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I'm still not sure if my mom has dementia but she started showing serious signs last week. I live with my mom and she was a tough lady before last week. I took her to the doctor and they believe she might have had a stroke and she's just feeling the after effects (brain failure). They were more concerned for her blood sugar levels than her sanity but I learned that blood sugar can effect the brain.


Anyway, as her behavior started to decline to forgetfulness and memory loss I've begin taking preventative measures. I've taken away her old cell phones and tablets to prevent random downloads. I turn off the gas main when leaving the house after the last three fire alarm scares. I've also simplified her phone though not entirely (I'm working out the kinks).


Is there anything else I may be forgetting?

This one isn't really for Mother, but for protection of our dog from Mother.
As many times as we have told Mother not to give the dog certain foods, she does. Sometimes this is done on the sly and sometimes she just forgets.
I have told her several times not to give him grapes or raisins, "because they are toxic to dogs and he can become fatally ill."
Of course her answer is, "I know."
I finally just stopped bringing home grapes or oatmeal raisin cookies because she always wants to share with the dog.
I mean, it's one thing for her to kill my orchids by over watering. I don't need her to accidentally kill my dog with a raisin.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 18, 2019
When I had a dog, my mom did that as well. I miss my greyhound! He was so sweet. He loved mom and she loved him. Was a special bond.
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My mom goes into my husband’s toolbox to fix things. She was very handy when younger. More so than my dad, LOL. But we don’t want her trying to fix a lamp or tighten up the brakes on her walker. She isn’t very strong at 93 and could hurt herself.
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faeriefiles Apr 17, 2019
I gave all power tools, lawn equipment, and other dangerous tools to my son as soon as pops became unable to safely use them. We have one small toolbox with a lock on it with commonly needed tools for household minor repairs.
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We don't leave pops alone in the house, ever. I have adult children living at home so I have a lot of help with this. I sleep on a cot outside his room or a nearby couch so I can hear if he leaves his room at night. Even with all that, he can sometimes sneak by us if we're distracted. We have a simple, pull string type childrens music toy attached to the top of the door that leads outside and if the door is open the string is pulled and we can all hear the music so we know he's leaving, just in case we all missed it when he headed for the door. Vehicle keys are kept under lock and keys. Each of my adult kids has a locking bedroom door which they keep locked and we store all vitamins, meds and dangerous items behind locked doors. We have allotted him a kitchen cabinet that we store all his snack items and his favorite plates cups flatware etc. We put his photo on it and he really likes being able to go there and get whatever he likes, whenever he likes. We keep a measured amount of liquid soap, shampoo etc in the bathroom because he still bathes himself and this keeps him from overdoing it with the suds and flooding the whole bathroom. The bathroom door lock is an easy pop lock so if he gets locked in we can just pop it open with an ice pick. The bathroom is all tile with non slip pads. The pads can just be pulled up and washed and the tile cleaned easily when he has those moments where he's "playfully" spraying pee all over the bathroom like a toddler. If I ever remodel I will have a floor drain put in. He became obsessed with putting things down the in sink garbage disposal so we finally just had it taken out. I was concerned that he would seriously hurt himself if we left it in. We bought him shoes that have velcro, zippered clothing instead of buttons etc. Anything to make his life easier. We "story" him when guests are coming. Showing him photos and reminding hims who people are and something about them. Sometimes he can retain enough so that he's not so frightened when we have visitors. Basically toddler proofing is the idea with the added access the toddler were have if taller.
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disgustedtoo Feb 26, 2019
"We don't leave pops alone in the house, ever." YAY!
"I have a lot of help with this." YAY!
"...he can sometimes sneak by us if we're distracted." Toddlers are good at this too!
"We have a simple, pull string type childrens music toy attached to the top of the door that leads outside and if the door is open the string is pulled and we can all hear the music so we know he's leaving..." AWESOME!! Good old Yankee ingenuity!!!
"Vehicle keys are kept under lock and keys." Where do you keep the keys for the keys? I should think the music toy would be first line of defense there, but he could snag keys and hide them too if left out!
"Each of my adult kids has a locking bedroom door which they keep locked ..." Privacy AND protects their possessions!
"...we store all vitamins, meds and dangerous items behind locked doors." YAY!
"We have allotted him a kitchen cabinet that we store all his snack items and his favorite plates cups flatware etc. We put his photo on it and he really likes being able to go there and get whatever he likes, whenever he likes." THAT is another awesome idea!!!
"We keep a measured amount of liquid soap, shampoo etc in the bathroom because he still bathes himself and this keeps him from overdoing it with the suds and flooding the whole bathroom." Ummm, even with a way to restrict the amount of water used, he could still flood the bathroom...

"The bathroom door lock is an easy pop lock so if he gets locked in we can just pop it open with an ice pick." All bath doors (really any interior door) should be this type. A child can lock his/herself into a room easily! I am replacing the bath ones in this house as they are some butt-fangled type that lock depending on how you handle the handle (I still haven't figured that one out, lock myself IN and I HATE the damn thing!)
"The bathroom is all tile with non slip pads. The pads can just be pulled up and washed and the tile cleaned easily when he has those moments where he's "playfully" spraying pee all over the bathroom like a toddler." OMG, I was glad I was not eating or drinking when I read this one!!!!!
"If I ever remodel I will have a floor drain put in." Probably a good idea, but might not look very nice...
"He became obsessed with putting things down the in sink garbage disposal so we finally just had it taken out. I was concerned that he would seriously hurt himself if we left it in." Haven't had one of those, so never considered that, but yeah, either disable it or get rid of it - better to live without it than without a hand!!!!
"We bought him shoes that have velcro, zippered clothing instead of buttons etc." Good idea, even for anyone who has manual dexterity issues.
"We "story" him when guests are coming. Showing him photos and reminding hims who people are and something about them. Sometimes he can retain enough so that he's not so frightened when we have visitors." Sometimes... I do show mom pix of my grandson - she likes seeing them, but even having pix in her room she still doesn't recall who's kid it is. Asks every time, but that's okay. Just being there and showing pictures can likely keep some memories alive. Doing Xmas cards with her, I had some for my younger brother's daughters. She had no clue who they were, even though they are almost 20 years younger than my kids and lived nearby so she DOTED on them big time!! I had their mother send me pix, so I could try to keep them in mom's memory (don't think brother visits much and likely never talks about them or shows pix.)

"Basically toddler proofing is the idea with the added access the toddler were have if taller." - Yup!! Kinda goes with taking mom to appointments. I get there, she starts with the 'I don't want to go', 'Why do I have to go?', 'I don't need it, I am fine.' and 'Do I have to go?' That's when I pull mom-rank and say put your coat on and let's go.

Gads! Imagine if toddlers were born adult sized!!!! 8^O
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Due to a kitchen-project obsession, we had to hide all the sharp knives. We also hid the drain plugs for the kitchen sink, as she would frequently want to "soak" dishes in the sink. Once, she walked away and completely forgot the water was still running until the kitchen was thoroughly flooded. With a tile floor, we saw this as a risk factor.

Also, we have taken 100% of the financial stuff as our responsibility. She wasn't keeping track of what had already been paid for, and no longer has a good sense of what is actually needed. She was also VERY susceptible to a slick sales pitch and even to scammers. So we process all the mail, pay all the bills and check her email and other messages for signs of scammers and "buy stuff" messages.
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gdaughter Feb 25, 2019
I had a PO Box and added both folks to the list of users...so now the majority of things go to the PO BOX and things don't go missing or unpaid. The unfortunate challenge was the new medicare cards. Dad and I were on the lookout, but mom knew enough to recognize it was mail addressed to her. I heard from the attorney it was a major hassle to change that address as you had to really sign off on the responsibility etc. Luckily, when we were at an MD appt, I was standing beside the chair she was sitting in when she opened her purse and I spotted the red, white and blue of the card in a tight little pocket. I didn't ask, I just reached down and snatched it. SO relieved.
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If you have a step ladder or step stool put them away. Mom would get up on the counter to "clean out" her cabinets. While she was in that stage she moved everything all the time. It was a treasure hunt every time you needed something.
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gdaughter Feb 25, 2019
and related: if there are any valuable, special items, take them now and put them in a safe space. My locked room has become a depository but at least we know where some of the things are; the wedding rings remain missing, and it is distressing and heartbreaking.
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So what, is she downloading porn? Seriously, set up the tablet or phone with the kid setting to prevent whatever you are concerned about. Think about how you would child proof a house. Look online for suggestions. Some ideas: cover outlets with child proof covers, lock up all medications even the over the counter ones, Tide pods-they look like candy, lock up anything that is not food but may be eaten such as toothpaste, take the knobs off of the stove if electric or shut off the circuit breaker. I had a relative stick paper in an outlet to block some gremlins from getting out. Another one went at the outlet with a screw driver-yikes!. Just go through the house, use your imagination to determine how you could get in trouble. Also look online for elder proofing a house such as getting rid of throw rugs, increasing lighting, removing any tripping hazards. The cognitive decline makes you more likely to fall. Please consider the safer environment of a memory care unit. Oh and the POA suggestion--do it now!
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disgustedtoo Feb 26, 2019
The porn might keep her "occupied" and out of trouble!!! :-D
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Get POA if you don’t have it already. It will be needed if/when you need to start paying her bills and making decisions on her behalf.
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Unless your stove is ancient, it should have removable knobs, for the burners and the oven. My newer range has push buttons for the ovens - but it is marked under the START button - push/hold for 3 seconds to lock/unlock. That would be easier than having to turn the gas off/on (and what if you are in a hurry and forget?)

Microwave - again, unless it is really ancient, they have a safety lock built in! I learned about this when told that mom "locked" her microwave and brother had to "fix" it. My new washer/dryer came with this feature as well (and I use it so the cats are not turning them on when jumping up on them!) Press the STOP/CANCEL button for about 3 seconds to lock or unlock.

Others mentioned the child safety locks - for cabinets and doors. Lock any rooms to prevent access, such as laundry rooms. I would keep all small appliances in the cabinets when not in use. Toasters and coffee makers can start fires too! You might want to consider the outlet plug covers (help prevent them putting bad items into unused outlets.)

Cameras for monitoring can be helpful - we had some to monitor outside/inside the main door and the basement area, just to keep a remote "eye" on mom (or anyone coming there!) We couldn't see everything, but she was not too bad at that point.

Once anyone gets to a certain point, such as those mentioned here, I would not be okay with leaving them unattended, even if it is just to run to the store for milk. Think 2 year old - would you leave them alone sleeping while you run a quick errand? Mom was not that bad yet, but we have no way of knowing when the next shoe will drop, so we had to make that decision to move her to a safe place before she became a hazard to herself.
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Debster Feb 25, 2019
Omigosh-the cats!! (Smile 😁)
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Remove all scatter rugs.
Secure medication.
Turn off gas main.
Install elder handle on tub/shower/toilet

She is no longer acting her physical age, but a 2 year old.
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Does she wander? If so, get her a wearable tracker (and start looking for a memory care community - it's best to make the move while she's still able to adjust well).

Lock down her finances. She's vulnerable to scammers and her own bad judgement.

Invest in some 'smart home' technology to keep an eye on things when mom is home and you're not; a doorbell that alerts you when someone visits and shows you the visitor, a device that lets you do a video call with mom, smart plugs that let you log on to make sure things are on or off as they should be...

And, again, start looking for a community. The symptoms get worse.
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Yes...and you might want to check in with an elder law attorney in the meantime to make sure you are doing everything right to protect assets...etc.
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I bought mom a mini Keurig. Posted instructions on wall next to it. She could make coffee, tea, cocoa, and even soup without burning the house down:) She was very good about wearing her Lifeline, but not at all good about pressing it when needed. Also, a baby monitor is helpful in certain situations. If you don't have a fire extinguisher, get one. Many home health companies require one in your home.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
Okay, I am a germaphobe. I admit it. My mom would slightly rinse out cup to make a new cup of coffee in the keurig. I don’t let her know I am upset about it anymore because she just doesn’t handle constructive criticism well. Not worth even saying anything because her answers can be irrational.

I get grossed out and start running the vinegar through the machine to clean it and I tell her I will make her coffee for her.

Now she can’t do anything for herself and I do everything anyway but I hated when she wouldn’t totally wash out the cup, refill with water and dump it in the keurig.

Still, I know that she wanted to have some independence. So it really isn’t a reason to be upset with her. Pick battles, right? This wasn’t worth a battle.
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Would you want to get one of those super easy for seniors phones for her? For the time being anyhow?
I have a book in my office that is a bit dated but dealt with home safety issues for people with dementia.
Not having read other comments thus far, will say that we had a knox box lock box installed by our fire dept on the outside of our house...only they have the key; the box holds keys to your house so in an emergency they get in faster without busting doors and windows.
That must be such a drag with the gas..would you want to consider a switch to electric so you can just pull the knobs?
Don't forget the microwave if you have one...put it on child mode.
Any risk of wandering?
The local Alzheimer's assn may have a list of safety things you can look out for.
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Pull the fuse on the stove so she doesn't start to cook & walk away forgetting it - get kiddy locks on your kitchen cabinets so she can't get to knives, scissors etc that she could use inappropriately

Also check your smoke alarm & co2 detector just in case - anything that you would put in place for a 2 year old is a good start - good luck
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gdaughter Feb 24, 2019
Thinking of them as 2 year olds is so accurate. Just old enough to get into mischief and trouble and QUICKLY. It is exhausting to keep up with them, and think like them.
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I bought covers for the stove knobs. Dad liked to make things line up perfect, as s result of that he turned all the knobs on so that gas was leaking out but the flame wouldn’t light. I was home at the time! My son also took the switches off of his saws, he would go and turn them on to watch them run. I had bought cabinet locks for the chemical cabinet since he liked to plunder and had no idea that he couldn’t drink those. Also he developed pica (putting everything in his mouth) so I really had to watch him at dinner if he had a paper napkin, and at other times since it didn’t seem to matter what it was.
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Aghhhh! These are all horror stories to me! Funny not funny. And this is what I may have to look forward to?
Last night at 11pm, the police showed up at the house. "Is everything okay? We received a hang up 911 call from this address."
There are some really good ideas to keep in mind here.
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gdaughter Feb 24, 2019
You really should alert the local police to this possibility/concern, i.e. that mom has dementia and you're doing all you can...the fire dept as well, in case they get a call. They will probably be obligated to respond and ask questions later...
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I found an item called tiles. They are small key fob type items that I put in moms purse, fanny pack, phone etc so that when she puts them away for safety I can find them with an ap on my phone. This has saved hours of hunting!
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If there is a close neighbor, trusted friend or clergy in the neighborhood ask them to be additional eyes and ears in case your mother decides to leave the house. If she is capable of walking out the door, an ID bracelet could save her life.
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Unplug the Toaster! Mom put hot cocoa packets in the toaster. Thank God we saw this before the paper caught fire. When mom’s sodium gets low her dementia like behavior gets 10x worse so watch for sodium levels.
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Many great ideas here! I think that you need a a cognitive evaluation to see if she has dementia so that you know what lies ahead. If she does have dementia, and she's still driving, you should sell her car and have that out of the way. Will she protest? Probably, but safety for her and others is paramount. I have chimes on the doors and windows and a security system. If a door or window is opened, a chime goes to my cell phone. I've also had security camera installed on the back of our townhouse and a "Ring" type door bell. These are all hooked up to the security system, so if I get an alert that the door is opened, I can check the video to see where my LO is. My LO hasn't been able to use a phone, remote controls or appliance for some time.
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You may need to unplug the microwave and oven/stove. Maybe get a toaster oven and hot plate that only you use, if you can lock them away (or put them in the car) when you're not using them.
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Remove all unsafe ingestible items.....especially hand sanitizers! Very dangerous if ingested.
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Good topic. My wife has mild to moderate dementia, type 1 diabetes, and a whole host of other health issues, and she falls a lot too. We are both retired and 70 years old. My health is good. Things I've done in the home include; Hand rails everywhere needed (bathtub, toilet-side, etc.), safety rail on the bed, motorized lift chair between first and second floor, walkers upstairs and downstairs, and got rid of toaster oven as she once nearly caused a house fire (replaced with a normal toaster). Remove candles and matches (another near disaster). I handle her meds and sugar-level testing and insulin injections as she started to have difficulty and was making mistakes. After her car sat unused for 2 years, I jumped at the opportunity to sell it the minute she agreed she could no longer drive. I do the cooking as she was concocting some pretty strange recipes and also the danger of fire/burns. I manage her finances for her, but keep her fully informed so she feels involved. I run local errands while she sleeps and have someone with her whenever something takes a longer time (like a respite break for me). I've moved items she frequently needs to lower cabinet shelves for easier access and safety. Someone made the comment about baby-proofing and that's a good analogy. Also, remember to take care of yourself.
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My husband was diagnosed with a progressive cognitive impairment over a year ago. I have changed all interior door knobs to be non-locking; removed knobs from our gas stove when I am not using it; hung reminder signs to turn off faucets when done; put remote controls out of his sight when not using them. A few months ago, he “hid” his wallet in a “safe” place and we couldn’t find it. It had his picture ID, bank cards and insurance cards. It was a hassle to replace everything. So, I recommend you proactively get and keep duplicates in a safe place. It was important to my husband to still have a wallet to carry but now it only has twenty dollars, the duplicate picture ID and his medical insurance cards so he can show them at doctors visits. I am looking into getting a sounding device for our exterior doors so I know if they are being opened without having to set our security alarm. I hope this helps and I look forward to reading ideas that others post.
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gdaughter Feb 24, 2019
In our case we actually put LOCKING handsets on a couple interior room door knobs. One on the bedroom where my pup is since the elders cannot be trusted to look out for her/handle her. This makes my space cluttered as it is a safe place for valuables, papers etc. (Note that there is also a key to this room in the knox box/lock box which also notes my pup is in here, god forbid). We also locked the laundry room door to keep my mother with dementia from the washing machine access. She was using too much detergent and we suspect that was the reason for a hives episode my father had...the hassle is having to keep your keys handy, AND being VERY CAREFUL to not let your keys be left sitting somewhere because demented or not, they are VERY SNEAKY and will try to bust in where they are locked out. Or can I should say. I found my mother one day throwing her 100 lbs against the laundry room door, twisting the knob, and trying keys on dad's key ring on it...
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You are so smart to get ahead of this issue!!! My DH likes to prowl around the house in the middle of the night opening doors, cabinets, fridge, turning on lights & water, changing clothes 20 times, opening bags & cans of food in the pantry. Basically, in order for me to get any sleep, I had to baby proof the house: child locks on cabinets, special locks on exterior doors, screen door safety latches on closets, pantry & every door I don't want him to open, tied fridge door handles shut. I turned off the water to all but two sinks. I hide the car keys, remote controllers, & alarm system key fob. The stove knobs have a child resistant turn on feature. I turned down the water heater. I have LED bulbs in lamps that are never turned off. For me it has been very much about keeping him in & both of us safe. Best of luck to you!
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gdaughter Feb 24, 2019
It is SO exhausting to keep up with it all, isn't it?
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The hard thing with seniors is that UTI does not create the same symptoms as it does when younger, she has 2 of the most common symptoms seen in seniors, 1 - sudden onset of dementia like behavior 2 - off smelling urine.

Get her checked and keep an eye on it, incontinence is a huge factor for causing UTIs.
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Excellent topic. Will be reading. Thank you.
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I find it funny, literally, that your priority was preventing "random downloads". What exactly does she download that you are worried about. ;) Instead of taking away her phone and tablet, why don't you just net nanny it. You don't even need special software for that. Just set the DNS to a net nanny DNS and she won't be able to go to "bad" places. Considering that mental stimulation is the only thing found to help with dementia, I would reconsider taking away a source of mental stimulation. You want her brain to stay active to stave off atrophy. A tablet is a great way of doing that.

A few of the things I've done is... One, I installed automatic faucets. After the second time grandma overflowed the sink by sticking a rubber basin over the sink and walking away with the water running, I decided to deal with it once and for all. You don't even need any plumbing skills. There are screw on devices that replace the aerator that turn it into a automatic faucet just like at public restrooms.

Two, I installed rails all around the house for fall prevention. It's exactly like it sounds. I put rails on every wall so when the refuse to use a walker, there's always a rail at hand. It wasn't that hard to do. I did have to figure out how to make sections quick removable so that I could open up cabinets.

Three, I've rigged the kitchen to avoid burning down the house. Once again, it was grandma. She decided to make soup at 3am but forgot all about it and went back to her room. I woke up to the smoke detector. So I replaced the regular stove with an induction unit. Not only are they safer since they don't get hot, but they will detect overheat conditions and shut themselves down. You can also set up appliances to go off automatically if they detect that no one is standing there after a few minutes. So if there's no one in the kitchen they will shut themselves off.
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MountainMoose Feb 21, 2019
Outstanding ideas, needtowashhair!
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Her blood sugar levels will have a lot to do with her mental state. Worked with a guy that we were aware that if he started talking weird and got lethargic we were to call the ambulance. The stroke may not have helped either. Could be a temporary thing. I would ask she be tested for UTI.
If you are the one who will have to assist her, ask for a "hat" or buy one. It sits on the toilet seat. They pee in it and then you just pour it into the jar they give you.

Did they do any bloodwork on Mom? If not, she should have a work up. An MRI or Catscan will show if she had a stroke.
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dtgray12 Feb 21, 2019
I had some blood work done, still waiting for the results.
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You can install a camera system in the home that connects to your cell phone for around $100.00 to purchase the cameras. That way you can peek in while you're away.
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dtgray12 Feb 21, 2019
I might do that.
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