Is it against the law for me to leave my bedridden mother alone for a short time?

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I am starting a new job soon and need to leave home at 7 am. The caregiver would arrive at 7:30 am. Is this against the law? Also I need to go to the grocery store sometimes after I get home and it is only a mile away. I feel like a prisoner in my home if I can't even go pick up a loaf of bread and milk at night.

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This is a hard issue and one which many of us as solitary caregivers face. I had Mom with me for nearly 3 years - and it was very much like being under a self-imposed house arrest.

All state laws are different - as is the enforcement of these laws. Just as with leaving children unattended in the home or car - different states have different ages, and enfocement of these laws often depends on cirsumstances.

However, if Mom is unable to leave her bed - say if a fire broke out - while she was home alone, and was injured or killed (or even rescued at the last moment),as a result, you might well be charged with criminal neglect - and would likely have a very diffcult time mounting a defense - even if you had just run out for a moment to pick up her medecine.

I would think leaving Mom alone for 1/2 hour routinely would be an even greater issue. Look at worse case scenarios. What if the hired caregiver doesn't show up? (Last minute illness, car accident, car won't start, winter weather - there are a dozen reasons. Ever had a baby-sitter stand you up? It happens). Then what? How far away do you work? How soon before you would be notified?

I did run out from time to time to the local store when I was here alone with Mom. But I always called my neighbor first (she had a key) just in case. What if I was in an accident, had a heart attack, got car-jacked? At least - hopefully - I could call. I was somewhat covered in case something happened - but I was still taking a chance - and potentially putting Mom in harms way.

An elder confined to bed can be as helpless as an infant - and hopefully none of us would ever consider leaving an infant without proper supervision.

--Do you have neighbors - perhaps with jr high age or older kids - who you could pay a small sum to drop by every morning and wait for the sitter? If you don't know your neighbors its an excellent time to meet them - or post an ad on the community mailbox, or at the store.

--Employers are (sometimes) human too. Can you offer to 'work through lunch' in order to come in later?

--Can you find a caregiver who can adjust their schedule to yours?

In a perfect world these wouldn't be issues - but in a perfect world Mom wouldn't be confined to bed. In order to protect her - AND YOU - you either need to find another solution or be willing to gamble nothing bad will ever happen.

I truly hope you are able to find a safe and workable solution for you both.
I too am a sole caregiver. So, its been a tough go when I needed to run down the street to the store. My husband of course leaves the house everyday. So he is great at bringing home items we need. But there is times when I am alone with her and things come up. Only is EXTREME cases I have ran down the street to the store and left mom behind. 10-15 mins don't seem like alot of time but MANY things can happen. In this cases, I let one of my neighbors know. But I always fear the worse. What would happen if I was in an accident and no one would know mom was alone. I worry about the legal aspect. As innocent, as me running to the store is. Through the legal systems eyes would be a big NO NO!
I know you aren't neglecting your mom and thinking a short alone time would be okay. But you are taking a chance everyday. No one knows ahead of time when accidents will occur. So, I agree with Mariesmom. Find someone who will make up the 1/2 hr difference. Whether its only giving a neighbor a key and them watch over things till the help arrives. For your peace of mind and your moms safety don't leave mom unattended unless someone is aware and can be there if emergencies arise.
Try different churches who have missions that want to help people in your situation. Members must have a background check, by the way, before they can help. There are many people who want to help;you just have to start calling. If I lived nearby, I would be more than happy to sit with your mother in the morning. I wish I could give you more information but will start asking around. Rebecca
This is Rebecca, again. Is your Mother eligible for hospice? They might help. Hang in there!
Dear Dee, Your posting has been haunting me and I keep thinking about you in your tough situation and am wondering why your mother isn't in a home where she can be cared for 24/7. I cannot imagine being a prisoner in your house with your mother, not being able to go to the store. Bless your heart for being such a caring daughter. I do hope everything works out for you and your mother.
Thanks for your concern. My mother is better cared for in my home with one on one private pay caregiver for 9 hrs a day while I work. I am just trying to see how to manage my new hours. Also I probably overstate my "prisoner issue" but it does feel like that sometimes.... can't go away overnight, can't go to a movie at night, can't go to meetings if my husband has to work late. Still it is easier to have mom here than to have to go visit her in a nursing home. Been there and done that when she was in rehab
I don't blame you in the least for wanting your mom to stay in your home. However,
I hope you will always feel that you can vent with us. Even if you think you overstated your feelings, you needed to vent. I hope things work out better for you soon. Rebecca
This makes me wonder. I would have the same concern if my Mom was living here in my house. But, my mother lives in a large Assisted Living Facility and all residents have their own apartments. The doors to most apartments are kept shut and locked by the residents, but of course the staff has a master key. The minimum care is medication help and they check them all every two hours. So, there's lots of opportunity for something to go wrong. I dunno, this is all so new to me but her Altzheimer's is progressing very quickly. It's all so heartbreaking.

Ask the caregiver if she can be there between 6:45-7:00 am. If not, you might have to start looking for another early bird and pay a little extra. Or quit your job, apply for public assistance, turn your home into a convent, scrounge for loose change all the time, become depressed & bitter, and celebrate Halloween every day of the year.

Nearby churches can be a source of strength when your own isn't enough and excellent places to start looking for or develop a support network. If they're not your cup of tea, just tell them we're all spiritual beings having a human experience.

I don't want my children to ever completely give up their own lives for me. Before my mother's dementia she would have said the same thing. So I will do the best I can for as long as I can and THEN we will look into nursing home care for her.

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