She has a history of falling. I have been my mothers caregiver for over 15 years. She has alcohol related dementia, and a history of falls. She recently had a bad fall, requiring stitches in her head, and a cast for her broken wrist. The moment my back is turned, mom often tries to walk on her own, although the doctors state that she needs someone nearby. How can I get it through to her that she is taking a huge risk every time she does it? I am an emotional wreck!

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Churchmouse is absolutely on target in her answer. Sybnann, your are not going to be able to get your mother to remember to ask for assistance. This is not about being stubborn or bull-headed or preserving her independence. The woman has dementia, for heaven's sake! She has been getting up to walk for approximately 90 years. She has muscle memories of doing it. Now she is supposed to ignore those muscle memories and instead remember your instructions which are stored in short-term memory (which no longer works for her). Ain't gonna happen. Sorry.

Read Churchmouse's answer again. And maybe another time. Not only is her advice practical, she has a wonderful attitude toward both the impaired person and the caregiver.
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MPL, is it just a coincidence that your screen name is consistent with the company you're referencing? Couldn't be that you're advertising, could it?
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Quite a lot of my hair turned white over exactly this issue. We too had trips to the ER, just like you, once with a cut head and once with an open fracture of the right wrist. It leaves you screaming with frustration and feeling a total failure, and I cannot tell you how keenly I feel for you.

Short answer: you can't get it through to your mother. She can't take it in, certainly not well enough to bring it to mind at the moment when she wants to get up and move around. Imagine you're trying to explain the point to a pet rock. You might just as well be. You will shortcut past quite a lot of stress if you accept once and for all that she is never going to get this message, and stop hoping that she will, and stop trying to find ways to make her understand. If your mother, like mine, promises you every single time that next time she will remember and she will be sure to call you - and NEVER EVER does or will - then it is all the more important to understand clearly that she just cannot do it.

So the only answer is to set up alerts that will tell you when she's on the move. You can get bed and chair alarms, connected to a monitor that you or another caregiver carry, that go off when she gets up. Unfortunately, as you will have spotted immediately, they cannot tell you *before* she gets up; but they do mean you can get to her promptly once she's risen.

The temptation is to confine her so that she cannot get up unaided. The technical term for this is "Deprivation of Liberty" and you will be on very thin ice legally if you do it. However: you could contact your local social services/elder care authorities and ask their advice on keeping her safe. It may be that your regulators are less squeamish and more practical than mine were, and will advise you on how to apply for legal authority to use safe, appropriate restraints. More subtly, you could think about measures such as getting her an over-chair table that she would find hard to move by herself - not that I'm recommending that you break any rules, of course.

Occupational therapists are also mines of useful safety information, but make sure that yours has a really good understanding of dementia patients because otherwise she'll be recommending all kinds of things that would be brilliant with your mother's co-operation - which in your case you have not got.

For your own peace of mind, remember that once you have done all you legally can to minimise the risk then whatever remains is in God's hands. I'm afraid that this will still leave you with your heart in your mouth all too often; all I can offer with that is sincere fellow-feeling.
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Does she have a walker or rollator? I think the latter is safer and much more practical since it has a seat as well as a basket for carrying things. I got
Dad's with a script from his orthopedic surgeon.

Ideally she could also get PT with a doctor's prescription; this could help her stabilize her balance, w/i limits. She's certainly not too old to benefit from therapy, although the repetitiveness would probably not become ingrained due to the dementia. Still, if she can follow someone's instructions she could benefit.

If you haven't already, make sure her paths are clear but ideally lined with something she can hold onto, whether it would be furniture she could grab or fall on, or grab bars. It's not unreasonable to consider grab bars anchored into the wall studs all along her walking routes so she has a steady path of support.

If you haven't already, also remove throw rugs or any other trip hazards.
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Elders want to keep every ounce of independence that they can. Plus there is that child/adult dynamic that goes on whenever a grown child becomes their caregiver... we are still viewed as "the kid" and what do we know :P

I agree, we become emotional wrecks trying to keep our parent safe.

My Dad is now more of a fall risk and I will be moving him from his senior apartment into an one room suite in memory care. It is my understanding that the smaller the suite, the less chance of falling as the elder is closer to the furniture to do "furniture walking" to get around their room.

My late Mom refused to use a walker, good heavens she didn't want anyone to know she was elderly.... hello, she was in her late 90's for heaven sake.... being stubborn was her literally her down fall. There wasn't anything I could do or say, eventually her last fall put her into long term care where she remained until she passed.
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