How can I safely secure the exterior doors so my mom can't get out without her caregiver knowing?

3 answers | Last updated: Jul 26, 2011
Bruce asked...

How can I safely secure exterior doors so my mom can't get out without her caregiver knowing???

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

In order to safely secure doors for the safety of your mother, you will have to get a lock smith to install a lock that can only be opened with a key from the inside.

The caregiver or caregivers must each have a key. Also, you need to have one hidden  inside the house so that each person in the house knows about it,  except your mother.

You will need to train each person to react quickly to unlock the door in case of fire or other emergency.

Also, there is a good chance that your mother will be angry about not being able to get out.  She will probably look for the key obcessively. So you need to train yourself and your caregivers about how to deal with her anger. You may have to say, "I am sorry mother, but we have to keep you safe."  You may have to say it over and over.

In my experience, it is necessary to safely secure the doors, especially at night.  Other wise there is a very good chance of the elder getting out at night to wander.  The only other alternative is to have a caregiver sitting up all night, which is very expensive.  The locksmith may cost a fair amount, but it is not costly if you think of the alternative.


Community Answers

Linlohlan answered...

We purchased piercingly loud alarms very inexpensively at a big box home improvement store (Menards) four in a blister pack for $5 on sale. Each is the size of a small matchbox and adheres to doors or windows with tape, removable if you live in an apartment.

If the door or window is opened, the two halves of the alarm separate and trigger the alarm. There is an on/off switch.

Another thing you can do is check out Radio Shack - they have changed their name recently to The Shack - for alarms. There is a type of alarm that can be inconspicuously placed near doorways so if your person walks past it, it breaks the sensor beam and triggers an audible alarm. You can sit the two halves high up so cats or dogs do not trigger it. Retail stores have these that simply chime to alert them to customers coming in the door. For our purposes, we need a lengthier and louder alert.

We will be using these when my spouse comes home from nursing home to alert us if he goes into the kitchen (knife hazard and fire hazard) or goes outside (wandering hazard) during the night.

Chris moore answered...

The type of locks mentioned here to safely secure doors (called double cylinder deadbolts) violate building codes if used in a residential application because of fire codes.

I would recommend an electronic remote activity monitoring system. I use one called Simply-Home. Sensors are placed throughout the house (On the doors) and will respond as programmed when the sensor is triggered. For example, it could sound an alarm or call a designated person with an alert. A sensor could also be placed under the mattress to let someone know if your mother gets up during the night.

An alternative that might work would be a single cylinder deadbolt that is placed high enough so that your mother cannot reach it. However, if you are concerned about her getting out of the house, there may be other hazards in the house you need to protect her from. The monitoring system could be a great help and comfort to you and important protection for your mother.