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My mother lives next door to me. She was a heavy wine drinker and smoker. We started watering down her wine, and eventually she forgot she drank wine at all about three months ago. This was a huge win. She continued to smoke.


She is 93, and I am not concerned for her smoking for health reasons, but am for safety reasons. I have walked in and found her asleep with an unlit cigarette in her hand. She now falls asleep more and more often.


About a month ago, she seemed to have forgotten she smoked. We were thrilled. But the last four days, in the afternoon or early evening, she decides to walk out and buy cigarettes. She has walked out and wandered for 1 1/2 hours. We are not sure where she is going, but so far has not purchased cigarettes.


I don't know if I should give her cigarettes to keep her home, or let her wander. I worry when she is out if she gets lost, or falls and injures herself.


At this point she lives in her apartment, but since I am next door, I take care of her food, shopping, getting her to any needed apointments. The last few months she has seemed to move further along the continuum - sleeping more, unable to even feign concentration on reading or watching tv.


I don't know if I have to insist on having someone come to stay with her now. Or if I should just supply cigarettes.


Any ideas?

This is all very challenging and seems to indicate a bit of downward turn in her condition.

The smoking has got to end. She is going to catch her place/self on fire - and the rest of the building too. Maybe let her have the cigs but keep all matches and lighters?

The wandering is concerning. If she's out for 1.5 hours, I wonder if she's lost? She's going to end up far, far away one one of these times and it could have been prevented. I'd be worried if it were me. I think having someone stay with her is a good idea. Do you know when she goes out? If not, maybe you can put some kind of an alarm so you know if she's leaving so you can try to make sure she doesn't end up lost on the other side of town.
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Reply to againx100
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At a minimum, could you get her a ‘fall’ pendant or bracelet that has her name and address on the back? It would help if she got lost.

Re the smoking, here is one suggestion which is probably very silly, but with dementia you never know what will work. When we were kids, there were sweets in the shape of white cigarettes, little red blob on the end, tasting of mint, and you twiddled them round in your mouth and sucked them. Could you find some for her, tell her that they are a new sort of cigarette that doesn’t need lighting, and leave her the packets? She might just like the taste and swallow the story.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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If she lived in her own house and fell asleep with a lit cigarette and caused a fire that only affected her and her house, that's one thing (and a tragic thing!). If she lives in an apartment in proximity to others (such as yourself and innocent people) then that's another concern altogether. I would not buy her cigarettes. I realize smoking is incredibly addictive, like heroin, but maybe there's a chance this too will disappear. Wandering is also something that really only affects her (and causes you great concern, no doubt). There are not a lot of "perfect" options in this case... I would hire someone to care for her or transition her to a care facility -- for everyone's safety.
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Reply to Geaton777
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