...no one remembers your name/ when you're strange....
Clever and Athletic Sister put a spring thing on the gate, so it closes itself.
This did not solve the problem of Mother leaving the back door wide open while she walked the dogs, allowing insect access, escape of air-conditioned coolness or furnace-generated heat.
It also didn't solve the horrorshow of back door madness that resulted when she allowed some unqualified hucksters to put an addition onto the side of her house. Aside from the 'powder room' that's completely non-functional due to uninsulated pipes that we turn off in the winter time, the inner door opened outward, and the outer door, one step away, opened inward. It also was crooked and wouldn't lock properly.
CAS thought a new outer door would be a good idea. I shopped at Lowe's for a hot minute, sent photographs of things I thought were nice and the price range they were. CAS's contractor husband ordered a thing called a "left hand outswing steel door".
Wes The Handyman came to install the door, which was a big hairy deal. Pugsley helped, because installing a door is really a two-person job, but Mother was so put out, hovering and disagreeable that CAS finally took her away to do some shopping and have lunch. Don't move Mother's water dish. Or, if you must, do it when she's not looking.
It became a two day job. On the second day, Wes put the old wooden outer door back on the inner door, where it always had used to be. It swings inward, and has a lovely old glass doorknob. The hooks for the dog leashes are embedded in it. But the hucksters had chopped it so it no longer fills the doorframe, leaving a four-inch gap at the bottom. The steel door helps keep the cold out, but the pipes in the "addition" aren't all that is uninsulated. Wes said he'd put a two-by on the bottom or something like that. I suggested "mudflap" because that's the sort of brain I have. He said he'd look when he went to get supplies to finish the cosmetic interior of the outer doorframe. CAS had purchased a programmable door lock, so that keys wouldn't be an issue. Pugsley did the programming. We all learned to use the fancy lock, including Lucy, so that she could teach Mother when Mother was calm.
Wes came back with some rubber stair treads, one for each side of the door. He cut them to fit, mounted them at the bottom and they work beautifully.
So. Mother has two doors that work, are no longer a booby trap because the inner one opens outward and the outer one opens inward and there's no space between them. Egress is smooth and easy. The cold mostly stays outside and the warmth inside, which I imagine will reverse when summer comes.
The gate shuts by itself, but the door hangs open again. Because Mother walks out with the dogs, leaving the door open. Both doors, actually.
When Lucy or I are with her, not so much. But she's still by herself for a significant portion of each day, for the time being. This is worrisome if she's going to walk the dogs and leave the door open, notice she's low on dog food and decide to walk the mile or so to the grocery at 5pm on a windy evening, say Yes to various contractors who knock on her door... but she wants to retain her independence. Or her illusion thereof, which, between CAS, Lucy and me, we manage to permit.
So CAS orders a pump to make the outer door close automatically, just as the gate does. It solves the problem, mostly. The door doesn't actually latch unless it's pushed into place. However, it appears closed and it keeps the cold and the bugs on the outside.
We've showed her how to operate the lock. She understands it, mostly. It is a myth that Alzheimer's patients can't learn new things. It just takes repetition and mimicry. I've asked Lucy to implement the phrase, "Let's turn around and close the door," so that it will sink in, but with the new pump, that's not as important.
Yesterday, I took down three (well, two and a half; she came back into the room before I could finish) weird little contraptions that she's put on the inside of the inside door, to lock it. "For protection. I'm a woman living alone," she explained to Lucy on Monday, when she put up two different such mechanisms.
Never mind that the open doors left routinely by this woman living alone are much more of a hazard. That sort of logic doesn't apply. I show Mother how to operate the lock mechanism from the inside of the outer door, so she won't need a hook and eye on the inside of the inside door, which will mostly just keep out people who come to help her.
Look. If you lock this one, you're safe, and only people who love you can come inside. She agrees that this is secure. But that was yesterday. She may have put up a new, poorly executed latch by this morning.
Daily entertainment. Never a dull moment.
The Doors; People Are Strange