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.
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.
The deadbolt locks on the outside. He can easily unlatch it from the inside.
There are tiles you can get for luggage and you can track it on your phone.
If he carries a cell phone you can track his phone with yours.
Instead of a double sided deadbolt (and I did that and spent 4 years wearing keys around my neck) try these "tricks"
Place a dark rug in front of each door. Many people with dementia will not go over a dark rug thinking it is a hole.
There are doorstops that have alarms so that if the door is opened the alarm will sound. They are typically sold as a safety doorstop that can be used on a hotel door in case the chain lock is cut the alarm will sound if the door is opened.
And a simple Hook and Eye lock would also work. Place it as high on the door as you can, most people do not look up and just the door banging a little will wake you up.
Now to some other "stuff" I am going to toss at you.
You should have a caregiver helping you during the day so you can get a nap without having to worry about him leaving.
Look into Adult Day Care a few hours several times a week will give you both a break.
If your Husband is a Veteran there may be services that the VA can offer.
Contact your Area Agency on Aging and see what services you might qualify for.
Oh! I just thought of something else I read that someone did and it worked for them. The had several different door knobs put on the door so it would confuse their loved because they could not "find" the right door knob. Not sure if you want a bunch of door knobs on your door....
And you might want to try a HUGE STOP sign on the door. It just might trigger the brain to stop.
The black rug doesn't fool him. He can (still) read signs but chooses to ignore them. He's actually highly intelligent - but without any memory at all, so his intelligence has nothing to work on, unless he's presented with an obstacle. Then he thinks of ways around it.
Re: in-home aide to watch him while I take a nap. Two issues - what would you suggest? Please don't think I'm being "negative." I really do appreciate suggestions but have tried most.
1) The only problem (so far) is going out the door - he doesn't turn on the oven, or do other weird things (at least not yet). As far as I can tell, nobody can keep him from going out the front door, if that's what he wants to do. He doesn't get into any trouble while he's wandering around. The only problem is, he doesn't remember how to get home. So he asks the first person he sees for help, then can't tell them where he lives. Also, he doesn't have a cell phone. Never had any interest in one, even when he was fully functioning. That was "my department."
2) "Watchers" need to be scheduled in advance - and minimum of 4 hours, or it's not worth their/their agency's time to send them out. I don't take long naps, just 90 minutes max.
Any thoughts? I mean, besides "stick him in a home." I just have this intuition that he would not fit in. I could be wrong, though, and my plan is to at least call someone and discuss it. Obviously I couldn't take him there to visit - it would mean another hissy fit, and then they wouldn't want him anyway.
He is not a veteran, BTW. Wish one of us was.
Here's the kind of dead bolt I have:
Slightly more expensive a wireless Motion sensor.
We tried a 3g watch with my dad . and also gave him a set of old useless keys with a gps locator. Thankfully we never needed them.
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.
Your husband did the same as my dad. He started off good with adult daycare and then toward the end of the week he was pitching a fit. We were taking him to the car and he was taking his feet off so they would drag knowing we would stop and saying you all not going to be telling me what to do and sending me off somewhere you want me to go (along those lines). Public transportation drivers were getting the riot act because they would not drive him to his home and yes he still knows which way it takes to get in route.
We have not tried the black rug but you are so right in that they study to figure a way out or around. Obstacles are a challenge. Put something to block the entryway, he would study and then remove the obstacle (no sofa, no chair, no child gate, no other heavy object, etc). His sibling would say lock the brakes on the wheelchair. It's like what a joke. He drives the wheelchair like a car (if only you could see him maneuver - I mean backward and forward.)
Give him a wrench and the wheelchair and bed would be taken apart. For a while, I would question myself on how the bedrails would end up down by morning. But finally one day, he demonstrated (pull here and hit it).
I'll follow your post for a while and hope you can get more ideas.
Check with your local Police to see if they supply tracking devices. With ours, its free of charge.
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.
Is there a way to have a tag made to attach to all of his shirts on the back ? One that says " Hi , I'm Joe , I have memeory issues and I'm lost , please call ...... " Don't know how he will feel about it though .
Another thing perhaps is have a dog tag made on a necklace, would he have that on ? Present it as a gift , with his name " with love to Joe" on one side and his address and number on the other . Have it edged in red so it's visible and not too long so it's not lost in the shirt .
Another thing is a nice bracelet with the info carved into it . He might like that. If you have a nice silver bracelet see if he will put it on and observe if he takes it off or refuses. See how many days it last .
A smart watch might work too , not sure what they cost . It looks normal but you can track his movements through the app . That's if he doesn't take it off .
Othere trackers to look into , some link to your phone, one is a shoe tracker and others clip on to the person:
Gps smart sole
Medic alert safety home
Best of luck
1. Install Defender Security U 9888 Flip Action Door Lock on your door jambs. They are about $2-$3 apiece at Lowe’s and are easy to install. My wife is very non-mechanical and if she were to figure out how to unlatch it she would create such a racket doing so that I would wake up.
2. If you have a home security system you could set the alarm for being at the “at home” mode. The alarms would go off if he opens a door or window. Security systems vary widely in cost. I use CPI. I paid about $800 for my system and a monthly monitoring fee of $39.
Hopefully either or both together would be enough to wake you. I use both of flip locks and the alarm system.
Years ago I put in Alarms on all our windows and doors for peace of mind for security reasons.
They have simple installation and they sell them at the Hardware store. It's a magnetic device that when the door or window gets open and alarm goes off when the both side seperate. They take batteries.
Prayers for you both that you can figure this out. 🙏
your definitely not neglecting him- your facing the real issue what other devoted loved ones caring for a spouse parent or grandparent etc face and are very conscientious.
pls disregard this comment some people just don’t think before they reply. There are all kinds of dementia products online to place on a door for this common issue
I agree with all the others who suggest locks on the doors.
In addition, you can get a regular type med bracelet with info printed..address, emergency contacts, he has dementia etc. that would help emergency personnel or kind strangers locate you. It’s stainless chain link (Amazon), he might accept it as a bracelet or a gift from you or your children
Good recommendations on site I might try.
I use a stick in the back sliders. Had difficulty installing cabinet locks. I also worry but am starting adult daycare soon.
If you can remember lock stove, oven and microwave while you nap. My husband never bothered with it and then one day, gas was on. I’ve used a bike lock threaded into handles of refrigerator and freezer when I could leave him for a bit. Be sure all meds etc are not easily accessible
Wonder if he would stay in bedroom with you even if he walks around and you could put a simple hook/eye on bedroom door higher up than his sight vision
Other options such as a apple watch aren’t as safe bc you could track him to a location where he’s already run into some sort of troubles for example, he could be walking and go to cross the street and worse case scenario get hit by a car - the tracking device simply lets you know where he is it doesn’t really keep him safe as having him secure at home does ( not trying to scare you just trying to explain why tracking devices to me don’t seem nearly as safe as placing a type of lock that prevents leaving while your taking a nap, using the restroom etc)
To address a comment I saw below about fire — the risks of him walking around outside ( the tracking device is not safe bc sure- you can track him right to the location of a accident- if he walks out and for ex tries to cross the street and we’re to get hit by a car) if you have a fire alarm installed it will go off at the smallest detection of smoke and the piercing noise will wake you up immediately. Your only taking some naps here or there during the day and needing to do laundry etc so the risk of him getting outside is far more of a risk to his safety than the chances of a fire which are drastically less than the chances of him walking outside making the deadbolt the logical answer to helping you be able to do some laundry without keeping an eye on him every second so he doesn’t go outside - the times where you nap a bit the odds of a fire are extremely low and even then a fire alarm will let you know immediately much louder than an tracking watch!!