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I have seen some questions related to this topic and found the answers interesting. However I am curious with my situation if the responses would vary. My mother in law has dementia - her activities include shopping, drinking coffee, eating sweets, and smoking. However with smoking she flat out refuses to admit it. She only smokes indoors in bathrooms in her house, my house, restaurants, bowling alleys.... When you ask her not to smoke indoors - she looks at you indignantly and states she doesn’t smoke. My husband stated it’s my issue. If I want to confront her it’s up to me - i.e. if I want to call her a liar I can do that. As if he can’t smell the smoke. Every time she visits I spend 12 hours cleaning the bathroom that supposedly no one smoked in - just to try to get the smell out of my house. I don’t want to cause a scene - it is bad enough when we visit them - I just don’t want the smell in my house. Any thoughts?

So she only will smoke in the bathroom? I'd jokingly say put a non functional toilet in the garage for her to sit on and smoke but we all know where that would lead.. ( gotta laugh sometimes) But in reality, this is a tough one to break. My friend made a "smoking" area in her garage with 2 chairs and a small table.. still inside.. but out of the house. My mom smokes in our rec room where she spends all her time.. it is smelly, I agree. But at 88 i'm not going to be able to change her.
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Ahmijoy Aug 21, 2018
OMG Pam. You just gave me the laugh of the week! 😂😂
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Post a cute little sign in your bathroom about not smoking and install a very sensitive smoke detector in there. If she sets off the smoke detector, let her know you'd be very happy to set up a pleasant place on the porch or patio with an ashtray where she can sit and relax. Apologize profusely for the racket caused by the smoke detector. Be extremely pleasant and polite.
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freqflyer Aug 23, 2018
Be careful about putting a smoke detector in or near a bathroom.... steam from a shower could cause the detector to ring.... yikes !!

A portable smoke detector might work, just bring it out on days that Mom will be visiting. Remember, the sounds can be frightening, especially to an elder.

I just read below that Ahmijoy had already mentioned the steam from the shower :)
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12 hours cleaning the bathroom? Really? 😳 Wow. I’d make hubby clean it. I understand how you feel though. I hate it when my husband smokes and the entire house stinks. The only problem with a smoke detector in the bathroom is that shower or bath water steam can set it off. If anyone gets up early and showers, you may be peeling yourself off the ceiling.

I would stake out the bathroom and stand outside the door while she’s in there. “Are you smoking in there, Mother Dear?” If she says no, tell her she must be on fire then because you smell smoke. Be a giant pain. Give her no peace. Keep on her until she gives up. And tell hubby to man up and tell his mother your house is a smoke-free zone.
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With her having dementia, depending on the level, she will need to be constantly supervised if she is handling anything like lighters, matches, etc. People with dementia can't even be left unsupervised with stoves, ovens, fans, etc. when they reach a certain stage. Having direct confrontations with her, probably won't be helpful. She may know that she is lying to you OR she may have a delusion about it. And, you really can't convince someone with dementia that things are a certain way, when they believe otherwise. And, even if you did, she'd likely forget about it shortly thereafter. So, it's rather pointless.

I'd figure out who is going to do the supervising and how her smoking will be handled by those in charge. She won't be able to continue running things her way, because it could impact her health and others, due to risk of burns and fire If she's a longtime smoker, not allowing her to smoke at all, would likely be very upsetting to her. I'd discuss it with her doctor. Even though smoking is bad for your health, if you are already terminally ill with dementia, I can see how continuing to smoke may be her decision and I wouldn't stand in the way, if it could be done without harm to others.

Most of the AL's that I have seen allow smoking, but, it's supervised for those with dementia.
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Don't know about ur state but in mine no one can smoke in a public place, bathroom included. Being your house, you have a right not to have her smoke and your husband should back u up. When she calls to visit, tell her she cannot smoke in your house. If she feels she cannot guarantee this, then tell her she can't visit. Your husband has left it up to you. If smoking in public is a no no, tell her the nxt time she smokes in a public place, you will report her to management.

My Dad did the same thing. He wasn't suppose to smoke because of a heart condition. Mom would find a butt in the sink and he'd swear he hadn't smoked it. Mom wasn't a smoker. It really is a mental thing.

I would not visit either. Second hand smoke is just as bad as smoking.

Believe me, I sympathize with you. My daughter is a smoker. I don't smell it while in her home but when I get to my house I smell smoke all over me. As I get older, smells effect me more and more. TG I have a DH who has told people they cannot smoke in my house.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Take away the cigerettes at the door. Not negotiable. Give them back when she is in the car to go home. She can smoke outdoors or not all while at your home. It is not your job to try to get her to stop smoking, and you can't make her stop anyway. The problem seems to be stopping her from smoking in your home. That's all you can do.
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While I understand the instinct to say just tell her you don't allow it in your house or to stand outside the bathroom to "catch" her and put up signs the fact is if she has any sort of dementia it's likely she doesn't have control over it, doesn't or wont remember it isn't allowed or both and may not be lying at all because she really doesn't know or remember she is smoking, maybe due to delusion, maybe just her memory. It's unlikely even setting off a smoke detector is going to train her because her mind isn't working like that. Whatever the case any sort of confrontation or assumption she can control her behavior may simply be futile. So I wouldn't assume she is being stubborn, lying to you or difficult or approach it that personal and direct a way for all of your sake.

I do have a couple of questions, how is she getting the cigarettes and lighters or matches? Is she a life long smoker, has she always smoked or is this newer behavior or very old behavior (she quit years ago for instance but started doing this again recently)? If she isn't a life long smoker and addicted maybe tackling the issue from the point of access would be a better approach. Cut off her supply and she may just forget about it, out of sight out of mind. The other things you could try are fake cigarettes for instance or something like that if the driving factor is more about the motion or "habit" of holding a cigarette or even sneaking it (maybe she is living in a period of her life when she was sneaking a smoke in the bathroom as a teenager).

Try challenging yourself, in a fun way, to figure out where her mind might be and what is driving her behavior and then to find a way to work with and around that rather than taking it as a personal assault and talking about confronting her, calling her a liar and being frustrated with your husband for not calling her out on it. Maybe you have ;earned a secret about her youthful rebellion you never would have known if it hadn't been for this dementia behavior. This is interesting and maybe something you can relate to a bit better but if it were me I wouldn't want to make her aware of having divulged this secret to everyone even if I could, why embarrass her or terrify her about what other things she might do. I would look for ways to guide her and help her re-bury those secrets and keep the smell out of everyone's bathrooms without making her face it if at all possible. But that's just my suggestion, I'm not living in your shoes. I do think I might be having a harder time with my husbands unwillingness to help or even acknowledge the issue for me than with my MIL's broken brain and altered thinking but maybe that's being too hard on him too, IDK. It may be that the whole thing is just too much for him I suppose at least right now. It is so hard to remember they aren't thinking, reacting and behaving in their normal way, their brains are not functioning on the same level as ours, because they often appear normal, as they always have on the outside making it so hard to remember that they aren't operating normally on the inside and when you do stop to remember that it's heartbreaking. Nothing easy about any of this but trying to keep life as normal and inclusive for them as you obviously are for your MIL is such a gift of love. You are giving such a gift to your MIL, your husband and your children, the whole family by opening your home and life to her, your family is very lucky.
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Reply to Lymie61
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You can buy smoke odor candles that you can burn in the bathroom so you are not spending 12 hours cleaning.

You listed 4 things that are the sum total of her life. If she quits smoking that is 25% of her being. What can fill that void?

She is 88 and dementia is unfortunately a terminal disease, if you can just deal with it, I think it would be better all around.

You have confronted her to no avail , learning to pick your battles is so important when dealing with dementia.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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If you and your Husband are living together this is his problem as well and he is minimizing you in not paying attention to your wishes.
What if this was one of your children that was smoking in the house? What would he say then? I think his response would be different. This is his mother so he does not want to make waves.
You can not do anything if she is smoking in her house, in a bowling alley or any other place. (You could tell management and see what they say as smoking indoors in a public space is no longer permitted)
Now what to do...
Go through her purse, lock the cigarettes in the car or lock her purse in the car when she visits you. If she wants a cigarette she has to go out to get them.
(I wonder if you can get a VERY sensitive smoke detector and put it in the bathroom so if she does light up an alarm will go off) Also a side note here if she is putting cigarette butts down the toilet they can clog and the plumbing bill just might change your husbands mind.

You are in for a battle but if it helps any I am right there with you I would not put up with it either.
(Maybe when MIL visits you can take off to a NICE hotel and come back only after your HUSBAND has cleaned the house of that nasty smell. A nice quiet bed, room service, a pool, massage...I think you are worth it!)
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I recently 'inherited' a 71-year old, blind, paranoid schizophrenic. My brother had been helping him for some 30+ years. My brother passed in Oct. in some part due to the stress of Seymour's non-adherence to rules, meds, and suggestions.
When I took over (dear Seymour), wasn't in any services system, and his living conditions were deplorable. He smoked a pack or more a day, in an apartment building that did not allow smoking at all. He was going to be put out of the only place he'd lived since 1980. Would not quit.

I introduced e-cigarettes to him. Just a couple at first, then a few more, and finally said I would not be buying any more cigs, or tobacco or papers. He was plenty mad at me for awhile, and he still says yes when doctors ask if he smokes.
But he can stay in his apartment now, there's no smell, he can exhale 'smoke', and now he accepts them completely.
He can't see to fill a vapor pen, and I'm not going there. They are too expensive and high maintenance for him.
Just try it. You might be surprised. NO ONE believed I would get him to quit.
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Jada824 Aug 23, 2018
The e cigarettes are a great idea. That is the only thing that helped me quit & I smoked for 50 years!
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