How can I safely keep my mother with Alzheimer's in bed at night?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I need some help. I have to restrain my mom in law at night, because she climbs out of her hospital bed we have at home and squeezes her body through a one foot gap in the rails.Mom is tinny, and weighs 92 lbs.I have tried stuffing pillows in the gap, but she kicks them out. she cant walk well and uses a walker, and her right leg is like dead weight, so she can never get around during the day with out me, holding her by the arms, Yet when she wakes up at all hours of the night, she is strong enough to pull her self up into a siting position using her bed rails, and she scoots her butt down till her feet reach the gap. Her walker has a cow bell on it and is at the cap in her bed,because. If her walker is not by her bed or even if it is she will walk around it to put on her glasses and walk out of her bed room with no help at all.When she dose this sheis in a difrent state of mind like she dreams some one is coming to pick her up and she needs to getready, or she thinks she is alone in the house. When she gets up her adrenelin is flowing fight or flight mode, so she walks with determination. We moved in with her my husband myself and our 20 year old daughter. I stay home 24-7 to take care of her. We got baby moniters, in her room and I carry one with me when shes naping or at her bed time it constantly with me when shes asleep or im alone with her and in another room. I must say I kinda feel like ebaneser scrooge's partner cus I drag that exstentiobn cord every whare! I spoke to her doctor to see if he knew whare I could get a restraint, like thay use in hospitals,that alow your arms and leggs to be free, and go around your mid section so she can sit up, but she cant scoot out of bed. My mom in law had dementia and its bad. My mom had it to and she even climbed out of her hospital bed in the hospital when she had high blood sugar, and she was parilized on he left side and one hand was cuffed to her bed,cuz she was pullin the tubes out, and the iv's, and she STILL managed to climb out of bed and she got twisted up in her rails, and hurt her arm.I dont want this to hapen to my mom in law, cuz what I have learned fom caring for may mom, my pop in law and my mom in law is that dementia,is like envasion of the body snachers, eany thing is posable for a person with dementia. trouble walkin , climbing, figurin out how get out of the house no problem. Never under estamate what you think thay are capable of doing cuz when thay think thay have some place to be, that fight of flight responce surprises the heck out of mom in law cant drink liquid with out a straw, but she can walk dow 3 large steps, with her walker in her hand and go 50feet to a familey members hous, then go up 3 more stairs and ring the door bell at 4:45 am and not make a sound. we learned the hard wAY THAT THING ARE SELDOM AS THAT SEEM.

Expert Answer

Monica is an occupational therapist and designer of adapted dementia products through her company MindStart. Activities for Persons With Memory Loss. In addition, she works with the Minnesota-North Dakota Alzheimer's Association and the University of Minnesota on dementia issues. MindStart provides age-appropriate and stage-appropriate dementia activities, such as games, puzzles, and books. The items are simplified to meet the needs of various stages of dementia while remaining dignified and familiar in appearance

The number one priority in a situation like this needs to be safety. Bedrails and restraints are no longer allowed in nursing homes, as there have been instances where people have been hurt by them or even died, when they have become caught up in them. So I would advise we focus on how to keep you mother-in-law safe when she decides to get up and how you might minimize how often that occurs versus how to keep her in bed. Here are some suggestions: 1. Limit sleeping during the day so she will be more tired at night 2. Increase the activity level during the day - taking short walks, pedal a stationary pedaler that sits on the floor, fold laundry, etc. 3. Get up with her when she gets up, use the bathroom, walk around a bit, have a snack, then go back to bed - she may have the need to move around even in the night 4. Have nightlights in place and throw rugs and other potential tripping hazards removed. It sounds like she is at high risk of falling. Sometimes when needs like these become too much to handle, families decide to make the move to hire additional in-home help or pursue placement in a facility. Another reason to consider this would be if your mother-in-law wanders out of the house without your knowledge - which, if I understand correctly, has happened before. Again, safety is the priority and right now the need for supervision that your mother-in-law needs is high. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find additional support and resources that might be available to you.