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Keeping Grandma Inside and Safe?
introspectre7 posted:
Hello everyone.

Recently, my grandfather passed, and my mother and I have taken my grandma in to our house. She is generally good to have around, and just sits and watches TV. However, she is riddled with dementia, and at times she retreats back to being a teenager or in her twenties, as they so often do. When she gets into those states, she starts to wander around the house looking for the school room or the employment office or wherever it is she thinks she is going.

This is fine and dandy during the day. But once in a while she'll get up at 4am, and try to go outside. That is not a good thing for her to be doing.

My question is: Are there safe and effective ways of blocking the outside (and stair) doors that she can't get through?

We have had to put old, broken, 35lb sewing machines in front of the outer doors. She has figured out all the locks, including the hidden one on the screen, somehow. She gets past child doorknob handles (we thought she wouldn't since she seems so weak). She sees smaller objects and manages to move or unlatch them. We're still not sure she won't get some strange amount of strength and just shove the sewing machines out of the way (perhaps stubbing her toes in the process).

Help would be greatly appreciated with this. We cannot have grandma going outside!

-K Perkins Portland OR
renalupie1 responded:
IT always amazes me how strong dementia patients can be. They can trip over dust, but if they want to get outside, they can run like a teenagers.

There are jams for patio doors, that run along the base, that are very difficult to get loose. Also, try some door slide locks and place them at the top of the doors, where she cannot reach. Maybe a combination lock???

Those are my best suggestions...

Louise_WebMD_Staff responded:
How about a key deadbolt and keep the key out of her reach but not somewhere people won't be able to find it in an emergency?

There are also inexpensive alarms that ring when you open a door. They are easily self-installed and run off of a battery. That might be a good option.
GAP1954 responded:
There are a few techniques that are helpful if the situation with Mom is appropriate for them. As we age a lot of things change and one of them is often our ability to perceive things correctly. This can prove useful in "Grandma proofing" a home. Here are a few suggestions from a workshop we held recently: 1. turn your doors into walls (make them look like the walls into which they inserted.) Use wallpaper, panelling etc. to match as closely as possible the walls so as to help the door "dissapear" 2. Place a full length mirror on the door. Often an elderly person will hesitate to go toward their own reflection, not recognizing themselves and thinking a stranger is standing in front of the door. 3. paint, tile or place a circular black area right in front of the door to give an illusion of a hole. If eyesight is failing, it may appear as a dangerous situation that will not be entered. 4. Put flashing strobe alarm lights at doors and windows and if they are opened the lights go off creating a bright and disturbing condition that often frightens an elderly person away from the door or window. 5. If your loved one is hesitant about barking dogs, get a motion sensor dog bark alarm unit and position it so it goes off if the door or window is approached. Feel free to write me or more ideas at thecaregiverfoundationof or visit Good luck!

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