May 16, 2019 by
Of the many effects of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps one of the most alarming is the person’s propensity for wandering and the potential dangers that can arise if the senior becomes disoriented or lost. Dementia wandering can occur if the senior is:
- Frightened, confused or overwhelmed
- Searching for someone or something
- Trying to maintain a familiar past routine (such as going to work or shopping)
- Tending to a basic need (such as seeking out a drink of water or going to the bathroom)
The goal is twofold; to keep the senior safe, and to ensure his or her needs are met to try to prevent the desire to wander in the first place. Try the following safety precautions if your loved one is prone to wander:
- Ensure the home is equipped with a security system and locks that the person is unable to master, such as a sliding bolt lock above his or her range of vision. A variety of alarms are available, from something as simple as placing a bell over door knobs, to highly-sensitive pressure mats that will sound an alarm when stepped upon, to GPS devices that can be worn, and more. It’s also a good idea to register for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program.
- Disguise exits by covering doors with curtains, placing temporary folding barriers strategically around doorways, or by wallpapering or painting doors to match the surrounding walls. You can also try placing “NO EXIT” signs on doors, which can sometimes dissuade those in the earlier stages of dementia from attempting to exit.
- An additional hazard for those who wander is the increased risk of falling. Go through each room of the home and address any tripping concerns, such as removing throw rugs, extension cords, and any obstacles that may be blocking walkways, adding extra lighting, and placing gates at the top and bottom of stairways.
It’s important to keep in mind that with supervision and direction, wandering is not necessarily a problem. Take a walk together outside whenever weather permits and your loved one is in the mood to be mobile; this provides the added benefit of fresh air, exercise, and quality time together.
While often difficult to manage, At Home Independent Living’s dementia care team is specially trained to be both vigilant and proactive in deterring wandering and to utilize creative tactics to help seniors with dementia remain calm and content. Call us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to learn more!