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I am full-time caregiver for my 90-year-old husband, who has White Matter dementia. He often wakes me up at night, so I nap during the day. He has taken to going out the front door while I'm asleep. Once he's out, he's lost. Doesn't know his address or phone number.


Sometimes, I can find him quickly. Other times, neighbors have found him and called the police. The police want me to put a tracking bracelet on him, but he absolutely refuses (he is strong enough to prevent it). Also, the monthly subscription isn't cheap.


I would like to put a double-cylinder deadbolt on the front door, which I can lock while I'm sleeping, or doing home chores where I can't watch him every minute. It seems like such an easy solution. However, I'm concerned a locksmith may refuse to do this. And am not sure I can do a good job of replacing the lock myself.


Insights appreciated, thanks.

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Wandering is a serious behavior that must be addressed. My wife was a wanderer, and I, too, installed a double sided lock. Didn't help... she went out thru the window! If you're concerned about the legality of the lock, call your local fire dept, they'll know. The non emergency number for both fire and police should be posted somewhere in the house.

If you do install the lock, or any devise that prevents his elopement, be aware that not being able to get out can cause your husband some real anxiety and possibly anger. The need to wander can cause a person to be very resourceful and find a way out.

Wandering isn't only a problem with leaving the house, it can happen at anytime and anywhere. He may escape from the car at a stop sign, or wander away from you at the grocery store. It's very easy to lose track of someone. I drove to the local library with my wife to return a book. I left her alone for less than 2 minutes and when I returned to the car she was gone. With the help of the local police and fire, they found her over a mile away. Wandering is both a safety issue and a sleep issue for the caregiver. It is one of the top three reasons people seek placement in a care facility for their LO.
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tjstyme Sep 14, 2021
I live on the water, fenced yard, locks on gates. She knows how to climb. So leaving safe confines of home to "wonder" even with tracking device not recommend. SW Florida has swamps, lots of wildlife and Everglades National Park on front door. In last year 1 autistic teen lost in swamp never to be found. 1adult with dementia found in canal. Cannot let them wander outside. Tracker is no help in latter. Too late. Security system, cameras and double sided locks with keys mounts nearby out of sight in unexpected location. Hide a key if u want. Where you live has huge affect on how to handle this issue. Good luck to all that are going through this with someone.👍🙂
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It gets old -saying it & seeing it proven again & again: <One person cannot do it all when it’s a 24 hr job!> You must take care of yourself first. Either a night nurse or someone to relieve you for a few hours during the day is absolutely essential. Can family help? GET help somehow!
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Doug4321 Sep 14, 2021
Right. Research what you have to do to get help. If necessary, go to an eldercare attorney and see what you have to do to qualify for Medicaid.
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I put our stepladder in front of the door. Now my husband cannot see the knob or latch and doesn't know the door is there.
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Reply to Sara1959
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I'm only caregiver for my 96-year-old Mother with dementia also had issues with her going out the front door in the middle of the night while I slept. Get a double key deadbolt and put it on the front and back doors it worked perfectly. They are not difficult to put on only takes a few minutes. May God's Blessings surround you and give you the strength and wisdom you need.
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Reply to MyGranny7
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We put a slide latch lock, you have to push it up to open, when my grannie started wandering. It was cheap and very effective.

Put it above his eye level, people experiencing a broken brain do not look up.

A double key lock is against fire code. You can do it but, be mindful that EMS will create a fuss if they see it. You could also have another one installed up high.

When she went to a NH, they put an ankle bracelet alarm on her and she would be down the block before anyone got to her, even when she was confined to a wheelchair.

You can try a black rug in front of the door, that stops some as they think it is a hole.

Best of luck. Wandering is often the straw that breaks home care.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Memory12345 Sep 11, 2021
Thanks, what is a slide latch lock? It sounds interesting. And I agree, looking up does not seem to happen any more.
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I have three locks on the front door and baby latches on all my door walls, he cannot figure them out. I have oven and burner covers for the stove which are awesome and fridge locks because he will remover food if I am not downstairs. I bought all these on Amazon it also helps that I have three grandchildren. I also have put bungy cords on all my gates so he cannot get out of the yard.
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Memory, I am posting this based on your reply to Grandma.

I agree with Grandma, get someone to come into the home. If it is a 4 hour minimum great, that will give you time for your nap, to go for lunch with a friend or do some shopping.

The helper can engage your husband in activities, have lunch with him, take him for a walk, listen to his stories etc. Perhaps they can do puzzles together to allow your husband to exercise his wits?

Getting help in now, will allow you and your husband to get used to there being someone in your home. Eventually your husband will need far more help.

There is no way of knowing when your husband will stop trying to get out of the house and decide to cook something.

Please be mindful about your husband's strength. If he ever uses it against you, please get help immediately.
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Reply to Tothill
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We put barrel/slide locks on the very top of every door. My mom is 93 and can still manage the regular locks on the doors, but can't reach high enough to undo the slide locks. On the main door (we use the garage for our main entrance), I installed a deadbolt, but turned it around so that the keyed side is on the inside and the knob is on the outside, making for easy access for EMS if I have to call them. The key is kept on a key hook near the door, and she has never made the connection of that key being used for that lock. In addition, we got an alarm mat (Amazon, $125) that has a portable alarm receiver, so I can carry it with me or set it on my nightstand when I go to bed. The mat is placed next to her bed and when she gets up and steps on the mat, the alarm goes off. I'm not a fan of GPS, tracking, etc., because once she gets out of the house, there are so many ways for her to be harmed, so I do my best to keep her in the house at all times. Good luck and hang in there...
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Reply to JanEllen
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Confounding lock

try www. Alzstore.com
lots of resources there.
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Reply to squeakychatter
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The childproof plastic doorknob covers worked great for my husband that had dementia. I even put them on bedroom doors inside the house so he wouldn’t go in rooms and hurt himself while I was busy cleaning or cooking and didn’t have my eyes on him 100 percent. Also, they make plastic electric stovetop covers that fit over the stovetop controls. Those came in handy because he would sometimes turn all the controls on when I was busy .
my thoughts and prayers go out to you. It is an extremely difficult and heartbreaking job caring for your loved one with dementia.
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MyGranny7 Sep 14, 2021
Thanks for your input about the childproof door knob covers I never thought of that. I have an alarm for her bed so when she does get out of bed I'm notified this is another great tool may God blessings be with everyone that our caregivers especially family suffering with dementia or Alzheimer's very devastating to watch your loved ones disappear in their minds. But again it is a privilege for me to be able to take care of my Mom she is 96 and what a blessing to me she is.
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