A Caregiver Asks: My husband left the house in the middle of the night. Other than locks or alarms how can I prevent him from doing this again?

For some, locks seem to present a challenge to the one in care and he or she becomes very ingenious in getting around them. Alarms can frighten and confuse those with dementia making them combative and suspicious increasing the stress for all involved.
Here are a few suggestions that have helped others in your situation:
1. Door decals are available that create the illusion of a bookcase in place of the door. https://bit.ly/2WJykCv

2. Painting the door to match the surrounding walls may work in place of a decal
3. Place dark colored rug in front of the door.  It can appear to be a hole in the floor that your husband will not want to cross.

 If this is happening during the day as well, perhaps going for a short walk or drive with him will get him out of the house long enough to feel better.
1.  Sitting all day, every day gets boring. If the one in your care can walk a bit, perhaps a short walk around the house at the end of the day will help.

2.  Ask him where he is going. His answer will provide some insight as to where his mind has taken him. If possible, enter his world and ask him about that time or place. You may hear some very special memories.
If none of these suggestions work you may have to use a lock or alarm. It doesn’t mean you would be doing anything wrong. It means the disease has progressed to a new level.

1. Locks can be placed high on the door and painted to match the color around them making them hard to see and more difficult to get around.
2. Notify local law enforcement and first responders that a person in your home has dementia and you may need assistance if he or she should wander away. Be sure to remind the dispatcher when you call for help.
There is never one solution that works for everyone with dementia. Feel free to share your suggestions here. Caregivers sharing information makes us all a bit wiser.

Bobbi Carducci, CCC, CCE

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