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My mother is 79 years old with mild to moderate dementia. My brother lives with her - he works outside the house most days. She has 2 dogs one lab and one little high energy dog.
Mom wakes up at night and thinks she has to put the dogs out. She fell once doing so (she did not hurt herself) and one night she put them out and they got skunked.
My siblings want to get rid of them. My point is that they are the one thing that gives her pleasure and purpose. She talks to them and they keep her company.
Mom agrees not to let them out at night but then by the time night comes she has forgotten her promise.
We have moved the sofa in front of the access to the backyard door. I suggested putting a BIG sign on the sofa saying "Do not let the dogs out or they will be taken away"
Neither my sister or brother are what you would call "dog people" but I don't think they understand that the benefit of the dogs out weights the risk of fall.
At least I think they do.
I have also looked in to getting Mom a product called "safehips" - has anyone else ever used them.
I am really frustrated and sad for my Mom. I think if she doesn't have the dogs she will decline faster as she will have no purpose.
I go over to my Moms during the day for 4-5 hours at a time and my sister comes over after work for an hour or two. My brother is there at night. I have another brother who comes on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Mom doesn't wander - she is kind - caring - easy to please and does what she is told to do. i.e. takes showers with help, gets dressed on her own, goes out with us to do errands without a fight. I feel like we are very lucky - especially since I've been lurking on the site for a while - my heart goes out to those dealing with difficult parents.
I KNOW we are lucky and want my Mom to have some sense of normal - having her dogs.
This situation may cause a big blowup with the four of us (siblings) two of us think the dogs should stay and two that they should be gone.
Any insight or help is appreciated.

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Thanks for all the feedback. I think we have it solved... I put a lock on the door from the kitchen to the back yard. My brother locks it when he goes to bed and only us kids and a neighbor have a key. I also put a sign on the door saying " your dogs do not need to go out at night. Go back to bed" So far so good. Of course today when all four of us siblings were there my sister still thinks they should go as Mom could trip over them during the day also. We do not see eye to eye on the benefits. We've already taken away her home phone (telemarketers), her car and now there is discussion of the dogs..... will keep on trying to think of ways to make it more safe. Thanks for letting me vent.
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Scroll back to see my previous comments. My mother has been a narcissistic, mean and evil woman her whole life. I gave up my home and career to spend 4 years trapped in her gloomy freezing basement to care for her 24/7 until she went into a NH a year ago. For the past 30 years all she cared about was her dogs, to the point that, for the last 12 years of my father's life, he slept alone and went everywhere by himself because she preferred her then dogs. He passed 15 years ago.

Last evening she had a stroke (had a few over the years) and is back in the NH deemed to be in palliative care. Forever ago (when my father was alive) she did NH visits with her then dogs. A couple of the girls have become close friends of mine and tomorrow they'll take their dogs to visit her which will make her so happy.

The past couple of days she hears her mother calling her and says her mother is in her room with her (grandma died in 73). I'm not religious but, having had a number of encounters, I believe in the spirit world and that spirits come to guide those who pass on their journey into the beyond. I spoke with the NH RN today and she sees this all the time at the end - seeing and hearing those long gone before they themselves pass. According to the RN we're going day by day, hour by hour. Right now I don't know what I feel. She's just been a duty, a ball and chain, the ultimate taker, never giving - she knocked me around when I was 6 and put my in a hospital and it never got any better.

I have no guilt but tonight I'm troubled. Maybe I'll watch tv and have a glass of wine to sleep and shut it all out for a few hours. Of course my beloved dogs and cats will sleep with me as they always do.
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Please, please find a way to keep the dogs. Sometimes a pet is the only pleasure our parents have left. Try to find each dog a dog crate.Look at thrift stores, yard sales, or a store such as Wal-Mart. Make sure they only stay in them at night, and let them out right away in the morning. These crates are great in case of any type of emergency, too. Another alternative is to put them in a room with someone else in the house at night and close the door. I agree with others that falling due to the dogs is a symptom of a greater problem. Best wishes for you, your mom, and the dogs. :)
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Perhaps you could get a couple of cages to pen them up at night?? I would say she could keep the dogs as long as she can. I have a sweet pup and would be lost without her comfort and companionship she provides to me.
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As far as falling, I doubt getting rid of the dogs will help stop that. Most likely with her dementia, she'll automatically get out of bed to put dogs out even though she no longer has them. But as for her mental well-being I think they're important for her to keep. She's lost and is losing so much of what she once had, that I wouldn't take yet another thing from her. Sooner or later she'll not care whether they stay or go as the disease progresses or the dogs will just die of old age, then decide how to proceed. Stupid disease.
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Keeping her in bed at night? With my mom that would be absolutely impossible. A couple of months ago we added a large dog to the household. My mom has AD and has never liked dogs, but she loves this one. And he is such great company for her, she talks to and pets him constantly. Mom has always been a person that likes to touch and hold and cuddle. Tries this with her great grandchildren, but they are all now at ages that they like to be up and playing. The dog loves every bit of attention that mom gives him and she does not tire of the attention she receives from the dog. I wonder what we did without him in the household.

I too, have been concerned about falls. But the dog spends the night in a bedroom with the door closed so is not a fall hazard. During the day, the dog is with mom nearly constantly and is always supervised. The dog has provided countless hours of diversion for mom and she would miss him terribly if he were not here. I cannot imagine removing a dog that has been in a household for years and can easily understand how hard that would be on your mom.
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I'm thinking that we're focusing on the wrong thing here.
With dementia, your Mom may continue to get up at night, whether the dogs are there, or not, and she won't necessarily remember/understand that your brother let the dogs out before bedtime, or that they are contained in a crate, or that the dogs have pee pads to use.
I think the focus should be on keeping your Mom in her bed throughout the night. Is there some sort of alarm or baby monitor that could be used, to alert your brother that she is stirring around at night?
Best wishes to your family.
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Keep the dogs.
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Your brother is there at night? Then he can let the dogs out for bed time potty, problem solved. He only has to assure your mother that they've pottied ... and if he can't do that simple thing get rid of him and keep the dogs!!
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About 10 years ago, my sister gave my mom and dad a wee poodle that my mother dearly wanted. It was to be her dog as dad was not interested at all in fru fru dog. Mom is now in a NH and last week dad told me how much the dog means to him. She is really helping him to keep on schedule, is great company and he talks to her all the time etc. Dad is 87. He allows her to sleep on the bed and even hand built her a special ramp to get up there (animals were forbidden on the bed when we were children),lol. Honestly I fear for dad if something happens to that dog. I would attempt to the best of my ability to keep the dogs with your mother. They are probably a good part of her routine and reason for living. Do they wake her to take them out in the night? Or is she just waking herself? If they are waking her, crating in another room might be the best, but if she is waking herself try to figure out what that is all about. Perhaps reduced fluids after dinner might help.
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We have to give my husband's grandfather sleeping pills and we have purchased a bed rail in order to keep him from getting out of bed and falling at night. It does not seem as though she needs quite that much at this time, but I would suggest a bed rail to deter her from getting out of bed. It is not a device that is made to keep someone in their bed, but it may deter her from getting bed for any reason especially as her dementia worsens.
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It has been proven over and over again just how much pets can contribute to human life. Why do you think that all over the world every week there are dogs that visit nursing homes? There is a special bond between humans and the animals they love. If you get rid of your mother's pets she will likely decline rapidly and pass away from loneliness, no matter how many humans are around her.

My mother is desperate to see her little dog again, along with my new rescued lab. She can't walk any more and, with a hip replacement and a bad back, I can't lift her. I'm thinking I can get the NH staff to get her into my truck, then take her for a drive around the property and park so she can watch the dogs playing ball. It's 0the best I can do.
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I am a huge dog person. I also have a dad with dementia and was faced with similar very hard decision.

Basically, if the dogs are not in any danger and are well taken care of. And the only problem your mom is having is at night with balance when she tries to let the dogs outside, I recommend your consider resorting to night time crates. The dogs may be a little old, but they may surprise you how well they adapt to the safety of the crates.

However, if the dogs sleep with your mom the change to a crate would be a difficult one. You said that your mom knows she isn't supposed to let the dogs out at night, but she forgets. Perhaps if you installed a complex lock on the door you could deter her.

Another option is let the dogs be "day dogs" (a term I just made up). Basically, the dogs could stay with her during the day, but live somewhere else at night. Similar to "day-care" for the dogs.

For the record, my dad let his deaf/blind 14 year old Boston Terrier out one night and forgot about her. He lives on acreage. We found her the next day after she had been turned into animal control. She had a broken toe, but was otherwise ok. Unfortunately we couldn't guarantee that something like this would not happen again. :(
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Ashlynne, I hear you. I don't know what I would do without my fat yellow cat to talk to everyday. I certainly love him and wouldn't want to give him up.
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My mother had a miniature pinscher that passed away. In 09 I gave up my home and career and moved 200km with my large dog to care for her. At the time she had a cat called Pixie and desperately wanted another minpin but could no longer manage a dog. I thought what the heck, the dog will always have a home with me, and so along came Sue who became my mother's constant companion, even sleeping in her bed. My big dog passed away in May/12 and with no fenced backyard and caregiving 24/7 I didn't adopt another. My mother went into a nursing home a year ago.

Sue and Pixie now live with me, my 3 cats and 7 year old black lab I recently adopted from rescue, on 2 acres in the country. I wouldn't dream of parting with them, but then I'm one of those people who prefers animals to most people.
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I just read that 25% of seniors who fall and have a hip fracture die. 50% who survive never return to previous mobility.

As the parent of an ICU trauma nurse, you are risking your mother's health. I know how we love our pets and I love mine. It would be devastating for your mother to lose her dogs. I would call her vet and ask if they have any good suggestions.

Also, is there anywhere you could put the dogs at night? Garage? Utility shed? Just to keep her from getting up and letting them out. Maybe that would help. Have you thought of crating them at night?

This is not an uncommon problem. I live in Florida and many of the no kill shelters get both dogs and cats from the elderly when they can no longer care for the pets. If you take them to a no kill shelter, they will not be euthanized. There is a whole world of people who love dogs and cats more than people. They protect these animals and try to find them homes. Don't take them to the Humane Society.

Good luck
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I absolutely agree, those dogs are essential for your Mom's wellbeing.
Couple of suggestions. Could you install a doggy door so they can some and go independently or could you or your sister take them home each night. Maybe put a notice on the door. Do not let the Dogs out. Make sure any areas where Mom might go at night are very well lit and tripping hazards removed.
Could you explain what "safe hips" are? Mom won't remember any reasons or threats concerning the dogs, just incredibly sad if they are removed. Given her disease your Mom sounds as though she is remarkably pleasant to care for so don't upset the upset the apple cart! that's my two cents worth
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Thanks for the suggestion. Mom is okay letting them out during the day. It is at nite that the siblings are afraid she will fall while letting them out. Can anyone think of a way to reduce the fall risk regarding the dogs?
It will devastate my Mom to lose those dogs. I am so afraid they are going to do it.
I will be the one to step up and take them as I would never let them go to the SPCA or have them put down. It would just mean that I would then have four dogs. My husband isn't happy with that idea but I can't let them be put down. Mom would be so sad and I feel like they deserve to live with Mom for as long as she is alive.
I welcome all advice and input. I am not sure how to get my siblings to understand that the dogs are good for Mom - and I feel the benefit outweighs the risk of a fall. Thanks for the responses I have gotten so far and I look forward to more responses.
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It would kill my Mother -- she is 92 and advanced dementia -- to give up her cat and dog. While she can't take care of them any more, I do, she still sits and holds them and talks to them. One of the few glimmers of her past life that is left.

Plus, there are so many studies that address what animals do for us and help seniors and help lowering blood pressure and all kinds of things. In fact, some days she says, "who's Billy?" I tell her the yellow cat. But let me tell you if he weren't there, she'd be...well, I don't know, hate to imagine!

One thing that might help is get those "pee pads" for puppies and put them down. Tell your Mother that she doesn't have to put the dogs out at night any more because the dogs are going on the Pee Pads. I sense they are adult dogs and, in actuality, I think it would take a while to train them to pee pads. However, this may relieve your Mother's mind on letting them out.

Then when your brother comes home from work he lets them out. Dogs seem to sense when they are not going to be left out and "hold it". It always amazed me that I could go to work and be there 8 hours but yet had to go to the bathroom several times. Whereas my dogs were home, not only for the 8 hours I was at work but also for the commute time. My dogs have been home for as long as 12 hours and had no accidents in the house

Now, this may sound strange and I apologize to anyone who maybe be offended by what I'm about to say. But have your brother do 1 of 2 things. Either urinate a little on one of the pads or pour some water which has yellow food dye in it on one of the pads. Then show the pad to your Mother and say "see, the dogs used the pee pads. So, you don't need to put them out." Plus tell her, it isn't necessarily safe leaving them out so late at night because her neighbor saw a skunk and a raccoon in the neighborhood -- which is not good for the dogs." But believe me, at this point the dogs are so important to your Mother. Losing them would be devastating probably.

Whatever happens, please, please, do not turn the dogs into an SPCA or shelter. They will have a problem being adopted. Instead, someone needs to step up and accept the responsibility of going and sitting and holding the dogs while they are put to sleep. It is a hard but good process. We are kinder to animals than we are to people. But please do this as a last resort. Do try the pee pad thing first. Just ask the brother who lives with her to try to work with the dogs because, whether he can see it or not, at this point, they are doing so much for your Mother. Good luck and hugs!
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Their main concern is the fall risk - any input welcome!
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Oops, I re-read and saw the house is your brother's home, too. Tell him he just needs to bond with the dogs and see them as the souls they are, not as inconvenient objects.
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I think if the dogs are being well taken care of that they should stay. Where would the dogs go? They would probably be killed if taken to the humane society, because people usually want puppies. I believe when we adopt pets that it is a serious commitment. Animals love their homes and cherish their lives. Pets are not just objects to dispose of if they become inconvenient.

I never recommend that an elderly person take on a pet. It may be great for the person, but not fair to the pet. However, if the pets are already there, it is their home and not your brother's. The only thing is to make sure your mother doesn't feel she has to put them out at night.

If you do have to find the dogs a new home, try to find someone who will take care of them. I hope that doesn't happen and the dogs will be able to live out their lives in their own home with a person who loves them.
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