Mother with Dementia Phoning on Shabbat


My elderly mother has dementia and is in assisted living. She was always Shabbat observant, but now she doesn’t even remember when it is Shabbat. Her facility is not Jewish owned, but has a lot of Jews and provides kosher meals. None of the caregiving staff are Jewish. The staff has a high turnover rate. Even when we successfully educate one employee about Shabbat, they are soon gone and replaced by someone else. It’s an uphill battle.

My mother is unaware of when it is Shabbat and frequently calls me then. When I don’t answer the phone, she gets extremely anxious. Explaining to her on Friday that Shabbat is coming doesn’t help because she forgets an hour later. She often calls 15-20 times every Shabbat desperately trying to reach me. And I hear from staff that she gets agitated that she can’t. The facility is too far for me to walk.



  1. Please accept my blessing that your mother be granted a Refuah Shelayma.

    Due to the acute sensitivity of your question, I would recommend that you consider speaking with Rav Dovid Cohen, the Rabbi of Gvul Ya’avetz in Brooklyn. Rav Cohen is one of the foremost Poskim in America today, and he will be able to to give you a definitive ruling. Rav Cohen can be contacted every day at 718-376-7423 between 3 pm-4 pm (except Tuesdays) and 10 pm-11 pm.

    Best wishes from the Team