I have read about how bad this is. And against the law. But I'm upstairs with her down the hall. I just started locking her in. A slide lock from the outside on top. She doesn't know it's there. From 12 to 8 . This is nessasary because My mom may fall down our stairs is a big concern its 16 steps. And she will go in the kitchen try to cook and turn on the gas. She cuts the gas on all the time. Gas fumes all over. We took knobs off and she will still turn them on especially in the winter to keep warm. She takes good roast out and steaks any food she sees in freezer she will try to cook. My son came in the kitchen the smoke alarm went off she was sitting at the table with smoke all around while some food she put in the oven was burning. She is up at night will go downstairs looking for food 2:00 in the morning. Take food out leave it on table mix strange things together. I'm tired of not sleeping and worries about gas blowing up and her safety. When I do sleep I'm exhausted I may not hear her or know what she is doing. AND also her urine incontinence is awful all over the house. Nothing I can do she hates adult pull ups. She won't listen to me. I take care of my mom by myself. No help. My son is off on Tues and watches her sometimes a couple of hours while I run errands. She does everything she pulls off all her covers on her bed to the mattress everyday. I cannot understand why. Her mind is so bad and I can hardly handle her. My family does not like convelasant homes I can't put her there. When she is trying to open the door about 2:30 in the morning it unnerves me. It's a nitemare. But after a few minutes she goes back to bed. What else can I do???? Even my aunt who is her sister and a nurse told me for her safety and mine lock her in till morning. Yes it's drastic but I have peace of mind for a little while. All of this is slowly killing me. Sometimes I think I could die from so much stress.

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“Her mind is so bad and I can hardly handle her.” Ummm... no. If you are having to revert to locking your mother into a room for 8 hours at a time - I’ve got news for you - you can’t handle her.

Hey - it’s not a crime to admit that caring for a wandering, demented elderly loved one is more than you can do. There’s no shame or blame in it. It’s frickin’ hard!

However, it is a crime to lock someone in a room for eight hours. In this case it would be considered Elder Abuse and you would be arrested. Depending on your area there is a possibility the media would catch wind of the situation and your mugshot and charges would be featured on the local news and in the local newspaper - along with their on-line editions. On a slow news day neighboring states could pick up the story as well. I see stories like yours a couple of times a year, sadly. So, there will be lots of shame and blame once you are “caught”.

Look, I’m not unsympathetic to your situation. I have a mobile 6’2”, 170 lb., 26 yr old man - with the mental capacity of a two yr old living in my home. I’ve been there - through much of what you’re describing. Luckily, certain ticks and phases pass with him - however, often reappearing in time. Right now I’ve got the knobs back on my stove and the door alarm on his bedroom door hasn’t gone off at night in a month or so. My latest problem is him locking the sliding glass door behind me when I take the garbage out or get the mail, etc...
I do understand.

But all that still doesn't make what you’re doing okay. It just not a good idea. Frankly, I find it so disturbing I haven’t been able to sleep since I read your post.

Pleeese - let go of this nonsense that your mother can’t be put into a care facility! It would be the best, safest and most appropriate and most humane option for your mother. AND, FOR YOU!!!
Helpful Answer (26)
LouiseF Aug 2019
You find this so disturbing you can’t sleep at night? Why would you say something like that to someone going through what they are going through? I don’t think of this as elder abuse when you are trying to protect said elder. Especially when they are in the state of mind where they don’t know what they are doing. She does this for her mom’s safety and to allow herself to get some rest. Caregivers have enough guilt feelings to deal with-she is looking for help not more guilt. Be careful how you respond to people unless you are in their shoes.
"My family does not like convelasant homes I can't put her there."

And they are sacrificing YOU to the cause.

DO NOT LET THEM DO THIS. Do you live with your mother in her house? Or does she live with you in yours? Are you her POA/HCPOA? Is she still considered competent to make her own decisions?
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Sit comfortably, breathe in through your nose, slowly, and then purse your lips and blow steadily out as though you were blowing out a candle. Don't rush it or you'll go dizzy! But often, when you're very stressed, you find you go around all day holding your breath. Just making yourself do it properly is good first aid.

Right. You're right, this is a nightmare.

Your family doesn't like convalescent homes, huh.

Well, that's okay. They're not moving into one, and they're not understanding or thinking through the basic care needs and safety of your mother.

You must not lock your mother in her bedroom. If this came to light for any reason, you would be in so much trouble.

But you must keep your mother safe. I promise you, I really do understand the bind you're in, and how impossible it seems.

Caring for somebody with dementia as advanced as your mother's, though, IS impossible for one person in a standard family home. She needs a team of people so that round the clock there is somebody with her to monitor her, reassure her, and redirect her. You cannot be awake 24/7, and see to her needs, and run a house, and do all of the other ordinary work of a normal day.

You're on a tight budget, I see from another post, and you've been caring for your mother for seven years. Okay. So, who are you in touch with? What about medical, social care, nursing or other professionals? Who else, outside "the family," is aware of your mother's situation?
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ImageIMP Aug 2019
Hi Countrymouse - you always have such wonderful and "level" level responses to help people. I'm afraid I just went off on a previous poster, though, because of her portrayal of nursing homes as beacons of constant and comfortable care for our seniors, with the result that our worries and cares disappeared, as well as our stress, because someone else was taking care even better than we could... Anyway, as I said to her, I wonder how much of the problem people have placing their loved ones in an institutional situation, no matter how desperately needed, springs from reluctance and fear of the reality of so many of those NH's et al?
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When we need surgery, we go to a surgeon.
When we need dental care, we go to a dentist.
When we have an emergency, we call 911
But when a parent needs 24/7 care and supervision, then ONE child (usually a daughter) has to do it all, and some people will shame her if she complains and wants respite or a life of her own.
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lealonnie1 Jul 2019
Sad but true. My cousin was just saying that my other cousin should not be living alone, that her DAUGHTER should be taking care of her. Um, what about her SON? He gets a free pass? All the burden of everything falls on us women, as if it's our lot in life to be All Things To All People At All Times. Then when we come here to ask for help or to vent, we're told to Honor Thy Mother and Father. And We'll Miss Mother When She's Gone. And Its Our Duty to Care For Them They Took Care of Us and all sorts of other dogma designed to instill and perpetuate guilt and shame. *No offense to the wonderful men here who care give*
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If you decide to continue to lock her up I would get a baby camera or something similar, so you can monitor her.  You can have it hung high on the wall so she can't reach it then you can monitor it from your phone.  Be sure to get one that swivels so you can change the direction of the camera.  Maybe install it when she's not there.  I'm sorry for all you're going through.  Please reach out to the County or Alzheimer Association.  The AA has 24 hour social workers that can talk to you and help you.   Just pull up their website, put in what state you live in and you'll get a phone number.   I found this on the general AA site without putting a state in 1 (800) 272-3900
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Ask yourself if your mother would want to do this to you. Some probably would, but most mothers would not want to burden their children.

If the authorities were to discover that you are locking mom in, you most likely would be brought up on charges. Mom taken from the home to become a ward of the state. All it would take is a neighbor or even a sibling or other relative to make the report to the authorities. Locking her in is illegal. Are there bars on the windows too?

Mom needs more care than you can provide. Call the Area Agency on Aging for help to find the resources you and mom need. It is past time to find the best care and solution for mom.
Helpful Answer (18)

Stop and ask yourself - Is your mother really happier and better cared for locked in like a prisoner, not understanding why, than in a facility?
Of course you need to sleep. If you haven't been successful finding a medication that guarantees you several uninterrupted hours at night then perhaps it is time you acknowledged that this is a task that is beyond what one person, no matter how loving and well intentioned, can do. There are other options, but all of them involve sharing the load, such as sending her to adult day care which may tire her out so she sleeps at night, hiring caregivers to cover the shifts you can't. It's time to look outside the box you're accustomed too.
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Margaret, of course the regulations are not applied anything like as stringently to domestic settings, and of course considerable allowances are made for untrained family members doing their best under stress, but locking a person in her bedroom is a classic example of a "Deprivation of Liberty" and any risk or needs assessor would fall down in a dead faint over it.

Waking up because you're just down the hall? What, at three in the morning when you're severely sleep-deprived? Not a chance; and besides if the idea is that you wake up when you're needed, why not put an alarm on the door instead? And apart from the obvious physical and environmental risks of leaving mother locked in her room alone and crashing around, what about the additional fear and confusion caused to a woman who is already fearful and confused? Being confined in a room you want to leave, and probably not understanding that it's been locked from the outside, could be terrifying for her.

Securing external doors at night is fine - the parallel would be doors with key codes in memory care units. Locking the *kitchen* door to prevent access would be fine (although if the OP's house is open plan obviously that idea wouldn't help). The falls risk on the stairs could also be addressed - not a child-proof stairgate, because, holy Heaven, mother would probably try to climb over it, but there will be other barriers designed for adults' safety. It's the kind of situation that an occupational therapist would love to get her teeth into.

But in any case the main point is that it is simply not possible for one individual, no matter how dedicated and loving, to meet the needs of an able-bodied person with dementia during this phase. The OP must get help - not because an over-zealous APS might decide to make an example of her, but because she and her mother desperately need help.
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MargaretMcKen Aug 2019
First, I'll say again what I started with: "I quite agree that this isn’t the best option for her, or for you". However I have just read another thread with several comments about facilities where the resident's door is always locked and staff have to come and unlock for them to come out for any reason. For each example the posts were approving - about stopping thefts etc - and no-one then posted with objections. No worries about 'fear and confusion', and these residents were effectively locked in all day and night. I'm sure that at home when the burglars are locked OUT, a few family members (children! old people!) are also locked IN. I do get confused, and a bit concerned when people are so keen to threaten jail terms to carers who are doing their best and are not really at risk.
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You are a loving person for enduring such a valiant task. But you are in over your head and it's only going to get worse. Love is not going to solve this problem. Preventing your mom from injuring herself and others is a very low bar for her care. In the process you are compromising 3 people: her, yourself and your son. Everyone is orbiting around your mom and it's not really benefiting her and now you have to worry about being reported even though locking her in is the logical thing to do. Other commenters have asked important questions and given wise advice. Please take it and do not let old-fashioned notions of NHs and family pressure change your mind. If they don't think it's so bad let THEM try it. Give family members a hard deadline after which date you will no longer be providing care. They can take her in while you're all working together to find an appropriate care facility (memory care). Wishing you rest for your weary soul!
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I don’t like to disagree with people whose opinions are usually so good, but years as a lawyer taught me never to accept without checking what clients said about documents and even less what they said about the law. I’d ask how the law defines locking someone in. Locking the front door? The gate? A toddler door across the top of the stairs? Size of area in which the person is locked? Sure, if you went out for the day and left mother locked in her room, you could be contravening something about ‘imprisonment’, particularly if she didn’t have food and water. If she was pounding on the door and screaming to be let out, the neighbours might have a good complaint. But if you are just down the hall, on the spot for any emergency, and waking up if you hear something bad, I would have serious doubts about ‘illegal’. Even more doubts about a successful prosecution.

However I quite agree that this isn’t the best option for her, or for you. For now, I’d keep locking the door, if it works for both of you. If someone does come to investigate, it may be exactly what you need to convince yourself and the family that she would be better off somewhere that can provide 24 hour care.
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worriedinCali Aug 2019
Most US states have laws that the OP would be violating if she locked her mother inside the house or just a single room. OP is in California, and in this state, it is considered “false imprisonment. California Penal code 237(a)pc.
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