A lockdown is ordered because of danger. It’s meant to control movement, to contain, to protect. It’s designed either to prevent dangerous escape or to stop dangerous intrusion. A lockdown may happen at a prison, a school, a college campus or a computer system. Or at my home.

I call my sweet Barbara the ‘Stealth Lady’. She silently moves from room to room, picking up objects along the way and relocating them. Sometimes it’s a towel, sometimes an important paper I forgot to file (hide). My Stealth Lady can be asleep in a chair near me, when suddenly a door alarm is screaming. When did she wake up and leave the room?

The home health nurse gave me some advice: buy some locks. After that, I kept all outside doors locked except the sliding glass door in our bedroom and the one opening onto the back patio. These have alarms that go off whenever the door slides open. I turn off the front door alarm when a friend visits.  Sometimes, I forget to turn it back on.

Twice recently dear neighbors have rung the front doorbell, bringing Barb home. “She was just visiting me in my garage”. Her arm was around Barbara, sweet, comforting. At another time and with a different neighbor, “She was at the end of the cul-de-sac”. This precious lady also had her arm around Barb, sweet, comforting. She was afraid and crying. A friend had come to see Barb the previous night and I forgot to lock the front door. I try not to act incompetent. I feel incompetent. I am incompetent. Every Alzheimer caregiver is incompetent.

Today even the sliding glass doors require keys to open them. I keep the laundry room locked, the walk-in closet, the pantry, the entrance to the living room, the gate on the staircase to the second floor. I eye Biscuit’s dog crate and wonder how large they make them. “Stop That!”, I chide myself.

Normally, a lockdown is temporary. When the danger passes, this emergency step is lifted. While Barbara can walk, she will always be in danger. I don’t want her to get hurt. I don’t want her to be afraid. I will do whatever it takes to protect her. Of the adjustments I have made, I hate this lockdown most of all.  Each time I must turn a key, I feel guilty. I hate the thought that I’ll get over this feeling, that this lockdown will become the new normal. But it has to become just that.

Mark Twain says, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”  I thank God for three special friends whose wit and sense of humor can make me guffaw.  It really makes a difference. –lg


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