Wandering in Dementia: Why It’s Happening and How to Help
Of all the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most alarming is the individual’s tendency for wandering and the potential dangers that may develop if the senior becomes confused or lost. Wandering in dementia can occur any time the older adult is:
- Scared, confused, or overwhelmed
- Trying to find someone or something
- Trying to maintain a familiar past routine (such as going to work or shopping)
- Tending to a simple need (such as searching for a drink of water or going to the bathroom)
The aim is twofold; to help keep your loved one secure, and also to be certain that his/her needs are satisfied to attempt to stop the want to wander to begin with. Consider the following safety measures if your senior loved one is prone to wander:
- Make sure the home is equipped with a security system and locks that the individual is not able to master, such as a sliding bolt lock out of his/her range of vision. An assortment of alarms can be purchased, from something as simple as placing a bell over doorknobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats designed to sound an alarm when stepped on, to GPS products which can be worn, and more. It’s also a smart idea to sign up for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
- Disguise exits by covering up doors with curtains, placing non-permanent folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You might also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes deter those who are in the earlier stages of dementia from trying to exit.
- Another danger for people who wander is the elevated risk of falling. Take a look at each room of the home and tackle any tripping concerns, such as getting rid of throw rugs, electrical cords, and any hindrances that may be blocking walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
It is important to bear in mind that the desire to wander in and of itself is not necessarily an issue. Take a stroll outside together whenever weather allows and your loved one is in the mood to be mobile, providing the added advantage of fresh air, exercise, and quality time together.
While often tough to manage, the dementia care team at Hired Hands Homecare has been specially trained to be equally vigilant and proactive in deterring wandering and to employ creative techniques to help older adults with dementia remain calm and content. Reach out to our experts in home care in Santa Rosa, CA and the surrounding areas at (866) 940-4343 for more information!