Mom hit another resident at her AL Memory unit and she's taking other people's food out of their room. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Mom hit another resident at her AL Memory unit and she's taking other people's food out of their room. Any advice?

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Mom, 84 with mid-late Alz., has been living in a gorgeous AL “apartment” on a locked memory unit. There are ton of activities all the time and the staff is very creative, compassionate and kind. As a family, we are lucky because she is so close by and we personally know the owners, her floor director and a lot of the Care Assistants. They keep us up to date with all that Mom does both good and bad. 
I’m putting this out there because I, personally, would love some suggestions on how to wrap my head around some of the things that she does. I’m her daughter in law but I know that her daughters feel the same way.
She is extremely clever. I mean extremely clever. We can actually tell when she’s “up” to something by her facial expressions and body language. She’ll look around to see if we or anyone else is looking before making her move.
Some of the things she’s done include: Stealing food from other residents. She’ll make an excuse (bathroom) to go down the hall to her apartment when they’re all in the ‘far’ common room watching tv, karaoke, etc. with the staff. She’ll detour into the other ‘apartments’ rummage in their fridges, cabinets, etc. and come out with potato chips on her face, or a bag in her hand or chocolate around her mouth. Aides will catch her coming out of the apartment, she’ll deny it and act indignant and then 15 min later try to do it again. Aides caught on. No more going to her apt alone. She caught on that the aides caught on and now only does this when the other residents are sleeping and she knows the only Aide on (after 8pm) is checking people at the other end of the unit. Clever. With that said, it’s the same thing with unplugging anything from any outlet she can get to. Lamps in the common rooms, popcorn machine, computers, dvd players, etc. As I understand it she has even tried to move an entertainment center from against the wall to get at the plugs. She is NOT a large woman. The AL had those bubble type cameras installed in the common areas a couple of months ago. It seems that one day an aide went to turn on the garbage disposal in the common kitchen and it wouldn’t work. They had to call maintenance to fix it. There was nothing wrong with it, Mom had climbed under the kitchen sink cabinet and fished around until she found the plug and unplugged it. They reviewed their tapes and sure enough there’s Mom’s butt sticking out of the cabinet. It is comical. She hasn’t been doing too much of that anymore because the director has taped signs above all outlets and appliances that specifically tell HER not to touch due to danger! They tell us that she still looks both ways looking for an aide and heads for the plugs but stops at the signs.
Just recently there has been one problem that isn’t funny anymore. Preface it to say that Mom has always been competitive and is not above ‘manipulating’ the cards when it comes to cards games and such (even before the Alzheimers). I’ve had my share of “love taps” on the arms that left little bruises and a little punch in the nose (my own fault) she said “I’m going to punch you in the nose” jokingly when I won a game, and I said, jokingly, “go right ahead” and she did! She’s thrown game marbles at me and cards when I win which I usually can dodge pretty well. Well what happened the other day wasn’t funny at all. I guess she was playing bingo with the other residents and she didn’t win. Another lady who lives in one of the ‘apartments’ with her husband, called Bingo and won. Mom didn’t like that one single bit so Mom waved the hard card at the woman and smacked her in the face with it. The husband is VERY protective of his wife so he slapped Mom in the face. The aides were there immediately and made sure that was that. Mom had no idea why he hit her. Well the next day Bingo again. I don’t know if Mom won, the couple won or what but we were told that Mom was waving her Bingo card at them. I don’t know if she was taunting them or what.
How can we help her? How can we help the Staff? We go to visit her. We do take her out to eat, to events, to our houses etc. but it’s a struggle. She must go to the bathroom between 4 and 7 times in an hour. She wears depends and does not have a UTI, we think she just forgets that she went or wants to explore. She’s taken off from me at the hairdressers (I took a call) and I found her with her hair all up in dye 2 storefronts down. At the pharmacy I was talking to staff about her meds and one minute she sitting all nice the next minute I look up and she’s gone. Found her 5 minutes later with a bag of candy part way up her shirt.
I just don’t know what to do, and neither do the other family members. I personally don’t baby her and neither does her daughter. The other daughter and daughters in law, I can’t say but I guess my question is what is the right thing to do without making her crazy or ourselves crazy?

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What is the issue with giving her meds?
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Sorry I guess I didn't make myself clear on some points. Yes, we take her out. The unit is locked so that the residents don't wander to the other floor. I believe that she is cognitive in some respects therefore clever about what she wants and how she is going to get it. Clever and crafty she is, sly? I'm not too sure if that's a better adjective but I'll think about it. I know that there's nothing short of medication to alleviate her "interesting" behavior and the doctor had prescribed
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Certainly agree with Maggie on getting some meds for the aggression. But...she's in a locked unit and you take her out????? Never in a million years would I take my mom, who has dementia and who HAS been in a locked Memory Care unit (and now in NH) out! The last time I tried that, she grabbed the steering wheel from my husband. Not going there again ("I thought you were taking me to the bad place" she said;, when she has to got to an outside doc (and only for doctors do we even consider a trip outside) she goes in an ambulette, with an aide. Trust me, she could end up in traffic, becoming aggressive with a child in a store or on the street. Too many risks involved here. My sympathies on this untenable situation. Hope that there are meds that can even out her behaviors.
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Sorry...."a better adjective than clever."
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Crafty and sly might be better adjectives than sly. ;)

I'm not sure what to say about her wandering away from you and going down the block. That's more about your attentiveness than anything else. Now that you know that's her modus operandi, you can keep a better eye on her . . . just EXACTLY as you would a toddler.

I doubt seriously you and your family are going to be able to do much of anything to change her behavior. And it's really up to the ALF to manage her. I think I'd support them as much as I could be asking, "Is there anything you think WE can do to discourage her bahavior?" "Do you think medication would help in any way?" In other words, let then know you recognize the problem, and are game to doing whatever you can to help them monitor and manage her.

Maybe one thing you could do is make sure she has a full "goodie box" in her room...individual packages of chips, pretzels, nuts, cookies, candy bars...assuming she has no dietary restrictions. ??

I absolutely LOVE FreqFlyer's suggestion for a "bell ring pad" for her door. That's one of those out-of-the-box suggestions that seems to obvious once someone's smart enough to think about it. Maybe you could talk to staff about that and offer to buy one. I wouldn't think they're that expensive.

(I'm surprised they don't have child-proof plugs in their memory care unit. Seems like that might be a common problem. But also sounds like maybe that problem's been addressed and solved.)

The problem of her hitting another resident, however, is a very real one. I can tell you that, had that been MY mom who'd been hit, I'd be in the Managing Nurse's and Administrator's office in a New York Minute. THAT is completely unacceptable. I would talk to her doctor about that and see if there's some medication that can make her more compliant. That could easily be realistic grounds for discharge. Let the ALF know that you are on that with her doctor immediately.
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So sorry you are going through this. She will need medications that modify her behavior asap. Failing that she will end up in a full blown psych unit. Note that the facility is already tracking her and they will "write the book" on her behavior over time, until they have enough evidence to substantiate the need for more security, which she will not like. Her movements will be totally restricted unless you can fix this. Again, my condolences.
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Oh my gosh, I am sorry but I had to chuckle at some of the things you Mom was going... she definitely knows how to create her own entertainment :)

I really don't think there is anything you can do but the memory care unit could. As for unplugging anything from an outlet, there are a few things that a handyman or electrician can use to keep plugs from being removed. Every memory care unit needs to "baby proof" the facility. Once your Mom realizes she can't pull the plugs, she will find something else to do.

If you Mom is leaving her room, could the memory unit put down a "bell ring pad" on the floor inside her door? Any time your Mom steps on the pad, it would ring at the Aide's desk or where ever.... of course, after a while your Mom might be able to leap over that pad :P

If she is running away from you when you take her out, short of putting her on a child-leash, I would limit the places she goes.
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