It is time to invest in a few black rugs.
We've mentioned before that black throw rugs laid in front of the doors can look like holes in the floor to Alzheimer's patients. Their brains are unable to process what they're seeing properly and they perceive it to be something they cannot cross. It is a simple and effective way to discourage them from leaving the house if they are up and wandering, particularly at night.
Mom and I have talked about the potential need and Mom has figured out where she can easily buy them. They won't match her decor, but for safety reasons, she's allowed to have some rugs that clash. So, why do we think that the time has come to be prepared on this front? Well...
Late last week, Lyn's auditory hallucinations in the night drove her to Mom's room just as Mom was getting ready for bed. Lyn was in tears because of how frightened she was of "the loud sounds." She didn't know if it was thunder, fireworks or gun shots. Mom looked to Nikka and, other than being concerned for Lyn, the dog was calm. Mom was able to show this to Lyn to help her understand that the sounds were gone (or never really there) and that Nikka was calm. That night, Lyn ended up sleeping in bed with Mom. Nikki slept beside the bed instead of in her own bed and whined each time that Lyn stopped breathing. Mom would reach over to touch her and she'd start breathing again.
While that incident didn't involve her wandering, it is an example of her increasing night-time confusion and her hallucinations. Lyn typically gets up to use the restroom about three hours after she goes to bed. She usually returns to bed and stays put the rest of the night. However, earlier this week, she did something completely different.
About thee afters after she went to bed, she walked out of her room and came down the hall just as chipper as could be. When Mom asked if there was something she needed, Lyn said "No." She was wide awake and started looking for things to do. She eventually settled in to watch a little tv with Mom. After about 20 minutes, she asked "Is the sun going to come up today?" She wasn't worried about it; just curious. Mom explained that the sun had just gone down and that it was the beginning of the night. Lyn was incredulous and gave Mom The Look. After about an hour, she gave up waiting for the sun and went back to bed.
Alzheimer's patients loose track of time. Their sleep gets interrupted and they may switch night and day. They may sleep for a few hours and get up and wander. So, if we're catching her getting up now as if she's had a full night's sleep, the night-time wandering may be closer than we think.
Alzheimer's: Managing Sleep Problems - Mayo Clinic
Treatments for Sleep Changes - Alzheimer's Association