Aug 24, 2012

Talking Point, Nightly Attempt to Escape

Coupled with this door kicking and whacking, there is verbal abuse.

Alzheimer's Reading Room

I was over on the Alzheimer's Society Talking Point message board earlier today and I read a very interesting post -- Nightly attempt to escape house. This is one of those really difficult situations where a dementia caregiver really needs some help and advice.

WhoKnows wrote:
Hi, does anyone have any advice on my Father who, almost nightly tries to leave his house. He will wake up in night and attempt to exit the front door. He's unable to open it and then he gets extremely agitated and whacks the door with his stick. Whilst they are thick double glazed glass, he's managed to break both top pane and bottom pane, they are now replaced with toughened glass, so I hope he don't break again. 
Coupled with this door kicking and whacking, there is verbal abuse. I try best not to open the door as then going into the street it can cause disturbance out there, as he can whack his stick around the wall, or the hand rail, which is rather loud, esp like 3am.
You can read the entire post here.

Maybe you can help or offer some good advice.

We have quite a bit of information on wandering in our Knowledge base here in the ARR. You can reach the knowledge base by using the search box on the right hand side of each page. Click wandering below for an example.


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Here is the response I put in on the message board.

Let me start by saying clearly, I am not a doctor.

My mother would get up every night around 1:30 AM and 4:30 AM. She would open the door and look around for a bit and then come back in. I had to get up every time for 2 years.

We stumbled on to a solution by accident. Her blood pressure spiked up every night and was very high in the morning. After trying several solutions that didn't work our doctor prescribed the lowest dose of Clonidine. It stopped the spike in her blood pressure, and it she started sleeping through the night. Perhaps you can relate this story to your doctor.

You father is trying to go somewhere. Probably "home".

One of the readers on the Alzheimer's Reading Room did the following and it solved the problem. When her father "wanted to go home", she would put him in the car and drive him around and then bring him back home (to where he now lived). When they would arrive back she would smile and say "here we are" and then gently lead him back in to the house. Once inside she would give him some positive reinforcement, in this case ice cream. He loved ice cream.

One of the most difficult problems faced by caregivers is breaking a "bad pattern". This is more or less like breaking a bad habit.

The key to success is trying to change a pattern and hopefully replace it with a new, different, and better pattern. In this case you want your dad to sleep through the night.

I would next suggest that you keep him up during the day, and make sure he gets plenty of bright light. If it is not sunny outside, taking him to a well lighted store and walking him around.

I can not emphasize enough the importance of "bright light" in dementia care.

Please ask him when he "takes off" day or night, where are you going. Then take him somewhere and bring him back. Try to satisfy the need.

If you can change the pattern you will reap the benefit.

I can't put in links yet. However, we have lots of information on wandering and bright light on the Alzheimer's Reading Room. You can find that information in our knowledge base by using the search box on the right hand side of every webpage.

I want to say that Talking Point is an excellent resource and better than any message board than we have in the U.S.

Good luck to you and your family. Keep trying. Change the pattern.

Bob DeMarco, Founder
Alzheimer's Reading Room.

Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 4,600 articles with more than 350,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

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