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I'm facing yet another dilemma with my 92 y/o mother who lives in Memory Care. There is a resident who's wheelchair bound, harmless as a kitten, but keeps knocking on my mother's door and jiggling the lever-style door handle. Her unit stays locked and the man has no way to enter her room, so he gives up after a while and moves on to the next door. My mother has decided this man is extremely dangerous and wanting to harm her and 'punch her in the stomach'. Nothing I can say will talk her off the ledge. She can't sleep, she won't go into the dining room now for dinner for fear of running into him, and insists he's doing this even when she's not in her room (which makes no difference anyway). She wants to move out now, and is kicking up a giant fuss. I have already spoken with the Executive Director who says there is nothing she can really DO about this; it's harmless, it may be irritating, yes, but the man is not causing her any harm. I suggested last night we put something OVER the door handle.......I keep envisioning an umpire's face cage..........to prevent him from jiggling the handle. But that won't stop him from knocking on the door, I know.


She knows enough to call in a caregiver when this man is knocking/jiggling, and the caregiver redirects him right away. So they ARE able to manage the situation, but not to HER liking.


My mother has always been highly anxiety ridden, but nowadays it's amped up greatly due to this situation. Once this is resolved, it will be another drama............but I would like to clear this up, if possible. She is 100% convinced he is 'out to get' her. If I move her out, it'd be into Skilled Nursing WITH a roommate, which believe me would NOT be taken well. She hates women with a vengeance, and the toilet bowl is NOT something she'd like to share! She's much better off where she's at, at least for now.


Does anyone have ANY suggestions/ideas/remedies for how to fix this situation? My husband is saying we should tape a hand towel above the door handle to 'hide' it from this man's view. That may work, but wouldn't prevent him from knocking. The ED is saying she will tie a scarf with a big bow around the handle to see if that deters him.


Any ideas, ANYTHING?

Update: The exec director taped a white towel over mother's door, draping over the handle. There was NO commotion last night, thankfully. She has also agreed to let me hang a mural on mother's door, should the need arise/if the towel stops working.
Thanks!!
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gdaughter Oct 18, 2019
YEA!!!!! HEy...what about hanging a shower curtain or drape from above blocking the whole door from his view? (if the mural doesn't work)...
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One of those murels, that cwillie posted, the bookshelf, is on the stairwell exit at my mom's AL. It looks very realistic.
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What about something like this:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=door+murals&rh=n%3A2445485011&ref=nb_sb_noss
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lealonnie1 Oct 16, 2019
WOW, now that may actually WORK!!!! Thank you for the link and the awesome suggestion!
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Well I disagree that it’s harmless and not causing your mom harm. If anything it’s causing emotional harm because he’s frightened her. You know your mom can’t be reasoned with so if she thinks he’s out to chop her up, then that’s what she truly believes. It’s good that your mom can summon a caregiver when this happens but I do think that if the facility is aware of the problem that they shouldn’t let it happen. I’m sure this is very minor for them but to your mom it’s a big deal. I can honestly say if I was you, I would be in the directors office TELLING her to solve the problem. It’s her problem to solve, not yours IMO. I don’t think anyone in an AL or a nursing facility has the right to disrupt others, I know it can and will happen but there are some behaviors that they shouldn’t get a free pass on. Even if they have dementia or are 200 years old.

if the director won’t fix the problem or her scarf won’t work, try your husband’s idea. Maybe you could even put a closed sign on the door? Maybe it would register with the man that no one is there.
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lealonnie1 Oct 16, 2019
It's throughout the Memory Care environment Cali......it happens in ALL of the communities. In fact, in my mother's place, which only has 24 residents, it's only 1-2 people who do it. In the place I work, it's rampant. The EDs really can't stop it from happening, either. Unless we can invent something like the mural CWille suggested which may actually help divert attention away from her door.
The CLOSED sign isn't a bad idea either, thank you! :)
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If it is a Memory Care wing they may have access to a large 12" wide STOP Velcro sign that can be placed across the door at any place on the door frame. This same situation was occurring where my husband is, only the other residents were walking into his room. The Velcro sign works wonders. It is completely mesh, about 12-18 inches wide and has a large red STOP sign in the middle. The caretakers just take one side down when it isn't being used and it hangs on the other side of the door frame. When it is needed it is Velcro'd back up. In an emergency my husband could easily walk through it, or under it.
In your case they could put it across the door handle.
Things we don't think of before putting our loved ones in Assisted Care. :-(
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lealonnie1 Oct 19, 2019
Great idea! The residents in mom's place all have to leave their doors closed at all times, mom locks hers 24/7 as well. None of the residents can get in, so she's safe...none of the residents are violent, either, which is good.
The MC place I work at is way worse.....residents are found in others beds all the time, they wander and can leave tgeir doors open, etc. My mother would have died of fright by now had she been in THIS place!!
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If the mural does not work, or if he gets used to it try "padding the door"
Get some cotton batting and with double sided tape attach it to the door where he can reach then put a pretty fabric over the batting. You can use this to post photos or little decorations during the year.
A childproof doorknob cover should work for the door handle as well. Might want to double check this as it might be a safety concern, anyone trying to get in in an emergency will be delayed a bit with the cover. If the towel works, great you could also try a pool noodle cut to size or pipe insulation.
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lealonnie1 Oct 19, 2019
Oooh..padding is a GREAT idea!! Thank you! The door handle is a lever, so the cover wouldn't work, but otherwise a good idea!
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I have no suggestions but would like to share a little humor here. My grandmother in law was quite deep in the throes of ALZ but physically able bodied and finally placed in a NH. A male resident would hurriedly (according to her) come into her room, snatch a piece of food from her tray, and "run" out of the room. She threw a cup of water on him once and the food snatching stopped. We did not see this, and this was my GrM-i-L's recounting. The whole scenario could have been her imagination, but it made for a good story. She was "relieved" of the food theft.

When working in a NH I witnessed a man who made his rounds about 4:30-5:00 every afternoon, "checking" all the doors to confirm they were locked. He had been a nightwatchman all his life.

Another resident, with nothing in her hand, scrubbed everything in sight throughout the day. Her husband explained she had never worked a public job, but was a conscientious spotless housekeeper.
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lealonnie1 Oct 19, 2019
The MC where I work had an incident Friday.......a resident snatched a HEARING AID out of another residents hand and ATE IT!!!!
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Hi, I noticed that you mentioned your mom IS safe inside her room and if she does not answer the door, the man moves onto the next door. Has anyone tried to understand what is causing this man’s behavior, the root cause? Is he confused and thinks your mom’s door is where HE lives? Is he simply lonely and wants to just knock on doors until someone lets him in and spends time with him? I’m not in any way thinking his behavior is ok. But sometimes if we put ourselves into another’s shoes, trying to understand their motivations for their behaviors, it may be easier to find a solution for all involved. Could they put something on HIS front door, displaying an interest of his, to help him identify his own door? For instance, if he used to be a golfer, or loves books, put some sort of decorative picture or replica of golf clubs, of several stacked books, to help him identify HIS door. If he’s lonely, might helping him get more involved with social activities help him? Does he have any family or friends that visit him consistently? Often our behaviors speak way louder than our words, especially for those who are unable to communicate with words or in a way that is easily or quickly understood by most. We simply need to slow down a bit, and listen a little better. Good luck!
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watercolor Oct 19, 2019
This would be the responsibility of the manager, who apparently has decided there is nothing they can do, which seems ridiculous to me. He should not be allowed to annoy or scare other residents.
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Wait a sec...does this guy doing the knocking have dementia? If so, I'm wondering about some of these door size posters that they sometimes suggest for alzheimer's patients in their own homes, to block the doors so they won't try to leave...some look like fully stocked bookcases...you may need someone to expertly apply it and possibly paint the door molding to blend...

I might touch base with the long term care ombudsmans office near you...because while it is sort of harmless, it IS causing mental/emotional harm for your mom and that shouldn't be okay considering someone is paying for this care. It's nice to hear the staff is so responsive; it would also be interesting to see if your mom weren't in that particular room if he still kept it up.

I mean, it's like they see this as your mom being the problem, when it is this guy who should maybe be the one having to relocate? Is it possible another room would open up that your mom could switch to? Would t hat appease her, to know it will happen asap, even if it's down the road?
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lealonnie1 Oct 19, 2019
This is not an issue for an Ombudsman.....moms place is wonderful and it's everyday behavior for dementia residents to jiggle door handles, etc. This man makes the rounds knocking on eveybodys doors....the mural idea is a great one and the ED okayed it for mom's door if the need arises.
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You guys are the BEST! Love all these nifty and imaginative ideas for working thru this issue .....thanks so much! Dementia is SO tricky and hard to handle, that's for sure
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