Dear Annie: My wife’s aunt “Zelda” is 83 and lives alone. She is in the early stages of dementia, and her short-term memory is rapidly deteriorating. She will ask the same question multiple times within a 15-minute span. She also is extremely paranoid. She is convinced people are entering her house at night and stealing small items, such as watches. She also owns a gun. I refuse to go into her home at night for fear she’ll shoot me.
We had an alarm system installed in her house, but it was too confusing for Zelda to use, and we had to remove it a few weeks later. She told the local police that people are entering her yard, so they installed cameras that gave them some fine photos of dogs, cats and raccoons.
Having Zelda live with us is not an option, and she is dead set against moving to an assisted living facility. What are our options? – Deeply Concerned
Dear Concerned: If you prefer to keep Zelda in her home, you will need to hire a patient, trustworthy caregiver. You also can accompany Zelda to an assisted living facility where she could speak to someone who would explain the positive aspects of having nearby medical care and social activities. Most importantly, she should not have a weapon in her home if she cannot use it responsibly. Please contact the Eldercare Locator at eldercare.gov or 1 (800) 677-1116 to find out what resources are available in your area.