Is it ever acceptable to lock PWD in own house?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Rosalind297, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    56
    I have read on AS material that PWD should never be locked in but I am not sure how else to deal with Mum’s nocturnal habits. She doesn’t wander as her mobility isn’t good but she has the classic characteristic of not understanding time and gets up in the middle of the night, dresses (after a fashion) and makes herself cups of tea. Alas because she has macular degeneration, she won’t put lights on as they hurt her eyes.

    Last night the front door alarm went off ( the pager that I keep here next door) at 1.05 am. When I got round there the door was unlocked and sure enough there she was trying to make a cup of tea in the dark. I asked her gently why she had opened the door and she replied that there were two men out there and she wanted to see what they were doing. Actually it was probably only one man, her neighbour on the other side who gets back from night shift around 1am. But what if there actually were men on the prowl? Or even a burglar trying doors on the off chance?

    This is the second night in a row this has happened and I am almost delirious from lack of sleep because once woken up by her, sleep is impossible, I am on tenterhooks all night waiting for the next alarm. I need a solution. My brother has tried sleeping in her spare room one night but she kept going in and waking him up to find out who he was in a distressed state so that’s not the answer.

    Could I lock the front door and leave her to roam freely around her own house? I understand there are dangers to this approach but I can’t care for her properly during the day when I am little more than a zombie.

    I fear she isn’t going to be able to stay there much longer. I certainly won’t be able to cater for her needs and keep her safe as she deteriorates.
     
  2. Delphie

    Delphie Registered User

    Dec 14, 2011
    1,250
    One of the reasons for deciding it's time for residential care is the need for supervision, and I think your situation is exactly about that. Your mum can look after herself (as you say, after a fashion) but needs supervising to keep safe.

    You can't lock her in, in my opinion. The most obvious risk is fire and although it's highly unlikely to happen, if it did she'd be trapped. My mum would lock herself in and then lose the keys so I had a similar problem and it was one of the many reasons for deciding it was time for a care home.

    But you could try rigging up a camera, so when the alarm goes you can assess the situation without going to her house, though that doesn't answer the sleep deprivation issue. Another thing to try, if she can afford it, might be night time sitters. Expensive, but would let you have some sleep.

    Others might have some better ideas.
     
  3. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    There was another member on here who used to lock his mother in (he either lived with her, or near her - anyway it was for short periods when he wasn't there). He discussed it with a SW and she found it acceptable, because the key was not removed, it was left in a cupboard but the mum just didn't not know where it was, so in theory she could have found the key and unlocked the door.

    You can't carry on the way you are, so it's really up to you to decide whether you want to try locking your mum in or whether it's time for a care home. There are risks to locking her in, but maybe you can reduce these - I'm sure she already has smoke alarms, but she shouldn't have access to her cooker/toaster/kettle or anything which could catch fire if misused. You also have to decide whether it would be very distressing for her to find herself locked in. I'd probably be thinking of a care home by this point.
     
  4. Rosettastone57

    Rosettastone57 Registered User

    Oct 27, 2016
    905
    I agree with other posters. Your situation is one that really can only be solved with a care home. My mother-in-law was like this, on her own, getting disoriented, especially at night. Lack of supervision was one of the tipping points that meant full time care
     
  5. Bunpoots

    Bunpoots Registered User

    Apr 1, 2016
    2,802
    Nottinghamshire
    Like the others I'm thinking it is time to be considering a carehome. My dad started to wander in the early hours last year and I temporarily dealt with the problem by locking his front door and putting the key out of sight and locking his gates. He had access to his garden through two other doors though so he wasn't locked in in case of fire.

    It only worked because it was summer though and he had to move into a carehome not long after this behaviour started.
     
  6. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,622
    Female
    London
    I agree. You're not making anyone safer by locking them in while they are on their own. They could become distressed or set things on fire accidentally and then they can't escape - it's just too risky.
    It is different when somebody lives with them, or they are supervised in a care home.
     
  7. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    56
    Thanks everyone. The thought of Mum being trapped in a fire is too horrendous to contemplate. She would have egress through the conservatory into the back garden but I’m not sure she would think of that in a panic.
    She does have access to a kettle and there is a microwave which only I use but no cooker. She also plugs the TV in so I suppose there is a risk, if remote, that there could be an incident. There are smoke alarms too which saved us several years ago when a tea towel was left on a hob.

    On some days she seems really quite “with it” and I think it is too early for residential care and then there are days on which she is very confused. I have been trying to give her and her long-term 95yo companion, who sees her for elevenses and from 6-8.30 in the evening every day, one more summer in her beloved conservatory but I have to bite the bullet. She has recently had blood tests for a range of things at the surgery and they have all come back normal. The GP said she was in remarkable health and could “carry on” for years yet (she is 92). She might be able to but I certainly can’t!
     
  8. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    My mother moved to a care home last year when she was 83. She doesn't have any other health issues, and her parents were both well into their 90s when they died, so she could live for quite a while longer despite the dementia. It's always difficult to know the right moment for the move to a CH. She moved in February and I too had envisaged giving her another summer at home, but once she got there it was apparent she was in the right place. I think PWDS can mask their lack of abilities when in a very familiar environment, but when they move it becomes apparent how many basic skills they have lost. Hopefully her companion could visit her in a CH?
     
  9. TheBearsMummy

    TheBearsMummy Registered User

    Sep 29, 2017
    101
    East Midlands
    I wonder if a keysafe outside the front door might help. You could put a large print notice above it saying code number at and your phone number/address, if you have any other trusted neighbours they could also have the code. Not sure if emergency services have a means of recording these but many people (including us) use a keysafe for carers to gain access.
     
  10. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    The OP lives next door so the issue isn't someone being unable to get in during an emergency as the OP would be quickly on scene once an emergency was evident. The issue is her mother being shut in at night and unable to get out immediately.
     
  11. TheBearsMummy

    TheBearsMummy Registered User

    Sep 29, 2017
    101
    East Midlands
    I read the post and know that the OP lives next door which is why I feel a keysafe with contact details for use in an emergency is suitable. As there is a conservatory and back door available to her mother she is not totally locked in
     
  12. Rosettastone57

    Rosettastone57 Registered User

    Oct 27, 2016
    905
    My mother-in-law had a key safe and free access to the rear garden in an emergency. That didn't stop her leaving the front door open all night and being up at night phoning family members and calling police and being frightened of what was going on outside.
     
  13. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    I'm obviously missing something because I can't see why a keysafe would be useful in this particular situation when there is someone with a key a few feet away.

    But for me the more pressing issue is that the mum may be distressed by not being able to open the front door.
     
  14. Rach1985

    Rach1985 Registered User

    Jun 9, 2019
    398
    I agree with you here. And if we are talking about emergencies and people being distressed then as much as we might not like to think or talk about it, the fact that this point is being raised shows it is more than likely time for them to be in a CH. the PWD health and well being should always be number 1 priority
     
  15. TheBearsMummy

    TheBearsMummy Registered User

    Sep 29, 2017
    101
    East Midlands
    #15 TheBearsMummy, Jul 3, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2019
    The point of a keysafe is that in an emergency people can get into the house, if the OP is not at home or asleep and unaware there is a problem there is a way to get in touch quickly if contact details are given.
    In the case of fire the firemen will smash the keysafe open.

    If the person is no longer capable of being left alone at any time then I agree they have to be put in a home.
    I was trying to help the OP to decide what to do by saying that for our PWD a keysafe worked when she had a fall and wasn't able to get to the door. Also that many housebound people have keysafes for their carers to let themselves in.
     
  16. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    56
    Thanks for all of the responses.

    Having considered everyone’s helpful suggestions I shan’t be locking Mum’s front door overnight firstly because of the risk of accident or fire (I appreciate the suggestion of an external key safe, but alas there are no neighbours or relatives nearby who could help share the burden); secondly because I fear that she may panic if she can’t get out and may possible leave via the conservatory and garden gate, which has a key code lock on it (which she cannot remember) thereby locking herself out, in which case she would be knocking on my door so would gain me nothing; and thirdly because whilst she lives here, it is my responsibility to ensure she is safe therefore I have to react to the alarm when it happens, which goes in phases not every night.

    I will discuss with my brother bringing forward the start of residential care or at least a few weeks respite but we will have to be careful as we estimate she only has enough funds for 5-6 years and if she really could live beyond that, well we would be in financial strife (I am aware of the situation when finances fall below the threshold).

    Once again thanks for the replies, please put the question down to zombie-thinking!
     
  17. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    Yes it's a balancing act because we can't predict what will happen. My mother only has funds for about 5 years, but then again she was already paying for expensive care at home anyway so it was a different choice for me - the money was being spent anyway. If my mother outlives her funds and needs LA funding, there isn't much I can do about that. But I do understand why you're trying to delay the care home - you'll know when you reach the point where it's unavoidable.
     
  18. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    56
    Today she is as bright as a button and I feel like a Judas for even contemplating it but I know it’s coming. I’ve started to occasionally allow myself a quick glimpse in my minds eye of being released from the constant worry and responsibility and it is a heady prospect after all these years.
     
  19. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    327
    Hi @Rosalind297 Can I ask - how long ago did your brother stay that night with your mum? It was only one night, could it be worth trying again, perhaps for longer than one night, before taking the big step placing your mum in care?

    My dad was a night-time wanderer, he probably still is as he wanders around his house in a daze quite a bit during the day, but the outside wandering was only stopped because we've locked his porch door as someone is with him the majority of the time, especially at night. He has two other ways he can leave the house but when it comes to wandering, it's always through that one door.

    Before locking, I used to stay the odd night and had one of my most frightening times with him a few years ago. He was apologetic the next morning but it was still a relief to go home the next day when a relative took over. And he was absolutely fine that next night. Basically, what I'm saying is that your mum's reaction when your brother stayed over that time could have been an one-off or something she could get used to after a while. Just a thought. :).
     
  20. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    56

    Thank you. Yes it was one night - neither wanted to repeat the experience! It might be worth a try before we take the nuclear option. My brother and I are going to sit down once he gets back from his business trip and consider all the options, the costs and what is fair for everyone. He does what he can but has a high powered job and a family. He sees Mum almost every day for a visit and he feels exceptionally guilty that 90% of it is left to me. He has been saying for the past year that he is worried about the impact on my health and I have waved it away but these constant broken nights are taking their toll and I’m not sure I’d ant to be the one sleeping in her house every night. Anyway, I will certainly throw your suggestion into the pot.

    Good luck with your Dad, bless him.
     

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