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My 83 year old mother with Alzheimer's moved in with my family and I about two months ago. She was living with part-time caregivers and at night she was starting to go outside. We couldn't afford overnight caregivers, so she moved in with us. We remain concerned about her wandering. We had a double key lock installed on the front door. One of us is there almost all of the time, but once in a while we need an outside caregiver to fill in for us for a few hours. When the outside caregiver visits, mother tries to go out the front door and is getting frustrated with the double key lock. Any suggestions?

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Thanks for all of the suggestions. She has been going into Stage 6 She is getting used to the respite caregiver, but since it is just an occasional respite caregiver, that comes and goes and who has the key. Stage 6 seems to be less predictable. We are with her almost of the time with her, and don't need to use the double-lock then, as she is less anxious then. I appreciate the advice. At night, we do have the bed alarm and a gate at the stairs.
We have been trying to get the door alarm set up, and also tried to get GPS shoes set up but we have had a hard time with the GPS shoes.
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Someone mentioned a door alarm--most often these are rigged by magnets, one on the door jam, and one on the door itself. If the magnets are separated by the door opening, an alarm goes off, letting you know the door is opening.
Another thing you could try, for nighttime, is a bed alarm. This is a pad that you can put under the sheets/mattress pad that senses her weight. If she gets up, the alarm will sound, letting you know she's gotten out of bed. This might disrupt your sleep if she gets up at night just to go to the bathroom or pace around, but you might try it if it would give you peace of mind.
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Have you tried giving her Ativan when you go out? A short acting anxiolytic for when you go out?
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My concern with the double locks is what if you had to get out in a hurry because of fire, gas leak? It seems that the door alarms would be safer and maybe the tone would frighten her so act as a deterrent. Maybe she would eventually stop the behavior. Just thinking....
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I have a security screen on my main door and Mom was so anxious to go out she broke the handle inside (it was loose). Now we keep the handle in a pouch for keys on the door knob and we can open the door easily. There is a twist lock that she can lock and unlock but she cannot get outside. It was actually fortuitous that she broke it because she has no clue how to open the screen but can look outside. She always wants to be with me even if I just got out to bring in groceries so it is very helpful to keep her safe.
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Is there a reason the caregiver can't go outside with her? After my husband's stroke, he wanted to wander. One rehab place tried to keep him inside and it was a constant struggle. Another let him go out with a companion and he did just fine. He walked around for a short time and then went back inside.

Has the caregiver asked her what she wants to do when she goes out? Maybe she's afraid of being alone with a stranger. Or maybe she's looking for you. Knowing why she wants to go outside when you're gone will help you figure out what to do about it.

Does your paid caregiver have experience with dementia patients? Maybe they can work harder to redirect her attention from the front door. Maybe you can give her a task to do while you're gone, like sorting socks or old photos. The caregiver could remind her of that and help her back to it.
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mom has lived with us four years and has dementia. I found out she wanted to open the door in the morning to see what the weather felt like. But I was worried and put the flip locks at the top of the door and it worked for a while, until she would get the butter knife out of the drawer and get on her tip toes, and pry it open. She has only actually gone out once in four years. She is 93 and 5 foot tall. I almost always hear the door open. She looks outside and goes back to bed. I wonder how many do that. Just to know she has the freedom to open that door.
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I had the same problem with my mother who is 95 and has dementia. She wants to get out so she can walk to her mother's house. (Her mother passed away 70 years ago and never lived around here.)

So now we have key-only locks on both outside doors and I wear the key on a lanyard around my neck. On the rare occasions someone stays with her, they wear the key.

As back-up, just in case a door is left open by accident and she gets out, Mom has attached to her ankle a tracking device loaned to us by the local Sheriff's Office. If she goes missing we can call them to find her. Range is about a mile and a half, so we should be okay unless (God forbid) she got in someone's car.

The locked doors used to be a source of severe frustration for Mom and she would get herself all worked up, going from door to door and rattling the knobs. The agitation and aggression got so bad that I finally took her doctor's advice and put her on meds. This has been a big improvement for both of us.

Blessings to you and yours as you struggle with this issue.
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She is not frustrated when you are home, I used to lock the front door from the inside and just remove the key, she never questioned it or looked for it. The biggest problem with the double key lock is if you leave a key in the inside door no one else can access the house from the outside. That aside, why would she be concerned more with a caregiver about the key than when you are home? Just leave it locked and the key out of it.
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Just for the safety aspect of the wanderer...in case she did get out. There us a program called Project Lifesaver. It goes through your local sheriffs dept. It is a GPS ankle bracelet that is worn at all times. If your mother happened to wander, you or the person caring for your mother would call 911 and the police could track her within minutes. Contact your sherriffs dept. It does not solve your lock situation, but it gives peace of mind. They also have alarms you can put on the door if it is opened. Good luck!
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