My 83-year-old mother has serious problems. In the recent past, she has run out the front door in the middle of the night, trying to get away from me, because she said she didn’t recognize me. She would pound on a neighbors’ door late at night or early in the morning, and ask them to call the police. The police have actually come by our house before, to see what was going on. One of my mother’s old friends, lives around the corner with her adult grandson and his wife. In the past, him and his wife were very understanding. But as can be expected, they eventually got fed up.

The woman’s grandson, who is normally very nice, actually yelled at me, and told me that this situation had to stop. The police gave us a warning not to let this happen again. I have done my best to stop my mother from going to their house, and have been pretty much successful with that, since she started on her new meds, But she still has the desire to try and walk over there to make conversation. How do I get her to stop?

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I’m not sure what your situation is, whether you’ve made what I call “The Noble Promise” to never put your mom in a facility, but the time may have come. As heart-breaking as it is, Mom has become a nuisance in the neighborhood. You’re on the police department’s radar. Mom is annoying the neighbors at all hours of the day and night. Since Mom has dementia, you can’t reason with her and “get her to stop”. Her brain is broken and she doesn’t realize she’s doing anything wrong. People who have to get up and go to work in the AM don’t appreciate being awakened in the middle of the night when Mom might get away from you. Not only that, it’s dangerous for her. Unless you are awake 24/7, chances are she will escape again. Dementia doesn’t get better and she will need more and stronger meds. That’s what makes the disease so awful.

If putting Mom in a facility is not feasible, you will have to install door alarms in your home. Others have suggested putting locks on doors up high so they can’t be reached. Organizations who advocate for children with autism are good places to ask about escape-proofing your home.
Helpful Answer (20)
Reply to Ahmijoy

I had the same problem w my dad "wanting to go home." I installed child proof bar style door locks high on the doors. Between a night rx & the locks, the problem was solved. Remember, these are phrases our LOs goes through, then things change some other way.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to dads1caregiver

All I did was to put several doorhandles on the inside of the front door!
Some of them could be on the wrong side, nexr to the hinges!!!

It sure stopped my husband ......

Best wishes
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Emmdee
Grandma1954 Feb 27, 2019
This is a very clever idea and I will pass this on in the support group that I still attend.
I'm sorry you're going through this. Watching a loved one decline from dementia is heartbreaking.
I also live with my Mom. She's 90 with dementia, not as severe as your mothers but it's only a matter of time.
Mom has left the house on her own once. Luckily it was during the summer and I was able to find her quickly. I'm thinking about installing a 2 way key deadbolt. I'm with her 24/7 or I have sitter for errands. I would just lock when we go to bed at night. Still haven't done this though. I'm a major procrastinator.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Charlotte117
XenaJada Feb 25, 2019
Before doing a deadbolt, I would try a child proof doorknob cover. I'd be afraid of the key deadbolt due to emergency egress needs. Also try some alarms for the doors. I think you can get some simple, inexpensive ones. Also look into some type of wearable monitor that she cannot remove.
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I decided early that I would keep my husband home as long as possible. So far I have been able to handle all the obstacles. My suggestion is to install confounding locks on all the exterior doors. The Alzheimer's store online sells them and you can also get them at WalMart at a lesser price. They have allowed me to sleep a little easier at night knowing he can't get out. One neighbor bringing him home at 1:30 in the morning was enough to make it happen for me. Sometimes during the day, while I shower or am occupied I will lock the doors until I am through. I also have a lock with a code on it for one of my doors. He gets angry when he cannot open them, but by the time he has turned around he has forgotten they are locked.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Carolyn17

One reason for "Memory Care Units" is because people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia have a tendency to wander or to "go looking for things or people".  They are trying to make sense of the world they find themselves in at that moment. 

My Mom was sure that my Brother and I were "just down the hall" or "on the other side of the window" and she would wheel herself to the outside doors and attempt to look for us outside.  Luckily the facility had a Memory Care Unit which had doors that shut and locked whenever someone with a "Wanderguard-like" device got within 5 feet of the door and unlocked when that person left the vicinity of the door.

Visual deterrents such as STOP SIGNS that hang ACROSS DOORWAYS and Black or DARK MATS on the floor that are interpreted as "BLACK HOLES" by people with dementia or Alzheimer's are a couple of ways to minimize wandering.

Here are some websites (Copy & Paste URL to your browser.) of Stop Signs made especially as visual deterrent for wandering. Many of the signs are attached with Velcro-like fasteners so that you can take them off anytime you want to.  The sign will need to be removed prior to your loved one going out the door.

You might want to try using some of these visual deterrents along with some of the suggestions mentioned by other posters.  Locking the outside doors  are fire and safety hazards because locked doors prevent you and your loved one from escaping a fire and prevents the fire department or police from getting into your house to help you or your loved one.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to DeeAnna

My cousin put key deadbolts on the inside side of the door. Problem is this is considered a fire hazard but my Uncle was never alone. When he passed my cousin had them removed.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to JoAnn29

I believe that the protocol is that once the police are called a certain number of times (I think -3), that a social worker intervenes.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Llamalover47

There is an alarm you can get for the door that sounds when it is opened (Amazon I'm sure). Get a lock for the door that has a key needed for the inside. (You cannot use this if you ever leave her alone in the house.) Keep the key where you can get to it in an emergency. I have a lock like this for security. I keep the key under the INSIDE door mat. Try to find an outlet for your mom's desire to socialize. Please consider if it is time for your mom to be in a memory care unit. I have written before of the many social, artistic etc activities at an assisted living which greatly benefit the elder. Read some other post about elder proofing a house. There are a lot of ways your mom can get in trouble. Some examples: I had a relative stick a screwdriver in an outlet because there were some "things" living in there and sneaking out. I heard about elders eating a Tide pod, a whole tube of toothpaste, uncooked meat etc. The police will not put up with this for long.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Toadhall

Can you put something on the door that will alarm when she goes out. I have Vivent for this exact reason. I am notified even if she cooking and there is smoke or the front door opens. This helps me out so much and I can watch the cameras in the home.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Copingwithmom

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