Stair gate - to get or not to get

I would be grateful for anyone thoughts about this difficult issue. My husband is increasingly frail and easily loses his balance. He has agreed not to attempt to go upstairs without someone being with him, to prevent a further fall down them. He reluctantly agreed but his mental state is such that that meant nothing the next time he wanted to go upstairs. And that is just the day time when at least there is the chance that I will notice he is not around downstairs. At night…? (he sleeps downstairs).

An alarm of one sort is an obvious option, but one which means that I would be disturbed at night if it goes off , which I accept is the point, but seems an avoidable disturbance…if we get a stair gate. Hubby and I did once discuss the stair gate option and he was non to happy about it. IN fact he was furious, stating that it was his house and he could go where he wanted and it was tantamount to a restriction of his liberty.
Today I have put it to him that it is a balance between liberty and risk. He accepts that but says he is no more of a risk than anyone else, which is patently obviously ridiculous but he cannot see that.
Am minded to install some kind of gate and be damned but thought I would just see if anyone else has any thoughts about how to resolve this dilemma (apart from moving to a bungalow or ground floor accommodation!)

thanks, Pippa

This is s difficult dilemma Pippa and as you are well aware, no easy answers. Not knowing what your stairs are like and not having any personal knowledge of your husband’s abilities does complicate things. I am therefore just giving you off the top of my head thoughts which you may or may not find helpful but which may perhaps set you thinking in a different way.

The stair gate idea seems logical. If however, your husband objects to this as he appears to have done,it probably won’t be successful. Indeed, it could increase his risk by creating another obstacle.

Please be careful if helping your husband up/down stairs. The most common method is for the 'carer to come down in front of the person and go up behind the person but even a minor misjudgement could result in you both falling.

It is worth looking at your stairs to see if you can minimise the risk of falls/injury. Things like removing loose rugs or mats, or furniture at the top or bottom which might cause further or more serious injury in the event of a fall. If you have rails try tying a 'bumper ’ along the length again to reduce the risk of severe injury. Make sure it is securely fixed in place.

A stairlift could work but is not without risk. Getting on and off and operating the controls may be factors that cause problems some find they just make everything too slow.

Hard as it is for you, you may just need to accept it is something of an occupational hazard. If your husband is deemed as capable of making his own decisions he can choose to go up and down the stairs even if that decision seems poor to you.

If he will agree I would recommend a proper assessment as there may well be other options in your specific circumstances.

There may be something here that you can use, don’t be put off by The dementia bit, the content can be applicable to everyone really

I know this is no solution but if it perhaps sets you thinking differently, maybe something will occur to you that will make a difference to your circs.

There are pressure mats that will alert you if your OH gets out of bed but that will also disrupt your sleep and you say that that is an, ‘avoidable disturbance’. Life with Parkinsons is not easy and a disturbed nights sleep is a small price to pay for ensuring your OH is safe. Catch a nap during the day as I have done for some time.

Sorry Tot to be so long in replying to thank you for your considered response. Much appreciated as ever. We bumble on, better in some ways, worse in others.
A little weary now to say anymore but didn’t want another day to pass without contacting you.

No apology or thanks needed Pippa, we all get on as best we can, when we can. Don’t forget to look after yourself too.