I am screening various Memory Care facilities for my Mom with vascular dementia and have heard horror stories of patients wandering into other patients rooms at any hour of the night, while they are sleeping. What is the typical/expected way to prevent this? My Mom would never sleep again if this happened to her.

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I worked as a speech pathologist in nursing home for 20+ years.
Lot of facilities use a banner or strap across the doorway that has a Stop Sign on it. It is attached with Velcro so can come off easily. It seemed to really work for most wandering.
Some memory care units have 4 beds in one room with only privacy curtains between them. There is not much you can do about that.
Usually by that stage in their dementia only redirection will work.
Nothing about dementia is easy.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to PrairieLake

When I was at Moms NH the other morning I saw yellow caution tape strung across a residents doorway. When I asked “Is Betty OK? Is she in quarantine?” They said “No, it’s to keep Helen out of Betty’s room at night. She tends to roll in there sometimes and it scared Betty. So the caution tape keeps her out. It will only take a couple of days for Helen to stop doing it”. Maybe they could try this at night.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to rocketjcat

Unfortunately, this is something that happens in most facilities. My mother actually used to get into bed with other residents. They have no evil intent; they are just confused. My mother also used to “borrow” things from the nurse’s station and other rooms. When I found something in her room, I’d take it to the nurse who found out who it belonged to and retuned it. People also used to come into my mom’s room and lie down in the extra bed in there. My mom didn’t think anything of it. She didn’t feel threatened and just accepted it. When you’re dealing with a group of confused and delusional people, things happen. That’s why there are more aides and nurses in the Memory Care Unit.

There are call buttons in every room. There are aides and nurses in the hallways 24/7 keeping an eye on their patients. Mom can always call out as well if she’s uncomfortable.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Ahmijoy

My dad developed a pretty fair coping skill - he just tells anyone who comes in his room that they belong next door. It gets them out of his room...
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to TNtechie

Yes, I agree with previous comments. Residents in Memory Care Unit will visit and "shop" in other's rooms. There are no locks on the doors, likely for safety reasons. It is the culture, it is a way of life in Memory Care Unit. While visiting my wife in MC during the day, I have had to re-direct residents who have lost their way. One did get in my wife's bed, You just call staff for assistance. At night, it can be alarming. One can always yell out for assistance or kindly re-direct the wander. There are call-buttons in the rooms.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to ed812day2

The "horror stories" are true. It does happen (it has happened to my mother) but it can be easily remedied by getting a nurse to remove the patient. All patients have access to calling the nurse. Some patients are too confused to do this. It is well known that dementia suffers have a tendency to "wander" or walk around in a pattern. Unfortunately, this means entering someone's room on occasion.

It is impossible to lock the doors of patient rooms to prevent this as this would be a safety/fire hazard issue. A confused patient can not unlock a door. Maybe you could ask if they could put a "baby gate" in the doorway of your mother's room. However, they have to comply with fire codes and that may not be possible and it may be considered a "restraint" or a tripping hazard.

Most places have cameras in hallways and staff do hourly checks. "Wandering", unfortunately, is something that has to be dealt with if you are going to place your loved one in memory care. As you can see, there is no "prevention".

At some point YOUR mom may be the one who's going into other rooms. We all have to take it in stride. This is typical behavior of dementia patients.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to SueC1957

This happens in every facility unfortunately. As most other responders have said, it's mostly harmless confusion. But for someone like my mother, it was akin to terror. She had been married to my father for 62 years and to have strange men coming into her room was terrorizing. So we stayed with her 24/7 until we could bring her home. At night, with the permission of staff, we closed her door. Was it exhausting? Yes. But it was worth it for her fragile piece of mind. If you address your concerns with staff, become friendly with her nurses and establish a rapport, you will find most of them are very kind, compassionate and more than willing to go the extra mile to check on your mom regularly.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Dorian

One memory unit had nooks in the hallway in which they place small (safe) objects. Often these were a distraction, and could keep a resident from wandering into another resident's room to look at or touch or take their stuff. The residents were free to pick up these items, take them to another nook. Staff would return them at night. Sometimes all it takes is something "new and shiny."
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to mumtothree

We had the same thing happening where my parents live, at all times of the day. This really bothered my dad who is more with it than my mom and he said a woman was stealing his socks. We asked the facility to install a lock on the door and give my dad a key so when they are out of the room or want privacy they can lock their door. The staff does check in regularly on them so I feel their is not a safety issue here.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Marysd

Dear Madina,

Placing my Mom in a care home was a responsibility that terrified me because I would no longer be there to protect or directly manage her care.

it becomes clear very quickly what a care facility’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Night wandering is common with dementia.

Any facility that that cares for people with dementia should have the knowledge, skills and professionalism for monitoring and working with these behaviors.

Ask the facilities you interview how how they manage this. Their answers should reassure you. And, if they do not - follow your intuition and move the facility down or off your list.

I think that in any working relationship with a care home, communication is crucial. Choose a facility that you are comfortable communicating with and where the staff is responsive to your concerns - especially when things don’t go well.

Best of of luck to you. And, remember to take care of yourself too.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Gardens

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