How do I take care of my dad when he acts like a child?

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My dad is like a little kid! This morning I had a class to go to for my concealed handgun license. I left him his meds, breakfast and a note telling him where I was going and to please not go anywhere while I am gone. This has worked in the past. I locked the gate behind me.
During the class I get a phone call from my wonderful neighbor informing me that Dad had been walking down the road. She asked him a few questions and then helped him get back into the yard through the secured gate. He asked her how she did it. (he has dementia and his thought process is deteriorated). I left my class and came home to get him and then returned with him to finish up. He would not admit to have climbed through fences. He told me he had slept all morning. When I mentioned the neighbor calling me and telling me the entire story, he wouldn't go on except to admit he had climbed through the fence (he is 83).
So now, I can't just secure the gate! This makes working out at the gym for a few hours or running errands very difficult indeed! I don't want to take him everywhere I go because everything time wise is multiplied by 5 if you know what I mean! ie; getting shoes on, using the bathroom, getting in and out of the car, walking to and from the car, etc etc. I think I am going to go bonkers if I can't step out without him once in awhile!
Thanks for listening!

Answers 1 to 10 of 13
You just vent. You deserve it!

May I vent with you? My husband (lbd, 85) understands his limitations. His attitude is very cooperative. He is willing to continue watching sports or reading mail while I run out briefly. In a good period he keeps all this in mind and there is no problem. But his disease is characterized by fluctuations. I may leave him during a good period and he may have a cognitive decline while I'm gone. I know he is not being defiant if he starts up some project I wouldn't approve of or if he decides to leave the house -- he just suddenly can't remember the agreement he made.

hey Jeanne, vent away! I love this website where we can and others understand what we are experiencing.

I don't think my dad understands his limitations sometimes either. He wants to ride a bike, drive etc. He calls his sisters and tells them stuff and then they tell me what he said. It is rather cute. They tell him driving isn't a good idea because he might get turned around and so forth. I have been trying some of the ideas others have suggested and they seem to work except for him climbing through fences! And these fences are difficult for me to get through! haha, what else can I do but laugh?

I wish we lived close where we could have 'play days' and take turns getting out while our spouses/parents could be together? What a great idea! I wonder how to start one of those...hmmm
Top Answer
You have to realize that your Dad needs someone to stay with him when you go out. This happens with dementia. As the mind deteriorates so does their decision making abilities. You cannot just lock him in and expect all to be fine. There is a lot to deal with in the future. Things will grow progressively worse and you need to get some advice as to the help availlable to you.
I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I know it is an inconvenience, but I think before someone calls the police when he is out wandering or heaven forbid gets hurt and you are reported to adult social services, you need to look for someone to sit with your dad while you are out. Your neighbor was very nice and caring to help your dad out, but some may not be so nice or might not be home to see that he is out. Just like you have to hire a babysitter for your children when you go out, you are also responsible for your dad who has dementia in much the same way. I know this is not an easy step to take, but for his safety you must. It is also to protect yourself. It is so difficult to admit when our parents can no longer be independently functioning adults - we have seen them our whole lives as the ones who cared for us and when they can no longer care for themselves it reminds us of our own mortality. Denial is very common from both parents and their adult children. We grieve watching this happen.

Call your local Agency on Aging for more information on how to secure your home with for a family member who has dementia. You may also want to look into care homes that deal with this kind of resident and has special security systems in place just in case you decide caring for him at home is no longer an option. It may come to that and at least you are one step ahead if the time comes.
Best to you and your dad.
Thanks Kitty and Sandy for your advice and insight. It certainly makes a lot of sense.
Yes, Kitty makes sense in saying we're in denial. I'm caring for my 85 year old Mom, who used to be fine if we left her for a couple of hours with prior notification to her that we would be gone. (Usually I'd try to time it just after lunch at naptime,and also leave a big note, to remind her if she napped and awakened and was confused.) But, lately, I feel worried because her confusion seems to have worsened, and I'm afraid she may panic, and attempt to leave the house. It's difficult to realise we need a sitter to go away for a couple of hours, and I can so identify w/ Newtonjoyce about the extra time, etc. involved if you decide to take them along. It can become such an ordeal. You may as well have a three year old with you. :( I love my Mom dearly, but sometimes I feel like I'm at the end of the rope as far as patience goes. And I'm an exarordinarily patient person.
I ran into a gal at the VA clinic and she is caring for her brother. That was her takes sooo long to do anything. At least with a 3 yr old you can pick them up when necessary.

We live way out in the country so finding a sitter is extremely difficult. When we go into town, Dad wonders how long it's going to take....what's next....his back hurts....he wants to lay down.....doesn't like my radio...doesn't want to go into the store and at church doesn't want to stay for Sunday school ( I love SS) Anyway, he wants to go back home when I still have several things that need to be done.

The other day I had to go to the Motor Vehicles for a handicap sticker. The room was packed with no seating, that would have left him in the hot car for most likely an hour (plus him sitting that long would have been murder). If I leave the car running, someone (even him) could drive off with it. It is situations like this that cause me to pull my hair out. I have to go back another day.

If she gate is locked he'll climb the fence (God bless him!); and if the neighbors rat him out he'll deny it. ... In a nutshell, when the cat's away he turns into Diego the Explorer. Can't expect him to be cooped up all day. He needs to release that energy and relieve some of that ennui; just like you work out at the gym and take breaks every now and then.

Also, don't expect your neighbors to tell you the truth all the time. If they're homebodies, some will stretch things a bit because they need some drama to function. Still, you want to address his "escapades" by turning them into Q&A memory exercises. "What did you do all day?," "Is there someplace you'd like to go? ... Why?," etc.. Keep him talking ... and walking.

Thanks Eddie for your insight. That is great! I love getting different perspectives on this sight!
I'm in a similar situation with mom and her dementia. I've moved in with her to care for her, and while she can have a conversation about her dementia when not emotionally reacting to the reality of it, she continues to live mostly in denial of the issue, always insisting that she is "fine" and I'm overprotective and overly controlling. I do leave her alone for a few hours to get some space, and know if nothing out of the ordinary happens she'll likely be fine sitting in her recliner reading/snoozing. I also know that if an emergency or unexpected problem arose her lack of common sense and good judgement would make it potentially dangerous - don't think she would even remember to use the emergency alert necklace she wears. We don't have much extra $ to pay for caregivers, and more importantly she would REFUSE it. The denial of her dysfunction is the most challenging thing for me, preventing me from trying to still include her in some decision making @ her care, and not seem like a dictator. Thanks to all for the helpful dialogue here

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