I haven't done this, but one time, my husband got out and wandered a LONG way from home and was found by a nurse that knew my phone number. I was told that it was illegal to lock a elderly person in a house knowing they didn't have a key or was unable to get out/or someone coming in. Just needing to know, I didn't know this might be illegal.
I know we all go through the *what ifs*.... I do that many times during the day thinking about my aging parents. I have to keep telling myself I am worrying and losing sleep over what ifs that might never happen. It's a hard thing to break.
Do you really think your hubby will wander away from home? Or have you been reading that sometimes people with memory issues will leave the house and it takes awhile to find them? With your hubby using a walker and oxygen, I doubt he would get too far away without you noticing. But I can understand your need to know what to prevent this from happening, just in case.
"Tips to prevent wandering
Wandering can happen, even if you are the most diligent of caregivers. Use the following strategies to help lower the chances:
Carry out daily activities.
Having a routine can provide structure. Learn about creating a daily plan.
Identify the most likely times of day that wandering may occur.
Plan activities at that time. Activities and exercise can reduce anxiety, agitation and restlessness.
Reassure the person if he or she feels lost, abandoned or disoriented.
If the person with dementia wants to leave to "go home" or "go to work," use communication focused on exploration and validation. Refrain from correcting the person. For example, "We are staying here tonight. We are safe and I'll be with you. We can go home in the morning after a good night's rest."
Ensure all basic needs are met.
Has the person gone to the bathroom? Is he or she thirsty or hungry?
Avoid busy places that are confusing and can cause disorientation.
This could be a shopping malls, grocery stores or other busy venues.
Place locks out of the line of sight.
Install either high or low on exterior doors, and consider placing slide bolts at the top or bottom.
Camouflage doors and door knobs.
Camouflage doors by painting them the same color as the walls, or cover them with removable curtains or screens. Cover knobs with cloth the same color as the door or use childproof knobs.
Use devices that signal when a door or window is opened.
This can be as simple as a bell placed above a door or as sophisticated as an electronic home alarm.
Never lock the person with dementia in at home alone or leave him or her in a car without supervision.
Keep car keys out of sight.
A person with dementia may drive off and be at risk of potential harm to themselves or others.
If night wandering is a problem:
Make sure the person has restricted fluids two hours before bedtime and has gone to the bathroom just before bed. Also, use night lights throughout the home."
Some people just can't get their arms around spending the money for a care giver. They don't realize the money they're "saving" ? They'll have to spend in the long run if they can't afford a nursing home and have to rely on Medicaid. They'll have to spend it all anyway.
Since this is your spouse, I can't stress enough the importance of getting your little behind into an elder law attorney's office to figure out what you have to do in order to protect YOURSELF. Medicaid doesn't impoverish spouses, but it might seem that way if you do nothing. You.Must.Do.This.Now.
Your husband is in a decline. He's not going to get better; he's going to get worse. There may very well come a time when either YOU decide you can't handle it anymore or, worse, someone else makes that decision for you.
Do your homework as quickly as you can.
But if you're home, how about a double bolt lock with the key in a convenient place YOU know about? Even storm doors can have double bolt locks put on them so the wooden door can be kept open in nice weather.
Maybe look into getting a GPS monitoring system in a watch? Here's a quote from a helpful site:
"Consider the use of Global Positioning Service (GPS) tracking equipment to prevent wandering. There are many different systems but a popular option is a GPS tracking watch.
Door Alarms - Some people who live at home with a loved one who has dementia use a door alarm to alert you of when the person attempts to go outside so that you can provide adequate supervision."
One has to think of everything...dementia and Alzheimer's Disease...horrible.