How To Keep A Senior with Alzheimer’s or Dementia From Wandering

Did you know that 6 out of every 10 people with dementia will wander?

Creating a structured routine for your loved one can help keep them safe and at home, and refrain from wandering. Many times, when the person is wandering, it’s a very individualized action. Sometimes, it’s important to ask your loved one what they’re doing, but most important observe their reasoning behind the behavior.

Wandering can include…

  • Returning from a walk or dive much later than they normally would.
  • Thinking they need to go to places, such as work even if they’re retired.
  • Having a hard time finding familiar places inside the house, like the coat closet.

Consider the time of day and frequency. Has it happened once a month? Mostly at night?  A few times a day?

Having a structured routine will help keep your loved one in balance with activities and chores throughout the day. Installing locks that are out of site will help prevent them from leaving the premises if they try to wander. Alarms have also been helpful, especially when a door or window is opened.

It can be expensive, but putting up a fence with secured gating can help prevent wandering and allow your loved one to go outside to get fresh air on their own. Also, be sure to hide all car keys. Just because a person tends to wander, doesn’t mean that they won’t try to drive.

Improve your Home Safety.

  • Seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia could seriously injure themselves without proper precautions and protection.
  • Remember: accidents can happen in any room in the house at any time.
  • Having help at home can help prevent a dangerous – or even fatal situation.

Has their medication changed recently?

Sometimes if a person with Alzheimer’s and dementia starts on a new medication, side effects could cause them to feel foggy, restless or just unable to sit. Figuring out if this is contributing to the problem, followed by a talk with their doctor to determine the best plan of action.

Medication Safety.

  • Seniors with dementia may forget what dose of medication they need to take.
  • Missing a dose or overdosing can be dangerous – call your doctor or poison control immediately.
  • Without help, a person could sometimes confuse medications with each other – especially if they’re the same shape and color.

Try using a pill box to mark which medications should be taken and when. Make taking medications part of your loved one’s daily routine. It will keep them from wandering aimlessly around the house. Also, be sure to put medications in a safe place so they won’t take accidentally.

Is there an underlying cause?

Sometimes your loved one may wander for a specific reason, without being able to voice their actions. If they wander at night, try keeping a glass of water next to their bedside – they may just be wandering because they’re thirsty.

It’s important to make sure your loved one has a photo ID with them at all times. An ID bracelet is a great idea – keeping an ID in their wallet can easily be removed or lost. You could also sew an identification tag in your loved one’s jacket or sweater.

If everything you’ve done hasn’t worked and your loved one still has wandered off, the first thing you should do is dial 911 and alert the authorities. There are registries with organizations like Project Lifesaver or the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program, that you can register your loved one – be sure to call them when they wander.

Everyone’s experience with Alzheimer’s and Dementia is different and complex. But focusing on the emotional, cognitive and physical needs of the person can help find a solution from them to wander.

For more information about helping your loved one, please email us at maryann@alzdementiacare.com.

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