Nighttime wandering has started. What do I do now? - AgingCare.com

Nighttime wandering has started. What do I do now?

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I've been dreading this moment for quite some time....even thought maybe it was happening but, without any proof, was able to live in blissful denial. Now that I have proof, I can't deny it anymore. She has started wandering at night.

Over the past 3-4 days I've noted some behaviors in Mom that she previously had not been exhibiting. She's been suddenly OBSESSED with food & drinks, she suddenly can't sit still & gets up every 5 minutes to look out the window, go out to check the laundry on the line, walk out to the barn to make certain the horses have enough water despite the fact that they have a constant water source in the stream that flows through the property, go to the bathroom, get a drink...yada, yada, yada. I also watched her, multiple times throughout the day on Saturday, sit and fold & re-fold a long strip of clean toilet paper. I also noted increased confusion during the day. This is all VERY new symptoms for her. I already switched her to decaf coffee & sodas a few months ago, so I don't see this stuff being the effects of caffeine-withdrawal.

With the increased confusion & sheer number of trips she was making to the restroom, I assumed she had a UTI. She won't let me help her in the bathroom but I've "innocently" wandered in on occasion during her wiping process with a roll of toilet tissue in my hand & the ruse of "Oh, I thought this bathroom was out of toilet paper. Sorry." At those times, I've noted that she has started wiping in the wrong direction (a perfect set-up for UTI) and, of course, by the time she hits the bathroom the next time, she's forgotten my gentle reminder to wipe front to back. Anyway, she started treatment on Saturday evening for a UTI....her second one since April....and the daytime confusion backed off but not the restlessness nor, I've come to find, the nighttime wandering.

Unfortunately, I don't have a video of her doing it, nor do I have a way to record one, but I'm 100% certain that she's night wandering now. The first time I found the digital clock in the living room unplugged, I racked it up to the cats bumping the plug from the socket during play at some time. Day? Evening? Night? Who knows. Found that Saturday daytime. First thing Sunday morning I noticed that the clock was missing completely! A quick check found it, cord all balled up, lying on the floor next to her bed. She, of course, denied doing it and, like every other dementia patient, said "someone else" must have put it there. Last evening I stayed up as late as I could...midnight....and she never once came out of her room. I got back up at 4:30 and the digital clock was gone again.........lying on the floor next to her bed again.

During the day yesterday, I saw her sit & start to write a letter to my brother, who lives 980 miles away. I dug it out after she went to bed, fully expecting to see dropped words, gross misspellings, no punctuation and, well, confused thoughts. She wrote in cursive, there were a few, small areas where she scratched somethings out but it all made sense....and she correctly remembered that there's a shopping plaza about 25 min from here that I take her to.

How can she be that "good" during the day & so, well, bizarre at night? How can I get her placed in a facility if she's THAT oriented during the day & can say "no"? Most importantly, how the heck am I supposed to keep her (and me) safe at night & still get some sleep? I already have front & back door alarms & I've placed a gate in the hallway near her bedroom to try to curb the wandering. The gate has obviously been completely ineffective because she's made it to the living room 3 nights in a row to mess with the clock. I'm afraid she'll wander away from an AL facility. What are the "eligibility requirements" to be placed on a locked dementia wing?

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See the doctor for sun downers ,also he may assess if she is ready for a facility. They also have door alarms for interior doors...easy...I put them on they stick on each side of the door and when the connection is opened when the door to her room is open the alarm goes off....loud...place it high so she can't reach it....I assume you have a baby monitor in her room and yours. A bed alarm may not work in your case because she goes to the restroom in her room?Door alarm will not work if she has to use a restroom out of her room.If she is diagnosed with dementia, sun downers, is a wanderer she will qualify for an ALF with a "memory care unit" again talk to her doctor, be prepared... good ALF facilities are not cheap and not covered under medicaid and they charge more for memory care units.Check AHCA website for ratings and violations before you pick one. Can you get some overnight help at home?As Jessiebelle said she may better in a good memory care unit at an ALF- it doesn't sound as if she is ready for a Skilled Nursing Home yet.Good luck, God bless! This is a tough road we all travel!
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Do you have Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care POA? If so, that would be helpful. If not and you may run into problems. Is she still competent to sign them appointing you?

Has she been diagnosed with dementia? If so, then you can discuss the progression of the disease with her doctor. What she's doing is quite common. I think the doctor would believe you. Is there some reason he wouldn't. There are questions the doctor can ask that will give some indication of the degree of her illness. Even on a good day, she will not be able to hide some of these things.

Since she is wandering, I would ask if this is something you are going to be able to handle at home. If so, there are many types of elaborate ways to set up alarms, to alert you when she gets out of the bed. I never used them, but I'm sure plenty on these boards have.

You might also discuss a medication that might help her sleep better. That might help.

If caring for her in the home is not feasible, then I would visit some Secure Memory Care facilities. For admission, the doctor had to state that she was wandering. My loved one was trying to get into cars in the parking lot of her Assisted Living facility in a wheelchair. I never thought she would wander, since she was a homebody and isn't wild about going outside, when it's super hot.

She may have good verbal skills and be mobile, but if she is in danger due to wandering, she would be safer in a Secure Memory Care facility. A regular assisted living facility cannot legally prevent her from leaving.
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Ozark, it is disconcerting when they get up at night and do things. My mother gets up often at nights. She has done that for years. Sometimes she does things like gets a snack and turns off the air conditioning. So far it hasn't been anything catastrophic. I think for my mother it usually begins with her having to go to the bathroom, then she stays up for a while. I try not to let myself worry about it, because I would be a wreck by now. She has never tried to go outside. I'm glad about that.

If you think your mother would be better served in a memory care facility, talk to her doctor about the things she has been doing. The doctor should be able to provide you some clear guidance and help you do the things that need to be done. Since she wanders through rooms at night, a memory care facility sounds like it would be best.

Living with someone with dementia can be like living in the twilight zone. Sometimes we can't keep them safe at home anymore. Your mother doesn't sound like she is doing anything unsafe, thank goodness, but I understand your concerns. It does sound like a good thing to make some plans about what to do.
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