync, and it frequently takes so long that I tend to forget what on earth I am trying to say or to what I am supposed to be responding. I can end up feeling anxious and/or confused; the worst case scenario is that my speech can start to slur, sometimes to beyond the point of comprehension.

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  2. Don’t worry about the telephone. We let the message go straight to the answer machine, we can then listen to the call, and can take time to sort out our response. Family, we can ring straight back if necessary, other calls unless urgent can wait until we are ready to respond. Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2016 10:55:57 +0000 To:

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  3. If I don’t know who is phoning, I let the phone ring, then pick up any message later. I loathe picking up any calls, because I tend to stammer when when I have to speak. Sometimes I rehearse what I am going say, then forget what my plan was. I can waste so much time just preparing for a call, and am exhausted by the whole thing. I used just to pick up with no thought; now it’s like a military campaign.

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  4. Very practical insight as usual Wendy. As you say, people around you need to reflect on what is the best form of communication for you, whether it’s phone, videocall, email or whatever. Consideration to appropriate means of communication is something we look very hard for, and we have managed to find products that include easy Skype calling or press to call mobile devices. It all comes back to the needs of the individual.

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  5. Maureen hates new technology with a vengeance. She calls it anti social media. She’s probably not sent a dozen txt messages in her life. Not only do people talk too fast on the phone they talk too much and ask questions. They have not read the advice on how to speak to someone with dementia!

    Liked by 1 person

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