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My mom, 94, has recently progressed from banging at the entrance door to the apartment calling "mother, mother" to going downstairs at 2:30 in the morning, knocking on the superintendent's door and wandering around the lobby in her nightdress. Thankfully, the superintendent brought her safely up. As it turned out, the locksmith was in the building the next day to change the locks on the entrance doors in the lobby, and I spoke with him. He gave me three options: door guardian, barrel bolt with padlock and double cylinder deadlock. Since mom would be able to reach the door guardian despite her short stature, I am afraid she'll soon figure out how it works, even though it is childproof.


The barrel bolt with padlock would require a key. My two concerns are not that mom will get upset/angry at the sight of the padlock. Also, I am in and out six times a day, and sometimes she gets angry and locks me out by putting on the chain. The other concern is accessing the key in an emergency.


The third option was a double cylinder deadlock, again requiring a key that opens from the inside and outside. My concern again, is having to get out in case of emergency (although the superintendent would also have a key) , and the frequency of my coming and going.


Are there other options that the locksmith has not mentioned? What has your experience been with child/senior proof locks?

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It doesn’t sound like this lady should be left alone. Locking her in or out of areas is no solution when dementia is to this point.
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Globetrotter50, I see that your Mom lives with you and that she has Alzheimer's Dementia. I agree with cwillie above, your Mom is now at a time within her memory loss that she shouldn't be left alone.

I am afraid there are no door locks that will be sure-proof. Mom may start banging on your front door from the inside, in the middle of the night, shouting she needs help. And that isn't fair to the other tenants who are trying to get a restful night sleep.

Try placing a black or dark green throw rug on the floor in front of your exit door. To some people who have memory issues, it looks like a hole in the floor, thus they will stay away from it. It's worth a try.

Otherwise, it is time to hire caregivers to help Mom during those time frames where she is most active. That is if your Mom's budget can handle the cost. Or Memory Care Assisted Living, I know many grown children don't want to move their parent to Assisted Living, but it does benefit both the elder and the grown children. The Staff has been down this road hundreds of times and know exactly what to do in each new situation.

When my Dad lived in Independent Living at a senior complex he was doing well until he started to get "sundowning". I know I was surprised when the Staff recommended it was time for him to move over to their Memory Care section... that was when I found out Dad was wandering. What a relief knowing Dad could not leave the building. The place was like a resort type hotel, so "lock down" didn't give that trapped feeling. Dad really enjoyed the sunrooms for reading his morning newspaper :)
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A door alarm or motion sensor placed near her room will let you know that she is up and wandering in the night and may be the best solution when you are home. Locking her in when you are "in and out six times a day" is a little more problematic since you need something that you can use and she can't that could also be opened easily in an emergency. How far away are you when you go out, would an alert sent to your phone that she has opened the door give you enough time to get to her before she wanders far? As for a lock, I'd try exploring digital locks and security systems, but I'm uncomfortable with the whole idea, generally someone who has reached the wandering stage should not be left unattended.
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You live with your mother? I have a deadbolt on one door that requires a key on both sides. I leave the key in the lock on the inside all the time, but that would not work if your mum took the key out and hid it. It is easy to put a hook high up on the wall where she cannot reach for the key, or keep it on a retractable cord that you can pin to your clothing. My ex moved into a house that had a sliding bolt at the top of the exterior doors The previous tenants installed them to keep a family member safe inside.
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Perhaps a better system is an alarm that is triggered when the doorknob is turned? One that could be set up to ring in your room (rather than wake up the rest of the building). It would wake you up so you could deal with Mom before she gets to the lobby, but you'd all be able to get out in case of emergency.
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