When and how to restrict their freedom to go out on their own?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by sinkhole, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    Above all else, this is the question I'm asking myself more frequently, but I just can't seem to come up with a satisfactory solution.

    My aunt isn't cooperating with SS or the GP and refuses all offers of help so it's taking a long time to get any sort of diagnosis but at the moment it's 'Dementia Unspecified' based on a couple of MMSE tests and an assessment. She lives on her own in her own house and is used to going out to the shops visiting my mum each week. She copes well with these familiar journeys even though it means using the bus, crossing busy roads etc.

    Whenever we've tried to dissuade her from making trips by suggesting we get home deliveries or I go and get the shopping for her she gets very belligerent and agitated, almost aggressive towards us and we have to relent.

    A few weeks ago she lost her Santander debit card and decided she had to go to the local Nationwide branch to sort it out. There was no way to convince her this would be fruitless and in the end we decided the least stressful way forward was to let her go and I'd follow her to make sure she was safe and didn't become any more distressed.

    She went to Nationwide, then Nat West, then HSBC and back to Nationwide. She doesn't have an account with any of them and couldn't explain to any of the counter staff what she was there for. When I thought the time was right, I 'bumped into her coincidentally' and she came back to my mum's with me. By then she was calm again and seemed to not be that bothered about losing the card, but for a while I was very anxious about what might have happened to her in such a confused state of mind.

    Last Thursday, I was at mum's again and auntie was there telling us that she had to go to Oxford Street to buy a special clock because her TV wasn't working :confused:

    We couldn't work out what she meant, but she was determined to go and buy the clock personally despite not having been to central London for many years. I asked her to describe how she was going to get there and she described the trip well enough with the correct bus numbers, railway stations etc. so reluctantly again we accepted that there was nothing we could do to stop her.

    I should add that a few months ago I fitted a GPS tracker to the coat she always wears, so we do have some peace of mind. She cannot operate a mobile phone, so the tracker is the one safeguard we depend on.

    On Saturday, when she was due to make the trip, I am sitting in front of the PC all day keeping an eye on the tracker and sure enough she leaves the house at 4pm and makes it to the local railway station OK and I watch as she navigates all the way to Oxford Street and the store she wanted to visit. So now I'm thinking maybe I'm being over-protective and not giving her enough credit for being able to cope on her own.

    As often happens with dementia, just when you think everything is going well and things are actually improving, there's a sting in the tail. She leaves Oxford St. at 6.30pm and heads for Charing Cross station, but then the GPS trail goes cold and by 9pm it's still telling me she's at Charing Cross, so I ring the Police and report her as missing and alert her neighbour who is very good at keeping an eye out for her.

    By 10pm it's all getting a bit concerning but then I get a message from the neighbour that she's been brought back by the Police and is safe in her house again. What happened at Charing Cross we're still trying to piece together but it seems she was found wandering at 9:30pm by Police and they established where she lived and took her home.

    So now, I'm back to thinking we need to do something to stop her going on any unfamiliar trips on her own in case she gets confused or loses her money/card/keys. But the question remains unanswered as to what we can actually do.

    Is it just a case of waiting for each crises to happen until eventually one is so bad she ends up in hospital or being sectioned? It's not a great plan and one my mum is not going to find easy to accept, but I'm really at a loss to know what to do. I know this is a familiar story, but to me it seems worse due to the fact that neither my mum or myself lives local to my aunt so we just can't keep tabs on her as we would like to.
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    Would she agree to a day care centre or sitting service? That would keep her safe at least during the day. My OH used to wander, and even with a tracker it worried me terribly. He once went from wrong bus to another wrong bus until he had no clue anymore where he was and only because he was still capable of answering his phone could I persuade him to get off at the next stop, tell me the stop name and wait until I had got the police to pick him up. He is now never left alone and attends a day centre 5 days a week which he loves plus gets sitting service some evenings and at the weekends a few hours each.
  3. Nightnurse

    Nightnurse Registered User

    Nov 16, 2014
    Going home

    My dad started 'wandering' he packed his shoes and slippers screwdriver note pads map book managed to get out saying I'm going home so I hurriedly put on shoes and jumper and went out after him, went round the block and came home and he was home but then two days later he did the same thing but this time he didn't come had to get police out he was brought home by someone who saw it on Facebook or Twitter otherwise he would not have come home safely as he was walking somewhere we didn't know then this morning he was supposed to meet a lift on the corner of our street but he just kept walking gladly the lift found him. I was told to take his keys off him for his safety the problem comes when I need to go out because you cannot lock someone in but I don't have any family to help so now going to have to find help dad will be happy with:confused:
  4. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    She is in complete denial that anything is wrong with her at the moment and won't allow anyone other than me to enter her house and even then she only let's me go as far as the end of the hall.

    It wouldn't be so bad if she had a phone, but she is now incapable of operating even the most simple handset or making sure it's charged.
  5. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    #5 Linbrusco, Mar 1, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
    At this stage Mum is aware that we don't like her to go walking anywhere apart from our local corner store just down the road.
    We told her that our main shops which is a 15 mn walk, the traffic is getting too busy and there are a lot of dodgy characters by the bus stop.
    Becuse Mum is of an anxious disposition, she accepts this and will only go up if Dad walks with her. Dad no longer drives, so other than this I take her everywhere, ad she goes out 3x a week to Alzheimers activity groups.
    She has no traffic sense, and has not caught a bus on her own for about 18 mths. Although if you ask her she is perfectly capable, and knows what bus no.s to get and where. Rhe last time she did catch a bus she caught the wrong no, but still managed to get home. She told us though that the bus driver got lost because he took a different route.
    Mum did say once that she feels like she is in a prison :(

    I imagine with your Aunt apart from the GPS tracker, what else can you do?
    Once the police starts getting involved though, wouldn't it alert the authorities of her wandering and being vulnerable?
  6. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    It is very difficult when someone still wants to or insists on going out alone, and you feel they are just not safe. We had the same with FIL, but I could not prevent him - he was still very physically fit and like a caged wild animal if he couldn't get out. He was apt to fly into the most furious rages if thwarted in any way, and the mere idea of distraction was a joke. I worried terribly about him getting run over, or causing an accident, since he would just step into a busy road without looking properly, but by some miracle he never came to any harm, or caused any to anyone else.

    We were very lucky in finally finding a care home where they would not lock him in - any other would have been a nightmare for him, unless he had been drugged into a stupor. B He did get lost now and then, but the CH was in a south coast town with many CHs, and the locals were used to it.

    I think to some extent, if the person is going to be angry or agitated or distressed at being kept in, you just have to let them go, and pray. Being safe is all very well and lovely, but if the person is going to be miserable, then I'm not sure it's necessarily the most important thing.
  7. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    You would think so in a perfect world, but the Police have been involved now in several situations where she's locked herself out or gone 'missing' and SS know nothing of it unless I tell them.

    Despite telling the control room she was suffering from dementia and is a 'vulnerable adult' last night when I reported her missing, the fact is that as soon as she was back in her home they closed the report and that is the end of it as far as they are concerned. I didn't even get a call to let me know they took her home and had to chase them up this morning to try and find out what took place.

    I fear the Police are overwhelmed with incidents of this sort and just can't spend any time following it up.

    What I have learnt from yesterday though is that it is important to have a concise, accurate description of the missing person on hand for when it inevitably happens again, so I can quickly email or SMS it to the Police next time.

    I'd advise anyone with a similar issue to do the same. Include height, build, eye colour and any distinguishing features plus photos (full length and head/shoulders). Also, make note of all the relevant Police phone numbers. i.e. British Transport Police would be responsible if someone is wandering around the train/tube network and their contact number is 0800 405040, so not the same as the usual 999 or 101 numbers.
  8. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    I think you've summed up my current view very well. I doubt there's any alternative I'm going to find. I probably just need some reassurance that I'm doing all I can for the moment :(

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