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A way to prevent equipment being turned off.

stg

Registered User
Apr 5, 2021
10
0
Hi,
Looking after 82year old mother-in-law who has moderate-serve mixed type Dementia.

Her latest thing is adjusting the temperature in her house and I am looking for some advice if possible.

She has started going on that someone has come round her house and taken all the airbricks out and thus she can not breathe and want us to call the Police. We have tried many times to tell her that her house did not have any air bricks and does not need air bricks as she does not have a gas fire, coal fire or wooden floors but she is adamant that someone stole them all and then obviously repaired the brick walls and redid all the plastering and internal decorating whilst she was in the toilet.

So we then fitted window restrictors so she could have the windows open slightly to get air movement but she does not know that windows can be opened and of course once we tell her she forgets and it all starts again the next day.

So she has now got it in her head that if she turns the boiler off this will allow fresh air into the house and allow her to breathe. However turning the boiler off off turns the heating and hot water off so she is complaining to the plumber that the boiler is faulty and we have had to tell the plumber to ignore her calls. She then moans to us that the house is cold and she is freezing.

She turns the boiler off by flicking the circuit breakers but she also turns other circuits off like downstairs power thus the fridge, freezer and TV stop working and then we get irate phone calls that someone has come to her house and broken everything.

We put a big notice on the circuit breaker box saying do not touch which she ignores. We locked the circuit breaker box but she then broke the lock to get in. I build a wooden box to cover the circuit box but she ripped that off the wall to get in.

So, is there a way to prevent mother in law from turning stuff off at the main circuit breaker box without chaining her to her chair :)

PS, she does have carers who are great, they come 4 times a day but it's getting difficult to keep asking them to do all these extra daily checks to check she has not tampered with anything in the house when they should be caring for her.
 

MartinWL

Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
1,279
0
This is an extreme example and I am not sure what can be done beyond what you have already tried. I had a much less serious problem, my dad complained that the central heating had failed and I found out later that someone had turned off the isolation switch for the boiler. Also the isolation switch for some lights was off. I had the latter replaced by an electrician so that the lights could only be isolated by taking the fuse out. I got the heating going within 5 minutes of arriving at the house.

In your extreme situation maybe it is care home time if this behaviour can't be controlled even by locking up as you have done.

Incidentally you should not prevent the power being turned off in emergency for the whole house.
 

MartinWL

Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
1,279
0
An idea if an expensive one, might be to get an electrician to move the RCD ( circuit breakers) panel to a location that she won't see like the loft. Is that realistic?
 

stg

Registered User
Apr 5, 2021
10
0
An idea if an expensive one, might be to get an electrician to move the RCD ( circuit breakers) panel to a location that she won't see like the loft. Is that realistic?
She lives in a barn conversion so there is no loft/attic. It's a 2 up (Bedroom and bathroom) and 2 down (Living room and Kitchen)
 

stg

Registered User
Apr 5, 2021
10
0
This is an extreme example and I am not sure what can be done beyond what you have already tried. I had a much less serious problem, my dad complained that the central heating had failed and I found out later that someone had turned off the isolation switch for the boiler. Also the isolation switch for some lights was off. I had the latter replaced by an electrician so that the lights could only be isolated by taking the fuse out. I got the heating going within 5 minutes of arriving at the house.

In your extreme situation maybe it is care home time if this behaviour can't be controlled even by locking up as you have done.

Incidentally you should not prevent the power being turned off in emergency for the whole house.
Thanks.
Her mobility is not great at times so we could place heavy furniture in front of the circuit box.
She has to use a walking frame and when she does her mobility is really really poor like one step a minute. So moving furniture would be cumber some for her but she has fallen in the past year 3 times (Hospital for broken ribs, fractured pelvis etc) trying to move furniture around unattened.
 

Violet Jane

Registered User
Aug 23, 2021
393
0
I think that you now have to weigh up the benefits of your mother remaining at home against the risks of falls and injuries, hypothermia and other illnesses. I don’t feel that putting heavy furniture in your mother’s way to prevent her from getting to the circuit box is a solution as, based on what you’ve told us, she risks falling and injuring herself if she is determined to move the furniture. I agree with Martin about a care home as there doesn’t seem to be a answer to your problem. IMO, once a PWD who lives alone can’t live safely and calmly (ie without getting agitated and ringing people constantly about imaginary problems) with carer visits and requires constant supervision it’s time for a care home.
 

Andy54

Registered User
Sep 24, 2020
85
0
This may seem like a silly idea but how about a "fake" switchbox. You could cover the real one with the wooden box as you did before then mount the fake one on the wall next to it. At least there would be no risk of injury in trying to move things out of the way.
 

DreamsAreReal

Registered User
Oct 17, 2015
152
0
This may seem like a silly idea but how about a "fake" switchbox. You could cover the real one with the wooden box as you did before then mount the fake one on the wall next to it. At least there would be no risk of injury in trying to move things out of the way.
Brilliant! This isn’t my thread but recently had the same problem and wouldn’t have thought of this. Thank you!
 

Violet Jane

Registered User
Aug 23, 2021
393
0
As I understand it, stg’s mother turns things off at more than one place in the house and so there would have to be strategies for all these circuit breakers, switches or whatever. The fundamental question is whether a person who fiddles with household heating systems etc is safe living on his/her own.
 

jugglingmum

Registered User
Jan 5, 2014
6,085
0
Chester
This made me smile at dementia logic.

We discovered that my mum had turned her electricity off we think maybe 18 months before her crisis - which would mean she had been without electricity for maybe 2 winters (she had gas for cooking)

(my mum was a hoarder and for over 10 years before any signs of dementia I hadn't been allowed to enter the house - mum always travelled to visit me - and presented in what I now think was hostess mode)

Her logic for turning it off was people were stealing it (she repeated this logic to every Dr she saw which helped get the diagnosis)- she had very old equipment and there was an issue in that even when turned off the dial was still turning (house needed a rewire on 1967 purchase survey - never undertaken). My brother had to disable downstream which he said was technically illegal but would be considered correct action by electric co (his day job was an electronic engineer - so no need for Mr Google to do this).

My only thought is that could fake airbricks be stuck on inside walls somewhere.

I actually moved my mum to sheltered extra care, I think some issues were caused by stomach bugs due to lack of a fridge (she had camp hanging larders hung up in various places). She did spend the first winter turning all the radiators off as it was too hot.

It was a gamble going for sheltered extra care rather than a care home but with less to worry about and on site activities she settled really well.

I agree with this below. I think the PWD can be anxious, confused and downright miserable during time on their own before you add in any dangerous behaviour such as moving furniture or wandering.
IMO, once a PWD who lives alone can’t live safely and calmly (ie without getting agitated and ringing people constantly about imaginary problems) with carer visits and requires constant supervision it’s time for a care home.
 

DreamsAreReal

Registered User
Oct 17, 2015
152
0
Does she have breathing difficulties? Has the boiler been serviced? Just wondering if she really can’t breathe or that’s just an excuse for turning everything off (due to worries about fires or the cost of fuel bills?). My pwd was doing it over worries about fires, but didn’t admit that at first.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
2,214
0
High Peak
Your MiL is dangerous! It seems to me that you've tried everything reasonable and she's still managed to out-manoeuvre you :)

I get the impression that whatever you try, she'll do her best to turn something off. If she can't get to the boxes/switches, she might just start cutting wires and cables with scissors... eeeek! She needs to be in a care home now, not just for her own safety, but everyone else in her street... How you go about that depends on a number of things, not least funding, so please look into that.

Dear Mama started having trouble with all things electrical but it didn't occur to me she was actually dangerous. Even after her second new, faulty micorwave blew up, I still didn't twig. Another crisis occurred so she ended up in a care home but it wasn't until we cleared her home afterwards that we realised just how bad things were.
 

Sarasa

Volunteer Host
Apr 13, 2018
3,890
0
I'd agree about looking at a care home. It would also be worth a check up with GP in case she really does have breathing problems. My mother thought we were all deliberately freezing her when she stayed at my brother's one Christmas. Her logic was that her knees ached so it must be because my brother had turned the heating off (we were all in t-shirts by this time). In fact her knees ached because she wasn't used to having to go up and down stairs.
 

deepetshopboy

Registered User
Jul 7, 2008
536
0
My dads flat i had to glue radiator valves as he kept turning the heating off i had to sellitape switches pull light fittings off as he got ladder out of garden in middle of the night to turn light off by yanking it off the ceiling he kept switching the heater off so i got a child lock which he bypassed then tried sticking a big sign on it do not touch dangerous he still keot opening it he couldn’t understand why there was a noise out of it luckily never touched fuseboard as was out of sight oh he also putied the windows shut to keep cold out n hamnerd nails in the windows apart from kitchen windows he also cut the curtain with scissors god knows what he was trying to do 😞
 

stg

Registered User
Apr 5, 2021
10
0
Thats for the replies... The dummy circuit box sounds really great.

She does not have any breathing problems at all, it's just her latest thing with the air bricks and using the excuse of not being able to breathe. During the summer she had the doors open all day so was not an issue with breathing.

Today she rang up saying she had been sick everywhere due to not having any air bricks. We turned up and no sick anywhere at all. When asked she can't remember every saying she was sick. We have CCTV cameras in the kitchen and part of the living room so we can always keep an eye on her and has been handy in the past as we caught her once falling over so was able to immediately drive over to her and call an ambulance. Also when we get the call from the Amerca 24 alarm we can immediately check to see what has happened.

I'll purchase a circuit box from Screwfix with a few cheap circuit breakers.

Also like the idea of putting up printed images of air bricks on the wall so that too may keep her happy for a bit until she finds the next thing to fixate on. She makes a lot of things up so it's difficult to get a straight answer. Previously we have had bad chest pains every time she is told to wear a bra to look presentable when going out - took her to doctors and nothing wrong at all. Feet really hurt when told to wear shoes insted of slippers outside - got her feet measured and checked and shoes fit wonderfully, Eyes are really bad and can not see AT ALL - took her to opticians and eyes are ok and can see everything even though she tells the optician she is blind in both eyes, She says the phone are not working when she picks up a call - checked on CCTV and she picks up her walking frame and speaks into that.

It is a terrible thing and I sympathise with everyone.
 

jugglingmum

Registered User
Jan 5, 2014
6,085
0
Chester
She makes a lot of things up so it's difficult to get a straight answer.
I think this is typical of dementia behaviour, I found it particularly happened when I asked a question about something in the recent past. My mum clearly couldn't remember but gave an answer that she thought made sense. Asked the same question 10 minutes later and she'd given a different answer. I realised that asking questions was pointless as she didn't have a clue - whether it was did you eat lunch or did it rain today - she just couldn't remember.

I thought something was wrong with my mum's eyesight and took her for an eye test which she sailed through. I later realised her spatial awareness was shot to pieces and she could no longer judge distances or perceive kerbs (a walking stick fed this info back to her better than her eyesight for a bit).

A lot of dementia issues are the broken processing function in the brain - so shoe issue might be too difficult to put on or the feeling in her feet - why not try to get shoes that are more like slippers in feel on her feet. Also velcro ones that can be adjusted easily or even let her wear slippers - maybe ones that look like more show like. The bra issue is also perhaps needing a work around - wear clothes where one isn't needed or a softer feel one which isn't too tight or one that is easier to put on. It might even be she is starting to need help dressing.

The phone issue is also common that they forget what item does what and how it works. Some have solved with an Alexa type device that can be operated remotely by an app.

Some of this behaviour also sounds like classic attention seeking lonely behaviour which ultimately can only be solved with more care or a care home. If she phones and you rush round she will continue to do this. No easy answers with dementia and better to manage a transition to a care home than have an emergency need from a crisis with no choice if you are self funding.
 

Sarasa

Volunteer Host
Apr 13, 2018
3,890
0
From what you've said it sounds like a care home would be the best place for your mother in law. Dummy circuit boards and fake air bricks might help for a while but then another problem will pop up. If you start planning the move now it will be smoother than if you wait until their is a crisis and everything has to be done in a rush.
 

Emmcee

Registered User
Dec 28, 2015
124
0
Hi,
Looking after 82year old mother-in-law who has moderate-serve mixed type Dementia.

Her latest thing is adjusting the temperature in her house and I am looking for some advice if possible.

She has started going on that someone has come round her house and taken all the airbricks out and thus she can not breathe and want us to call the Police. We have tried many times to tell her that her house did not have any air bricks and does not need air bricks as she does not have a gas fire, coal fire or wooden floors but she is adamant that someone stole them all and then obviously repaired the brick walls and redid all the plastering and internal decorating whilst she was in the toilet.

So we then fitted window restrictors so she could have the windows open slightly to get air movement but she does not know that windows can be opened and of course once we tell her she forgets and it all starts again the next day.

So she has now got it in her head that if she turns the boiler off this will allow fresh air into the house and allow her to breathe. However turning the boiler off off turns the heating and hot water off so she is complaining to the plumber that the boiler is faulty and we have had to tell the plumber to ignore her calls. She then moans to us that the house is cold and she is freezing.

She turns the boiler off by flicking the circuit breakers but she also turns other circuits off like downstairs power thus the fridge, freezer and TV stop working and then we get irate phone calls that someone has come to her house and broken everything.

We put a big notice on the circuit breaker box saying do not touch which she ignores. We locked the circuit breaker box but she then broke the lock to get in. I build a wooden box to cover the circuit box but she ripped that off the wall to get in.

So, is there a way to prevent mother in law from turning stuff off at the main circuit breaker box without chaining her to her chair :)

PS, she does have carers who are great, they come 4 times a day but it's getting difficult to keep asking them to do all these extra daily checks to check she has not tampered with anything in the house when they should be caring for her.
I am so so sorry but, whilst reading this post, I just couldn't stop smiling because it was giving me mega deja vu moments..... then I felt guilty because I know that it's a real problem ..... and then I saw your smiley thingey at the end of your post, so stopped feeling quite so guilty :) Ultimately, my "solution" was to have an incredibly patient plumber, electrician and a neighbour on speed-dial. It's cost an absolute fortune but he/they came out when Mum's electricity was being stolen/ her plumbing was being diverted/ the noises were "funny" etc etc etc. They switched things back on/ checked her boiler (again)/ demonstrated that a drip from the roof did not necessitate a chicken licken roof caving in moment/ checked the next door (holiday home) property that had deliberately left the central heating on to irritate her (He lives 600 miles away but I did get both his permission as well as a key) :)..... you name it, they sorted things out for 2 1/2 years and they were an important part of Mum actually having been able to remain at home for as long as she did. (I also notified the local police so that when she phoned 999 the local cops tried to maintain a degree of patience instead of lecturing her). The most difficult part of the process was actually getting Mum to phone me to let me know whenever there was a "problem" (to enable me to call for help) instead of trying to deal with it herself/ switch things off/ take things apart. (This, in itself, led to lots of difficulties further down the line with up to 12 x calls per hour - but that's a different tale :) )
 

MartinWL

Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
1,279
0
The solution by @Emmcee is one option but only for the very well off. I wouldn't be happy to see my dad wasting money even if he could afford it. I try to encourage him to refer problem to me for action and not to call a boiler maintenance company himself. Unfortunately the boiler is old and does sometimes need maintenance but the last incident proved just to be something switched off that I resolved immediately once I got there. It can be hard to know which faults are genuine.