I think mom has been feeling a little confined lately. Not that there’s a whole lot she likes to do outside of the house. But I think she senses that her independence is slowly being taken away and is determined to keep a hold of it. Her newest fixation is taking walks; I’m not talking about a leisurely walk. Her walks have a purpose, a destination. Her favorite places to walk are: her sister Ellen’s house (who lives about a mile to a mile and a half up the street), the bank and the grocery store (both are half a mile up the street).
It’s good that mom wants to get out. She needs to do more than just sit at her computer all day long. Plus it’s good exercise. But there a few concerns we have with mom leaving the house.
1. What if something happens to her while she’s out and none of us aware of her whereabouts?
2. She’s in her own little world…will she notice the car driving down the road as she crosses (or any other dangers)?
3. How will people respond to her when they come in contact with her? Will they think she’s on drugs and call the police? (this might sound silly, but it’s happened to many people with dementia).
4. We have concerns about her withdrawing money from the bank as well as buying things that she’s not supposed to be buying (such as medicines).
We know that the time she usually leaves the house is in the morning between 10 and noon. She rarely emerges from her room before 10:00 am, and she is religious about her lunch and naptimes. She seldom ever tries to walk after her naptime (before dinner); I’m not sure why, but morning seems to be primetime for getting out of the house.
We’ve taken measures to ensure mom’s safety. We try to make sure that someone is there each morning. Each week, I take a morning, my Aunt and Uncle take 2 mornings, and sweet ladies from church have been taking 2 mornings a week. Mom is growing more and more resentful about having people there in the morning because she wants to do these things alone (likely because she knows she isn’t supposed to be doing these things). Today, she thought she would be sneaky and charge out the door before my Aunt and Uncle knew what was going on. Luckily, they were on the ball. He called me shortly after 10:00 to let me know that mom had escaped and that my Aunt ran after her. I will paste his account here (taken from his facebook update) to give you a more accurate synopsis of the morning’s events:
“More excitement today—more for my wife than myself. Shortly after arriving today at my sisters's house she got "happy feet". She emerged from her bedroom purse over shoulder raring to go walking to the bank and supermarket. In a flash she was out the door with my wife chasing her. Although she came with no hat, she knew it would be necessary to have to walk to the store with Deana lest something dreadful happen in spite of the sweltering heat. Fortunately my wife had a bottle of water with her. My wife hung onto Deana's arm to keep from being left in the dust. Deana is tall and Tina is short.
At the bank it was a fiasco. The teller asked for ID and it was as if she had asked in German. My wife tipped off the teller and called my niece to let the teller know about what was happening. The teller was very helpful and said there was "no money" in the account. (There was.)
Then she was off to the market without any money. Her goal was to buy some sleeping pills. A big no-no! While searching for the brand she uses, she opened the bottles and broke the foil seals to be sure they were her favorite ones. Startled, my wife told her she couldn't open the product. Big mistake! Deana snapped back telling her to stop telling her what to do!!
When she found her pills, it was off to the checkout stand. Problem was, she did not have the money to pay! After standing in line at checkout, the line behind her grew and grew. Frustrated, she spied the small change box on the checkout counter where people make charity donations. "I can use that money people have thrown away!" My wife had to convince her she couldn't have it. Finally she left it all behind and walk out of the store.
I'm betting next time she gets happy feet, she won't let my wife tag along. I can wait for that!”
I’m afraid my mom has worn my dear Aunt out today! My Uncle also updated me that mom is now giving my Tia Tina the silent treatment (that’s mom’s way of letting us know she’s unhappy with you!) I’m sure my poor dad will get an earful (from mom) when he gets home as well. Just another fun day of dementia.